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Cruising The Indian Ocean including Fujairah, UAE?

By doina — last modified Apr 04, 2004 06:04 PM

Published: 2004-04-04 18:04:53
Countries: United Arab Emirates , Kenya , Oman

Starting at Phuket in January 2003 we did the circuit of the Indian Ocean accompanying the main cruising fleet to Chagos and Seychelles. At each of these points part of the fleet headed south whilst from Seychelles we headed due west to the African coast at Dar-es-Salaam. Arriving in mid July we spent two and a half months between there and at Kilifi Creek, near Mombassa, before heading north on the tail end of the SW monsoon in October.

Our first point of arrival in the Arab world was at Muscat, in Oman, which offered very attractive, and welcoming, though expensive, marina facilities. We were not allowed to remain there however due to having a Tanzanian crew member aboard. We thus proceeded to Dubai where once again we were welcomed and even given a two week complementary marina berth at the Offshore Sailing Club. However there were two limitations, one being a time limit of three weeks which the yacht was allowed to remain in the country, the other was that no further marina facility or secure anchorage was available.

Thus back to Fujairah, (250 07.65 N, 560 21.46 E) immediately opposite Dubai, on the east coast of UAE. Here the local sheik has constructed a marina, along with a magnificent club house and bar and restaurant facility, as a base for an annual power boat race in December each year. At other times it is relatively deserted. Whilst there are a limited number of berths, possibly forty, which are half filled at normal times, this would probably be extended if demand required, as management seemed very keen for business. Not only was our marina berth problem resolved on arrival, but also, being in a different emirate, the boat was allowed an unlimited stay. This of course was subject to our own visa limitations, which acted, similar to Phuket, on a sixty day rollover system.

Hospitality could not be improved upon, rates are very reasonable, and as distinct from Muscat and Dubai, where agents were required, marina management acted as agent without increase in fees. Security is good, to the point where we have been quite happy to leave the boat for two weeks whilst we went away for Christmas. We were warned that, as we were there for the annual power boat race, we would have to anchor outside for a few days when that took place. What happened in fact was that the few resident sailing craft were eventually regarded as an asset to the scene, and we were not only allowed to stay, but were given pride of place at the forefront of the marina. One gets the impression that if there was a shortage of berths available, another might be built for you there and then, on the spot.

Facilities for haul out are available at Muscat, but with no power wash or blasting facility. Fujairah is a commercial port without facilities really suited to hauling yachts. At Dubai full facility is available, and it could make sense to use Dubai for any major work required, in association with Fujairah as a marina base, as they are only about two hundred miles apart by water. Dubai is also readily accessible from Fujairah for shopping, but whilst it aspires to be another Singapore, with world class shopping, general yachting requirements are not necessarily easy to locate.

Due to self imposed restrictions we did not explore the major cruising area, which is in Omanian territory north of Fujairah. We are advised however that it is excellent cruising, and some of the underwater life, which we have seen nearby, lends a lot of support to that advice.

Seasonal conditions dictate arrival in this area on the end of the SW monsoon at the beginning of November, and heading for the Red Sea on the NW monsoon in February, and thus three months within the area. This period fits with the most attractive weather conditions in this area, which can apparently become unattractively hot at other times of year.

With the limitation of a long haul from Kenya to Oman, around twenty three hundred miles, the direction we took was totally positive, and very rewarding. The coast of Africa, particularly inside Zanzibar was outstanding, and to my mind very underrated. The leg from Kenya to Oman was fairly hard work, often in opposing current, as we were sufficiently offshore to avoid Socotra. I believe however that it was still easier than the run south to Madagascar, about which we heard only reports of bad weather.

I have only positive experience of having visited Fujairah.

By Alan Gardner Yacht "Barcoo" April 2004