Idid a really stupid thing last week that I’m sharing with you so that you don’t make the same mistake that I did. You may not be so lucky!
Returning from Dubai last week, where it had rained for three days in a row, off and on, we exited the border at Hafeet and encountered a low-flying military helicopter in the skies, but no other signs of trouble. Subsequently, we drove through some wadi crossings with a little water, but nothing serious, until we came to where there was, not a deep, but very fast-moving flow of water across the road, ironically, it was not marked with wadi signage.
We saw the vehicles in front of us were indecisive about whether to drive across, and after 10 minutes or so, the decision was taken out of our hands by the appearance of a police vehicle on the other side of the flowing muddy water, and preventing vehicles from attempting the crossing. So we backed up the rise and waited for the rain to stop and the water level to drop. Some drivers said prayers, others made coffee, and some
even went for a drive across country, looking for ways around the water, but to no avail.
Four hours later we were still sitting there, and there was a general opinion that the water level had dropped sufficiently to cross. We watched a number of vehicles cross, and it appeared that travelling in groups of four or five vehicles was favoured.
So, with two others, we queued up behind a massive big truck, and started the crossing. It was completely uneventful until we got halfway, and actually beyond there a little, when the truck driver must have attempted a gear change and missed it, forcing us to slow, then stop, and that’s when the trouble started!
Hard up against the vehicle in front, the front of our car started to slew to the right quite dramatically. The truck had now got going again, and we all started moving, but having been pushed right I had lost all steering and could also not get much forward traction. Using all my skills, I desperately tried to regain control, but was gradually being pushed towards the edge of the road. I was terrified!
About then I looked across at Lena and said “We’re in trouble luv,” thinking to myself we would be really lucky to get out of the situation alive. Right at that very moment, the right rear wheel dropped off the road, and our predicament just got worse. Only having one option, I spun the wheel right till the front wheels were pointing straight ahead, and put my foot to the floor. We ‘porpoised,’ there is no other way to describe it, our way forward, always getting marginally closer to safety, and probably startling the drivers on our left, as we eventually gained full traction and roared out of the water.
Stopping to check for damage at the top of the next rise, my legs wouldn’t stop shaking, and I felt sick to the pit of my stomach. With no obvious damage we carried on, crossing some shallow water, but by the time we got to Ibri, a wheel-bearing noise was starting to concern me, then the car stopped on the service road, and the gearbox wouldn’t engage.
Fortune again smiled on us as a couple of young Omanis, Ali and Moussab, towed us off the road, located a mechanic, and when we decided to leave the car with the workshop, drove us back to Nizwa. Wonderful Omanis, and they are typical of the example of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
But, I must get back to the key message. I am an experienced driver, in a good vehicle, and thought I had allowed for everything, yet I am convinced the outcome could have had a very different, extremely harsh outcome. I will never again risk wadi water! My
message is a plea, ”Please don’t take risks in fast-flowing water, wadis or not, don’t risk it.”