Flies, sand & water rationing . . . .

We sailed from Ras Al Khaimah for Dubai, which was a very short ‘voyage’ of about 112 km (70 miles) or about four hours at a very economical speed.

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Dubai Creek in the 1960’s.

As you see the creek was too small for a deep sea ship to use, so we anchored off the coast once again, and waited for the dhows to come out to us. Click on this link to see how the cargo was handled, which was very labour intensive in Dubai Creek in the 1960’s

After we’d anchored the sea started to get rough due to a sudden squall, and the wind increased (called shamal by the locals) so we didn’t see any dhows for two days. It was a  hot wind  that brought flies & midges that infested everywhere, and not just outside, but also inside our accommodation. The result was short tempers and a lot of hand waving – today we would have called it the Aussie salute

To cap it all we were running out of water, so we had to ration what we had left. Water was available from 7 to 9 am, Noon to 1 pm & 5 to 8 pm. We were not sure how long we would be at anchor and the water boats could not get out to us during the poor weather

At that time desalination systems for cargo ships was unheard of, we just got used to the different taste of water from around the world, a bit like tasting different beers from around the world, but not as enjoyable.

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Another shot of Dubai Creek in the 1960’s.

We did have a fight on board between two of the crew, I put it down to the conditions at the time.
It happened when I was on anchor watch, so I kept out of sight just in case it became ‘nasty’ at which time I would have interceded. I considered it better to allow the fight to happen now, rather than to fester and perhaps become a major problem later.
My concern was in case a knife was drawn, but it started like a girl’s fight at school with a lot of slapping and hair pulling.
It upgraded to a little wrestling, but neither looked like they were getting hurt and eventually the heat and the flies won, and they both gave up fighting and disappeared below to their accommodation.
We had an Indian crew, and they didn’t drink alcohol, so I didn’t think it was an alcohol fueled fight.
During my time at sea I only saw two ‘upsets’ – this one, and another were a Chinese cook became upset at another Chinese crew member and went for him with a meat cleaver. That one was stopped immediately.

Just to show the changes that have taken place in Dubai –

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Note the clock on the monument . . .  1968

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The same clock in the same position today.

Oil was found in Dubai in 1966 and the first cargo of oil was exported in 1969, so when I was there, the richness of Dubai that we know today was in the future.

Dubai Airport 1971

The above photograph shows the new expanded Dubai airport, which was opened in 1960, and the first runway was compacted sand and could only take DC3s – in 1965 a second runway was built, which was tarmac – and the first passenger jet landed in 1965.

Before the original compacted sand runway was built the only way you could arrive by air was in a flying boat of Imperial Airways, later BOAC,  & later again, British Airways.

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Imperial Airways flying boat – top speed was 160 mph.

In 1938 they offered four services a week from London, and when the passengers went ashore in Dubai they were taken to the BOAC Jetty, and this jetty was still called BOAC jetty until it was demolished in the 1980’s.

Eventually the wind dropped and the dhows came out to us to unload cargo and sail / row their dhows back ashore and up the Dubai Creek.

The change in weather conditions also allowed the new first officer to come out and to take up his duties. It turned out that I’d sailed with him when I was a cadet in Dunera just before I sat my 2nd Mates exams.

The original first officer had been promoted to captain and his new command was anchored not far from us – happy families – my ten pound a month extra for being a temporary 2nd Mate didn’t last long.

Our next stop would be Abu Dhabi.

 

 

Tea?

In the mid 1960’s I paid off a ship in Khorramshahr, (which is in Iran) and drove to Abadan (still in Iran) to fly Iran Air to Tehran to catch a BOAC (now called British Airways) flight to the UK. This was before the fall of the Shah of Persia, which didn’t happen until 1979.

Iran air

This trip from Abadan sticks in my mind due to the huge amount of hand baggage that the passengers were allowed to carry on board such a small aircraft (small for today’s aircraft), from memory it was a B727/100. At that time  Iran Air only had two jets, one B 707 & one B 727.

The hand baggage of one person included a small primus stove.

After we had taken off, and the seat belt sign had been switched off, the passenger with the stove squatted in the aisle and lit the primus to make his tea. The surrounding passengers didn’t react. I could see the tea maker a few rows ahead of me, and as I unfastened my safety belt to tell him to put the naked light out, there was a blared movement of a stewardess moving from the for’d part of the aircraft to the tea maker. I’ve never seen a cabin crew member move so fast before or since.