Where do I start this week? Firstly, a big thank you to Dan for fitting the new fish-finder on 312. The transducer fell off the boat two weeks ago and such was its age, spares are no longer available. The new machine was given a road test over the weekend and came through with flying colours (literally – it resembles disco lights on some settings).
If you’ve been reading the papers you’ll know where we were on Friday. A squad of 60 or so divers from BSAC406, DSDC and ADSAC turned up on Hamriyah beach to go out to the Dara. This was the long awaited 50th anniversary dive. It was 8th April 1961 in the early hours of the morning when an explosion ripped through the Dara causing 238 deaths and the ship’s sinking under tow two days later.
The objective was some form of commemoration of those that died but I must admit I originally saw it as a smaller scale event. But DSDC read the email and wanted to be involved as did ADSAC. Before I knew it numbers were multiplying and the press were interested. I have to say I was a bit nervous about this. Screw-ups can happen at the best of times but not usually with a reporter and photographer on hand to record the embarrassments which are now of course much more likely to happen. (“Tell me Mr. Hussey, is it normal to put on your fins after you’ve entered the water?” “Well to be honest…”)
There turned out to be no need of such paranoia. I’m happy to report that the event went off with only a few minor snags, the first and most awkward of which was flat batteries on SP 125 but there were three other boats and we managed. The first order of business was to hang a red ensign on the stern of the Dara as the intended mark of respect. This took around 20 minutes and Brendan has some excellent video footage that I’m looking forward to seeing on Tuesday. After this some normal diving followed with the boats shuttling back and forward to the shore. The viz was excellent (to start with at least) and I believe everyone had a good dive despite the current which was on the strong side. In particular the divers from Dubai and Abu Dhabi don’t get to the Dara as often as we do and seemed to enjoy themselves.
By 2.30pm the diving had finished, the buoys and anchors retrieved and we headed back to shore. Just in time too as the wind and waves picked up at this point. There followed two or three hours of relaxation on the beach enjoying a barbecue washed down with the odd beverage or two.
Thanks to everyone who turned up to support the event. Extra gratitude is due to Chris Head, Jim Darbyshire and Brian Lugg who organized the DSDC end and to Steven Winstanley who did a similar job for ADSAC and whose idea it was to fix the red ensign on the wreck. The ensign itself was a 1.5m x 2.4m flag which was very impressive both above and below the water. It was provided free of charge by Trident Support to whom we’re extremely grateful.
If you want to know what the press made of it all follow these links:
The piece in “The Nationial” has a picture of the red ensign fixed on the stern of the Dara but the diver on the left isn’t Jane Taylor but Mike Murphy of this parish. Both articles are very positive in their treatment of this event, the British Sub-Aqua Club and divers generally. Thanks to both journalists.
Ian Hussey and guest writers.