Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sailing As Seen Through Our Eyes

All of the Blue Water Rally yachts watching the Royal wedding in Salalah, Oman.

S/Y Aspen – April 30, 2011 – Log #72
Position: 16 degrees 56’ N 054 degrees 00’ E (UTC +4 Hours)
Salalah, Oman

We have a little time to reflect now, since we are still waiting for the ship to carry Aspen safely up through the Red Sea. We have been moving really fast for the past 2 years, as you know, so this is a little reflecting that we have done.

This voyage has not only been one of discovery but also a life changing event for both of us.

Things we never knew about a circumnavigation:

- We used to think that a 36 hour sail in the Caribbean was a long way. Now anything less than 12 days is short
- 25 knots of wind on the nose is a common weather pattern for us
- Local unlit fishing boats that block your way in the middle of the night are just something to make our watch exciting
- Fishing nets, old lines, fish traps, plastic bags, and large logs will stop your boat quickly
- Government officials in Indonesia and Malaysia are worse than anything in South America
- Running on the beach at the home of Komodo dragons is life threatening
- In Australia if a creature moves it can kill you
- Dirty diesel that stops your engine is everywhere but especially so in the Galapagos
- Anything remotely expensive on your boat will break
- Anything designed not to break on your boat will break
- Your boat will break because it is abused 24/7 for months on end
- A knockdown is a common word based on experience now
- Weather forecasts are just as bad at sea around the world as they are at home
- Stinger suit is a garment we would not like to wear again
- Data sim cards are not simple
- WIFI is not free
- Mexican restaurants are few and far between
- KFC, Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds and all groceries taste much different even though they are US brands
- Sea water will find every tiny opening and penetrate inside your boat
- Permanent rust stains mysteriously appear on every item of clothing
- Flip flops actually wear out
- Expired food items are still edible
- Finding strange pieces of metal or plastic on your deck indicate something is about to break
- Yamaha dinghy engines only last 5 years
- Dinghies can float away if they are not tied to something
- Niue is the friendliest island on the planet
- Bouncing off a reef is common rather than an exception
- Tsunami warnings are accurate and finding deep water quickly is necessary
- Most anchors are useless pieces of metal, except for the Rocna anchor
- You can never have too much anchor chain
- Bottom paint with tin really works
- Bottom paint with copper doesn't really work
- Folding propellers will jam
- Dripless propeller shafts will fail
- Engine service is a household expression now
- The gentle Pacific Ocean is mis-named
- The sunsets in French Polynesia are spectacular beyond belief
- The power of the sea is unrelenting, unforgiving and more powerful than anything we have ever seen
- The Marquesas Islands are mysterious, friendly and more impressive than any book can portray
- Landfall in the South Pacific makes the long long journey well worth it
- Nearly everything that lives in the sea will be seen from the deck and some things actually land on the deck
- Navigating without electronics, autopilot and battery power is a life-altering event
- Big battery banks will all fail at once
- Rationing fuel consumption is a learned skill
- Cooking gas bottles (propane bottles) wear out
- Singapore is a true oasis in a trouble sea
- New Years Eve on Patong Beach in Thailand has to be seen to believe it
- You never know what or whose clothing you will get back from the shoreside laundries
- Half of the crew will read a lot of books
- Half of the crew will watch a lot of DVD's
- Half of the crew will have no time to read books or watch DVD's; they are reading repair manuals
- Ordering parts, Christmas gifts, shower gifts and birthday gifts while at sea is an acquired skill
- Satellite phones don't always work when you want them to
- Computers don't like salt water
- The Southern Cross is ablaze with light in the darkness of the southern seas
- Electronic and paper charts are not always accurate
- Brits and Americans are separated by a common language, according to Churchill, and as we have found
- Silver jewelry tarnishes at sea
- The Middle East deserts are really HOT!

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen…

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dubai Trip

Camels and sand in Salalah, Oman

Enjoying a day at the beach near Salalah, Oman

The United States of America Ambassador to Oman (left) with a couple of sailors

Quad lift in the Dubi indoor ski area, the largest indoor ski area in the world

More of the Dubai ski area. They have a luge run inside as well.

Nearly all taxis in Dubai and new Toyota cars

Riding a bus in Dubai

Olympic sized ice rink inside a mall in Dubai

Maria shopping in Dubai mall

Billboard on the outside of a building in Dubai picturing the present and past rulers

Hershey store in Dubai with shopper outside the store. Yes, the woman is facing the camera.

Atlantis Hotel, Dubai

Our favorite mall in Dubai

Typical street in the business district of Dubai

Cargo for the Dhows along Dubai Creek. These refrigerators are destined to Pakistan, India, and elsewhere around the Red Sea.

Dubai Architecture

More Dubai futuristic buildings

Dubai marina and buildings along Dubai Creek

Dubai skyline

More Dubai buildings and another marina

The Burj Al Arab hotel is built on an island in the Arabian sea and the only 7 star hotel in the world.

Another view of the Burj Al Arab hotel. It is designed in the shape of a sail of course!

Aquarium in the Dubai mall

Tallest building in the world, Dubai

Archaeology site near Salalah, Oman

Bowling night with the Blue Water Rally sailors in Salalah, Oman. Maria is watching their technique.

Another beach near Salalah, Oman

Lobster anyone?

Just our footprints on the beach

On the beach with other Blue Water Rally sailors

Deserted beach near Salalah, Oman

We need the umbrella for shade!

The beach at the Hilton Hotel, Salalah, Oman

Captain Steve ready for the desert

Oman geology!

More sales people in Salalah, Oman

Lunch time at the beach

The Hilton Hotel in Salalah, Oman. This is where we spend our days looking out at the port and enjoying the pool.

Frankincense market in Salalah, Oman with two of the Blue Water Rally sailors and the sales person.

Khat, the Somalia narcotic that was littered all over the captured cargo ship. The pirates are high all the time on this stuff while holding a gun to your head 24/7.

The chief officer from Bangladesh who was held captive aboard the cargo ship by pirates for 7 months. We were allowed onboard the ship when it docked in Salalah, Oman.

A just released cargo ship that the pirates kept for 7 months. It is arriving in Salalah, Oman, next to us.

Cruise ship that stopped in the port at Salalah, Oman. Notice the razor wire around the back of it to deter pirates!

S/Y Aspen – April 18, 2011 – Log #71
Position: 16 degrees 56’ N 054 degrees 00’ E (UTC +4 Hours)
Salalah, Oman

Oman said we had to leave the country! Well, not because we did anything wrong but just because our tourist visa expired and we were only able to renew it for a total of 2 months. So we had to leave the country, stay someplace else and then return to get a new visa.

We contacted our friendly US Ambassador and he said we would have to leave as well. Even the British, who once owned Oman, had no luck getting an extension.

Dubai, UAE is the closest place for us to go so we flew there. It is possible to drive from Salalah for something like 1,000 miles across the desert but it is not recommended because of sand storms, stray camels, high speed trucks and the chances of breakdowns with absolutely nothing for miles and miles across featureless desert.

Dubai - what a contrast to Oman! Dubai is the financial capital of the country UAE (United Arab Emirates). Dubai is a city within the UAE where sheikhs hold all the power. The sheikhs are descendants from the tribes who once roamed this region. They settled in what is now known as Dubai in the 1800's when they came from Abu Dhabi, the largest city in the UAE. The British claimed the states of what is now called the UAE as part of their world-wide empire not so long ago. However, the Brits left Dubai in 1971, not realizing what riches lay under the ground - OIL. The rest is history as Dubai flourished with staggering oil revenues.

There was actually things to do in Dubai like see the most modern skyline in the world and visit world-class hotels, shopping and restaurants. This is where movie stars, rock stars and the billionaires come to invest their money amongst the wealthiest nation on earth. Even the Saudi's come here for R&R, spending their oil money on investments in buildings.

Dubai has the largest mall, the tallest building, the only 7* hotel in the world, the largest and most man-made offshore islands and more modern buildings per square foot than anywhere in the world. Anywhere. Wow, we were impressed as you can see by the pictures on the blog.

It is in Dubai where oil revenues made a country and now foreign investment and tourism is sustaining the country. Today in Dubai there are $305 Billion in construction projects being built. Only 17% of the population of Dubai are natives. The rest are foreign workers! Imagine that, 83% of Dubai isn't even from here, they just work here and send money home. The workers are mainly from India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Pakistan, Russia and even some x-pat US and British. It is quite a melting pot where cultures meet, work, play and there is no crime. What a concept!

We will leave Dubai on Wednesday and fly back to Salalah, Oman (with our new visa) where we will wait for our transport ship to arrive. It looks like Aspen will be shipped out sometime during the first part of May for the voyage to Turkey. The date is still a moving target with ships being coordinated from all over the globe to provide equipment, manpower and the necessary big ship to bring Aspen safely onboard and on her way out of here, along with us too.

We will keep you posted!

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen…