National Geographic : 1960 Jan
KODACHROMES© NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Lumbering Dhow Beneath Lateen Sail Roams the Persian Gulf Faras'syard exceeds her hull in length; she flies the flag of Bahrain above her counter. Lowell took a three-day voyage on the jalboot, a type of dhow, from Bahrain to Dubayy. He clocked her top speed under sail at six knots. into the sky-the Bahrain Petroleum Com pany's flares of burning gas. We spent Christmas on a tiny island called Umm a' Sabaan-"mother of sea shells" (page 74). It was the home of our close friends, the Thornburgs. Max Thornburg came to Bahrain in the 1930's and was largely respon sible for developing the oil fields and refinery there. He and his wife-"Aunt Leila" to us -had transformed a barren 100-acre islet given them by the Sheik of Bahrain into a veritable desert paradise. To make it all perfect, my father and mother flew out from New York to join us. We swam in the Persian Gulf-it was surprisingly cold -and fished and sailed about the island in the Thornburgs' small dhow. Mastering the little lateen-rigged craft merely whetted my appetite for a voyage on one of the coastal dhows we had seen in the harbor at Bahrain. I had read Capt. Alan Villiers's article on dhows in the NATIONAL 102 GEOGRAPHIC and knew just what to look for.* With the aid of an interpreter, Ahmed Has san Mannai, I found her, a 50-ton jalboot bound from Bahrain to Dubayy on the Trucial Coast with a cargo of flour, dates, electrical equipment-and Singer sewing machines! Arab Ship No Place for Women She was a stately craft, for all her bathtub lines (above). Built of teak, she measured 32 "forearms"-about 50 feet-at waterline, and in a stiff breeze she made six knots. Her name was Faras, Arabic for "mare." With Ahmed's help, I persuaded the na khoda, or captain, to take me along. Tay promptly withdrew from the expedition when she learned that woman's place aboard most Arab vessels is the dark and foul-smelling hold. Clearing Bahrain under power of our diesel auxiliary, we set sail and coasted down the * See "Sailing with Sindbad's Sons," by Alan Vil liers, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, November, 1948.