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THREE CAPES AND A STRAIT THE STORY OF MOHSIN AL BUSAIDI The first Arab to sail around the world non-stop


THREE CAPES AND A STRAIT THE STORY OF MOHSIN AL BUSAIDI The first Arab to sail around the world non-stop


THREE CAPES AND A STRAIT THE STORY OF MOHSIN AL BUSAIDI The first Arab to sail around the world non-stop First Edition: August 2009 Published by Name of Company PO Box 0000, Dubai, UAE Tel: (+971 4) 000 0000 Fax: (+971 4) 000 0000 e-mail: ISBN 0000-00-000-0 Text Name of Person © 2008 Photographs Name of Person © 2008 Designed by Ally Landes, Orca Graphics, Photography and Films, Dubai, UAE, 2009 Edited by Name of Person, Oman Printed by Name of Company, Dubai, UAE All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except brief extracts for the purpose of review, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher and copyright owner.

CONTENTS Introduction


Mohsin’s selection


Muscat to Cape Leeuwin


Cape Leeuwin to Cook Strait


Cook Strait to Cape Horn


Cape Horn to the Cape of Good Hope


The Cape of Good Hope to Muscat


The weeks after...


About Oman Sail


INTRODUCTION Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing 00th Date 2008 Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur?






First ever Omani round-the-world attempt announced as part of Oman Sail’s official launch 2nd December 2008 “After a vigorous selection process, 33 year-old Mohsin Al Busaidi is preparing to set sail to become the first Omani to race around the world and face the freezing cold and hostile southern oceans”. The Oman Sail project was officially launched today in Muscat, by Her Excellency, The Minister of Tourism, Dr Rajhia bint Abdulamir Bin Ali. The project has already succeeded in supporting Oman by marketing it as one of the few remaining unspoilt destinations. “Oman Sail is a long term initiative created to inspire a new generation of young Omanis to take up sailing as a recreation activity and as a competitive sport and help restore Oman’s maritime eminence through competing at an international level, as well as supporting the development of events to support professional sailing in the Arabian Peninsula.”



Oman’s attempt to sail round the world sets off tomorrow from Muscat 7th January 2009 Oman Sail’s Trimaran Musandam is ready to depart on her circumnavigation of the globe under the new colours of Oman and with a 5-man crew, including Mohsin Ali Al Busaidi, who is to attempt to become the first ever Arab to sail round the world. Weather dependent, Musandam will depart Marina Bander Al Rowdha for the start line tomorrow, Thursday 8th January 2009, at 14:00 hours local time. In their attempt to sail non-stop from Muscat-to-Muscat, Mohsin and the international crew are likely to sail over 40,000kms via the Indian Ocean and the three great Capes of the southern ocean – Cape Leeuwin (south-west tip of Australia), via the Cook Strait (New Zealand) to the notorious Cape Horn (tip of South America) and the Cape of Good Hope (southern tip of South Africa) before turning left and heading back towards Muscat. The crew of five will endure the calm and heat of the tropics for only ten percent of the journey and will spend the majority of the trip in the freezing and hostile southern ocean where temperatures, with wind chill, will regularly drop below -10˚C/14˚F.









The beginning! 8th January 2009 An epic journey is about to commence – Oman Sail’s Trimaran Musandam will set sail today in an attempt to send the first Arab non-stop around the globe. Mohsin Al Busaidi, the first Omani attempting the circumnavigation, along with four international sailors, will start from Muscat and sail non-stop all the way across the Indian Ocean. They will pass the equator to Cape Leeuwin, then on to Cook Strait heading towards Cape Horn, the Atlantic Ocean, and then the Cape of Good Hope before they head north back to Muscat.


DAY 1 The watch system has begun… 8th January 2009 “As I sit down to write this, it’s 4 hours since we started and it’s just getting dark. A perfect start with downwind sailing in sunshine and 10-12kts of wind. It was an emotional send-off with us all choking on a few words at some point. Why is saying goodbye so difficult? There were so many people to say goodbye to and everyone was very eager to wish us good luck, sometimes it was difficult to reply”. “I had some emails and text messages from friends and family before we left and just seeing their names was enough to bring a lump to my throat… There wasn’t much chat on the boat after we cast off – probably an hour without almost a single word. I just hope that what we experience these next weeks will make up for the sadness of the goodbyes. By tomorrow the mood will have picked up a bit and we’ll open our first food bag and start getting into a good rhythm, but for now I’ll leave you with all our thanks for helping us get to this point; the boys who worked so hard on the boat, Oman Sail for putting the project together, and to all our friends and families who let us set off over the horizon.”






Muscat to Cape Leeuwin Tomorrow we should curve back a little and head to the equator, the Doldrum crossing point

DAY 4 Musandam overtakes the 80-day pace boat 11th January 2009 Musandam faces rough conditions and constant winds of 17kts. “Yesterday was a mix of sailing and problem solving. One problem with the instruments needed quite a bit of testing to find the snag, as it was intermittent and we just had to wait for it to happen and then try to see what could have caused it. It seemed to happen every time we went over a large wave, so we were looking for bags moving against a wire or something similar, but in the end we found it was the very simple problem of a loose connection from the main supply to the instruments. This hasn’t had too much impact on our speed, we are getting taken a little further east than we might have wished, but with winds forecast to move round to the east tomorrow we should curve back a little and head to the equator/Doldrum crossing point. We’ll call our weather router for a little discussion later on, about how we take on the next part of our trip which is some days away now, but it is important to set up early so as not to sail too many extra miles and get stuck going upwind. Being on deck at night is really nice – the temperature is great with the occasional wave requiring wet weather gear. It’s so bright outside under the moon you could really read a newspaper!”


DAY 5 Double celebrations! 12th January 2009 The crew onboard Musandam are having a dual celebration for the recent win of Oman’s football team against Bahrain and for getting the generator back up and running. Sunday proved to be an extremely tiring day for the crew. “Things are really starting to hot up onboard. The temperature inside the boat is almost 40ºC and trying to stay dry from sweat is near impossible,” Nick Houchin reported from the boat. “After a period of 24 hours working with a faulty starter switch for the generator, there was a celebratory atmosphere onboard last night when ‘George the Generator’ was again started with a key. The crew has also sent back messages of congratulations to the Oman Football team.“ “I am so excited by Oman’s win against Qatar” said Mohsin Al Busaidi in an email. “I was able to watch the match against Kuwait with my family the night before I departed and I was confident they would win!” He added.






DAY 6 Into the southern hemisphere 13th January 2009 “We crossed the equator at 12:08 GMT today. I think that we were all a bit tired as there was a bit of a delay! It’s early in the trip, but it was good to get into the southern hemisphere and have that part of the trip done – from hereon the days get longer and cooler which will be a relief. Loik and I are not sleeping a lot, but whenever we do something seems to happen. Last night I finally got to sleep and woke up to find Thierry and Hooch with a compass problem. The heading had drifted around 30 degrees so I went into the back of the boat to see what was wrong. Found nothing, so whilst scratching my head a bit I picked up a safety waist bag that we all have. Problem solved – the bag contains a man-overboard beacon with a magnetic switch that was right above the compass! I just wish everything was as easily solved. We have a small work list for today but we may do that tomorrow when the winds will be calmer. For now the sailing is good – couldn’t be better as we have a good course making good progress south. We have some Doldrum weather to cross later this week but after that the prediction is still for a good rotation from south-to-east around the high pressure off Australia.”


DAY 8 Steady progress in the Doldrums 15th January 2009 One week into the round-the-world record attempt for Oman Sail’s Trimaran Musandam and, for the crew, life onboard settles in to routine and small pleasures – like news from home that the Omani football team had made it through to the final of the Gulf Cup, and some wind in the Doldrums. Musandam is currently positioned in the mid-Indian Ocean Basin south of the Chagos Archipelago. This places them about half way between Tanzania (just under 2,000 miles to the west) and Java (just over 2,100 miles to the east). The Chagos Archipelago is a group of 7 atolls comprising of more than 60 individual tropical islands and is a combination of coralline structures topping a submarine ridge formed by volcanoes. Most of the coralline structures of the Chagos are submerged reefs and its nearest neighbour is the Maldives, 1,000 miles to the north. As Musandam heads into Week-2 the immediate plan is to try and get as far east as possible to pick up a wind shift expected at around 12:00 GMT tomorrow, allowing them to head back south, in the right direction.









DAY 10 Goodbye Doldrums! 17th January 2009 “What a difference a day makes, the wind increased throughout yesterday until we were confident that we were east enough to tack south – our escape route through the Doldrums. Not a classic north-south crossing, but we hope it has set us up well for the next few days for good east winds, allowing us to make good progress south. We are now fetching across the waves in 16-20kts of wind, and the boat is banging and shuddering making it tough to stay in bed. The flip side of this is that the wind generator is doing a great job, almost keeping up with our electrical needs and delaying our having to use ‘George the Generator’ which, whilst it’s still 30ºC down below, is a welcome relief. It’s pretty wet on deck with every third or fourth wave coming into the cockpit, making forward vision painful and everything you need to do becomes a challenge. We have yet to cook, by which of course I mean pouring water from the kettle into a foil bag and leaving it for 15 minutes and with the boat jumping around getting the right amount of boiling water into the bag and not on yourself is a bit of a challenge.”





DAY 12 Forward motion 19th January 2009 “Last night it felt like I had been tied up and put in the back of a van and driven along a fairly straight country road but with big puddles, the ones that slow you down if you drive through them quickly. Although fairly secure in the bunk, the motion is not really up and down, it’s more like surging often forwards. But as the helmsman bears away to align a wave or heads up, it creates a swerving sideways motion. Not too unpleasant, just keeps you awake longer than you need.”






DAY 13 The maid’s day off 20th January 2009 Getting ready for the southern ocean will be an important part of life onboard Musandam over the next 24 to 48 hours. As well as a general tidy and drying out after the wet ride in the Indian Ocean, there is also an important list of checks and repairs that need to be done. The first repair was the leaking window over the chart table. Charlie has been working on some electrics, Thierry checked the rigging while Hooch and Mohsin worked on getting the boat dry, in good order and comfortable for living while in the south. “It’s nice to get all these jobs out of the way” said Hooch. “Before I left someone asked me if sailing around the world was different to any other sailing. At the time I said yes, because you cover great distances across great oceans. But now that we are out here doing it, sailing around the world is really no different to any passage. Yes of course it’s longer but there are no billboards saying “Round the world this way”, it’s just a lot of sailing added together. Really, we could be sailing from Oman to Perth, or we could be sailing to New Zealand, or, in fact, out for a day’s training. There is nothing that truly tells us that we are out here sailing around the world – it is probably best that way too”.





DAY 15 Albatross in the air 22nd January 2009 The albatross is seen as a good omen for sailors, a sight to behold and a signal that you are entering the southern ocean. However, albatross are found in all the world’s oceans except one – the Arctic. 18 of the 22 species are found in the southern ocean. The first albatross was sighted circling Musandam today. Earlier the crew had expressed disappointment at not seeing any so far – even though passing within 60-miles from île Amsterdam. Then, as if by magic, two appeared and circled the boat, not huge fellas but they are pretty goodlooking – a nice moment. “Temperatures continue to drop on deck, it’s 18ºC and down below its 23ºC – tomorrow we’re probably going to need to break out the sleeping bags for the first time. Certainly the cooling fans will remain off for quite some time now.”






DAY 16 The longest distance traveled so far 23rd January 2009 “As we go down some of these small swells the boat speed increases – 17, 17.5, 18.6, 19.2, 21, 22.7, 24.1, 26.2, 27.3kts – and in the time it takes you to readit, it accelerates again to 27kts. There is a thundering noise as the water blasts past the main hull and the leeward float, occasionally it whacks the beam with a bang and the resulting jolt through the boat, if you are moving from one part of the boat to the other, throws you into the doorway or against the chart table seat. For most of the day we hammered along with Gennaker and full Mainsail reaching speeds of up to 29kts, and as the sun began to set we watched a few dolphins playing in the wake. From noon yesterday to midnight GMT we covered just under 250nm – almost a 500nm day if we can keep it up. Not sure it will be quite so big – but it could easily be a 450 or 460 on the scoreboard by noon today. The nights are getting shorter – last night the sunset was around 13:30 GMT, and sunrise was 23:15 GMT. We are sticking to this time zone the whole way around the world – mainly so that it keeps us in routine with the weather reports which are issued at well known GMT intervals – 00:00, 06:00, 12:00 and 18:00 hours – but it is strange to have daylight at 23:00 hours and to be having breakfast at 01:00 hours. I guess it’s something you just get used to”.


DAY 17 Settling into life at high speed 24th January 2009 “Our noon-to-noon distance yesterday gave something around 480nm – this is a good distance even for us. Traveling at average speeds in the 20kts range whilst normal life continues is still a bit incredible. For Thierry and Loik, who have lots of 60-foot Trimaran experiences, the speeds are not so incredible but for Mohsin who has never been so fast for so long a period it’s quite a thrill. As he said yesterday. “Before the trip you know you’ll be doing these kind of speeds day after day, but that doesn’t prepare you for living at that speed, eating, sleeping at that speed for 24 hours, and the noise that goes with it.” And certainly Mohsin is the only Omani ever to do this kind of distance in 24 hours in a sail boat. “The speed comes in unexceptional conditions, we don’t need 40kts of wind, just 20-25kts from the right direction with a reasonable sea state. That’s more than enough for us to make high average speeds. The weather regime looks fairly good for us for the next few days taking us east until Monday when we’ll gybe and head south. We need to be south later in the week as there is a high pressure in the Great Australian Bight and Tasman Sea, and in any case we have to pass Tasmania which is at 43S. The current routing has us down to 44S or perhaps a bit more – a real slice of the southern ocean for us where the air and sea temperature will be significantly less than they are in our current position.”






DAY 18 George generates ‘writers block’ 25th January 2009 “I was going to use today’s update to tell you about some great sailing yesterday – full Mainsail and Gennaker in the right direction; a great night’s sailing where it never really got completely dark apart from our B&G instrument displays that glow red and green. I was going to describe the sea birds all around us playing in the disturbed air created by the sails. I could have spent quite a long time discussing the fantastic shooting stars we had overnight and satellites passing overhead, or the great pace we are enjoying, but just before it came time to sit down and put these thoughts in an email ‘George the Generator’s’ alarm went off. George was thirsty; George wasn’t getting any cooling water. Loik and I checked the water-box that is the main supply of water to the generator and the water-maker and found it to be empty. Engine cover off, toolbox out, remove the old impeller, inspect it and find it to be damaged. Into the storage boxes in the back for a new impeller – fit that, connect up our start wires and restart. YES! Water was once again flowing through George. All this whilst jetting along at 22kts of boat-speed downwind with full Mainsail and Gennaker in 23-25kts of wind. Anyway the George drama really has induced some writer’s block (Hoochie sat down with the email last night to write an update and got a block too!). Mohsin is tapping away at the computer next to me. I’ll go and find something more interesting to take pictures of or to film, than repairing George – he does seem to steal the limelight.”


“Yesterday was a wonderful day – slightly cold and sunny for some time. The waves were huge! The weather became colder in the evening and we sailed fast due to the speed of winds we had. We took advantage of the sunny day to dry our clothes! Life onboard is wonderful and the teamwork makes it great. I had two meals, chicken in the morning and noodles in the evening. We’re sailing very fast and I hope we continue this way.” Mohsin




DAY 19 Things that go ‘b-bump’ in the night 26th January 2009 “We are continuing to sail to the east – currently around 240nm south-west of Cape Leeuwin and we continue to wait for the cold front that will have us sailing south and south-east rather than east. As the front arrives we can expect stronger winds so it’s important to get south and, more importantly for the next few days, to avoid some large calm patches of high pressure in the Great Australia Bight – the large indentation in Australia’s south coast. But for now, as the waiting continues for that change, we have the Gennaker and full Mainsail flying as we sail at around 17kts boat-speed. It’s clear blue skies to our north-east and to the south-west we can see the start of the cloud that signals the approaching front. The temperature on deck is a lovely 22ºC. After the front, the next 24 hours should be windy reaching south and south-east before having some light patches from Tuesday to Thursday before we can take off again heading for New Zealand. Last night whilst sailing along at around 20kts we hit something – we have no idea what – there was a double bang, b-bang, and a jolt on the rudders. With the searchlight on the rudder we could see that the bottom third was missing. I’m sorry to say that whatever we hit must have come off pretty badly but we had not done any damage to the hull. We gybed and checked damage and steering control. Whilst heavy, steering is manageable, so we decided not to risk anyone on the float in the night for repairs. We have a spare rudder onboard so when the winds lighten we’ll exchange them and see the real extent of the damage to the blade.”









DAY 20 Down under 27th January 2009 13:58:20 GMT, 26 January 2009, official date and time of passing the longitude of Cape Leeuwin and marks a quarter of the journey and the first of the three great Capes. “24 hours ago it was gusting up to 30kts and the temperature drop was so dramatic we quickly went from sailing downwind in the sun in light thermals and short sleeves to full wet weather gear. After 45 minutes the skies cleared and the wind settled a little. It was up and down and so we were Reef in, Reef out, Reef in for a while, before settling for 2 Reefs and a Solent. “It’s 18ºC at the chart table and nice to feel a bit of a nip in the air on deck. We have a new rudder ready to change and have made our weight pack out of heavy tools to sink it. Last night Hooch was on a call to his old primary school – Year 6 Tadley Primary – whilst being bumped and thrown around by the sea conditions. The telephone call went well, it’s great to share a bit of our adventure like that. We crossed the quarter-way point and our first Cape last night, Cape Leeuwin. It could have been a time to have a bit of a celebration, but it was dark, rough and chilly and two out of five of us were asleep. Being ONLY a quarter of the way makes it feel like a long way yet to go whereas halfway means we will be heading back to Muscat, not away from it – we’ll celebrate then! The next few days should be nice sailing again towards the Cook Strait where we can expect to see a bit more wildlife and signs of human life again – fishing boats, container ships, airplane vapour trails overhead, before we sight land since leaving the rugged coastline of Muscat that first night.”






DAY 21 A beautiful day in the southern ocean 28th January 2009 Good progress at consistent speeds, 630 miles south of the Australian coast and parallel to the southern tip of Tasmania (950 miles to their east). The last 24 hours have been near perfect conditions sailing under full Mainsail and Gennaker and in a call back to Oman Sail HQ this morning the crew reported that they had nothing to complain about, life was good onboard and it was a ‘beautiful day out in the southern ocean’. “The last 24 hours have been good to us. We managed to change the rudder. From start to finish the operation took just 30 minutes. The old rudder came out fairly easily with the help of a boat hook and the new one went in after a little time waiting for the right wave and the right position. As the hull lifted, Loik pulled the new blade vertical and kept pulling as the wave passed and the hull came down neatly onto the rudder. It’s hard to believe that this is the southern ocean, we are at 445 degrees south and the temperature on deck is 14ºC with the sun cascading though the cabin windows making it like a greenhouse below! We all know only too well how this can change, and how quickly it can happen, for now we are thankful that our equator gifts to Neptune (God of the Sea in Roman mythology) have gone down so well.“






DAY 23 A good food day 30th January 2009 After a week of long daily distances in near perfect sailing conditions the crew of Musandam are now looking ahead to tomorrow and their proposed turn to the north required to navigate them through the Cook Strait early next week. Gusts and squalls of up to 30kts are forecast ahead as they make their way towards the Tasman Sea. The wind is set to shift around noon on Saturday when they should be past Tasmania and around 700 miles south of Sydney, Australia. “Thierry saw a whale last evening but the rest of us saw an oily scum on the surface of the wave that seemed to be the whale’s exhale. I guess we were lucky not to hit it but the daggerboard and rudders hum quite a bit and any whale that is awake would hear us coming from miles away and hopefully dive down. The new food bag was opened as usual just after midnight and although it was small by comparison to yesterday Hooch has declared it a good day for food with Chicken Paella and Goulash as our main course and vanilla dessert for pudding. It seems that yesterday’s rice pudding is an acquired taste, but with a generous portion of strawberry jam all thoughts of school dinners are banished and it’s not too bad – not our favourite (Chocolate Mousse) but a nice hot dessert for the ‘freezing wastes of the southern seas’, or rather it will be when we get to the freezing wastes. The other most popular food item is the Biltong dried beef, we have quite a bit with us and it’s a killer savoury snack. Some bits need more bite than others, but it’s great if you can chop it finely and add it to main courses or simply sit on deck and pass the bag around. Is it more popular than the Wine Gums or Starmix? I’ll leave you to guess the answer to that…”





DAY 24 Crossing the Ditch 31st January 2009 400 miles covered in a 24-hour period earlier today as Musandam passed the south coast of Tasmania heading directly towards the South Island of New Zealand. In a call to Oman Sail HQ this morning Charlie reported that they were on course and expect to be nearing the Cook Strait on Tuesday 3rd February. Onboard today it was still ‘sunny and downwind’ with sea temperatures at just over 10ºC and a comfortable 14ºC down below. “Just been spending some time at the chart table, we have the 80-day pace boat plotted and we are three days ahead of schedule. This is good news to us onboard as we want to set a great and new Muscat-to-Muscat time which others in the future will try to beat. We have had lovely conditions for sailing but the Doldrums could have been kinder, perhaps by one whole day, and it’s possible to imagine perhaps another 24 hours to be gained elsewhere. In a few hours the wind will be ‘left’ enough for us to gybe and sail on a starboard heading in the right direction for the Cook Strait. We may end up sailing more east and approaching New Zealand’s South Island 320nm south west of Cape Farewell which should give us more wind than a direct route. We have until 00:00 hours tomorrow to submit our onboard bets as to what time we will be crossing the halfway point of this trip. We have used the pace boat’s distance to finish, so when that is half her overall distance, that is what we will call halfway so when the pace boat has 10,833nm to finish – that is our halfway point.”






DAY 26 Nearing Tasman Bay 2nd February 2009 Just 75 miles from the North West coast of New Zealand’s South Island the crew of Musandam are hoping to see land for the first time in 24 days. Charlie reported today that they had a really good run over the past 24 hours covering a rather unexpected 437 miles but are starting to slow now. They are about 125 miles from turning right at Cape Farewell and into the Tasman Bay. “Our manic push to be ahead of the high pressure is over and we have done what we can to stay ahead. There has also been a shift that means we are sailing almost due east again – an option would be to gybe, but in these winds, and with the waves we have had, we would be heading right into where the high pressure will end up. Our only option is to head east where we hope to find some thermal breezes for the last 100-odd nautical miles to Cape Farewell. Just how close we come in to the shore depends on how much wind we think we can get there. We are all rather hoping to be able to see the coastline, however it’ll be dark in 5 hours – so it’s going to be close if we see land before dusk. It’s good to be on deck again in just light thermals, give a chance to give them an airing before we head back into the south, which will be Wednesday. It’s easy sat at the chart table to keep an eye on the time and keep the body moving along at GMT, but when you look outside and it’s dark when it should be light, and light when it should be dark it soon gets confusing. We are looking forward to New Zealand, getting that behind us will be a big step – though I am ready for the anti-climax, this is a fairly major milestone for the round-the-world attempt, it’s not the halfway point, and there is still a really long way to go through the South Pacific to Cape Horn, across the South Atlantic and up the Indian Ocean. We will reset our sights on the halfway point, then Cape Horn and take each little bit as it comes. Little by little we are getting there.”




An average day for Charles “Writing these updates was usually a nighttime job, now it’s mid-afternoon locally, and soon it’ll be time for a bit of breakfast! Then the morning call-back to the media team in Muscat where they will want to know what’s been happening overnight, which is confusing as that was a long time ago for us! The first 12 hours of a new GMT day seem to be the busiest – update to write around 03:00, call to Muscat 06:00, collect new weather files 08:00-09:00, take a few pictures, catch up on email, compress and send some video, and it’s way past noon already! Then it’s time to sleep a bit, but in all of this there is the food to get out for each day, the generator to run (approx. 45 minutes, 3 times per day – less if the wind generator has been going fast, for which we need to be reaching or beating upwind). Obviously gotta eat breakfast and lunch. The second 12 hours are better, 14:00 weather update from Commanders Weather – read, understand and update electronic charts with their recommendations, then longer sleep, before collecting weather again at 16:00-21:00. Whilst this routine goes by, the guys on deck are making sail changes and taking in or taking out Reefs in the Mainsail, for which I tend always to be on the grinder.”




DAY 27 Hello New Zealand! 3rd February 2009 “We’re less than 10 miles from Cape Farewell this morning Musandam has made excellent progress through the Tasman Sea near Wellington and, at 13:00 GMT, we’re heading into the Strait. Excitement from the crew as they had their senses assaulted with signs of life from New Zealand. The passage through the Strait is set to be fast and furious as the winds increase to Force 6 (20-30kts). Too much has happened for one day: • Thierry caught a fish (and landed it) • We have seen a cruising yacht (first sign of life for ages) and a fishing boat • We got through a very light patch to get into much more favourable wind • We have seen New Zealand • We have mobile phone coverage • Thierry up the mast to take some pictures and check everything • We changed the headboard car slide rods again before the Pacific • We lucked out getting tail winds for the tricky passage through the Cook Strait • We’ll be doing some photos and filming with helicopter at dawn tomorrow.” “Not sure how much the above needs further explanation, but I’ll start with Thierry’s fish. I got woken by Loik saying ‘There’s a fish! There’s a fish on the line!’ So we dashed on deck to find the boat down to a good trawling speed (due to wind strength rather than by desire to catch a fish!) And Thierry at the back post under the wind generator in his thermals winding the fishing reel. Meanwhile the gloves were dug out and Mohsin hung around ready with the biggest knife onboard. Fish landed on to aft deck and knife to the gills to bleed it out. We think it was a bonito (a small tuna type fish). Thierry and Mohsin sorted out the gutting and filleted the fish whilst Loik warmed up the frying pan. So our lunch today was fish steaks and Sashimi (shame there was no rice or Wasabi). There were two types of Sashimi – plain, or heavily lemoned. From the sea to the pan in around 90 minutes – it’s hard to get much fresher than that!”






DAY 28 Hurled into the South Pacific 4th February 2009 Musandam and the crew crossed the international dateline today, so theoretically we will experience 4th February twice. For the purpose of weather routing and to ensure routine onboard, Musandam runs on GMT for the entire record attempt. The only difference for them right now is that they now have W (west) and not E (east) on the positions reports and are behind GMT. “After catching sight of New Zealand’s Cape Farewell we headed onwards into Tasman Bay, losing sight of land once again. We had been getting wind reports from the north coast of the South Island as we continued on into Tasman Bay expecting at some point to get the north winds and be naturally turned to the south. That never happened and we had to gybe south once we were 60nm north of Cook Strait. Unfortunately that put us out of range of the helicopter to take pictures at sunset and a plan was hatched to meet us south of the Strait after the night. As we headed further and further south the wind started to funnel between the north and south island reaching a steady 35kts at times. The following morning the sun rose and we were able to meet the helicopter and sail away from land with 1 Reef and Gennaker at plus-20kts of boat-speed. It was with mixed feelings that we waved goodbye to New Zealand. We had seen very little of the land but ahead of us lies the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean. When we hold our small inflatable globe it’s almost possible to hold it in a way that is almost entirely free from significant land mass, just a huge blue expanse. I guess the big question is ‘what next?’ After focusing on New Zealand for so long we have to focus on our next objectives. The International Dateline is 100nm away, our mythical halfway point is next and afterwards it is onto Cape Horn.”






DAY 30 Hold on to your hats 6th February 2009 A good day’s progress charging along at speeds of plus–20kts sees Musandam with Cape Horn 3,400 miles ahead. “We have had a fairly reasonable 24 hours since yesterday; there is an unpleasant sea with a difficult swell meaning we must sail deeper and hence we are slower which means we get hit by more waves, which reduces our speed more! It’s catch-22, but the alternative is to try to blast away and risk doing damage. We have had a recurrence of a small bug in our instrument and autopilot system which seems related to the waves. It’s possible to live with it ‘just’ but we are keen to find the cause of the problem and resolve it in case it starts to get worse. Apart from that, life continues as normal. It’s been wet enough on deck for Loik to be the first to break out the yellow suit – a one-piece dry suit that has full wrist and neck seals. The wet red weather gear has given up the unequal struggle between the sea and dry clothes beneath! Imagine standing in the cockpit with five or six people throwing full buckets of water over you, that’s what some of the waves feel like. The water is still fairly warm (around 15ºC) and much of today, so far, has been partly sunny so it feels warm. Later in this leg the water temperature will plunge requiring these drenchings to be avoided at all costs rather than suffered as they are now. The motion down below is quite unreal, especially when Loik or Thierry has the helm. They nail it down the face of the wave at which time there is speed wobble before we bottom out and go up the next wave. The longer the wave length the longer each cycle of events takes and it makes life down below, sleeping, pouring water into a meal or a cup, or typing on the computer, real challenges. I now seem to be able to sleep with one hand on the side of the bunk to hold myself in, which is a habit I need to get out of before making the return to the real world!”


DAY 32 Away for the weekend 8th February 2009 The high pressure situated to the north has moved off to the east as the next frontal system moves in from the west bringing stronger winds. The aim is to let the system pass in front, but if it looks like Musandam will get ahead of the system the crew will slow the boat to avoid the 45kts winds. “With the Saturday rugby and football scores comes a harsh reminder that we are on the weekend, and away for the weekend. No possibility of a lay in, a breakfast out, or an hour with the papers… instead we are banging and crashing along at between 18-30kts of boat-speed. Down below in the forward cabin the escape hatches have been underwater, the one on the leeward side getting most water and the one on the windward side taking some dramatic collisions with waves… impressive to sit and watch for a while, but when you are asleep next to it, it’s quite unnerving. Last night we had a good moon and a good seaway, so we dropped the Mainsail to check some wear that Loik had spotted on the mast track. We dropped the sail and removed all the batten cars to see that one of the cars had a part missing. We have two spare cars onboard so we’re able to replace it and hoist the Mainsail again. It took all five of us just over an hour to complete during the watch change. It was also time to change thermals; great to climb into some clean base layers for the first time in a couple of weeks. However, rather typically, I went on deck shortly afterwards without my jacket on just as we took a wave badly and one landed right over me luckily the top I was wearing took the brunt of the wave and the brand new base layer beneath stayed dry. We also opened our third ‘week’ bag, this is more like a 10-day bag (we have eight of them) and it means we are ahead of our planning for this bag’s contents: toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, stove gas, etc. but this one had some extras – packets of Skittles and Oman Beanie hats – a welcome addition to our on-deck fashions. Loik was relieved to see a new bottle of ketchup too.”






DAY 33 Fast and furious ride ahead 9th February 2009 Musandam is in for a rough and bumpy ride to Cape Horn over the coming week. If the weather continues as forecast and they can stay with the westerly flow that they’re expecting, then the passing of this famous milestone could be as soon as February 14th. Fierce waves and winds will provide a fast and furious ride east. “We have been looking at every satellite picture that we receive hoping to see some sign of a circulation of cloud, but we have seen nothing yet. In the meantime we continue eastwards with 1 Reef and Staysail Jib. We had the Solent Jib up for quite a while but it was at its limit and as an important part of our sail inventory. It’s best not to risk any damage as we don’t need to be at 110 percent speed now – just sitting back a little bit allowing this bad weather to pass ahead of us. Once we are back on the north-east winds we’ll crank it up a bit in a bid to make some good time towards Cape Horn. Talk onboard at the moment is of the halfway point which we will see sometime in the next 36 hours we hope. Hooch is eyeing up his white chocolate buttons (aren’t we all). If we pass this milestone during darkness, as has been the trend on this journey, then I can see it being a fairly quiet affair with some ‘occasion’ taking place the following day. One part of all of us says it’s ONLY halfway, however it means we have sailed over 10,000 nautical miles to be where we are and we will all be happy to still be going. Another main topic onboard is of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup, we have got some snippets of information from what’s going on and by all accounts it’s going very well for Team Origin – well done guys. Hope this bodes well for the future, whenever the next Cup will take place!”


DAY 34 The southern ocean bares its teeth 10th February 2009 Musandam has been stuck in the middle of two southern ocean storms that gives them the opportunity to prepare for their first southern ocean blow. Throughout today the winds have been set to increase with potential gusts from 45-50kts with 15-20 foot seas by late Wednesday. Current ice reports show icebergs located some 650 miles west of the Cape Horn. This will force them to stay north for as long as possible before dipping south to pass the cape. “The swell is not yet that big but before it went dark you could look across from one peak to another with the valley between them clear rather than the ‘wind waves’ we have had before… the southern ocean swell is coming. When it becomes daylight again we are expecting the picture to be more typically southern ocean. The sunshine was fantastic for the three or four hours that it lasted today. Once again the wet weather gear came out to dry a bit, seems a little pointless when it’ll be damp again in just a few hours but it made us feel better – a bit of housekeeping! Loik took on the ‘southern sea shave challenge’, and seems to have come off without too many nicks. Hooch and Theirry’s watch continues to be talkative, with the two of them chatting away all the way through their watch, much to the amusement of those below who hear the latest phrase that Hooch the teacher is passing on to his willing student. We have 100 miles to go to our halfway point. True to form it’ll be dark and all but the on-watch will most likely be asleep, so we will probably let it slip past quietly – just safe in the knowledge we are heading back to Muscat, rather than away from it.”






DAY 37 Wet, dark, windy and very bumpy 13th February 2009 “It’s quite torrential, these last few hours have been super wet on deck, it’s darker than the inside of your hat and Thierry and Hooch are crouched in the cuddy out of the rain and spray on deck. Loik and Mohsin have snuck deep into their sleeping bags. We are sailing downwind with 3 Reefs and the Solent Jib, making about 13-17kts of boat-speed and the occasional bump as we bounce over a wave. The light can’t come soon enough, though it is still seven hours away. This is the first night like this and whilst we normally can’t stand to see the voltage of the batteries drop to the point of having to charge again, we might start it early to give us a good warm-up. We are fairly well protected from the elements, you just know it’s not so nice outside and the mood onboard is reflected in that to a degree. We are still around 1,500nm from the Horn, and we’d all just like to be there and onto the next leg. “Once you are all suited up (yellow, for followers of our latest fashions) it’s quite nice to be on deck, especially to have more fresh water (rain) than salt water (wave spray) over everything. Washing salty hair and faces properly is nice and the boat gets a proper freshwater clean too – which is good for the deck gear. Getting in and out of the yellow suits is a bit of a challenge, especially as you try to limit the amount of water that’s carried from outside to inside the boat and also as you dress or undress the amount of water from the outside surface of the suit to your mid-layers below. This happens four or five times every 3 hours and can take a good 10 minutes to get into the suit. There is a ranking list of speed of dressing – but it can’t be published here! Don’t read this and feel sorry for us, the cabin temperature is still 16ºC and we have been lucky with the weather so far this trip and so deserve a dark, rainy and windy night just to balance things out.”


DAY 39 Mohsin feels the chill 15th February 2009 As Musandam continues on her southerly route, temperatures drop to their lowest of the trip so far. Chilling south-westerly winds originating from the ice fields of Antarctica are dropping sea temperatures to just 8ºC. Progress towards Cape Horn is good and the crew are hoping for conditions to be reasonable most of the way but the South Pacific is always capable of generating more winds. Further gale force squalls predicted for their final southerly approach to South America. “We can get into our cold weather kit! Sea temperature is at 8ºC and air temperature about the same so you see your breath in the cabin. It’s properly cold and so it should be, we are at 51 degrees south and sailing in a wind from south-west blowing from the ice continent. In reality it’s nice on deck and there is no spray, just 22kts of raw boat speed skimming along down some small swells – lovely. A slight change in any of these variables will mean water over the deck, and it’ll be harshly cold. Right now you can put an extra layer on, pull out your best hat and favourite gloves and enjoy the ride!”






DAY 40 Final hours in the South Pacific 16th February 2009 After two days of calmer seas, sunshine and more favourable winds there is a mixture of excitement and anticipation that in around 24 hours Mohsin, Hooch and Charlie will be passing Cape Horn for the first time and ticking off a major milestone on their route for this record attempt (Loik and Thierry will be passing for the second time). In a call to Oman Sail HQ this morning the report was that conditions look good for the rounding although whether it would be in daylight hours was still a mystery due to the fact that “we are screaming along and our weather models do not agree” according to Charlie. “Clothing is a conversation piece – it’s a huge topic generally and you would have thought that any chat about what to wear when we have a very limited selection of clothes for our entire trip would be a short chat – but it’s quite the reverse. Whenever Hooch arrives on deck (mood dictated by techniques used to wake him up) he announces what clothing combination he has on. “White, blue, grey, warm grey on the top, warm white, blue warm grey on the bottom”, followed by “I am giving the warm gloves a go now, see if I can keep them on the whole watch, no need to take ‘em off for sail changes”. After gloves, it’s head gear, “buff, balaclava and grey”. Of course we now know what all these colour codings are, and have a similar response to him “white, blue, warm blue” is a typical response… it’s like a ritual greeting. I’ll leave today’s update like a child writing on Christmas eve, not wishing the next day to arrive too soon for fear of it being over too quickly, but all the same aching for it to arrive. I hadn’t realised just how much I was looking forward to arriving at the Horn, but you can probably tell that we all are, very much.”





DAY 42 Rounding Cape Horn 18th February 2009 As Musandam finally passes Cape Horn, an update from onboard gives us an insight to how it feels to be a Cape Horner. Mohsin, Charlie and Hooch round for the first time; Loik and Theirry for the second time at 16:05 GMT, 17th February 2009. “It’s hard to know where to start when describing the last 24 hours – we managed to do quite a bit in one day. As I wrote the update yesterday, Loik and I had given the other three quite long lie-ins, at least a couple of hours extra sleep, which recharges their batteries and gives them a bit of a break. During this time we made a phone call to a school in Oman that was receiving a visit from the Oman Sail shore team to help explain the trip. Mohsin was roused from his lie-in to entertain the children with stories from the ocean, helping to inspire them and get them to come and try sailing! Of course all of this was a very useful diversion from the task of the day – ‘Rounding the Horn’. We needed it, as without these diversions the day would prove to be very long indeed. The wind is howling, gusting to 40kts and causing us to surf on waves from the west into the swell from the east. The water colour had changed from the pacific blue to emerald green and finally, with Loik and Mohsin on watch, the Horn was sighted 8 miles in the distance. Nothing really prepared me for seeing the Horn for the first time, it was rather like seeing a regularly appearing TV actor in the street and recognising them, but not sure wherefrom. It was only a few hours later that I realised what was so familiar; we were approaching on the same course as generations of Cape Horners before us and their initial video/film of the Horn was shot from the exact same angle and usually the same distance! The picture through my view finder was exactly the same as theirs.” The scores on rounding Cape Horn are: Musandam x 3 (Twice as B&Q-Castorama and once as Musandam) Loik x 2 (Previously on B&Q-Castorama – West to East) Thierry x 2 (Previously on Gitana 13 – East to West) Mohsin x1 Charles x 1 Hooch x1

• • • • • •






Hooch’s Horn “It’s been a while since I last wrote an update and a lot has happened since then. The Cook Strait, halfway point and infamous Cape Horn have all been and gone along with the southern ocean. In this time the crew have experienced many highs and lows both personally and together.” “The persistent feeling of being wet is a low point. I can’t say that it wasn’t expected, and it was something that I was bracing myself for, however, when combined with the low temperatures of the southern ocean it is a factor that can effect the ever fragile morale with every watch. After two weeks though, the damp feeling becomes normal and it can easily be forgotten. A major highlight for me was opening a package from home. This not only included a good helping of chocolate but also the latest edition of Rugby World. Those that know me know that I am a big rugby fan. Having this reading material at my disposal not only helped pass time in my bunk but also stoked the fire with the ‘6 nations’ commencing, creating a good bit of banter between the French and English contingent onboard.” “You may also have seen the photos and videos of our Cape Horn rounding and you may tell from the massive grin on my face that it was a very proud moment, not just for me, but for all the crew. It is the landmark that makes every ocean sailor shudder with the thought of the diverse weather conditions you can experience there. For us it lived up to expectations. As we sailed along within 30-40 miles of the barren coastline the breeze went from almost nothing a few hours before to 40kts for our actual passing of the Cape only for it to drop off to almost nothing again 12 hours later. Now we must tackle the South Atlantic ahead of our next major landmark, the Cape of Good Hope, before we start to turn north on the home straight to Muscat.” “I must also take this chance to thank all those people that have sent both messages for me and the crew. Your kind words of support are much appreciated and we hope we can return your faith in us by making a quick and safe passage to Oman.”






DAY 44 South Atlantic routine 20th February 2009 “It’s a different night outside to last night, from a sky full of stars to a dense damp fog all around us which makes everything wet. The wind across the deck makes anything wet and cold and only the best hot chocolate can keep it from seeping through the layers and chilling the bones. The wind is back with us at 20kts from the north-west and we are going along well, 250nm north-east of the Falkland Islands.” “The light airs that we predicted yesterday arrived at dawn and for a few minutes there was zero wind and we had an uncomfortable confused sea, making it hard to stand without holding something – unusual when the boat is practically stopped. In the light airs we made the change to the Code Zero and got going again – not for nothing is this sail nicknamed the ‘wind seeker’. We managed a respectable 6kts of boat-speed in the very light airs before the wind filled in properly. The outlook is still quite unpredictable with positions of the major weather systems changing with every model update (every 6 hours for one, every 12 hours for the other). It’s 700nm since rounding Cape Horn and life has settled into the South Atlantic routine, which is much the same as the Pacific one and Indian Ocean one before it. We have a couple of days now of just sailing the boat before the idle chatter develops again about when we will be south of the Cape of Good Hope and that will occupy 90 percent of brain activity up to the point that it’s fairly obvious! All said, it’s great to be well into the Atlantic leg even if the usual weather systems are not quite in their correct place at the moment.”






DAY 46 Storm brewing and heading east 22nd February 2009 Musandam is currently deep in the South Atlantic Ocean, more than 1,600 miles from South America and about 2,200 miles from South Africa. The crew is considering their choices in the journey north-east carefully as they sail away from the storms and low pressure. The storm’s exact form is changing with each forecast, but is likely, even at its edges, to bring some of the strongest winds of their entire journey with 115km gusts predicted. “We are covering ground at a good pace and that’s good because we are racing a weather system again. We need to get north and east by Tuesday to avoid a storm that is currently brewing off Uruguay, centred over the old ‘Whitbread Round the World Race’ port of Punta del Este, east of Montevideo. Sunday morning starts with us racing east across the South Atlantic, in very chilly weather – it’s less than 10ºC on deck. The occasional spray from the bow wave keeps our wet weather gear wet, and adds to the wind chill factor. Hats and Gloves are the go, and if you are Hooch you’ll be “white, blue, grey, dark grey, red.” Mohsin is in his sleeping bag off watch at the moment, and in an hour’s time he’ll be making that difficult transition between sleep and consciousness, between warm sleeping bag and damp wet weather gear, carefully interweaving top and bottoms to ensure no gaps, before arriving on deck and needing a pee only to undo all the careful preparation.”





DAY 48 Wear and tear on boat and crew 24th February 2009 An area of light airs due to a high pressure system that has passed to the north of Musandam gave the crew the opportunity to carry out some sail repairs. Damage to the large headsail Genoa was discovered yesterday during a routine sail check. The area of wear is along the edge of the sail that is exposed to the sun when the sail is furled and not in use. The sail was dropped and the 8-hour repair was carried out under the advice of the sailmakers onshore, the crew will have done the best job possible in the bumpy and wet conditions. The Genoa is used in the light airs so will not be needed over the next five days or so. If the repair does not hold up they will miss this sail in the Indian Ocean, “This sail is good for the light air. If we can’t use it Musandam will still be safe but we may just need to be a bit more patient in areas of light winds later in the journey” commented Loik this morning. “A bit of a funny 24 hours, everyone a bit quieter than usual and just getting on and doing their jobs, catching up on food and getting some sleep. We achieved a lot yesterday, Mohsin made a call to Oman Sail HQ to speak to His Excellency Major General Sultan Al Naamani, Secretary-General of the Royal Court Affairs, then a video call in the afternoon, by which time we had also dropped the Genoa (to fix some damage) and a whole host of other tidying up type chores that needed to be sorted – new roll of rubbish bags, cleaning galley, checks around the boat…”






DAY 49 Zero gravity in rough, tough conditions 25th February 2009 As conditions deteriorated throughout the day, Charlie updated us on how hard life becomes: “It’s become really rough, so it’s hard to type – sorry for that! I might be brief too as it’s frustrating not hitting the right keys when I know I can type fairly well, the keyboard is jumping around a bit and my hands are thrown around a bit too. We are sailing at 72 degrees to the wind in around 20-28kts, on deck the spray is every 10 seconds or so and fairly persistent. Frustratingly our wet weather gear is wet, I have wet arms, wet legs below the knees and a wet bum. The collar on the tops is impossible to get comfortable and when you finally find a way to secure it without it digging into your cheek it collects drips from the hood. The sea state isn’t too bad, but as we are going very quickly over it – it’s rough onboard! About an hour into trying to get to sleep I found myself floating in space for a split second. I woke up experiencing the full force (or not) of zero gravity and thought ‘what a marvelous way to live’, until gravity was restored with a vengeance. I came crashing down, not on the bunk but on the corner of the battery box which isn’t round or padded – ouch! Battery box 1 – Charlie 0. I bounced back into bed to try and sleep again, only to discover I had a mouth full of feathers, the battery box had split a compartment of my sleeping bag and the feathers were coming out everywhere. Battery box 2 – Charlie 0. So my assessment of zero gravity – overrated.”


DAY 51 Tricky decisions ahead 27th February 2009 Musandam and crew are making good progress in the South Atlantic as they bank miles for the periods of light airs ahead. Two factors in the route decision making onboard right now: the Agulhas Current, which currently satellite images show to be particularly strong and the large high pressure system that will be blocking their path in a few days time. The only choice will be to sail upwind, the decision will be whether to take the longer route by heading further south or to take the shorter route by continuing to head east. By taking the shorter route the sea state could be potentially boat damaging. By taking the longer route and dropping south they could be pushed further east than they would like and not being able to find a way around the high pressure system. They are stuck “between a rock and a hard place� according to Charlie.






DAY 52 Mohsin back in home waters 28th February 2009 “The last 24 hours has seen some of the best sailing of the trip so far, our average SOG (speed over ground) for the last 24 hours has been 18.26kts, but we have slowed considerably the last 12 hours. There was a more organised swell and we surfed away happily doing up to 30kts, just piling on the miles, switching between full Mainsail and one Reef as the wind moved between 22 and 27kts. A little while ago we passed south of the Cape of Good Hope, the third and final of our great cape capers. We passed 470 miles to the south and in darkness with three of five crew asleep, so no celebration or ceremony, just keep pushing on. The Cape is the most famous of landmarks, however the southern most point is Cape Agulhas, some 70 miles further east. Until we pass the southernmost point we are still in the Atlantic Ocean – the Indian Ocean is just 40nm ahead. For four of us it means leaving our ‘home’ ocean but, most importantly, for Mohsin it represents getting back into his part of the world. He can look north and know that home is not so far way (a straw poll onboard suggests between 15 and 20 days away. We will have to see how good that prediction looks after we have hooked into the south-east trade winds).”






DAY 53 Enduring the inevitable 1st March 2009 “The wind has dropped – with the dawn just breaking, we have 6kts of wind, 6kts of boat-speed, and are upwind with a swell from the southwest pushing us forwards. It’s chilly on deck especially yesterday’s dusk watch when it was wet on deck, and with water temperatures down to 13ºC again, and tight reaching at 25kts of boat-speed, the wind chill was numbing. Although the light airs are a source of frustration, the dry decks are a welcome relief and give things half a chance to dry a little once the warming sun has appeared over the horizon. There is still much sucking of teeth about the future weather. The high pressure is now around us, we probably just need to wait for it to move off and for the winds to build from the north before we head east again at speed. Another day or two before we can finally make the turn to the north and point our bows towards Muscat, and all that which lies between us and our destination.”






DAY 55 A brutal South Indian Ocean 3rd March 2009 There is only one objective onboard right now – stay safe and in one piece. In some of the most brutal conditions so far, the impact of the boat slamming between waves sends shudders through the hull and the crew. These relentless conditions are providing a period of discomfort onboard for boat, mind and body. Overnight the decision was made to reduce sail area in an attempt to slow down and to control potential damage. This morning they were back on track as the report came in that the wind has dropped and shifted slightly and they were making progress forwards again. “One more day… one more day… This is the mantra of the day as we plug along counting down the hours until the wind goes light, signifying the shift, and we will be on the way north where we are promised fairly good conditions for the first few days… Yippee!”


DAY 56 Keeping the show on the road 4th March 2009 “So this is Groundhog Day for sure. We have such similar conditions to yesterday that it could be yesterday again! The skies for now are fairly clear, but there are some clouds ahead and the winds are likely to increase before the shift as per the forecast. It’s currently blowing 26-30kts and we expect it to get worse before it gets better. Life onboard has been more about living than anything else; getting sleep when conditions allow and generally keeping the show on the road, routine checks around the boat and removing some water from the back compartment. Every now and then the mainsheet traveller needs easing and then a sheet in again, but that’s about all. A big wave nailed Hooch during the night. Without his wet weather gear jacket he just nipped out to ease the traveller, when a huge one rolled up the port bow, over the coachroof and into the cockpit – drenched him! There was a series of expletives before he appeared in the companionway to get his wet top layer off before it got anything else wet and his good humour soon returned. You have to be fairly tolerant of incidents like that – if you are not, then it drags everyone down. We are lucky that Hooch is a permanently happy chap”






DAY 57 No fun at the Fair 5th March 2009 It has been a stressful few days that have caused no end of worry for the crew in what have been by far the worst conditions they have experienced to date. Now in a better sea state and sailing a better angle, in a call in to Oman Sail HQ this morning Mohsin confirmed that life had become a little more comfortable. “Things have improved significantly and we are moving quickly. It’s still rough, very rough, but it should get better in the next few days. We are tired but we should be able to start resting better again in the next few days”. The major news though is an end to the last three days of wincing as every wave smashed into the boat. The noise and the impacts were just unbelievable, at times yesterday we weren’t even able to use the phrase that we have used all this trip “well, it could be worse”. It’s hard to see how it could have been any worse – if you recorded the motion and the noise you wouldn’t be allowed to run it as a fairground ride and you wouldn’t be allowed to use as much water as would be required to reproduce the waves washing the boat. It was by far the roughest and most dangerous period of the trip for the boat, a cumulation of three different swell directions and sea driven waves – unreal.”


DAY 58 What a difference a day makes 6th March 2009 “The last 24 hours has been one of change; we started out with rough seas, 3 Reefs in the Main and a Staysail and have ended up with full Mainsail and Solent Jib. It’s dry on deck, we are heading exactly where we want to go and we’re making ground to the north very quickly. As we left the Roaring Forties yesterday we saw a couple of flying fish, they seem to be a long way south, but a sign that things are warmer already. Being dry on deck is a novelty and Loik just came off a long stint on deck totally dry and without having to wear a foul weather jacket! Everyone’s mood is reflected in the change of weather. The real end to the south for us was probably a long line of cloud that was the front that brought the change of wind and wave conditions. We had seen it on the satellite pictures and we could see it for 5 hours before sailing out from underneath it. One minute it’s 18kts and 3kts the next, the sea changed instantly too – unreal.”






DAY 59 Bring on the trade winds 7th March 2009 Musandam and crew are making good progress due north and looking forward to some good trade wind sailing; next on the list is the Doldrums some 1,000 miles ahead. They are banking miles now and lining up for the crossing in what they hope is the narrowest point, and directly south to north will hopefully minimise the time spent with low wind speeds. “Yesterday afternoon we were sailing along well, getting ourselves positioned for the next five days or so and were fetching not quite upwind but over a lumpy short sea. The lumpy sea was another boneshaker/boat breaker and it was a relief when things changed and we could stop having to hang on to the bunk just to stay in them and not wonder if we’d seen the mast upright for the last time. The next few days look pretty good with some good trade wind sailing to be done. Having worked hard to get ourselves positioned, it’s a welcome relief that for the next few days we should be making great progress in solid winds. Later today we should be deep enough downwind to hoist the Gennaker, which hasn’t seen the light of day for a while, and make some headway to the north.”


DAY 61 Lining up for the Doldrums 9th March 2009 As Musandam charges towards the equator and the northern hemisphere the current Doldrums crossing is looking like it will be short. However, as Charlie mentioned on the way from north to south some 50 days ago “the only thing predictable about the Doldrums is that they are unpredictable and it could all change in a matter of hours”. “We need to make us some good miles now however as we have the Doldrums to cross and then some long upwind tacks back to Muscat. For our Doldrums crossing however we might be lucky and are looking for the place where the winds turn most quickly between south-east and west or north-west.” “Life is warm onboard as you can imagine, cabin temperatures are in the 30’s during the day and sea water (and hence our drinking water) temperature is right up there to 28ºC. It’s not hard to see why this area was so feared by the sailors of old, we have a super lightweight hull and efficient sails so any wind we have can quickly be harnessed to forward progress. Being on a sail powered whaling ship must have been incredibly tough.” “This part of the Indian Ocean is interesting, we are sailing in 2,400m deep water, but to our west is a large area of shallow water – the Caragos Shoal is just 16m deep in places and must be a meeting point for all sorts of sea life.”






DAY 62 Welcome back to the Doldrums 10th March 2009 Creeping north was the theme in Musandam’s call back to Oman Sail HQ this morning, under full main and the Code Zero they had 9kts of boat-speed surrounded by big black rain clouds. “Looking ahead we can see there is a break in the clouds, so hopefully we can make some progress there” commented Charlie. There is plenty onboard to keep the crew busy including housework, some hygiene care during the rain showers and constant sail changes to suit the wind speeds – light airs can be more exhausting than heavy weather. Current forecasts are unpredictable and winds look to be light and shifty for the next few days swinging between south-east to north-west until they reach 6 degrees south, north of this the winds are forecast to be a more stable northeasterly. However, as Charlie commented some 50 days ago when they were travelling north to south across the Doldrums. “The Doldrums are somewhere you have to go to get to where you are going, you would only go there once just to see what it was like. Each round-the-world attempt has two Doldrums crossings – so here we are again and for now we wiggle the tiller from side to side in the vain hope of catching some breeze!”


DAY 63 Hooch’s Doldrums 11th March 2009 “Hello again, this time from a much warmer, drier climate. After a few days making excellent progress north in the Indian Ocean south-easterly trade winds, we have now come to an abrupt halt at the Doldrums where we currently have little wind to continue progressing north. “It seems like only yesterday that I was writing an update on our way south through the Doldrums and commenting on the intense heat. It’s just as hot this time and so much has happened since! Patience is the name of the game again as we wait for the wind to settle and increase. It’s all too easy to get frustrated when you aren’t moving quickly. Unfortunately that is what sailing is all about, making the best of the conditions you have. Without this positive element to our attitudes we would surely go mad, especially as we are set for the same conditions for at least another 24 hours, maybe more.” “Now, as we make our way back to Oman, north of the equator, we will again encounter light winds. It feels like we are so close yet we still have perhaps another two weeks at sea and it looks like we will miss the England versus France ‘6 Nations’ rugby match, though I’m sure Martin Johnson and the boys will do the job!” “I leave you with the thought of us in shorts and T-shirts doing what we can to deal with life in the sun and the heat, whilst also staying focused on reaching our ultimate goal.”






DAY 64 Searching for the wind 12th March 2009 Hard work over-night as the crew pulled out Musandam’s entire sail wardrobe to try and keep moving northwards, at times with all five of them on deck in torrential rain. “The rain was incredible, it was a school geography lesson that came alive; water being sucked up from the surface of the ocean and then the rain that the process creates – but you can never imagine how much rain that could be and it’s hard to describe how much water was in the downpours, what an amazing natural phenomena” commented Mohsin this morning. On the upside, life was fairly pleasant onboard despite the lack of wind, the good thing was that they were moving and continue to do so and are hunting the wind down rather than waiting for it to find them. “Last night we had some incredible cloud fun, getting stuck under a couple of massive ones with torrential rains and huge shifts and increases and decreases in wind strength. Big blasts of warm and then cold air, full on Doldrums conditions. In one 3-hour period we constantly changed sails; Genoa – Solent – Bareheaded – Solent – Genoa, then ended up with 1 Reef. All this with torrential rains. That’s what the Doldrums is all about, I am sure most people think of no wind, sails flapping and going nowhere with nothing to do, but there is more work to do during the light airs than during the heavy airs to keep the boat moving.”


DAY 65 Slow to zero progress in the Doldrums 13th March 2009 “There is no wind; there hasn’t been more than 9kts for 24 hours and the average has been 4kts for the last 24 hours, 2.5kts for the last 12, and 2.2 for the last 6 hours. In the last 24 hours we have moved 76nm, a record that could be broken unless the wind fills in soon as our boat speed remains in the 0-2kts range. This is not a record we would like to break. Understandably life is fairly quiet onboard but an understanding that, as sailors, we live and die by the wind. We must take the rough with the smooth and we have had a good trip so far, if this is payment then OK, we will take it. General feeling is that we will be debt-free by noon and deserving some good sailing north! “Right, got to go and do a rain dance (or wind dance… whichever works to get us moving again!). More tomorrow, I hope with better news.”






Day 66 Mohsin mania 14th March 2009 Starting at the Ministry of Tourism, the key supporter of the Oman Sail project, the ‘Good Luck Mohsin’ roadshow began on Saturday 14th March. Before hitting the road, a press conference was held for invited media in which members of the Oman Sail shore team in Muscat recapped the project before presenting the ‘Good Luck Mohsin’ roadshow, the highlight of which was a 10m long ‘card’ on which anyone and everyone could sign their name and leave a message for Mohsin. Dr. Rajiha bint Abdulameer bin Ali, Minister of Tourism, donned a ‘Mohsin – Pride of Oman’ T-shirt and an Oman Sail cap for a photo opportunity as the first person to sign the massive card. Other dignitaries and employees of the Ministry of Tourism also signed it before the roadshow moved on to the Sultan’s School where over 300 school children signed the card, many of them writing congratulatory messages, and even pasting pictures, to go with their signature. From there the roadshow went to various malls, clubs, colleges and supermarkets with the aim of getting as many signatures as possible for Mohsin to read when he got to dry land. The visits highlighted the building excitement of Mohsin’s imminent return and kept the spirit of Oman’s victory in the Gulf Cup alive! As a result of the roadshow, a total of 90m, or 180sqm, of the card was signed and was put in a presentation cabinet to be given to Mohsin whenever he arrived in Muscat.


DAY 67 Testing our patience 15th March 2009 Yet another day to test patience onboard, almost five days of no wind and not looking like there will be any let-up in the coming days. “I was hoping I’d be in Omani waters by now” Mohsin said in today’s call with Oman Sail HQ. “We are moving slowly and we’re trying to find a way out of this. The best winds we have had so far are about 6kts! The temperature is also brutal – 34ºC yesterday and it’s 38ºC today! The heat is increasing as we get closer to the equator however I would rather be here than being chased by a storm that throws us around.” “It’s the same as yesterday. We have had a small discussion on deck about what to put in today’s update and have come up with nothing. It’s not so much writer’s block as a lack of anything to report compared to the recent past.”






DAY 69 Final sunrise in the south 17th March 2009 The Oman Sail team in Muscat has been living and breathing this attempt along with family, friends and the ever-growing band of Oman Sail supporters. The sigh of relief was audible this morning as Musandam heads towards the equator back into their home hemisphere and hopefully into some more consistent breeze to bring them closer to Muscat. “If the wind stays as it currently is, then today will be Equator Day and last night will have been our last southern hemisphere sunset. The sun rising now will be our last of the south too; we are at 1 degree 08 south, that’s 68nm south of the equator, and sailing slightly east of north which will benefit us later by being more east. This is perhaps our only chance to get into it without losing loads of time, as winds will generally be from north-east and east for the next few days. “With the equator comes the reflection of all the miles we have sailed in the southern half of the planet, home of the three great Capes, which we have been lucky enough to pass without incident. We hope the equator crossing will signify not only being the right way up, but that we have passed another major milestone by leaving the Doldrums behind. We won’t get developed trade winds until maybe 200nm further north but that’s fine… we just don’t want a repeat of the last few days.”


DAY 70 Equator crossed 18th March 2009 At 11:39:10 GMT, 17th March, 2009, Musandam and crew crossed the equator and back into the northern hemisphere. Plenty of gifts were offered to Neptune and a request for more favourable winds for the remainder of this attempt was made. “We are almost at 2 degrees north now and the weather has settled in to what we expected, there is a cooling breeze and our boat-speed is 10 or 11kts. Of course, being at 2 north means we had an equator crossing yesterday. Another big sigh of relief as it really means we are nearly back to Oman. We know how quickly after the start the southbound crossing came, so it’s natural to feel closer to returning.” “The equator crossing meant a gift to Neptune was required; he got a couple of books and some spending money. I hope he can read and enjoys the books, as we would certainly like good fortune for this final stretch. I asked Mohsin how happy he was to be at the equator, and he couldn’t stop smiling for a good 20 minutes, he feels like he is nearly home, and has two of the best eyes onboard – I can imagine him in a few days straining at the horizon for any hint of his homeland.” Piracy in the 21st century As Musandam made her way around the world, the issue of piracy in the Indian Ocean was gaining prominence in the international media. Although the pirates, originating from the Puntland region of Somalia, were focusing on larger prey, there had been instances of sailing yachts being taken and the crew held until ransoms were paid. The Musandam would have looked like an imposing target for the pirates and the temptation of creating an international scene could have been great. As a result of this, and due to the technologically advanced nature of the pirates’ operations, it was decided that the boat tracking on the Oman Sail website would be turned off while Musandam went through the worst areas of piracy. Fortunately everything went smoothly, no contact was made and the crew did not see any boats that made them fear for their safety.






DAY 71 Upwind and heading north 19th March 2009 A full-on night again with rain clouds bringing squalls of up to 30kts of wind and sudden wind direction changes of 60 degrees. After a great day sailing yesterday and making good progress, the building clouds and occasional lightning around dusk were the advance warning signs of a long night ahead. “Wind speed was around 19kts, too much for a Genoa and we are nursing northwards with a damaged leach. As the next cloud arrives we furl the sail early, feather the boat upwind and then set the smaller Solent Jib that allows us to deal with higher wind speeds. Around 23:30 GMT, two and a half hours before sunrise, we could see by the light of the moon an enormous cloud. So we furl the Solent, put the Reef in… then the wind drops to 4kts! We were left there without wind, the boat slamming between her two outside float hulls and the Mainsail and mast crashing back and forth. After a while (seemed like a lifetime) we were about to unfurl the Genoa just as the wind cranks back in and we are back to the Solent Jib! All good fun!”


DAY 72 The final 1,000 miles 20th March 2009 “I must say this is an update I thought I would never write and that day was when we would unpack the 71st food bag from the storage container. For a good portion of this trip we have been on schedule for a 70day circumnavigation, but the Doldrums have decided that it would not be the case. We are now approximately 5 days ahead of the 80-day pace boat which should indicate a 75-day circumnavigation. However, one final fence to jump, an area of high pressure centred 200nm off the Oman coast. We must sail around its western side before turning north into the Oman coast somewhere around Sharbatat or Mukhsay and heading north-east towards Ras Al Hadd, the final corner of our trip, 100nm from the finish in Muscat. The winds should be quite different with some moderate downwind conditions leading us to hope for a quick finish to these last two weeks of slow going. “Mohsin was laughing on deck last night as Oman TV had been asked about the fish, the pictures of it having made the papers in Oman. Everyone thinks that the fish is very big, as it looks nearly as big as Mohsin, but no one knows that he is quite short!”






DAY 74 Toughing it out 22nd March 2009 Forecasts suggest good winds through Monday and Tuesday giving Musandam the opportunity to make good progress up the Omani coast towards Sur. Once out of the light airs that they have been stuck in overnight, the winds should fill in from the south to south-west with predicted periods of 20 to 25kts on Tuesday. North of Sur the winds are expected to diminish and the last 100 miles to Muscat could be hard work for the crew. “Our old acquaintances, Harry Flatters and Shifty Bob, have returned. Harry (the sea) and Bob (the wind) appeared at sunset last night after a pretty reasonable day’s progress to give us super light and very variable conditions. We had been anticipating this for a few days, the high pressure centred between us and ‘the corner’ at Ras Al Hadd was always going to provide us with a case of the slows. If we do get the 20kts that is hinted at then it will be the first time in weeks that we will have been above 12kts boat-speed. We were doing 10 at times during the day, yesterday, and it felt like we were going really fast.”


DAY 75 About 600 miles to Muscat 23rd March 2009 “We have some wind (for now at least) and we are moving west-north-west in 6-9kts of wind which feels like a gale. The wind has for a time been from the direction we were hoping for and everything is pointing towards good southwest winds as we get to within 180nm of the Oman coast. The clouds that gathered overnight are burning off quickly, but it’s yet to truly get hot. Yesterday it reached 38ºC in the shade at times and the deck was too hot to walk on.” “We were discussing the lack of wildlife in the Indian Ocean and on the route generally, when out in the distance a pod of dolphins leapt out of the water, jumping clear, just playing around. As if that wasn’t enough, a whale (couldn’t identify it exactly without a reference) came across the bows really close and swam along before disappearing again!” “This final leg up the Indian Ocean really makes it feel like a different trip to the rest of the round-the-world journey. I am sure for everyone following it’s one long journey we started on January 8th that we are now coming to the end of. But for us it feels like we are coming to the end of a journey up the Indian Ocean; the round-the-world bit feels like something we did quite a long time ago.”






DAY 76 In Omani waters – the final 300 miles 24th March 2009 Musandam and crew should be off the town of Sur by 00:00 GMT on Wednesday as a south-south-westerly breeze pushes them along the coastline. Warm winds will see their boat speeds in the 20kt region that will give them good speed for an anticipated arrival in Muscat on Wednesday 25th. “We should see the coast soon as we are 20nm off a headland at the moment before gybing back to the north to take advantage of the sea breeze. For this we’ll need to be fairly close inshore so we’ll get a good view of Oman for the rest of the day – Mohsin will be happy.” “After such a long time without wind or waves we are all a bit clumsy on deck, banging into things and each other as the boat lurches from one side to the other. It just goes to show how you quickly lose the knack of staying upright and all the old handholds need to be found again.” “We are SO looking forward to seeing everyone! It’s hard to contain the excitement but we’ll manage for another day, by which time we should be at ‘The Corner’, the much talked about turning point of our trip, and into the final 100nm up the coast to Muscat. We are going to enjoy these last few miles and the simplicity of life at sea before it goes crazy and we have a sensory overload on arriving in Muscat – we can almost hear, smell, and taste it – nearly, but not quite.”


THE END 76 Days, 1 Hour, 12 Minutes and 42 Seconds Musandam crosses the finish line 25th March 2009 At 15:43:12 Local Time (11:43:12 GMT) Mohsin Al Busaidi made history to become the first Arab to sail non-stop around the world.






KEY STATISTICS Start and finish: Muscat - Oman Boat: Musandam – 75-foot Trimaran Distance: 24,287 nautical miles (44,979 kilometres) Average speed over ground: 13.3 knots Total journey length: 76 days, 1 hour, 12 minutes and 42 seconds

Elapsed times

Muscat (08/01/2009 10:30:30) – Cape Leeuwin (26/01/2009 14:00:00) 18 days, 3 hours, 29 minutes, 30 seconds – distance sailed: 6,035 nautical miles Cape Leeuwin (26/01/2009 14:00:00) – Cape Horn (17/02/2009 16:05:00) 22 days, 2 hours, 5 minutes – distance sailed: 8,195 nautical miles Cape Horn (17/02/2009 16:05:00) – Cape of Good Hope (28/02/2009 03:03:00) 10 days, 11 hours – distance sailed: 3,980 nautical miles The Cape of Good Hope (28/02/2009 03:03:00) – Muscat (25/03/2009 11:43:12) 25 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes, 12 seconds – distance sailed: 6, 073 nautical miles.


“I am so happy, so proud for my country, it has been the most amazing experience of my life. Although the voyage has only taken 76 days, I have loved sailing and the sea for a long time. This round-the-world journey has been the key focus for the newly formed Oman Sail project and we wanted to show quickly what could be achieved to inspire others. We’ll continue the voyage of our ancestors who sailed the seas and we’ll build boats and masts so our children continue the journey after us.” Mohsin 166





“We are happy to see our crew and boat home safely. To have Mohsin accomplish this voyage and enter the history books is very exciting and I know this will inspire young Omanis. As Tourism Minister, I also see today as an opportunity for Oman to demonstrate how it is reigniting its maritime heritage.� Her Excellency Dr Rajiha Bint Abdul Amir Bin Ali, Minister of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman





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Glossary Archipelago A sea stretch of water containing many islands. Atolls A ring-shaped reef, island, or chain of islands formed by coral. Bareheaded – Solent Code Zero The smallest asymmetrical spinnaker allowed by the IMS rule. A specialty sail built out of high modulus materials for light air cracked off to close reaching.

Sail control line that allows the most obvious effect on Mainsail trim. nm (nautical miles) A unit used in measuring distance at sea, equal to approximately 2,025 yards, (1,853 metres). Tiller A horizontal bar fitted to the head of a boat’s rudder post and used as a lever for steering. Trimaran A yacht with three hulls in parallel.

Coralline Any of various red algae of the family Corallinaceae whose fronds are covered with calcareous deposits.

Reef To temporarily reduce the area of a sail exposed to the wind, usually to guard against adverse effects of strong wind or to slow the vessel.

Doldrums An equitorial region of the Atlantic, with calms, sudden storms and light, unpredictable winds.

Roaring Forties A name given, especially by sailors, to the latitudes between 40 degrees south and 50 degrees south, so called because of the boisterous and prevailing westerly winds.

Gennaker A specialty sail primarily used on racing boats to bridge the performance gap between a Genoa and a Spinnaker. Genoa A large Jib or Foresail whose foot extends aft of the mast, used especially on racing yachts.

Solent A non-overlapping Jib Sail, smaller than the type of sail called a Genoa.

GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Staysail A fore-and-aft rigged sail whose luff can be affixed to a stay running forward (and most often but not always downwards) from a mast to the deck, the bowsprit or to another mast.

Gybe To change from one tack to the other away from the wind, with the stern of the vessel turning through the wind.

Squall A sudden, sharp increase in wind speed which is usually associated with active weather, such as rain showers, thunderstorms or heavy snow.

Great Australian Bight A large bight, or open bay, located off the central and western portions of the southern coastline of mainland Australia. Impeller The rotating part of a centrifugal pump, compressor or other machine designed to move a fluid by rotation. Jib A triangular Staysail at the front of the yacht. kts (knots) A unit of speed equivilent to 1 nautical mile per hour. Leeward On or toward the side sheltered from the wind or toward which the wind is blowing. Mainsail The sail set on the aft side of the mainmast in a fore-and-aft rigged vesel. Mainsheet traveller 177


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Three Capes and A Strait  

three capes and a strait - version 2

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