Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik ZKG

Dhows, a thing of the past - and the future.

by Sail-World Cruising on 24 Jun 2012
Modern dhow sailing in Dubai .. .
The dhow has been fixed in the Western imagination as a romantic Arabian seacraft of the past, but, apart from the fact that they are still used for the transport of goods even today, they are also undergoing a dramatic revival, among sailors in the UAE who don't want to lose their traditional past.

The dhow typically has lateen sails, one or two masts, with a elegantly long thin hull design. Traditionally they were not small vessels, typically weighing between 300 to 500 tons, and had crews from twelve to thirty.

Dhows equipped with sails and heavy oars were central to the pearling industry which once thrived in the Gulf’s warm, shallow waters; some 4,500 boats and as many as 74,000 men operated at the Gulf industry’s peak in the early 1900s.

But dhow sailing was almost forgotten during decades of breakneck, oil-fuelled modernisation after World War Two in the UAE.

It is now catching a fresh wind among Emiratis, many from old pearling and fishing families. They want to get away from the glass and concrete of the UAE’s wealthy cities, while rising incomes have given them the time and money needed to develop an interest in some of their ancestors’ traditions.

'It’s a change, like an escape,' Ali Salem Al Falasi, a dhow navigator, who has been sailing on traditional boats since the late 1980s, told local news outlet http://www.khaleejtimes.com!Khaleej_Times.

Apparently nationals coming from other than seafaring families find it harder to learn how to sail a dhow. He learned the skill in the sailing team of Mohammed Rashid Al Rumaithi, owner of Al Fattan shipyards. The team builds four or five dhows for its own use each year.

Rashed Al Humairi, who spends his working hours in the steel and concrete jungle that the Emirates has grown recently, has been teaching children how to sail to promote the tradition.

'Around half of the people we see on all other boats today have been taught by us since the 1980s. They started sailing, and then they built their own boats,' he told Khaleej Times.

'Some 16 dhow races in 22-, 43- and 60-foot (7-, 13- and 18-metre) classes are held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai between September and May. Only Emiratis and other Gulf nationals may take part.'

In 1991, 53 boats of different sizes and varying states of repair competed in the inaugural race, which commemorates the homecoming of boats from pearling expeditions.

Omanis form around half of the UAE dhow crews as it is still hard to find enough Emirati sailors. But the government hopes that youngsters competing in the 22-foot class will help fill the gap eventually and keep the heritage alive.

'There was a time where you could not see a single sail on the sea. People only talked about it,' said Ahmad Mohammad Binthani, chairman of the Dubai International Marine Club, who comes from a fishing and pearl diving family.

'We could hear a story about the name of that boat, how many pearls they got, the name of the captain, names of the crew, but we did not practise it,' said Binthani.

Compared to heavy old pearling boats, modern racing dhows, many built from Meranti wood brought from Indonesia due to a teak shortage, are about two-thirds lighter and much faster. 'During the pearl hunt in old times, dhows used to compete over who was faster reaching the pearl hunting areas,' said Mohammed Hareb, a former dhow racer.

'Our dhows are very fast ... we exceed the speed of the wind by five, six, seven knots. I achieved a speed of 20, 22 knots but I broke my mast.'

Some dhows carry as many as 150 sand bags as well as water barrels as stabilisers, because they do not have keels like modern racing yachts.

A racing dhow, which may last five to seven years, does not come cheap. A fully equipped boat may cost up to Dh370,000 ($100,000) with tens of thousands of dirhams spent on repairs and modifications; locals still build them at home with skills passed from father to son, and their designs are a closely guarded secret.

'These boats take about three to four weeks to build from zero,' says Al Falasi, checking a route on his electronic global positioning system while his shipmates tighten ropes on their dhow’s deck. 'The building has not changed but materials, yes.'

Lamination has replaced shark liver oil and epoxy is used instead of cotton, while masts and booms are made of carbon fibre. Sails are also much lighter then they used to be, and radio and satellite navigation are permitted. But that is as far as many of the dhow sailors want modernisation to go.

Khalid bin Dasmal, a jury member at Dubai International Marine Club, had the last word. 'We are modernising but the dhow must stay. We cannot afford to live without it,'
PredictWind.com 2014Mackay BoatsAncasta Ker 33 660x82

Related Articles

Bavaria Yachts to introduce Cruiser 34 and Nautitech 46
The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina, from February 16th to 20th.
Posted on 13 Feb
Unique Transatlantic Sailing Event - Building friendship across oceans
Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Sailing in the wake of the great explorers, international friendship and understanding is at the core of this once in a lifetime adventure - The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
Posted on 10 Feb
Frigid flying – Coast Guard aircrews take on New England Winter
Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. At Air Station Cape Cod, aviation maintenance and electronic technicians work around the clock to ensure the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters are prepared and ready to launch. There is one thing the maintenance crews and pilots cannot control: winter weather.
Posted on 9 Feb
On board interview with Lisa Blair - solo Antartica circumnavigation
So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. After the setbacks of a delayed departure due to gremlins in the electronics, we are delighted to have these answers from her on board. She is well and enjoying her time. Climate Action Now, her Hick 50, left Albany in Western Australia on January 22, 2017.
Posted on 8 Feb
Yachting cartoonist Mike Peyton dies at 96
“The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist” died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. Mike Peyton, dubbed “The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist”, died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. A modest, shy man, he eschewed the spotlight and seemed unaware of the esteem which in sailors all around the world held him.
Posted on 27 Jan
Zhik Xeflex® - your shield against cold environments
This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. How do you make a water resistant garment that really breathes, yet reflects your own body heat back to you? Where do you find a compression resistant and extremely insulating filling that is nowhere near as bulky as the Michelin Man, yet gives you that kind of warmth and comfort?
Posted on 17 Jan
Sounds like a boat - Lisa Blair's departure delayed due to electronics
Final preparations of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue Final preparations and safety checks of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue.
Posted on 15 Jan
Lisa Blair starts Solo Circumnavigation of Antarctica
Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, over 500 have rowed across the various oceans and 12 people have landed on the moon. Only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Sydney-based Lisa Blair, 32, intends to become the first woman, the fastest and the third person in history to conquer such a challenge.
Posted on 14 Jan
When whales meet sails
CAMPER helmsman Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermudez found himself nearly face to face with whale in middle of North Atlantic Ocean. Currently the database for marine mammal strikes is very sparse. We are requesting sailors and boaters help to submit information on current and past incidents, however long ago that may be. By giving a location, date, identification if possible, and any other relevant information you can help scientists better understand where marine mammals are at risk for strikes
Posted on 8 Jan
Potential instability in Atlantic Ocean water circulation system
One of the world’s largest ocean circulation systems may not be as stable as today’s weather models predict One of the world’s largest ocean circulation systems may not be as stable as today’s weather models predict, according to a new study. In fact, changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) — the same deep-water ocean current featured in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” — could occur quite abruptly, in geologic terms, the study says.
Posted on 6 Jan