Taking a Shortcut through the Quoins
(the entrance to the Persian Gulf)
This is the chart of the entrance to the Persian Gulf showing where we cut through the islands instead of going many miles further north on the usual route for tankers.
Below that are photos taken by shipmates during the passage between the rocks.
Heading north, Lining up to centre the 300 feet opening with a 70 feet broad beam ship !
Point of no return... strong current from the left side !!
Getting ready to turn hard left when abeam of this point... very strong current
( see tide rip on left of bow )
Safely through the 300 feet gap and looking back.... we were set very close to the rocks on the starboard side by the terrific current.
EAST OF SUEZ
We liked being East of Suez as it meant that we were on a Bonus of about 7 %.We did not however enjoy going down the Red Sea as it usually meant we had a following wind at the same speed as the ship so that cabins were very hot and airless. It was not unusual to sleep on deck but if the following wind was faster than the ship's speed you were breathing the main engine exhaust from the funnel for 3 days but when you reached the island of Perim it was a relief because as you turned easterly into the Indian Ocean the temperature dropped 15 degrees and the air has a "champagne " quality.
One period when in the Persian Gulf we were on the Fao (Iraq) to Aden run and we started to go a bit stupid because on leaving Fao we found that Farsi Island was always abeam between 1200 and 1206 hrs.so we tried maintain the same times at all the other waypoints on the way to Aden.To do this we sometimes we had to cut corners and on one occasion I found myself on watch taking the ship through "Hell's Gate" a very narrow but deep water channel between some islands with very high mountains on either side so that you could not see if any other ships were as daft as us but coming the other way.
When we got between the cliffs I gave a blast on the ship's whistle to warn of our presence just as the 3rd. Officer came to the bridge to relieve me.He went white, looked around and fled down the companion way ---not a daft thing to do really because we were so close to the cliffs that the whistle caused an avalanche of boulders to detach themselves and crash into the sea
It was hair-raising and was the first and last time we did this !!
When cutting these corners we used to get a bit close to the headland of Ras al Hadd and with the currents being quite strong in the monsoons I remember looking over the wing of the bridge at the shallow water as we passed and we already had 2 points of the compass on the helm to offset the current at that time.
We met some relatives of Moby Dick on this run and on other trips to the Persian Gulf. This time it was a large whale and a calf. Both were half dark grey forward and from the dorsal fin to their tails they were white with 3 small patches of grey behind the dorsal fin.
The mania for punctuality on this Fao to Aden run was dramatic in that there was never more than 6 minutes between the slowest and fastest run on a passage of 1859 miles - much better timekeeping than British railways can boast today.
We never swam in the Persian Gulf because although the temperature was perfect we did not feel like sharing the water with very poisonous snakes or the sharks which came in all shapes (hammerhead included). At night it was common to hear loud slapping noises as the massive manta rays crashed back into the sea. We certainly didn't want to swim in the sea after we had seen the body of a man recovered from under our stern. He had been in the water for a week and had to be brought up in a canvas lined net to prevent him falling apart !
Suez Canal transit.