Mohsin al Busaidi, the first Omani to sail round Cape Horn, talks to His Excellency Major General Sultan bin Mohammed al Namani from mid-Atlantic.
BYM News also put some questions to Mohsin by e-mail.
BYM News: Tell us how you felt when you rounded Cape Horn.
Mohsin: Cape Horn was the second time we have seen land since we left Muscat forty days earlier.
As we passed Cape Horn the overcast sky cleared somewhat to give a partly sunny sky and gave us an unreal chance to see the rocky outcrop of South America in its full glory - I never imagined I would be so lucky. I hope I can now inspire a new generation of Omanis to also become 'Cape Horners'.
BYM News: Cape Horn apart, what has been the high point of the voyage for you?
Mohsin: Being on deck as the sun is rising. There is a quietness just before dawn and as far as I can look in every direction there is just sea. It is hard to imagine exactly where we are in the world and my thoughts always return to my family back home in Oman at this point.
BYM News: The low point?
Mohsin: A rudder got damaged early on in the journey and then we hit a quiet patch with no wind and it felt like we were never going to complete this attempt. By the time we reached the Cook Straight and winds of 50+ knots, we were back in business!
BYM News: Centuries ago, Omani seafarers had a reputation for being able to predict the weather pretty accurately. Have you inherited that skill?
Mohsin: Can I lie here?! The longer I am at sea, the easier it becomes to predict the weather and work out the wind patterns. Loik (the skipper) seems to have a sixth sense about this, so I am certainly learning quickly.
BYM News: Every Round the World sailor seems to complain about freeze dried food. How do you find it?
Mohsin: It certainly isn’t as good as my Mum’s cooking! We have two brits on board too and they have come prepared with tomato ketchup and other sauces I have never tried before, like Worcestershire sauce!
BYM News: Coming from a hot country, were you more affected by the cold of the Southern Ocean than your crew mates and how did you cope with it?
Mohsin: We are all suffering a bit from being wet now – no matter how well we tie our waterproofs together, sea water still manages to get inside. At the start of the trip I would watch the rest of the crew and follow what they are wearing, but I am now pretty much sorted about what to wear when. I am looking forward to getting back to the warmth of Oman though – it is odd to think that summer will have arrived before we do. [Note: Temperatures averaged 22°C when the crew left Oman, they will be reaching 35°C when they return]
BYM News: Which have you enjoyed most, inshore racing on the Extreme 40s or ocean going?
Mohsin: Inshore race is more entertaining, because there is more excitement in competing with other boats right beside you, but Musandam is a beautiful boat to sail. It’s great to pass by different areas and oceans, and we never know whether it will be difficult or easy.
BYM News: Zinat al Bihaar is a fascinating example of Omani ship building skills, have you sailed on it? If so, can you tell us something about it?
Mohsin: Zinat Al Bihar is a private ship but I remember sailing side by side when I was in the Shabab Oman ship. Zinat Al Bihar is a traditional ship and it’s made of traditional wood brought from Asia.
BYM News: What do you most miss about Oman?
Mohsin: Most of all I miss my family and friends, but I am proud to be doing this trip for Oman. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support I have been getting and messages of encouragement from fellow countrymen that I have never met. When I am cold and tired, knowing that my country is behind me is what keeps me going.