Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Navigating the Straits of Hormuz

At its narrowest point, the Straits of Hormuz stretch 26 miles between the Musandam Peninsula and Iran. By speedboat it only takes an hour. The Musandam Peninsula is part of Oman even though it is separated from the rest of the country by the UAE. We cruised through the Straits today around the coast of the Musandam Peninsula to Khasab, the capitol. On the way we saw the striking barren mountains of Oman and in the opposite direction, the far away coast of Iran. It was unbelievable to think how close we were to Iran. After docking, we boarded dhows (traditional Omani ships) and rode for about an hour through landscape which is compared with the fjords of Norway. Although these fjords were not bursting with vegetation, they dramatically dropped into the sea and the image was breathtaking.

We stopped at Telegraph Island, famous only for a transmitter that used to be there, for a swimming and snorkeling opportunity. The water felt wonderful, very comfortable although salty. There were a few fish to watch, but it was relaxing to just float in the water. On our way to and from Telegraph Island, we passed small villages built into the sides of the mountains. The buildings used to be built with the same color stone as the mountains to blend into the landscape. Now they use white stone and it was fascinating to see 4 or 5 buildings in the middle of a mountain scattered throughout the route. The villages are only accessible by sea and electricity, water, and medical attention are all free and covered by Oman.

Tonight we left Oman and are continuing on our journey with a full day at sea tomorrow on the way to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

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