|At anchor off Kharabah Island in the Damaniyat Islands ©Frances Howorth|
He was a little more careful with bottled drinking water and counted it carefully on the quayside before loading it on the yacht. Water does after all cost a lot more than the diesel being pumped into the fuel tanks in Oman.
We were sailing aboard a catamaran that is brand new to the Oman Charter fleet. We left the somewhat flat and featureless mainland coast behind us as we motored away from the Marina at the Millennium Resort at Mussanah and raised the sails.
Sand, palm trees and mosques dominate the vista as we sailed along the coast of Oman. Leaving the mainland behind we headed offshore to cruise among the Damaniyat Islands.
Here in crystal clear waters we were the only yacht in the area and the anchorages were beautiful and breathtakingly tranquil. These islands form part of a nature reserve set aside by Oman some 20 years ago to preserve the habit of turtles and coral reefs.
Some islands are bird sanctuaries, home to kingfisher and heron others are preserved for the growth of endemic and threatened fauna. Waders, shorebirds and some species of waterfowl seek refuge here and breed in significant numbers.
Underwater the coral and fish were so rich and abundant we were astounded and we were only snorkelling in shallow water. No wonder the area is a secret haven for divers.