Category Archives: Boating

Sleep Fishing

This image qualifies as the opposite of “Not Quite Right.”  It’s 100% right, what life should be like everyday.

Taken in the Boundary Waters, a canoe-only wilderness on the border of Minnesota and Canada.  My 12-year old had paddled 13 miles and then fished, almost non-stop, for the rest of the day.  Late afternoon, beautifully calm skies and waters, the fishing ‘action’ had drifted off and so, too, had he.  He’s completely asleep in this photo, though he’s holding his fishing pole cupped in both hands and though the bobber drifts on the mirror-flat surface of the lake.  A fish even bit at one point, pulling and jiggling the bobber beneath the surface.  He continued to sleep and then, at last, after about 20 minutes, startled awake, completely unaware of where he was!  How strange it must have been for him to wake from a dream into the very place of his dreams.

My 12-year old, in paradise.

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Dhow Construction

Fishing boats in the inner harbor, Sur.

The port of Sur, Oman is one of the few places in the world still engaged in manufacturing traditional dhows, the famous merchant ships of Arabia with slanting lateen-rigged sails and stitched, rather than nailed or pegged, fastenings for their wooden plank sides.  Used for many centuries as the main cargo and fishing ships on the Indian Ocean, plying routes from Africa to India and all up and down the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, these vessels recall a pearl-diving, pirate-infested culture now largely subsumed by oil revenues, Ferraris, and a smattering of folks still interested in traditional culture (mostly tourists and Omani/Emirate/Bahrani/Kuwaiti history-buffs).

The hand-carved scrollwork on the back of this dhow displays some beautiful lacquer.

Sur is a great destination for the traveler interested in seeing dhows because the huge inner harbor is lined, near its entrance, with various dockyards and carpentry shops planing the boards, tarring the decks, and building, from the ground-up, ships propped on slanting rails ready to be launched into the water.

The workshops aren’t necessarily ‘open’ and no guided tours are available but people in Sur are friendly and will gladly show a tourist around.

A worker at the dockyards builds a scale model as a plan for a new dhow.

What is, perhaps, NQR, about the entire industry of dhow building — now largely outmoded by fiberglass fishing boats and huge metal-hulled cargo ships — is that most of the production depends on the interest of western tourists, our fascination with a romantic image of the orient that includes swarthy pirates and the travels of Sinbad (who hails, traditionally, from Sohar, just up the coast in Oman).  One wonders if any but a few dhows, moored as cultural relics, would exist if it weren’t for western tourists wanting to go for a dive, a swim, or a party picnic aboard these high-decked beauties of a time gone-by.

My children aboard a dhow, ready to go snorkeling. This one appeared to have been built with pegs rather than sewing. It also had a diesel motor rather than a lateen sail. Sort of a quasi-dhow.

 


Expatriate Picnic Secrets

So, two options if you want to go to a REALLY nice beach in Oman:

1)  Stay at the Shangri La Barr al-Jissah Resort, with a sea-cave arch in its front yard and a private cove among three different ‘tiers’ of resort complexes (all visible in the picture on the main page of the resort’s website, link provided here at no additional cost).

. . . or . . .

2)  Pay one of the local fishermen who wait on shore, after finishing their morning trawl, to take expats out to the equally private and much less expensive cove immediately opposite the sea arch.

Same waves.

Same water.

Same sand.

Same sun.

Cocktails are, unfortunately, best kept within the confines of the resort, in deference to local predilections.

Going rate to hire a boat from Qantab Village to take a group out to the hidden cove?  Negotiable, but usually somewhere around 10 Omani Rial (about 26 USD).  Going rate to spend the day at Barr al-Jissah?  I wouldn’t know.  And that’s the NQR of this post . . . all of us expats creating a cottage industry of taxi-boats through nothing more elaborate than our own penny-pinching!

A boatload of expats shove off for a short trip around the peninsula to the 'hidden cove'