Trip Reports

Oman (28-Feb-2002-22-00):
1O:00 PM local time, Thursday, February 28 (1900 Feb 28 UTC) 15 39 N 039 27 E. Temp. 83, Humidity 75%, Cloud Cover 100%. At anchor in Massawa, Eritrea. We've sailed 17,404 miles, but a flight of 7456 miles would get us home.

Warm greetings from the crew of Maverick.

We apologize, insofar as an apology may be required, for the lapse in our reports. This was caused by a combination of hiding the computer from pirates and being a very long way from stations with which we could communicate, the nearest of which are in Thailand, South Africa, and Belgium.

As the careful reader will have noticed, we are now about one hundred leagues up the Red Sea, on the continent of Africa. He will properly deduce from this and from the lack of news to the contrary that we have safely passed through the pirate zone and are in a friendly country. We will soon give an account of the passage, but first we owe you a little better description of Oman than we were able to provide before we left.

The country has exactly the look you would imagine, like Arizona but next to the sea. Men wear a sort of dress which goes to the ankles and a hat, neither of which, I'm sorry to say, I was able to discover the proper Arabic name for, since the meaning of my question could not be, by me at least, properly communicated. I found it odd that in this dusty country, their robes, or what have you, were immaculate. The women wear the full chador, black, with only hands, feet, and eyes showing. It's interesting to see how they meet the challenge of creating an allure with just these areas, to which they obviously devote much attention. Whether or not these efforts break the spirit of the law is a question far wide of the Captain's mandate.

The people are not particularly poor. The Omanis have oil money and much of the work is done by Pakistani and Indian labor. It was odd to see the fishermen down at the beach, who use $40,000 SUVs to tow the boats they use to fish with nets in the traditional fashion. A day's catch would probably not buy their gas. Since the money came and they could afford big pumps, their enforced frugality with water has given way to waste, and in the not too distant future they may have less water than oil.

Cell phones are common, and only slightly less common are logos of western commerce. KFC, Holiday Inn, Hilton, and Pizza Hut were noticed in the sprawling town of Salalah, of which Raysut, where we were anchored, was the port. Camels and goats roam, apparently without supervision, on the outskirts of town, raising again the age-old question, can a camel ever be truly free? Many citizens speak a bit of English, which is taught in the schools. Not a few were at pains to separate themselves from other Arabs or Muslims with anti-western feelings, and in general all were as warm as could be, if I may say so in this climate, which has turned surprisingly cold at night.

But although we were able to take a day trip to the mountains, much too much of our time was spent on boat jobs and endless meetings, not a bit more enchanting than the ones you may attend at your profession, concerning security enroute to the Red Sea. The background of fear, stronger in some than others but felt by all, made the tone of the meetings severe, and the general feeling in the anchorage was not the relaxed warmth you often find amongst voyagers. At times, tempers flared, although not those of your boys, the crew of Maverick. Secrecy and the whole spy-vs-spy deliberations came quite unnaturally to us, and one other cruiser at a tense moment declared, among other things, that the Captain couldn't have cut it in the CIA, something I gather was meant as an insult.

However, in addition to the regatta previously described, some lightening of the mood was accomplished on a British tanker that made the strategic mistake of inviting the entire anchorage of cruisers for cocktails. They didn't realize that among drinkers, sailors fall into a group not known for their moderation, which is amazing, considering they themselves are sailors and should have been able to figure this out. Apparently, the assembled drank up most of the ship's alcohol reserves, and disciplinary action may have been taken against the junior officers who issued the invitation.

We left Oman, some, but really not too much, trepidation, on February 18. In the next dispatches we'll tell you how we foiled the pirates.


1. The Captain is embarrassed and sends his apologies to the many who have written in, both new friends and old, and even close relatives, who have not heard a proper response. We have been at pains to fill out forms, fix things, attend meetings, and gather information in the last couple of months and aside from the odd night out, the only respite has been at sea. Because of the reasons mentioned above, even during that time it has been quite difficult to communicate. Boy, that doesn't sound like much of an excuse. This is a hectic bit of our itinerary, and when we get to the Med we hope to slow down. Which brings up:

2. If any of our old friends, who are also sailors, you know who you are, may wish to consider doing a little sailing on the coast of Turkey, in the Greek Islands, or perhaps Italy, let us know. Most of the trip so far has consisted of passages too long for most people to commit to, particularly because we cannot be too accurate about dates, but these would be short trips. Even so, we think it best that only sailors accompany us, because anything can happen, even on a day hop, in the Med. Let us know. And,

3. For friends who are landlubbers, you know who you are, the European leg may be a time to try to hook up, and for the reasons stated above and others, it will be an easier place to rendezvous than, say, Uligan in the Maldives. Also, let us know.

4. The January issue of the San Francisco sailing magazine Latitude 38 had a write-up on the Maverick adventure. Also see us in the March, I believe, issue of Cruising World, available where fine periodicals are sold.

Next report from this location: A Fissiparous Fleet

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