Ex-Pat Ryley sends through another update on his surf adventures in the Middle East.
Well we made it back from what seemed like the other side of the world. After close to 3000kms of road travelled one flat tyre and a strange rash that appeared on the inside of my thigh after surfing a very shallow left. I struggled a bit after getting my hand out of a cast only a few days before the trip. Thanks to a healthy dose of Arabian sun my once albino left hand is now more or less the same colour as my right.
We left from Al Ain on the Oman border very early Wednesday morning and started to make our way towards what is known as the “empty querter” Next to the Sahara Desert it is the 2nd largest uninhabited desert in the region. We were carrying 3 Jerry cans of petrol with us which comfortably got us between all our stops. The largest stretch with no petrol station was roughly 650km. Despite the distance, when your travelling with the cruise control on 160kmph you can make pretty good time. Salalah is about 2 hours from the Yemen border and is a beautiful beach oasis town.
We did the trip in two five hour stretches. With a few stops to fuel up on Schwarmas and coffee thrown in. We made it to Salalah about 6:30pm that night. The plan was to stay at a friends villa for Wednesday night then hit one of the local beach breaks out front of the Crown Plaza Hotel. All of us were pretty washed out the next morning and there didn’t appear to be much urgency to hit the water. Not until we saw the conditions anyway. The air temp at 8am was 20deg and the water temp was 28deg. We found ourselves with empty 2-3ft rights and not another person around. The security guard at the hotel told us we could get in trouble as the waves were very dangerous and the hotel lifeguards didn’t start until 11am, we decided we would ignore the security guards advice and chance the treacherous conditions. We surfed at that spot for about 2 hours and headed in for some breakfast and to load the car up. We were going to head north from Salalah to a wave named Trenchcoats. Don’t ask about the name, no one seemed to know or care of the origins of trenchcoats. After a two hour drive we pulled of the main road and made our way down a very small trail which took us all the way onto the sand.
Trenchcoats was worth the drive. We were presented with 3-4ft right hand point waves that seemed to go forever. We ended up surfing there for the better part of the afternoon until the wind changed and it was time to set up camp for the night. We set up right on the beach next to the 4X4. It was pretty bizarre sleeping in what seems like literally the middle of nowhere, despite some strange sounds during the night it was an uneventful evening.
The next morning we woke to similar conditions but with a really strong offshore. We surfed Trenchcoats until lunch time then decided it was time to head to our next destination. Tony who was like our guide told us that the next spot was a pretty exposed and might not handle the wind well but that didn’t seem to put anyone off and we went on our way. Another two hour drive and we found ourselves on top of another sketchy trail leading down to the left known as Chico’s. Tony was right and the wind had made Chico’s pretty rough but the waves were good enough and a bit bigger than Trenchcoats. It ended up taking us 45mins to get down a 2km track and onto the beach for campsite number 2. The hard thing about living here is that you can’t surf consistently. You might not surf for a weeks or months here. So doing a trip like this I found tested my almost synthetic shoulder joints and after the day before’s session i was pretty sore. I knew Jonny would want me out there so I sucked it up and hit the water for another long paddle. There was a lot of water moving around and it took a while to get into what seemed like a good spot. It turned out that Chico’s was as sketchy as the trail that leads to the beach, it was super shallow and really rocky. I surfed for about 2 hours and retreated to the beach for some shade and fluids.
We set up camp again and it seemed like everyone was tired out as there wasn’t much chatter. Everyone fell asleep content with the sound of Indian ocean swell smashing onto Omani boulders.
We woke in the morning to rain and gale force winds, it seemed our trip had come to an abrupt end. We were out of food and out of waves. After packing Tony’s car we made our ascent back up the sketchy Chico’s trail (which i have now named “Stairway from Chico’s, i have written a brief musical which should be accompanied by a hand held stylophone” it was a long car trip)
Despite nearly culling a complete herd of Goats on the way back to the U.A.E we made it home in the early hours of Sunday morning tired but deeply satisfied with all we had accomplished. Once again the Hydro went well on all waves. I did get to use the second hand longboard i picked up in Salalah which was heaps of fun in the smaller waves and also served as a good wind break next to my tent.
Despite all this i have to say i am really looking forward to getting home in July and surfing some cold Peninsula waves with some friends. Still not sure where the rash came from on the inside of my thigh, but i can assure you it had nothing to do with Goats or any one else in the car………..
Thats the latest, until next time.