Sons of Sinbad by Alan Villiers ; illustrated with photographs and Charts by the author
Sons of Sinbad ; an account of sailing with the Arabs in their Dhows, in the Red Sea, around the Coasts of Arabia, and to Zanzibar and Tanganyika ; Pearling in the Persian Gulf ; and the life of the Shipmasters, the mariners and merchants of Kuwait by Alan Villiers ; illustrated with photographs and Charts by the author
New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1940. First edition. Hardcover. 429 pages ; photographic illustrations ; 21 cm. $3.75 dust jacket. Pages toned and unmarked. Binding is firm.
The ship was The Triumph of Righteousness, a big deep-sea dhow from Kuwait, an almost pure survival from the Phoenician days, from the most ancient sailing known to man. She was bound on a trading voyage down the east coast of Africa to Zanzibar and back to the city-state from which she came. Her nakhoda was the youthful, hawk-nosed, keen-eyed son of the Eastern seas, Nejdi—whose full name was the Sheikh Abdul-Krim bin Mishari al-Abdul-razzaq elNejdi—pilot of great dhows, pearlmaster of the Persian Gulf. . . . His ship had put in at Aden on the ageold round of the argosies of Araby, and there Alan Villiers joined her.
Alan Villiers sailed with The Triumph of Righteousness from the time she left the hot oven of Aden until she swept, drums beating, into her home port. And what a voyage it was ! Possibly no other white man has ever made the whole of it in an Arab vessel. Certainly no other writer has ever described such a voyage so superbly. The ship, its offcers, the crew, the passengers, the cargo, the ports of call, are a gleamingly colorful succession of pages out of the Arabian Nights. Mellifluous and romantic names fill its chapters. Heroic, villainous, amusing and fantastic characters crowd its pages, from the nakhoda Nejdi down to the poorest sailor, old Yussuf, doomed to years of unceasing toil in the dhows and in the torrid hell of the pearling fleet.
From Aden the " great dhow" she was all of 150 tons—sailed east to Mukalla and the ports of the Hadhramaut, where she completed her cargo and loaded every other available inch of space with restless Beduin for Africa. Then away to Haifun, " that hellish dump of salt and sand "; Mogadishu where business was impossible, and Lamu, which had also felt the depression.
Then Mombasa, the sunny island, where the passengers were landed and the decks cleaned of their verminous load of filth; then to Zanzibar, isle of delight, where the soft arms of the houris and the caresses of the local bints awaited the crew. And, last port if su ch it could be called—of the outward.bound trip, the delta of the RufiJi —the terrible swamp, where It rained all the time, where the mosquitoes bit like dogs, and blundering hippopotami threatened to over turn the frail boats of the tribesmen bringing their loads of mangrove poles to the dhow, where crocodiles and poisonous snakes abounded—and where the Triumph declared a load of 1 50 score of poles to the authorities and later sold double that number in Bahrein to the agents of Ibn Saud!
Every mile of the voyage is fascinating. . . . The daily life on board the ship, in fair weather and foulve the uncanny skill of the arab navigators who know nothing of navigation as Europeans practice it, but get there unerringly just the same; the beauty and variety Of the ships—baggalas, booms, cutches, badenis, sambuks and other fan tastically called craft; the personalities of the men who command and sail them; the color and squalor of the ports at which they call—all are here, described and portrayed by a writer who knows and loves the sea and seamen in all theif manifestations....
If you seek adventure so strange, so rich, so engrossing that it takes you clean out of the troubled western world and sets you down in the midst of a life that for all its peril and privations has its amenities, then " Sons of Sinbad" is your book.
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