Kayakers on a 2,000-km mission to save Gulf's marine environment

Kayakers on a 2,000-km mission to save Gulfs marine environment

Abu Dhabi - They have been doing similar activities in Kuwait but this is first-of-its-kind expedition covering Gulf states


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Wed 4 Jan 2017, 8:19 PM

Last updated: Wed 4 Jan 2017, 10:39 PM

A group of three kayakers - Bashar Al Huneidi, Mansoor Al Safran and Colin Wong - are on an expedition from Kuwait to Oman in their bid to raise awareness about preserving marine ecosystem. The Kayak4Kuwait trio reached Abu Dhabi from Qatar on Wednesday morning after covering Bahrain.
"This awareness exercise is dedicated to saving our marine environment. We are not scientists to tell details. Our message is simple. Mother Earth has been forgotten and divorced by many. It's the most important thing in life but means nothing to many. They see the sea as a dump yard. Sea is a creature that gives us life but nobody thinks this way. Nature is mother and we wish to get this feeling deep into the hearts of people," Al Huneidi, the founder of Kayak4Kuwait, said.
They have been doing similar activities in Kuwait but this is first-of-its-kind expedition covering Gulf states.
"Humans throw waste - buckets, plastic, paper and stuff - which is appalling. There are the most beautiful beaches (in the GCC) and people drive their cars there, eat and leave the waste. This is a common practice. You go to Europe and find beautiful beaches and there people don't throw anything. Here it's different. Why do we do this? It's the mindset and lack of education. The common trend is if it's not my home, then I can make it dirty. How can the Earth take all these? We will soon live in a dump. Now going to a beach is like going to a supermarket. You will find water bottles, buckets, ropes, brush and others. Each person can do something to spread the message. This is our way of doing things," he told Khaleej Times.
Al Huneidi has some noble thoughts too. "We try to speak simple scientific language to the common people. The two per cent researchers can't change the world but people themselves."
When told Abu Dhabi is taking steps to clean the waterways, he said: "We don't want cleaning of beaches but we want people not to make it dirty. If we clean it they will make it dirty again."
The tough ride
The trio left Kuwait shores on November 10. "We were planning 60-70 days' trip but we are already late. It has more to do with support problems. We have, maybe, another 900km to Oman. The total will come to about 2000km. Sometime storm can be a big factor. It can be in our favour too."
They had a tough ride so far with lot of problems. "We continue to go through them - rough seas, bad weather, heat, humidity and all. We have logistical issues, border problems, delays because of weather. Biggest issue is almost sinking of our support ship as we entered the UAE. This delayed us again. But then we went solo and are kayaking alone. We have support on the land and they follow us in car. We take our supplies from them," he added.
On his experience, Wong said: "The best preparation will be to eat as much as possible. It may sound silly but one need to try and put on as much weight one can."
"Three of us have different emotions. We all peak and drop at different times. You find two of them will be 100m ahead but you are too tired. This expedition is a massive mental battle than physical but together as a team we work absolutely fantastic," Wong added.
They follow the 'classical' navigation skills of maps and compass. "Most of our gadgets break down - iPhone, cameras, GPS. We just have a tracker," Huneidi chipped in.
They are expected to resume journey from Thursday.
"One day off is good enough to recharge our batteries," said the trio, who have been together for more than two years. "We need to lookout for storm."
So, you would wish for a calm day, right?
"No, then we almost go on sleep. A calm day is the hardest thing," they said.

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