of Muscat - 'On da way' again...
After diverting them into Port Klang, the Royal Selangor Yacht Club have regally hosted a six-day stopover for the skipper, crew, shore team and supporters as they make their way down the Malacca Straits to Singapore. Commodore Dato Alex Nah and his committee bid the crew farewell with a resounding send off by club members lining the verandah, over looking the pontoons in front of the club. After more official present exchanges up at the club, it was down to the boat for media interviews with Capt Saleh and nineteen crew members getting ready for a quick departure. Back down from the Oman embassy in KL, Deputy Chief of Mission, Ali Ahmad Al Shanjari and Counselor Zakariya Al Saadi, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with a bus load of Omani students with national flags, cheerfully waved them away from the dock.
Three new crew members joined the Jewel of Muscat crew for the trip to Singapore. Zakariya Al Saadi serves as Counselor in the Secretary General 's Office of Oman's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been deeply involved in the Jewel of Muscat project since its inception in 2006 and worked closely with his Singaporean counterparts to make the project a reality. Capt Ananda Kumar for his wealth of local knowledge and ship forwarding agency SEACON for handling things in Malaysia and Project Director Dr Tom Vosmer, who coordinated the construction of the ship from day one is along to feel the sailing experience on his creation. The National Geographic camera man is also onboard to film the historic last leg down the notoriously dangerous, pirate ridden Malacca Straits and welcome reception in Singapore. Check out the daily Ships Log entries at: http://www.jewelofmuscat.tv/en/logs
A quick interior inspection before the departure revealed some squalid living conditions, the brave crew have had to endure over the 3000 nautical mile voyage from Oman. The traditional vessels never had a deck, as the cargo was often loaded well above the gunnels and the crew were expected to live and sleep in and around the cargo. If you think that is bad, then try fitting a leaky make shift deck without chalking, especially for this trip and then trying to store massive amounts of dry goods and equipment below, in dispersed between built in crew pipe cots and other living quarters. Plastic sheets are at a premium and the musky smell of oily dampness can be a little overbearing for some. Not only is the water coming in from the passing rain storms but the present crew are having difficulties pumping the bilge water, so imagine back in the 9th century when the bucket and chuck it, method was applied. Watching all the valuable cargo awash with water in an open boat well out to sea must have given many crew members the Hee Vee Gee Bee's. No wonder so many sank in the rough, stormy conditions the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal can kick up on the Indian Ocean side of the journey. There shouldn't be any such trouble in the calmer conditions that the Malacca Straight is renown for. Perhaps some tropical downpours will keep the crew busy flexing their muscles on the bilge pumps and desperately keeping there personal equipment dry and working inside the boat.
Cdr (Rtd) John Ferguson once again supervised the local tugboats during the departure, which went quite smoothly and all of a sudden the Jewel Of Muscat was underway with resounding cheers from the crew and spectators lining the shore. An official PT Klang pilot took over the tow as they departed the Klang River and into the busy South Channel, going past Port Control at Westport and well into the Malacca Straits. When clear of the moored ships, Capt Saleh called to abandon the tow and his crew were ready to hoist the sails and begin their journey under sail to Singapore. This was all completed to some traditional Omani sea chants and a lot of sweat and hard work by the crew.
First came the square sail at the front of the boat, then the tapered square-ish sail on the stern. Massive one foot by one foot, timber turning blocks with 8 to 1 ratios are used to pull up the sails and heavy timber support booms with more blocks and tackle for the sheeting positions. Even Capt Saleh joined in when the aft sail was showing signs of resistance on the hoist. Capt Kumar was also shown some ropes to pull and blended in with the activities. Its amazing how the power of a movie camera can turn what would have been a simple departure back in the 9th century into an epic seafaring adventure in the 21st century. The light, patchy, 5 knot South Easterly breeze soon blew the wrinkles out of the crumpled sail and as a little bow wave appeared, Cdr (Rtd) John Ferguson blew the starting horn to officially get the Jewel of Muscat 'On da way' Again...
As recent weather reports, of moderate/variable winds generally from the South-East are coming from an unfavorable direction, in other words, right on the nose, Captain Saleh decided to leave on Sunday instead of Monday to give themselves an extra day to get to Singapore. By Monday morning after weathering a late night squall and persistently strong currents impeding their progress, as they tacked from East to West and after twelve hours of laborious sailing, they were only ten miles from the point at which we first watched them hoist the sails last evening. By mid afternoon they must of picked up some favourable wind, as they were recording six knots boat speed in the right direction but by early evening were showing the big lemons 00:00 again. Captain Saleh and crew will continue to harness what winds they can find over the next few days and hope to soon enjoy more favourable sailing weather. You can follow their Tracking Route at: http://www.jewelofmuscat.tv/en/route
Sixty eight more images of the departure have been added to the Jewel of Muscat Stopover - AY Photo Gallery at: http://asianyachting.com/photos/photo.htm?JewelOfMuscat
on the AY
Saleh and crew work aboard the mighty Jewel of Muscat in Pt
Klang June 2010
directing traffic at
the busy shipping lanes in the Southern entrance to Pt Klang.
the Sails 28th June 2010
Sailing off into the wild blue yonder
Ventures Sdn. Bhd. (Co. No. 627106-T)