Arabian Adventures

The Adkins family learns to sail in a Macgregor 26

11 December 2009 | Dubai, UAE
12 October 2009 | Bandar Khyran, Oman
02 October 2009 | Dubai
17 July 2009 | Home – St. Austell, UK
16 July 2009 | Falmouth Marina, UK
13 July 2009 | Mevagissey, UK
12 July 2009 | Helford, UK
29 May 2009 | Dubai
25 April 2009 | Dubai
24 April 2009 | Dubai
14 March 2009 | Dubai
27 February 2009 | Dubai, UAE
15 February 2009 | Mussandam, Oman
07 February 2009 | Dubai
09 December 2008 | Dubai
01 December 2008 | Dubai

A final trip & a new owner

11 December 2009 | Dubai, UAE
Nevil, cool winter sun.
This will be my last entry in this blog. All good things must come to an end and my job here in Dubai is complete. The first of the two offshore platforms that I have been responsible is ready for installation and the second is hot on its heels, so it is time to pack up and move to pastures green. With any move comes the necessity of disposing of assets that cannot be taken and unfortunately Morwenna is one of those. After our trip to Oman I put Morwenna's For Sale notice onto the internet and was astounded that I got a serious offer within a day. Andrew, a previous Mac19 owner, had just arrived in Dubai and was looking for a suitable boat, saw Morwenna and snapped her up. We agreed a transfer date just after Eid which gave us a chance to have one last trip.

29th November 2009 We had planned to go back to Mussandam with my parents but this time the permits were not forthcoming. It takes about an hour at the embassy to issue a permit but to ensure they were not inundated with a rush of permits before the holiday they decided that they would stop issuing them a week in advance. Of course this was not apparent until I turned up two days before the planned trip - very frustrating but nothing could be done about it. Given that the Dubai-Muscat Race was on over Eid there were plenty of empty slots in the DOSC marina so we launched Morwenna and left her afloat for the week. We had two day trips, on the 27th and 29th November. In keeping with the tradition of the Dubai-Muscat Race there was very little wind so most of the time was spent pulling the boys and even their grandparents around on the tow-tube. Despite misapprehension even Grandma got in the tube and was bounced back and forth across the wake - and really enjoyed it!

27th November - 5.4NM
29th November - 9.4NM
Total in Morwenna 249.5NM
Total (inc Cornish cruise) 320.6NM

11th December 2009 Soon after Eid Morwenna was formally transferred to her new owner and after some instruction in the art of mast raising we launched her into the Creek. A short motor across the new marina and a bow-to-stern briefing completed the handover and with heavy hearts we left her behind. We owned Morwenna for exactly one year and had lots of fun, lots of truly amazing experiences and a few upsets too. Overall we achieved what we had set out to do - learn to sail our own small yacht in the Arabian Gulf.

Our next new adventure is to be in Stavanger, Norway - so very different from the UAE. Stavanger is of course a city surrounded by sea and with so many fjords to explore I can't help but thinking there may have to be a Morwenna II. There can only be one "first yacht you own" though, so Morwenna will always be remembered fondly. Finally - thanks for those of you who have read this blog - well over 800 visits at the time of writing. I hope you have enjoyed reading of our adventures and perhaps learned some tips and tricks for sailing in Dubai and Oman.

Adventure Oman

12 October 2009 | Bandar Khyran, Oman
We had planned for some time to take a longer trip over the children's half-term holiday, a four day long weekend, and we decided we would go down to Muscat, Oman. The boys were both born in Muscat when we lived there previously so going there is always like going home. Following the same procedure for a Musandam permit, I obtained a permit for sailing in Oman with ease from the Omani Embassy. The guy in the Embassy recognised me this time and asked how our previous trip had been so we were off to a good start.

Friday 9th October. We were up and driving out of the yard by 0620, having set everything up the night before. The only thing we had to do before setting off was pack the coolbox and the breakfast bag and predictably we had not gone more than 5km before the boys were tucked into the croissants. Five and a quarter hours later we rolled into Muscat, having sat at 100kph on the cruise control virtually the whole way and taking just 30mins to clear the border out of the UAE and into Oman. Given that I would reckon on 4½ hours on a good day without the boat on the back this was pretty good going. The temperature registered by the car thermometer was 40°C and it was 11:35 when we arrived so we decided that lunch was in order before going off to launch. I phoned Kirsten, a friend of old who lives in Muscat, and she had just finished her shopping and would love to join us for lunch.By the time we finished a long, lazy lunch it was nearly 2pm and the temperature had dropped to 37°C - the heat of the day was past. We drove down to the public slip in Kalbuh, at the eastern end of the Muttrah corniche, but although I remembered it from a few years ago and could still see it on Google Earth, the slip was in a poor state of repair, probably ripped up by Cyclone Gonu a couple of years ago. The commercial marina at Bandar Rowdar wanted OMR25 (US$65) to launch a boat and the same again to retrieve it so we decided to chance our luck at the Capital Area Yacht Club. The security guard took me to see his manager and we agreed OMR10 to launch, I wasn't sure whether this included retrieval but it was a price I was prepared to pay. We ended up paying OMR14 for the launch, retrieval and a nominal guest entry fee - very good value. Within 45mins we had the mast up, car parked and trailer hitched to the launch tractor and off we went. We stopped in to Bandar Rowdar to fill the second tank with petrol, the water tank with water and to smarten Morwenna up by hosing off the grime from the road journey. We departed Bandar Rowdar at 1545 and set sail with spinnaker and main, but alas the wind was pitiful. 35 minutes later and a mere 1.1NM later I decided that we had better get going under motor if we were to get to the anchorage in daylight.

A snug anchorage in Bandar Khyran

Arriving in Bandar Khyran, or BK as we know it, we checked out a couple of potential anchorages before settling on a narrow bay with a small beach. We flopped into the sea for a swim and then cooked up a simple pasta supper and fell into bed very early. I elected to sleep in the cockpit and Rach decided to sleep below until midnight when she escaped the warmth below and came up too.

Distance run 10.1NM

Saturday 10th October. We awoke at 6am as it was getting light and by 0620 the sun was up, bathing the bay in a soft golden light. Shoals of fish were slowly circuiting the inlet and there was just the shush of the small waves on the sandy beach to break the silence. A cup of coffee helped the eyelids open and then we had a snorkel round the bay. Cyclone Gonu had done a lot of damage about 2 years ago but it was good to see both the soft and hard corals taking advantage of the clean field and growing back strongly and the fish life was a vibrant as ever.

Luke bleary eyed at dawn

Dawn in Bandar Khyran

After a breakfast of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (who says camping is roughing it?) we cleared up and then hauled anchor and set off with the intent to sail down the coast and try to catch some fish. This morning the wind was a little fresher, NNW F2-3, and we were soon splashing along at 3-4knots heading for the tropics. The Tropic of Cancer runs across Oman so I had the thought of at least going down the coast far enough to officially enter the tropics. At 1047 we passed 23.5°N and shortly thereafter we took in the spinnaker, set the genoa and hardened up onto port tack, heading out to sea to try slightly deeper water for the fishing lures. On return home several days later I looked up the exact definition of the Tropic of Cancer and found that it is 23° 26' 22" N so we had actually been short of the tropics by a little under 3NM when we turned around - a good reason to go back! We tacked again and headed back towards the sandy beaches just south of BK thinking of a lunch stop. All of a sudden Rach shouted that she had seen a fish jump aft of the boat where our lures would be, there was a momentary bowing of one of the rods and then I could see the fluorescent orange lure bobbing on the waves. A fish had clearly taken the lure, snapped the line and then let go, all in a split second. Not wanting to leave the lure behind I tacked Morwenna and held her hove-to. We drifted down towards the lure and Rachel dived in to retrieve it. It took us a little while to untangle the lines from around the daggerboard and rudders but once we were on our way again we could examine the trace. The wire trace had the merest suggestion of rust on it at the point that it had snapped and I knew that this was a very old trace so I guess it had weakened enough to be snapped by the mystery fish. Another thing to be repaired! We took in sail as we approached Paul's Point, the southern edge of BK and motored slowly into the beach for lunch. Being open to the ocean we also hoped to find some driftwood to fuel the cooking fire later on and we were rewarded by finding an old pallet washed up on the shore. After 1 ½ hr lunch stop we slowly motored back to our previous anchorage, trolling all the way but with no further luck.

We decided that since we wanted to barbeque the evening meal, and since it was rather warm to sleep below, we would shift the cushions to the beach and sleep there under the stars. Whilst I was ferrying the kit ashore, the kids set up fishing rods on the cliffs and actually managed to catch a moray eel although it refused to come out from its crevice and left us with another broken (nylon) trace. Sleeping on the beach was cooler than below on board and less cramped than the cockpit so everybody got a better night's sleep, although it was still fairly warm. Another few weeks and the temperature will be perfect!

Distance run 14.3NM

Red = 9th Oct, Green = 10th Oct, Blue = 11th Oct

Sunday 11th October. We had a very lazy morning although it started early again. We swam and snorkelled, packed the camp back onto the boat, swam again until by just after noon we were ready to leave. BK was flat calm as usual but I could see that the afternoon breeze had already picked up to a good NW F4 with lumpy waves and many whitecaps so I set sail with a single reef and maybe just over half of the genoa unfurled. As we left the shelter of the bay we healed over dramatically and uncomfortably. After a few minutes it was clear nobody was enjoying the spray dashing over the bow and the rate of progress was a mere couple of knots so I took in the second reef, furled the genoa completely and we motor-sailed back to CAYC in two hours. We recovered Morwenna onto her trailer and stowed the mast as we had a snack lunch and finally drove over to our friends' house. Kirsten and Dave had responded kindly to our plea for an air-conditioned place to sleep and we shared a very pleasant evening over a bottle of wine and a Chinese take-away - thanks guys!

Distance run 10.9NM, total this trip 35.3NM, total in Morwenna 234.7NM

Purple = 12th Oct - the route home

Monday 12th October. Since our hosts had to be up early for work and we had a long way to go too, we decided to get up and get going in the morning. There was also the revelation that Robert did actually have homework to finish that he hadn't told us about, so we thought it better to get back home sooner rather than later. We set off at 0930 and arrive home at 1445, so 5½ hrs to cover 422km (262miles) including the border crossing which took ½ hour - not bad really.

The trip was enjoyable in that it was great to get out of Dubai and to get into the beautiful backwaters of Oman. I am having to face up to the fact that the rest of the family don't really enjoy the sailing part that much. What saddens me even more is that as our time here in Dubai is coming to an end in the coming months I will almost certainly have to look for a new owner to look after Morwenna. We'll make the most of the intervening months but it looks like this little experiment is drawing to a close.


02 October 2009 | Dubai
Nevil, hot & sunny
Friday 2nd October. On returning to Dubai in August, after our rather damp Cornish sailing experience, we started frying again with temperatures up around 45°C (113°F) and humidity at 70-85%. I attempted to do a few jobs on Morwenna and got as far a painting the battery compartment but with the sweat pouring out of me and onto the paintwork, I was not making a good job of it and gave up for a while.

The equinox is the key - as soon as there are less hours of sunlight heating the place up than night time hours allowing it to cool, the temperatures start to drop nicely. Don't get me wrong - it is still hot; today was 38°C (100°F) but it is amazing how much difference a week makes and how much nicer it is when the outside temperature is more or less blood temperature than when the oven is on.

Over the summer Morwenna's name graphic finally arrived and I took advantage of the 'cool' evenings last week to stick it on. I also started work on upgrading the electrics - changing the stock battery switch for one that can handle dual batteries and adding an automatic charging relay. Next week I will finish the battery upgrade by installing and wiring the two extra batteries and then it will be on to wiring in an additional distribution panel, echo sounder, stereo, etc. I doubt whether I will get it all done by the time we go to Oman next weekend but let's see....

Trying the boat again after a long lay up it always a case of trying to predict what has stopped working in the mean time:
- Battery refitted and charge checked.
- Engine oil level checked.
- Wheels on the trailer and tyres pumped up.
- Trailer brakes - where has all the fluid gone and why? Refill and hope for the best.
- Hack off the rusted screw shackles from the trailer chains. Damn - the nice shiny new stainless ones I bought won't fit. Use a normal shackle instead.
- Raise trailer - damn the jockey wheel is stuck. Bit more force - double damn; its broken. Use car jack and precision reversing. Where am I going to get a new jockey wheel from in Dubai?
We're off.

A friend had had the boys for a sleep over the previous night and was supposed to be meeting us, along with her two boys, to come out with us. This had deprived me of two of my little helpers, so when lines needed un-snagging and things holding there was nobody to help and it took a bit longer than normal to get the mast up. Still, we were on the water by just before 11am which wasn't too bad considering the number of minor issues discovered; only 25mins late. We picked up Sheila and the crew from DOSC and set off in a pleasant NW F3 on a beam reach up towards Safa Island, trotting along at 3-4knots. After a mere 20 minutes it was time to take in the sails and head for lunch at the anchorage. In the heat of the day a refreshing swim was definitely required and the gang of boys set about exploring, sand castle digging, swimming and halyard swinging just as boys of 7 to 9 should. The parents had a good gossip too!

Life's a beach Robert swinging from the halyard Mums' bad hair day

After a long lunch we got sailing again just before 3pm and headed back to DOSC, first finding some sea room on a close reach and then bearing away to a broad reach to return in 30 minutes. After finding so many problems with the trailer it was satisfying to find no problems with the little ship itself. She should be ready for her trip down to Muscat next weekend.

Route 2nd Oct 09 - to Safa Island & back

Distance today: 5.76NM, Distance in Morwenna: 199.4NM

The Cornish Cats Who Went to Sea – Day 7 (Last day)

17 July 2009 | Home – St. Austell, UK
Nevil / A windy evening but fine at last
17/07/2009 St Austell
We woke this morning and still the rain was falling in bucket loads and the promised f6 was howling through the mastheads, clanking the halyards to a percussive tune. We decided that enough was enough; this charter was supposed to be a fun holiday but the worst weather in months had drowned out most of the enjoyment. As we cleared our belongings from our temporary home I reflected on the week. Far from an exciting introduction to UK cruising during a flaming summer, we had endured a week of foul weather during which RNAS Culdrose recorded 56mm of rain, more than the average for the whole of July, and the winds had been above Force 4 for most of the time. At various times during the week I had sworn to myself that we will never do this again; whether I hold true to that promise to myself remains to be seen. It is a pity really since when the weather is good there are few better places in the world than the south coast of Cornwall, but the inconsistency is the bane of the Cornish tourist trade. Nevertheless, as with all experiences in life, we take away learning points both positive and negative and as I remember a canal boat holiday with my parents when I was slightly younger than my sons are now, I am sure that they will look back and remember this holiday. I remember my canal holiday as good weather. Will Robert & Luke remember the five days of rain or the one dry day during which they fished for crabs till the sun went down?
Next year - somewhere warm!

The Cornish Cats Who Went to Sea – Days 5 & 6

16 July 2009 | Falmouth Marina, UK
Nevil/ Rain
15/07/2009 Fowey
The forecast for today was SW f5-7 decreasing f4 or f5 then f3-4 later, sea rough becoming moderate, showers squally at first. The outlook for tomorrow was SW becoming cyclonic f3-4 becoming NW f4 or f5 occasionally f6 later in west, sea moderate becoming slight, showers becoming rain later.

15/07/2009 View from Mixtow Pill

We decided that rather than battling straight into the teeth of a sou'wester to get back to Falmouth we would have a day off sailing, have a walk into Fowey and try to dry stuff out between the showers. The boys had a great time fishing from the pontoon and managed to collect a bucket full of tiny shrimps and baby fish with their nets before we had lunch and then walked along to the Bodinnick Ferry and crossed to Fowey.

15/07/2009 Threatening sky over Fowey 15/07/2009 Pictureque Fowey - Ferryside, one time home of Daphne du Maurier 15/07/2009 Robert & Luke's pollock.

We walked through town until we could see the rough open sea whilst we ate an icecream each. Some things have to be done - even if it is cold, wet and windy! The boys improved their armoury of fishing gear, replacing a lost hook on their crab line and buying a drop net but unfortunately we were too late to get some fish heads in the fishmonger. On returning back to Mixtow pontoon the boys found however that a tiny pollock had taken their bait and the drop net proved a big success with the crabs virtually falling over themselves to get into it. Even a starfish joined in being caught!

16/07/2009 Fowey to Falmouth
0929 N50 20.771 W4 37.791, departed Mixtow pontoon in continuous light rain.
1000 N50 18.217 W4 39.089, just south of Fowey Approach waypoint. Raised sails however there was very little wind but what there was was from the south so it helped us on the way. Logged passage with Brixham CG.
1100 N50 14.762 W4 42.538, approaching Gwineas Rocks waypoint.
1200 N50 12.044 W4 46.750, approaching Dodman waypoint. Wind veered to the SW but still very light. Altered course to the west to keep the sails filled but soon after furled the headsail and continued with the main up to reduce rolling. Still raining virtually continuously.

16/07/2009 Helming in the rain.

1300 N50 09.928 W4 53.170, 1.5NM SSE of Gull Rock.
1400 N50 08.237 W5 00.784, just south of St Antony's Head.
1433 in channel approaching Flushing. Advised Falmouth CG of safe arrival.
1443 alongside at fuel pontoon, Falmouth Marina.
1510 tied up alongside, Falmouth Marina.

Distance run today 25.2NM, total 71.1NM

Soaking wet, freezing cold and not very happy we had to cheer ourselves up with a good old fashioned Cornish cream tea!

16/07/2009 A cream tea reward.

16/07/2009 Route Fowey to Falmouth.

The Cornish Cats Who Went to Sea - Day 4

14 July 2009 | Fowey
Nevil / Showers, S f5-6
Tuesday 14th July 2009
1024 Slipped the moorings and departed harbour with Dad on board. Advised Brixham CG of passage plan.
1033 Set sail with 1 reef in main. Heading for Fowey.
1100 50°16.913'N 4°43.290'W, 2.5NM WNW of Mevagissey. Wind S 21-23kts (f5-6). Reduced sail on genoa to ~60%.
1124 Turned to run into Fowey.
1145 Passed Readymoney Cove under sail.
1150 Dropped sail and prepared to dock at pontoon.

14/07/2009 Entering Fowey under sail

1200 50°20.163'N 4°37.952'W, alongside at Albert Quay (short stay).

14/07/2009 Walking through Fowey - where's the pub?

Did some shopping for food essentials and chandlery essentials (inc a new shear pin for the outboard). Met Mum and we all went to The Galleon for lunch. After lunch Mum & Dad went on their way home and we went off in search of a mooring.

1400 Departed Albert Quay and moored alongside at Mixtow Pontoon (50°20.779'N, 4°37.792'W). Advised Brixham CG of arrival (a bit late!).

Distance run today 8.3NM, total 45.9NM
Peak speed 9.6kt, averaging 6-7kt at sea.

14/07/2009 Route Mevagissey to Fowey
Vessel Name: Morwenna
Vessel Make/Model: MacGregor 26
Hailing Port: Dubai, UAE
Crew: Nevil, Rachel, Robert & Luke Adkins


Who: Nevil, Rachel, Robert & Luke Adkins
Port: Dubai, UAE