The Jewel of Muscat arrival in Singapore

Check out also the latest news from the Jewel of Muscat here. As per today, it's reported: "Despite light winds Jewel is making steady progress towards Klang. In the last 24 hours she covered 75 miles at an average speed of 2.5 knots and still has around 90 miles to go to port. At 0330 GMT on Sunday Jewel’s position was 3° 45’ N 100° 36’ E."

What I'm curious most is how the crew will handle the potential piracy in the area? I mean just take a look at the vessel herself. I can't imagine her defense system. Self-destruct bomb somewhere in the hull? Yeah, right. She is such a masterpiece that I believe even lowly pirates would give some respect to her.

The Jewel of Muscat, the 9th century Arabian Dhow, set sail on Friday from Georgetown, Penang to start its fourth leg of its voyage to Port Klang, before its scheduled arrival in Singapore on July 3.

According to Oman Sail, the first report back from the boat said the vessel was making steady progress in fair winds.

The Jewel of Muscat will be sailing along the coast of Malaysia and is due to reach Port Klang near Malacca in about a week for supplies for the final leg of its journey.

Oman Sail added that the danger is certainly not over, as the Straits of Malacca is among the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

The crew would therefore need to anchor every night out of caution.

But the greatest trials on the open seas are mostly over for the crew.

The next two legs should be very short.

The Jewel of Muscat is a gift from the Sultanate of Oman to the government and people of Singapore.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Jewel of Muscat sets sail for Port Klang, to reach S'pore on July 3".

Update on 04/07: she's finally here in Singapore--the Jewel of Muscat, right on schedule (03/07)!!

THE Jewel of Muscat was welcomed to Singapore in fine style on Saturday, with everyone from the sailors to the VIPs determined not to let the bad weather ruin the occasion.

The planned festivities for the ship, a gift from the Sultanate of Oman to Singapore, carried on uninterrupted even as heavy rain fell for long periods during the day.

Foreign Minister George Yeo was the first to brave the bad weather as he headed out to sea early in the morning to greet the ship as it entered Singapore waters.

Despite the heavy downpour, Mr Yeo turned down an umbrella and chose to brave the rain with the sailors on the open deck of the ship.

Later, he would write on his Facebook page that the 'arrival of the Jewel in wind and rain gave a hint of voyage trials'.

From Straits Times, "Jewel Of Muscat arrives".

Update on 13/07: more is revealed about the exciting experience of the 18-men crew of the Jewel of Muscat. I'll give it a pass. Heh.

FOR five months, the 18-men crew of the Jewel of Muscat lived like medieval sailors as they made their way from Oman to Singapore.

This meant bathing in sea water, cooking on charcoal stoves and sleeping next to the live chickens they had taken along for food.

There is no air-conditioning, no running water and not even a single mattress on the vessel, a replica of a 9th-century Arab dhow.

In fact, life on the dhow was so demanding that one man was dropped from the crew before the vessel even set sail.

Mr. Saleh Al Jabri, the crew's captain, told The New Paper on Sunday: "That guy couldn't take the tough conditions and fell ill after just two days."

The vessel, a gift from the ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, to Singapore, arrived at the Marina at Keppel Bay last Saturday.

Keeping to the ancient Omani art of dhow-building, the materials were sourced from India and Africa.

Not a single nail or screw was used. Everything was handmade- from the rigging to the sail.

Mr. Saleh, 42, said the week-long training that the Omani government gave him and his crew had prepared them mentally for the tough voyage.

Half of the crew, including himself, are Omanis who serve the Royal Navy of Oman; the rest were foreign volunteers including some from Singapore, Italy and Sri Lanka.

The idea of bathing with sea water did not appeal to Mr. Saleh but there was no choice.

Salty showers

He said: "We had three tonnes of fresh water and we had to (reserve) the water as much as possible for cooking.

"Even then, we mixed sea water with our fresh water."

On why he balked at the idea of salty showers, Mr. Saleh said:

"I (didn't want to) smell of salt. So I thought I'd just wait for it to rain so I could have a "shower"."

As it turned out, it did not rain in the first four days. So Mr. Saleh had no choice but to opt for his less preferred way of freshening up.

The way to answer nature's call came by way of a zoolie - a wooden box, with a hole in the bottom, suspended over the side of the ship.

One of the foreign crew members, Mr. Alessandro Ghidoni, an Italian, wrote on the Jewel of Muscat's website: "Going to the toilet was very tricky at the beginning. But over time, you get used to it."

Other modern amenities were also missing.

There were no air-conditioned cabins: The crew slept on hammocks, 18 of them crammed under the deck.

Was it not possible to sleep on deck, under the stars? No, said crew member, Mr. Hussein Ahmad. Otherwise, "if we felt sleepy after waking up, we could simply fall into the sea...because there're no railings".

Mr. Saleh added that crew wore life jackets.

"But these are no guarantee. It's better to be safe than sorry," he said.

The crew were also exposed to the elements as the ship had no cover.

Said Mr. Saleh: "We had no doctor on board so it was fortunate no one fell ill."

The lack of a refrigerator and gas stoves meant the crew had to take 20 live chickens and two sheep on board, slaughtering the animals for food, cooking them over charcoal stoves.

They also fished during the voyage - attempts to buy fish from fishing trawlers failed as the crew were mistaken for pirates.

Mr. Saleh said: "Two chickens jumped into the sea after we let them out during feeding. We couldn't rescue them.One died during the voyage.


"When we beckoned to fishing trawlers to come closer to our ship, they shied away."

There were other challenges that came with steering an ancient vessel.

Mr. Saleh said: "We had only the wind to power the ship and it was intimidating to be among supertankers in the sea.

"The crew on the bigger ships were so surprised to see an ancient craft that they did 180-degree turns just to have a good look at us."

Fortunately, there were no collisions or pirate attacks.

The crew also missed their family and Mr. Saleh, a father of four, called his children at all the stopovers in Cochin, India; Galle, Sri Lanka and in Penang and Klang.

Given their tough experience, the crew was overjoyed when they sailed into Singapore waters.

The first thing that Mr. Saleh did was to pray, offering thanks for the safe voyage.

The Jewel of Muscat will be displayed at the Maritime Xperiential Museum, which will open at Resorts World Sentosa next year.

Looking back, Mr. Saleh said he appreciated the challenges.

He said: "We made history in sailing this ship. But going without material comforts made us appreciate the lives of ancient sailors."

Onshore, the crew stayed in Hotel Re!, a boutique hotel in Chin Swee Road, and flew to Muscat on Friday.

The hotel's deputy general manager, Ms. Jolene Chong, said it appointed a coordinator to take care of the crew's needs, such as taking them on city tours, seeing to their dietary needs and laundry.

Having not much choice for meals during their voyage, the men enjoyed the servings from Re!Fill, the hotel's restaurant.

Its executive chef, Mr. William Ang, said: "They prefer mild and non-spicy food like sweet and sour fish and chicken teriyaki. They also like roti prata."

From Asiaone, "Glimpse ancient sea travel".


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