MUSCAT - A traditional sailboat capsized in the Arabian Sea Wednesday hours after setting off from Oman for India with eight sailors on board in a bid to revive a tradition going back thousands of years.
"Water leaked into the 'Magan' causing it to capsize, but a support ship from the Omani royal navy accompanying the boat intervened and rescued the sailors," a source from the culture and national heritage ministry which organized the trip said.
"Experts on board the ship are now trying to repair the Magan" to enable it to resume its journey, the source said, requesting anonymity.
Sailors from Oman, India, Australia, Italy and France were hoping to rely on stars, waves and the color of the sky and sea to find their way to Mandvi in the western Indian state of Gujarat during a voyage lasting up to two weeks.
However, "Magan" has been fitted with some radars and safety equipment and was being trailed by a support ship from the Omani royal navy.
"Magan," named after a civilization about 5,000 years old believed to have emerged in what is now Oman, sailed from Sur, 300 kilometers (190 miles) south of Muscat, to cross the Arabian Sea to India carrying fish, pottery filled with Omani honey, incense, copper and other traditional foodstuffs and wares.
"Magan boats are more than 5,000 years old," said Culture and National Heritage Minister Haytham bin Tareq al-Said.
He said studies had been conducted on remnants of such boats found in Omani archeological sites to retrace their trading traditions.