“I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date! (Excuse the pun)

680-white-rabbit

I’m late I’m late for a very important date.

We still had to call at Doha (Qatar), Dammam (Saudi Arabia), Bahrain Island, Kuwait and finally Basrah (Iraq), which is about 90 miles up the Shatt al-Arab from the Persian Gulf.
The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet and become the Shatt-al-Arab and in English this means The River of the Arabs, so if people refer to it at the Shatt-al-Arab river they are actually saying the River of the Arabs River, which is a little odd.
The Shatt-al-Arab marks the border between Iraq and Iran (which used to be called Persia).

I’ve indicated the places mentioned with a coloured line under the name, and I’ve also marked Dubai as a reference point.

Persian-Gulf.jpg

We arrived off Abu Dhabi at 6.00 am and once again we anchored, and the labour came out to us in boats and dhows.

A little about Abu Dhabi in the 1960’s.

Timeframe

The photograph was taken in 1963 by David Riley, who was working for the British Bank of the Middle East at the time.

Abu Dhabi is a small island a few hundred meters off the coast, and in the early ’60’s the only way to cross was via this causeway at low tide. The two petrol drums mark the beginning of the causeway. It wasn’t until August 1968 (after I’d left the area) that a bridge was opened.

Maqta-75  It was known as the bridge to nowhere, but the proper name is Maqta Bridge. The old causeway was called Al Maqta (which means The Crossing) hence the name of the bridge. It was a symbol that Abu Dhabi was joining the rest of the world.

Bridge

I took the above in 2017, and if you wish to read a more detailed post about the 2017 visit to Abu Dhabi please click on this link. The link post is more of the current situation than reminiscences of yesteryear.

airport

Abu Dhabi airport in 1968, in 1965 the landing strip was hard packed sand.

The cargo work went well and we hoped to make up for lost time until that evening we experienced another shamal, but this one was far stronger than the earlier shamal at Dubai in Dubai.
It whipped up sand and the combination of the wind and the sand would strip paint of parts of the ship. It was similar to sand blasting to remove graffiti in a city, and it you were unfortunate to be outside it was a very painful experience for any exposed skin.
All work had to stop as it was too dangerous to allow the boats carrying the labour to come near the ship because the wind, and the sea would smash the boats against the Juna and more than likely sink them.

For the next six days we worked cargo intermittently due to the shamal stopping and later beginning again. It was not a pleasant time for any of us, and we were still on water rationing.

During our off duty hours, the officers had the opportunity of taking a small boat out to try our luck at shark fishing. It was pleasant in the boat, just sitting and chatting while holding the shark line. The main thing that I caught was sunburn, but we did catch a couple of small sharks, well I helped to drag one into the boat. They were not all that big, perhaps just over a metre, (perhaps four feet).
On returning to the ship we gave the two sharks to the crew who cooked them that evening – the first non-frozen fish that we’d had in months.

For a number of reasons, we were now behind schedule and the captain decided after being anchored off Abu Dhabi for six days, that we would sail at midnight, (the seventh day) even if the cargo work was incomplete. We had to be in Basrah (Iraq) to pick up a thousand tons of dates during harvest time.

The Captain considered that if necessary, we would call at Abu Dhabi on our return.

Oh! the joys of cruising in the Persian Gulf when on water rationing!