D is for Dhow
Pre-dawn darkness shrouded and protected as our 3-car caravan headed for the dhow excursion in Dibba, Oman. There, we would set out for Musandam Peninsual and the Strait of Hormuz for a day of snorkeling and diving. If luck were with us, by afternoon we’d see a dolphin frolicking in the waves.
As I stepped onto the flat wooden planks that made up the crude bed of our dhow–a traditional Arab sailing vessel–I saw several beams that stuck out from the top of the dhow. They reached halfway across the deck, reminding me of a single set of ribs stretching out sideways from a smooth breastbone.
The damp wood attested to the dhow’s seaworthiness. These beams would never be in port long enough to dry out. The sea called to its, and it answered its beckon.
Seated on the starboard side, I watched the huge rock mountains as they paraded into view. The rocky mountain range with its sharp angular lines appeared as if drawn with bold strokes of a child’s marker. The caves inside resembled heavily penciled dots.
The dhow stopped at Lima Rock, where divers and snorkelers prepared their gear. “Watch out for the current,” warned a Kiwi diver in the group and pointed. “Stay on this side of the boat”
The sky turned darker and the wind kicked up a notch. I shivered and threw a towel over my legs.
Suddenly, we heard the quiet voice of our Kiwi diver tense up. “Someone is tugging on our emergency line!”
A female–or perhaps more than one–surfaced beyond the dhow.
“Two females,” the Kiwi reported. “We’ll pull ’em up here,” he said moving toward the rope. His voice infused calm and soon the women were rescued.
“Than–Thank you for the leg up,” the first one said, ashen. “That current is wicked.”
The second woman coughed up seawater. Her eyes darted from person to person without recognition.”Umm, who … are you?”
After a few started looks, someone laughed and the Kiwi, who’d become our spokesperson, grinned. “You’re safe, matey, but you’re on the wrong dhow, are ya?”
Clearly, they were embarrassed but not enough to test the water again.
With the rescue behind us, the mood turned lighter. When the sun came out, I must have closed my eyes and drifted off. They flew open when the Kiwi cried out, “There’s someone else out there on the rocks and they’re tugging on the line!”
One of the divers said, “It’s Ed and his wife.”
Ed was our college director.
I squinted but, of course, couldn’t see much.
This rescue would have gone smoothly had the line not broken. The dhow crew tied on a thicker rope but, again, they had problems.
Time was passing. The pair had now drifted away from the rocks and into the sea!
The two dhow drivers threw the motor into gear. About thirty minutes had passed since the first tug on the distress line. The dhow circled out and drew close enough that a diver could throw out the thicker rope. Ed’s wife came first. Then Ed. Those on board burst into cheers.
Ed smiled, gave a half-wave and muttered, “Helluva current out there.”
An exchange of tales flew between the two parties. “We wondered for awhile if you saw us.”
“We’d a pulled ya in sooner but the damn line broke…”
After the hashed out rescue, Ed looked quizzically at the two unknown women seated on the dhow.
“We’re the first rescue,” she said, with a rueful laugh. “We got back on the wrong dhow.”
Then we all turned to the great comforter in any crisis–food.
In late afternoon, with the dhow gently rocking in a placid area, someone shouted, “Ohhh, look at that dolphin!”
I couldn’t see anything.
But by the sounds of the ooohs and ahhhs of those who could, one must have been frolicking in the waves, after all.
What kind of dangerous situation have you faced? Does it seem as dangerous to you now as it did then?
You have just read, “D is for Dhow,” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright April 4, 2015.You can see who else is participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge HERE.