First Mate’s Log
26th February 2010
Khamis Al Hamdani
I did not want to miss this chance to learn what it was like for my ancestors to sail to distant lands
For me, being aboard the Jewel of Muscat is a great experience–really a dream that came true. I am from Muttrah and my father was a fisherman. When I was a boy, I worked at sea with my father every morning, then returned home to change my clothes before walking over the hills to Muscat where I attended school. The sea has been my life and I am grateful to my father for the many lessons he taught me about fishing, the weather, and the nature of the sea itself.
When I was old enough, I joined the Royal Navy of Oman. I knew I wanted to use my skills as a seaman and to have new adventures in the service of my country. My first ship was the “Dhofar” which accompanied the royal ship of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos on an official visit to Jordan in 1995. You can imagine how exciting it was for me, a fisherman from Muttrah, to meet His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and King Hussein.
When I returned to Muscat, I signed on with the Shabab Oman, my country’s square-rigged sailing ship. I love all kinds of ships, but I especially like sailing vessels because they are more interesting and more traditional. As an Omani, I know how important sailing has been to our history and I am proud to be a sailor. Besides, sailing is a lot of fun.
I sailed aboard the Shabab Oman for over twenty years and visited many countries on every continent except South America. When we sailed to the United States in the winter of 2007, we encountered a terrible storm in the North Atlantic. It had winds of sixty knots and waves ten meters high. Three of our sails were destroyed. But the Shabab Oman is an excellent ship and she suffered no other damage, and thankfully, all 56 crew members were safe.
I retired from the Royal Navy with the rank of “Master of the Deck.” But I knew I still wanted to be a sailor, so I became the Captain of the “Jenan al Bahr” (Spirits of the Sea), a charter sailboat. This position is very interesting for me because I get to sail up and down the Omani coast and our clients come from all over the world. I was quite happy to continue in the charter business, but when Captain Saleh Al Jabri called and asked me to serve as First Mate aboard the Jewel of Muscat I agreed immediately. Captain Saleh and I have been friends for many years and served together on the Shabab Oman, so I knew this would be a great experience. Sailing across the Indian Ocean on a 9th century ship that is sewn together is not an opportunity that any of us could have again, and I did not want to miss this chance to learn what it was like for my ancestors to sail to distant lands. I admire sailors from the past because of their bravery and their great knowledge of the sea and the winds.
Yes, this voyage is a dream come true. So far it is going very well despite the lack of wind on some days, and I am enjoying it very much. I look forward to arriving in Singapore and helping to give the Jewel of Muscat as a gift to the Singaporean people. Some day I hope to take my family to Singapore so they can see the Jewel of Muscat in its new home.