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THE CHATTER BOX

 
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  The Chatter Box : Travel
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The Dhow Trade by outbasket on 26 December 2008 6:18am
 
The Dhow Trade
12/24/2008

I've been trying to catch up with Michael Palin, but I'm twenty years too late. Here I am in Oman searching for the dhow that will take me to India. But it seems the dhow business is in sad shape. In Omanís Mutrah harbor there are only a handful of these wooden ships. They are overshadowed by the enormous new yacht for the Sultan, and all the cargo ships that pull in regularly to deliver asphalt and new cars. Oman depends more on the car than ships and camels these days to propel people around. I wasn't able to get into the harbor, but across the bay with my binoculars I caught the name, Raj Milan, of one of the dhows. I wonder where it was going next?

But there is still a dhow shipyard in Oman. In the southern city of Sur I was able to walk amongst the dhows that are being restored for the tourist trade. "Come on board," I was told and so I did.
The craftsman ship is still first rate, although the previous hand-only saws and drills have been replaced by the power tool; I stepped over electrical cords on my way to the bridge. "How old is this boat?" I asked, expecting an age upwards of fifty years (based on the condition). "Twenty years at most," I was told. Four more dhows sat sunk in the mud next to me as I climbed down. Perhaps one day they will look at good as the one dry-docked on display at the soon-to-be dhow museum. That one could have been Michael's ship (certainly looked cleaned with drinking water) being all shiny. There was that outdoor toilet hanging over the starboard side. The display said it was rescued from Yemen. It will have a long life in dry-dock.


I did try to find the dhow shipyard in Dubai that Michael visited. Alas, no one seemed to know what had become of it. There are plenty of dhows in Dubai still running between the UAE and Iran, and of course ferrying tourists around the creek for a sunset meal. I even saw a dhow-looking new yacht commissioned for a customer in Qatar (a gift from some wealthy Sheik).Since I wasn't really planning on catching a Dhow to India (opting for the quicker Jet Airways instead) I didn't need a bag of rice, none-the-less, I wandered the souq where Michael purchased his sack of grain. The varieties where mind boggling. I'd go with the fancy yellow bag if I were choosing. Dubai and Muscat has changed a lot in the last twenty years. At least I have Michaels's '80 days Around the World' to look back on to see how things were. The images that I will keep now are of a changed Arabia. If only time travel were possible. I'm looking forward to Michael's reunion with his dhow crew. It will be interesting to see his take on all the changes that have happened since he was last here.


John
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/talewind
http://worldtrip.iwebland.com

To get a pdf version with photos of this go to:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/talewind/files/
 
Re: The Dhow Trade by Ken Dunn on 27 December 2008 9:51am
 
Very interesting report/comment, outbasket.
 
Re: The Dhow Trade by tucsonmike on 28 December 2008 10:16am
 
Interesting, thank you for that.
 



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