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Dhows no longer pass through al-Hami, but in the harbor ofAden Ma 'alla traditional vessels are sometimes seen, such as the magnificent Kuwaiti bum pictured here.

achievement was th e Kitab al-Fawa 'id (AD 1490). H ere, orga nized into twelvefa'idas or sections, is the accumulated knowledge of 4, 000 years of Arab seafaring, revealing the advanced astrono mical knowledge of Arab mariners, celestial navigation techniques, monsoonal sailing theo ry and co mpass points. The stark South Arabian coast was Ibn M ajid's backyard, and he charred in his mind every cape, every cove and every village. Ano ther naviga tor, Sulaym an al-Mahri, wrote on the science of navigation, of which fi ve treatises survive. His m ost fa mous wo rk PH OTOG RA PH S AN D MAP BY TH E AUTHORS is the Fundamentals for the Mastering ofMaThe map shows rine Science (known as the Umda, AD 15 11 ). the coast of SAUDI ARABIA Acco rding to the O ttoman Admiral Sidi Yemen and the <:;:elebi , who himself wro te a treatise o n seaport towns navigatio n (ca. AD 155 0), al-Mah ri was that once sent from al-Shihr, less than twe nty miles wes t ships to I ndia ofal-H ami . Al-Mahri clarified and systemand Africa. ized Ibn M ajid's co ntributi ons to navigation; and, altho ugh almost fo rgotten in the YEMEN M iddle East, his works represented the Arabian zenith of Arabian navigatio nal theory. Sea Even after the openin g of direct EuroÂŽ Ad en pean commerce in the Indian O cean, Arab ~ N comm erce-and al-H ami 's ro le in the Gulf of Aden ~ __,.,/ trade-continued busily. Although Po rtugal tried to subdu e the So uth Arabian coas t, SOMALIA including Aden and al-Shihr, "old" al0 150 ~ H ami was out of the range of Portugal's guns and influence. Even today, the town's te rm" dhow" is a general, Wes tern wo rd fo r referred to the first summ er sailing season traditio nal wedding dance recalls the town's the wooden sailing vessels of the Indian as the kaws m onsoo n; the secon d, as th e repulsio n of a Portuguese attack almost Ocean. Local sailors, however, know these damani m o nsoo n. T he dam ani season be500 years ago. Sa id Salem Bataya, an ances- vessels by their parti cular nam es, such as gan in m id-August-when the rains abated tor of our guide, Dr. Bataya, was th e great- sanbuq, baggala and ganja.) H adhrami m er- but the winds blew steadily-and was a est captain in the histo ry of al-H ami and chants ve ntured thousands of miles in their favorabl e rime for eastward sailing. During the coast. Bo rn in 1766, Bataya composed latee n-rigged craft. T hey trusted their lives the middle of the summ er (mid-M ay to his first pilot (sea guide) in 1802, describ- and livelih oods to the ships' h ull s, which mi d-August), the porrs oflndi a were closed ing the route from Saihut to Z injibar (bo th shipwrigh ts labo riously sewed toge ther, to shipp ing due to the swell generated by along the So uth Arabian coast). In 1805, plank by plank, with co ir thread m an ufac- the monsoon winds. Accordin g to Ibn he wro te a second pilo t tracing the ro ute tu red from the husks of coco nu ts. Majid: "For these ninety days the sea is In th e era of sail , the mo nsoo n winds closed and he who wo uld cross rhem defrom Muscat, Om an, to Mocha, Yem en. Ano ther fam ous 18th-century captain fro m were th e li fe blood of porrs such as al-Shih r serves to be unhappy. Fro m rhe ago ny of al-H am i,AwadhAhm ad bin Arwa, pil oted and al-H am i. Ibn Majid'swork reveals th at lonelin ess and remo rse, so much anxiety ships from memory even aft er he became Arab mariners had develo ped monsoonal and suffer ing." blind . Legend has it that he m aintained his sailing in to a refined science. Fun damental Dhows in Ind ia, the Bay of Bengal, and bearings because he co uld recog nize the to the practice of this science was the con- Straits of Malacca returned to th eir ho me odor of the so il from every part of th e So uth cep t of sa il ing departure win dows, or po rts in Arabia during the long, north east mawsim, which were shaped by the mon- (azyab) monsoo n (October-Apri l). T hose Arabian coast. soon winds of the Indian Ocean. D uring who had sailed to Afri ca often spent the the sum mer months, a stro ng, so uthwest winter trading along the coast, returning to The Dhow Trade T hroughout al-Hami 's histo ry-until the wind prevailed; however, voyaging by sail Arabia o nly with the first breezes of the lat ter half of the l 900s-local dhows sailed was only practicable d uring certain seg- so uthwest monsoon . Ibn Majid wrote that a captain seathe trade routes of the Indian O cean . (The m ents of this m onsoo n. Arab mariners

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I

SEA HISTORY 89, SUMMER 1999

15

Sea History 089 - Summer 1999  

8 THE CAPE HORN ROAD, XIX. Steamships Take Over the North Atlantic, Driving the Sailing Ship into Increasingly Remote Trades, by Peter Stanf...

Sea History 089 - Summer 1999  

8 THE CAPE HORN ROAD, XIX. Steamships Take Over the North Atlantic, Driving the Sailing Ship into Increasingly Remote Trades, by Peter Stanf...

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