Everyone arrived at the Marina before 7 eager and ready for this exploration of Qatar’s Eastern coastline between Doha and Al Khor. We loaded the gear, charts, food, drink, even some flasks of hot water for tea and coffee! Once loaded, we left the Four seasons Marina and set a course for the Coastguard Barge with a certain amount of trepidation given the slightly reduced visibility so all hands were on look out duty. At first we couldn’t see it but with some careful navigation we soon sailed up to it and gave our boat details to the officials and we were on our way!
We headed out along the deep-water channel and then further east before turning north due to the shallow waters on the Eastern side of Al Slafiya Island. Not much to see at this stage as the haze clothed the shore, but steady progress made! With a nice fair wind from the South East we hoisted the spinnaker and further increased our speed toward Al Khor. The Spinnaker was a new addition to a number of the students on the boat so this gave them the chance to fully understand how and when to use it. We experienced some lovely sailing as the wind blew us northward although at times the wind was slightly lighter.
We followed a couple of Dhows till we could see the marked channel of Al Khor then turned about and started our journey home! Having a late lunch to send us on our way!
The journey back was a lovely fetch on Port Tack for the most part, the wind having swung into a roughly East or South Easterly direction. Once we had to tack out to avoid a shallow patch, but otherwise, we made good progress homeward at about 5 to 6 knots! Visibility was better than on our outward journey and we were able to spot the tower blocks of Doha and debate which one was which.
Looking for the channel markers that mark the deep-water channel into Doha was a challenge; you have to get very close to them to discern them from all the background lights, especially around the airport. Once spotted, we could head into the Bay, but the wind had dropped right off, so it was back to the engine for our trip to the Coastguard Barge to announce our return before heading back to the Marina.
A long day, but a very pleasant one spotting plenty of birds flying in formation gave a lot of pleasure to the crew in addition to 70 miles to add to their logbooks!!