Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Jewel of Muscat

The Jewel of Muscat arrives in Singapore

No, it's not a gemstone or precious metal, but it's definitely a gem all right.

The Jewel of Muscat is actually the name for an Arab sailing vessel that made its way from the shores of  Muscat in Oman to Singapore, and eventually, it will find its home at the Maritme Xperiental Museum.

This Arab dhow started construction in October 2008 and was completed exactly a year later. It's fashioned from an actual 9th century Arab vessel discovered in the shallow waters near the island of Belitung, Indonesia, in 1988. And to keep the authenticity of the original wrecked dhow, the materials used to build the vessel were sourced from Africa. The dhow was built using the Afzelia Africana tree.

The 18 metre-long Jewel of Muscat was put together using Coir, a rope weaved from coconut fibre.To protect the ship, a layer of goat fat and crushed seashells was coated to keep it watertight.

Captain of the Jewel of Muscat- Saleh Al Jabri

The voyage of the Jewel of Muscat began from Muscat on 16th February 2010.  The journey was met with many challenges, but the crew persevered, under the guidance and leadership of Captain Saleh Al Jabri.

In his logbook, the captain recorded an interesting incident:

"In Georgetown... we met a seventy-year-old lady who had been unwell for several months. When she heard of the Jewel of Muscat, she was so inspired that she forced herself out of bed for the first time in week.s She returned to visit us again, and stayed with us during the departure ceremony, standing in the hot sun for two hours to see us off and bid us a safe voyage."

The crew of the Jewel of Muscat

On their journey here, the crew of the Jewel of Muscat used 9th century navigation tools and the stars to navigate the ship across the vast Indian Ocean. And when the ship made its way from Kochi to Galle, the ship's mast lost its fight to the relentless beatings of the storm and left the crew mast-less.Battered but not beaten, the crew came together to solve the problem.  They searched the jungles in Galle for a fortnight, and managed to find a pair of suitable trees to replaced the ravaged mast.

Finally, after nearly 6 months of sailing, the Jewel of Muscat made its final berth in Singapore. And very soon, you'll be able to see it in all its glory at the Maritime Xperiential Museum.And we really can't wait.

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