Trapped by the PNGDF: Peter Era’s lucky escape

Keith’s intimate travel diary 5 – Rain on the desert sand

Keith at Fort FujairahKEITH JACKSON

TUESDAY 30 APRIL – FUJAIRAH. The two Israeli guys had boarded in Mumbai: tough looking critters, never seen apart, who look like they could strangle a sheep in one hand.

Sometimes you see them circling the main deck during the day but their real job is in the darkness hours. They’re not cruising for the fun but for the gun. Their mission: to prevent Nautica being taken by pirates.

Since the 2008 incident referred to in yesterday’s diary, passenger vessels travelling these waters between Somalia and the Arab states have been particularly vigilant. A shipload of passengers – mostly American - offers a high value target for hijackers. Think ransom.

Thus the Israelis’ presence. To make sure the ship is effectively locked down at night and to repel any grappling hooks that may be flung its way.

It rained in Fujairah today.

Fujairah is a tiny Emirate (population 150,000), one of seven now home to the formerly nomadic peoples who roamed these parts – with tribes and clans and family relationships that would be not seem strange to any Melanesian. For pigs read camels; for taro read dates.

Anyway, it rained in Fujairah today.

The rain was unseasonal, unusually heavy, accompanied by a lightning storm and the first they’d seen in half a year. It is seriously barren around here. You dehydrate just thinking about how seriously barren it is.

IlyaThis must be one of the world’s few places where oil is cheaper than water, as our cab driver, Sirham  – who bore a disconcerting resemblance to Ilya Gridneff – pointed out.

Sirham took us around the sights of Fujairah: the old fort, the new mosque, the president’s compound, the display oasis and the ATM machine.

And then it was back to Nautica for lunch.

And some surreptitious looks around for those two Israelis, who, at noon’s height, were nowhere to be seen.


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A Huvah

They were probably still on the boat. I wonder if Israelis can legally enter UAE.

Harry Topham

Keith, take care as you now enter that new hot bed of unrest - the Mediterranean.

Still a few days off, Harry. Today we pick up our escort through the Arabian and Red Seas and have our anti-pirate drill (break out swords and rum) - KJ

Robin Lillicrapp

One might reminisce upon the alleged habits of mad dogs and Englishmen in the heat of the noon day sun to assess the manifest absence of the sheep strangling security cohort.

And yet they might be on high alert; appraised, no doubt, of the sanguinary presence of an esteemed Antipodean of blogos-fame: host to certain threads asserting long lost and related cousins in the South Pacific.

That cohort's enjoyment of the cruise o'ershadowed now by the questing and vigilant eye of the author abroad versus the moonlit probing of the maritime haze in anticipation of Somali savants of piratical intent.

Martin Hadlow

Handy to have some good security around, Keith, even though "life wasn't meant to be Uzi." Safe voyage.

Mrs Barbara Short

Well, I managed to find Fujairah on my Times Atlas of the World.
I'm sure your travel diary will be very interesting reading, especially for your friends in PNG, who probably don't have SBS TV, my window on the world!

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