Not often you find yourself up up and away in a 17ft long sea kayak but that’s what happened when I was surfing some rebound waves just outside of Port Stephens, NSW
I was surfing one wave rebounding off the cliff and another biggish wave was coming in, I was in an amazing sweet spot as the 2 waves met and peaked in perfect timing to launch me and all 30kg of boat and day gear way up in the air.
The landing was actually very nice and gentle but my rear day hatch did get popped off by the push of air up from the hold as I landed. The best thing was someone (Josh) caught it on video!!
Please come and join us and the outdoor community for a social evening organised by Simon Cahill of Arabia Outdoors. Mike Nott is speaking about his extensive 4×4 adventures in the region and launching his new advanced offroading book. I’ll be warming up for him talking about my Musendam Circumnavigation Adventure that was, I believe, the first complete Khasab to Khasab circuit including the portage over the isthmus. It didnt go entirely to plan, 4 of us started and I ended up doing the journey solo due to a mild issue with deportation. Come along to the evening and I’ll tell you the whole story along with giving a guide to kayaking in this world class paddling destination.
I’ve had a really interesting couple of days. Firstly my first radio experience on Thursday morning and then a day and a half helping out on the Adventure HQ shop floor. The radio was a completely new experience, the shop floor of an outdoor store was revisiting old experiences. Both were interesting and both great fun.
At the weekend Lee and myself did the trip I’ve been wanting to do since I completed the Circumnavigation of Musendam. Jazirat Al Hamra on the wild exposed East coast of Musendam, Oman, left a deep impression on me and I’ve been yearning to go back. I was sure a weekend trip using the roadhead at Naid in Khwar Habalayn would work well and so it did.
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This is simply an outstanding 2 day sea kayak trip. Its wild, beautiful, committing, interesting and can be challenging. I’ll post up more details soon but I wanted to share these photos with you asap.
Its taken me too long to get around to start exploring Dubai’s Creek in my kayak and it turns out I’ve been missing out. The first afternoon spent in the bottom section of the busy, bustling waterway was brilliant and I’ll be heading back to continue exploring asap.
The World in this case being, of course, the Dubai World. A series of man made islands just off shore from Dubai and in the news at the moment for all the wrong reasons (Telegraph article).
I needed a plan and inspired by a facebook post I’d seen about a team of SUPers doing the trip recently as a charity paddle it seemed like as good a plan as any. Seeing as there are not many places on this planet you can live and go for an evening paddle around the ‘world’ it had to be done. I checked Google Earth and worked it out to 32km and that seemed fine so printed off a couple of copies of the image and laminated them, threw some stuff in a bag, loaded up the kayak and went to Neros for a coffee and some lunch. Its one of the advantages to solo paddling, there is no one else to organise, no one to organise you and only your own timescale (if you have one) to adhere to.
It was quite a long cafe lunch, I’d been out on the road bike in the morning and I wasn’t feeling in the mood to rush. Eventually I was on the road and found myself at Sunset Beach, Um Suqeim, Dubai. By the time I’d unloaded the boat and done the quick kit faff it was about 1630hrs when I paddled out through the surf.
The weather was very unDubai like, overcast with rain in the air and a stiff North Easterly breeze blowing. I set a northerly course that made the ‘World’ about 5km away. Once into the shelter of the islands the going was pretty easy and with the GPS showing a speed consistently over 7km/h the tide was obviously with me.
There was still plenty of daylight as I got to the sea wall that surrounds the development. You can’t paddle through the islands of this proposed millionaires playground, no oiks allowed and the security boats on the various entrances made this very clear.
Heading NW, anti clockwise direction, I continued to make good easy progress in the fading light. It seemed strange to see Dubai’s distinctive skyline through occasional rain and with a very overcast sky. The weather made for very comfortable paddling though and a change is as good as a rest.
As I rounded the far edge of the sea wall the light gave out. The wind was now right in my face and the sea was getting quite choppy. I was concious I wouldn’t be obviously visible to the few speed boats out so I had already put a light stick on the back of my cap and had my head torch on my head ready just in case. In the end I hardly saw any boats for the whole journey, just a few water taxi’s beating a path between the Creek and the end of the Palm.
By the time I reached the most northerly point of the trip I was moving much slower than my earlier average of 7.2km/h. The tide was obviously against me and a reasonably chunky sea was coming at me from the side slowing me down to between 4 and 5km/h.
Now in the Arctic regions of the Dubai world, on its seaward side, the seawall was hiding the bright lights of the city skyline. To my left was the yellow/red overcast sky of the cities light pollution, to my right was just gloom. It was out of this murky darkness the waves were coming. In normal daylight they would have appeared quite small but coming at me unseen meant I was kayaking completely reactively on a very choppy sea. There were plenty of small whitecaps just visible in the murk and every now and then I’d get hit broadside by an unseen bigger than normal wave.
It felt great!!!! Just me and the sea. Not the sunny-day-everything-will-be-alright-no-matter-what-you-do-sea thats normally found off Dubai, this one was one to be wary of, one to respect, one to keep me concentrated. I needed to know where I was and where I was going. I was on my own so there was no one to look out for me, the buck stopped here, there could be no mistakes, get knocked over by a big rogue wave or caught too close to the seawall by a breaking wave and it would be a problem. But it wasn’t going to be a problem, I was well within my abilities and I was concentrating so I could just enjoy the conditions, the wildness of it, the steady roar the sea makes when its like that. It made me feel robust and strong.
It felt like quite a long way down through the ‘Arctic’ regions. As I rounded northern Canada the the bright lights of Dubai skyline started to reveal its self again. First of all Atlantis on the end of the Palm, then the cluster of towers making up the Marina, next came the distinctive Burj Al Arab and finally the Burj Khalifa rising out of the city centre. It was still an hour or so back to the beach so I had plenty of time to take it all in. Something I didnt realise happened is the top section of the Burj Khalifa puts on a spectacular light show including very powerful spot lights sweeping the sea and pointing laser like into the heavens. I allowed myself the smug self satisfied grin of the sea kayaker who knows they have the best view possible.
It was about 2230hrs as I surfed onto the beach. The trip had taken almost exactly 6hrs. Tired, satisfied shoulders carried the boat to the truck, the impromptu ‘trip around the world’ had definitely been a good plan.
Distance / Time: 34km. 6 to 8 hrs
Access / Egress: From any of the Jumeria Beaches
Tides: A bit of tidal planning will help but not a huge issue here as you’ll be able to paddle against them.
Navigation: Easy. Google Earth shows the sea wall that surrounds the developement and once you get to it you can just follow it round. At night it is lit with marker lights.
Difficulty: Medium. Its quite a committing trip. While your close to ‘land’ there is no where to get out either to rest or in an emergency.
Its alway cool to have a plan. The weekends plan was to get out for my first 120km road ride with the Dubai Roadsters early on Friday morning before meeting up with Ben for an overnight kayak foray into Musandam. As we were driving towards Dibba I was wondering if it was such a good plan. My legs were really feeling the morning ride and sitting in a kayak didnt seem such a good plan at all.
With kayaks packed and underway all the doubts vanished
It’s about 15km across the bay. I love the feeling of being off shore. The bay feels full to the brim with life, my favourite are the flying fish apprearing from the bow of the kayak and gliding for impossible distances across the surface of the sea.
We reached camp just in time to settle in in the last of the light. While the location was stunning as a campsite it was lacking. The incoming tide came right up to the stones leaving us sleeping under a clear bright starry night in amoungst the rocks and fishing detritus. It was a hot sweaty night without any breeze. I wish I’d used more deet or a mosi net as I had quite a few small insect bites on my shoulders and arms where they hadn’t been protected by the sleeping bag liner.
Suprise suprise the day dawned bright and clear just like it always seems to in this part of the world.
We spent a great morning drinking tea while laughing and videoing the numerous hermit crabs making their way from the stones, down the sand and into the sea.
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We eventually made a move off the beach and explored the inlet we’d camped in and the surrounding coastline for better campsites with future trips in mind.
On the way back across the bay we had an incredible chance encounter:
A great little trip. Its always good to finish a trip knowing that you’ll be back. There’s lots of coastline I want to explore that I’ve missed out on on previous trips up the coast towards Limah and on up to Khwar Habalayn.
Trip info:Access / Egress point: Public Beach, East of Royal Beach Hotel, Dibba25° 35.812’N 56° 20.884’ECampsite Used: Dawhat Haffah 25° 44.707’N 56° 18.139’E
Just had a great couple of days running Noukhada’s inaugral 2 day Intro to Sea Kayaking Course. The course started in the classroom introducing key principals of decktop navigation, tides maps/charts and trip planning before heading out onto the water for 2 great days in the Al Hamra to Um Al Quwain area.
For the first day we put into practice the trip planning we had covered in the classroom as well as covering rescue techniques. We had a beautiful evening camping on the beach. The sunset was stunning, the temperature perfect and the company was great.
The next morning we were up at dawn to catch the tide to take us to Um Al Quwain. There is a huge colony of Cormorants that roost in the Um Al Quwain area. We’d seen large quantities of them fly just above our heads on their way ‘home’ the previous evening. Passing them is the morning was a spectacular site. The sheer quantity of birds was staggering.
Early in the morning is always a good time to paddle. Calm seas make for very easy progress. We passed the shipwreck. I was suprised to see they had been cutting it up slowly. I wonder how long it will take for it to vanish all together?
The final paddle past the docks and shipping port was a great glimpse of a less modern middle east. Fishermen repairing and preparing nets and boats for the days work.
We finished at the beack with plenty of time to spare before our pick up was due, time for a brew before heading back to base to wash salt off boats and kit and then wrap up the course over a final cup of tea.
Thanks to the course attendee’s for making the 2 days interesting and enjoyable. I look forward to paddling with you again