Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Abu Dhabi adventure

Abu Dhabi or Bust!

After six months of uncertain anticipation (much of it unemployed,) we finally have the start date of October 2 for Mark's job in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. He leaves from San Francisco on Thursday, September 29 (although at this writing we're still waiting to be informed that his flight is booked) and will arrive fifteen and an half hours later. With the 11-hour time difference it will be the next day plus two and a half hours. He'll be working on a vehicle upgrade project for the UAE military. The project team consists Tom, who's the lead, and Mark, and Dana. The three of them have been colleagues and friends for over 35 years. Together they will be a great team to develop the project -- kind of a tripod. Team Tripod!

I'll go later in October. Why not go with him, you ask? First, because I have to finish fixing up his mom's house for rental, and also I need to get our house ready for us to be gone for a while. Plus, I want him to get there first and get the 'lay of the land.'  What does our apartment come furnished with, and what would be nice to ship over from home -- if anything? What clothes should we bring, and what to leave home? We expect to be there about two years. I'm hoping to find an interesting job over there, too; more about that in later blogs. I'm hoping that it works out to fly over there with Tom's wife, Lucy, and Dana's wife, Debbie. We three couples have vacationed together on sailing charters in the British Virgin Islands. No need to explain more. But you can expect to read stories about the Team Tripod men AND the Team Tripod women.

Wildcard Goes to Nevada
On Hwy 88 at Carson Pass
When Mark got the written offer and accepted, it was full-on preparation to haul our Santa Cruz37 sailboat Wildcard and get her into storage in Nevada. The boat is designed for easy transport, but not in the sense that it's trailerable the way most people think of a trailerable boat. You still have to take down the mast, which is about 50 feet tall and made of carbon fiber. Mark was surprised and VERY happy when he unstepped the mast and found out that it comes apart into two shorter pieces that fit on the trailer with the boom under the boat.

We have a trailer that we bought in Kansas City in May (a good road trip story in itself) that's a perfect fit for the boat. The keel unbolts and raises up into the cabin so that you don't have to take off the pulpits and stanchions to fit through underpasses. And as you can see from the photo, we can tow it with the Silverado 250 diesel.

Wildcard on the way to 1st place
finish in Vallejo in May . . .
When we owned our CM1200 Raven, we hired a commercial trucker to transport the boat north from Southern California after racing down there, rather than subject the boat and, even more, ourselves, to the wear and tear of bashing north to San Francisco. That always cost a few "boat bucks" which are $1000 bills, if such a thing existed. Peter, our Australian tactician/navigator and rigger/electronics installer, claims that the word BOAT is an acronym for Break Out Another Thousand. He should know. Anyway, with a boat and trailer that we can haul with our own vehicle, Mark is already talking about doing the Mexican race circuit after we come back, spending time cruising and racing down there, and hauling the boat back.

Wait!!! We haven't even gotten started with this adventure yet! We are planning to do some racing in the Abu Dhabi/Dubai area, and also the King's Cup in Phuket, Thailand. Since King's Cup is in December, we'll wait until next year. If anyone out there knows anything about the racing in the UAE, let us know. We would like to pick your brain.

. . . and the Delta Ditch Run in Stockton in June.

We had a great first racing season on Wildcard, winning several races and learning a lot about the boat. We mixed some longtime crew with a few newer recruits: Peter,  Erich, Pam, Lori and Paul have been crew since Raven, and a great addition on Wildcard was Kevin -- he raised the bar with his focus on maximizing boatspeed and crew efficiency. We picked up Karl, Bryan, and Andrew for a couple of races, and they were also really great crew and upped our game.

Goodbye for now, Wildcard.

Wildcard will be safe in her new berth in Nevada, a covered and heated storage unit in Mound House just east of Carson City. Wildcard is neighbors with the famous Moonlight Bunny Ranch. They had a show on HBO, but I don't think Wildcard's life there will be so interesting. I hope not. When we come back, we'll get new sails and all of the upgrades. And Wildcard crew clothing. We promise!

What Will It Be Like?

We had a fantactic send-off party at Richmond Yacht Club and a couple of dinners with Nevada friends this week. People have been asking us a lot of questions about what it's going to be like in Abu Dhabi for us, and especially for me, being a woman. Some of the questions we can answer (or think we can) and others I have to say "I'll tell you later, in the blog!" I encourage everyone to send questions as time goes on. Here are a few of the FAQs I've gotten:
  • Do you have to wear a head scarf? A birka? (Head scarf only in a mosque, no birka required.)
  • Where will you live? Will you be able to go outside? (We will live in a "compound" aka "gated community"  provided by the company. I will write about that when I get there. I can come and go as I please.)
  • Can you drive there? (Yes. The company provides us with a car. But I hear they drive like madmen here.)
  • Can you work there? (Yes, I can work there. But not in just any job. It has to do with the social class structure. More about that as I learn it.)
  • Will you live near the water? (Not sure how close we will be. I will write about that when I get there and settle in.)
  • Are you allowed to practice a religion other than Muslim? (There are lots of religions there, including a Catholic church. I will write about it.)
  • Will you be able to buy (insert commodity)? (Pretty much everything is available there, both shopping and restaurants.)
  • Is there sailing? (No sailing would be a deal killer for us. But we hear that it's hot and not that much wind, and we are prepared to amuse ourselves with diving and other water sports as well. What's important is that there is water.)
  • Isn't it hot all the time? (Summer is very hot but it is comfortably warm in the cooler seasons. I will blog about the weather.)
  • Is that where they have the indoor skiing? (No, that's Dubai, about 90 km, or 55 miles, away.)
  • Is Mark working for the government there? (He's working for an American company hired by the UAE military.)
  • What will you do there? (Remains to be seen. I'll find something interesting, even if it doesn't involve paid work.)
Here is what I am looking forward to:
  • The opportunity to not only see, but live in and learn about a place I never would have dreamed I would go to.
  • The proximity to other places that we want to travel to: Italy, Croatia, Greece, Africa (I am still trying to convince Mark on that one) -- this is only a partial list.
  • Beaches -- they are everywhere.
  • Making new friends from all corners of the world.
  • Writing the blog entries
Thanks for reading. Helpful comments are most welcome.


Lueyes said...

Hi Anne, Just discovered your blog. and enjoyed reading it. I have added you to my Google reader. What an adventure you are going to have. I am envious. XO Louise

Judy & and Torben Bentsen said...

Hi, just ready your blog here in Costa Rica, still trying to check into the country, been to the port cap a couple of times, the immigration, the customs at the airport ( 2 x 27 km ) so almost done.
Happy travels, we look forward to visiting you in Abu D