If your contemplating a passage
down the red sea you're probably going to have to stop at Salalah before crossing the Indian Ocean
to say Cochin. You'd probably be relieved to make it past the "danger zone" of the gulf of Aden and into the safety
of Oman. Our experience in October 2016 was initially a little disheartening with our Agent finally providing pricing over sat coms a few days out, USD 1200 to enter Oman. Holy crap we thought, but what choice did we have.
It didn't finish there... we are directed to tie up in the commercial
port next to the fishing
fleet, rubbish and stinking nets everywhere, getting bashed against the dirty quayside. We're a small boat
so prefer to shower
ashore when not at sea, but the facilities here, shared with the fishermen are just disgusting.
We know about a lovely marina 20 miles down the coast but our agent says its a no go to leave the port. After 17 days at sea we are knackered and just want little comfort so this is bad news. Apparently we can get a cruising permit
but this will cost an additional USD 500 and will need to be approved from Muscat police HQ which could take about 10 days. Embarassed to say this triggerd a full on melt down at the agent, I stormed off taking photos of the appalling conditions, asking is this how you treat tourists in your country!
This seemed to have some impact and as our agent drove throuh port security
a discussion ensued and I was lead into the police offices. Eventually after much discussion amongst what seemed to be just about every officer in the station a "solution" to our desire to move to the marina was found. The only requirment is that our agent must provide a letter of guarantee that we will return to Port to clear out, happy days.
We very quickly packed up and headed off to the marina, but there was one last issue. The marina is uncharted so we had to make a sat phone
call to the marina manager to get coordinates.
One last word of warning, the kharif or summer monsoon winds make access to the marina harbour impossible before October, so dont arrive too early or you'll have to stay in the scummy port.