In this mild spell – memories of Oman Desert Rescue Masirah Island Persian Gulf – turtles , hills and hard work!

Travel light just water!

Travel light just water!

Yesterday I was sent some photos of my time with the Desert Rescue in Masirah Island in the Persian Gulf in 1974! Looking back it was an incredible time in a wild Island and as I was on Desert Rescue it was a place I explored every weekend with the team.

In the wild desert

Masirah is just off Oman in the Arabian Gulf is the Island Of Marsirah it is a small Island about as big as Arran in Scotland and is where I was posted to in 1974 for 13 months during my service in the RAF. It also had a Desert Rescue Team and the photo above is a camp site in the desert, where we slept out under the stars at night, an incredible time in my life.


We trained every weekend on the small hills all under I think they were about 1000 feet but tough rocky, scrambly hills where the big problem was the heat at times regularly over 120 degrees. You could lose over a stone in weight due to dehydration over the weekend so you had to take care with water intake. It was some life!

On the hill note the pose little carried but water!

I worked in the Ration Supply depot in the Cold Store (the Freezers a haven to be in) Work was hard as every month supplies came by ship and when the ships were in you were out on the pontoons unloading the food for the station, really hard graft as much in these days was done manually. When the meat came off frozen usually in the night it was all hands to the pumps as you had to get it all sorted and in the Freezers before the sun came up, hard physical work. We worked 18 – 30 hours with no breaks it was all manually handled and done mostly at night when it was cooler. After the meat and frozen was off it was all the dry good for 3 months for 500 – 600 people. The sugar and flour was in 112 lbs bags about 50 kilos I only weighed just over 75 kilos so it was some training?

In the desert wild temperatures over 100 degrees

The photo above shows a thin author with the half-gallon of water we carried on the hills , magic small hills very like Skye in Scotland with incredible wild life about. The Sport on the Station was wonderful and we employed many of the local Arabs to help on the Station. I had a team of locals working with me and we had some incredible days and got on very well. As a young man it was my first time working with a group under me and we got on well.

Masirah 5 a side team great days, I plated for the Station and played away in Ghan in the Indian Ocean a great place.

1974-masirah-football-team

After work it was sport when the sun went down, football, hockey and lots of incredible fun in the sun. I also went shark fishing many times with my Foreman “Abbs” in a small boat for Barracuda sharks for the station, that was exciting and fairly serious in those non – Health and Safety days. I learnt a lot about people and cultures on that tour which stood me in great stead for the future on many expeditions, great days. We also went to Dubia every week on a meat and fresh fruit and veg run. It was a great day out but again hard work while everyone else had a day in Dubia and I went round the markets buying fresh food with Abbs.

We also practised deployment with the Andover aircraft that was stationed there and it was always a laugh getting the wagons on with the big wide wheels. The reason the team was there was for aircraft crashes as the Island was a staging post for the RAF at the time.

1973-masirah-aircraft-wagons

  • The Island is famous for the Turtles that breed thousands come ashore on the beaches and lay their  eggs! It is a wonderful sight and the locals take a few of them for food in these days! Masirah Island is home to four distinct species of sea turtle. Oman has recognised the importance of preserving these beautiful creatures, as it is home to a large portion of their nesting grounds. On Masirah Island you can find the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle, the olive ridley turtle and the loggerhead turtle.
  • All four species nest and their eggs hatch at different times throughout the year.


I was very lucky to visit the shanty town where the locals lived many in houses built from fuel drums recycled from the RAF base during the war. Little was wasted and everything  was re used even in 1974. These were incredible days and I learned a lot it was the hardest work I ever did heavy manual work in extreme heat!
The hills though small were incredible and I learned to cope and look after myself in a wild extreme climate!

1974! Christmas Day posers

Memories

Sadly-  Muscat: More plastic bottles are washing ashore on the Masirah Island as environmentalists are pleading with volunteers to save the turtle nesting beaches from a “catastrophe.”
Thousands of loggerhead and green turtles are now in danger after a vessel sank two weeks ago, leaving thousands of plastic items floating in the Arabian Sea
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs had sent a team last week to inspect the affected locations, according to a ministry official.

“It is a sensitive environmental area and the ministry is doing its best to resolve the issue,” she said.

Thousands of loggerhead and green turtles are now in danger after a vessel sank two weeks ago, leaving thousands of plastic items floating in the Arabian Sea. Photo-Supplied

Thousands of loggerhead and green turtles are now in danger after a vessel sank two weeks ago, leaving thousands of plastic items floating in the Arabian Sea. Photo-SuppliedThousands of loggerhead and green turtles are now in danger after a vessel sank two weeks ago, leaving thousands of plastic items floating in the Arabian Sea.

Thousands of loggerhead and green turtles are now in danger after a vessel sank two weeks ago, leaving thousands of plastic items floating in the Arabian Sea,

Reports suggest that the 800-tonne cargo vessel sank on July 22 on the south east side of the island, around 500 metres from the shore, generating massive quantities of toxic litter.
“It will take months to clean the beaches, there needs to be a consolidated effort from private sector companies and public sector entities to find a quick solution to this environmental disaster” an environmental activist said.
Last week, the Environment Society of Oman (ESO) had called via their Twitter account for an urgent cleanup campaign, which started on Thursday morning and ended Saturday to pick up the plastic trash.
Thousands of loggerhead and green turtles are now in danger after a vessel sank two weeks ago, leaving thousands of plastic items floating in the Arabian Sea. Photo-Supplied

Thousands of loggerhead and green turtles are now in danger

Thousands of loggerhead and green turtles are now in danger after a vessel sank two weeks ago, leaving thousands of plastic items floating in the Arabian Sea. Photo-SuppliedThousands of loggerhead and green turtles are now in danger.


Special thanks to Smudge for the additional photos!

About heavywhalley.MBE

Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist
This entry was posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

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