Last Tuesday night we bade farewell to Jeff, our barman for the last two years who is emigrating to Canada. The (nameless) person entrusted with buying the card somehow neglected to do so (well she only had a fortnight) resulting in a last minute dash to Sahara Centre. Mercifully, Hallmark came up with a good one and the traffic was forgiving so nothing was lost. Sharon baked a cake for the occasion, Mike Dalton said a few words and there was a good turnout – Jeff will be missed! A few photos are attached.
Thanks are due to Mike Anthony and Cathy who between them organised the boat registration for SP312. The new engines meant that a fresh inspection by the coastguard needed which didn’t go entirely to plan. Firstly Mike, with his mind presumably in work mode, starting heading for the wrong port. This corrected, the boat was eventually launched and driven round to the coastguard at Mina Khalid. The gentleman inspecting the boat took one look inside and asked: “What’s all that water doing there?”. Swiftly realising the boat was a bung short, some rapid bailing started but how to replace the missing bung? After a couple of tries leaning over the side which didn’t work, there was only one thing for it: Mike stripped to his undies and got in the water. What the coastguard made of this was anyone’s guess but Mike escaped without being arrested and I expect several coastguard families got a good story over supper that evening.
I wasn’t diving at the weekend, I was playing football in the Wanderers 7-a-side. This tournament was set up to benefit the Dive Club which was a very generous gesture and we should make six or seven thousand from the day which will be a big help – thanks go Walter and the football veterans committee and SWSC manager Daniel.
Oh yes the diving. Mike took a small crew to the Victoria Star at the weekend. I don’t have a detailed report but I gather most of the remaining nets have now been cleared.
PJ couldn’t make the dive last Friday as he was in Germany where he met up with Uwe Oldenburg for a few glasses. Uwe, for those who don’t know is a much missed former member but we do get to chat with him on Skype from time to time.
Mike Anthony wrote Peter a few lines about the weekend which to save myself some effort I’m taking the liberty of cutting and pasting:
Yesterday we got news of a new wreck so set off with high hopes on a bearing of 284 from Hamriya on almost glassy seas but with an as yet untamed swell which held our speed down to 40kph or so. Arriving at the spot we found the echo sounder was seriously misbehaving. Eventually I traced it to the transducer which was looking horizontal. Returning it to the vertical fixed things and the we started a box search around the coordinates but to no avail.
Next was a trip to the Taha and we had a couple of goes at trying to snag that with the anchor eventually succeeding but we were 95m from the mark so decided to pull it up again. Meanwhile the wind had got up and we had 1.5m seas. The anchor was round a line and even big Marc could not raise it all the way to the surface nor could we drag it free with the engines. Geoff went in for a look and tried to cut the line but without a tank could not manage it. He returned to the boat and Marc went in with my new scissors and managed to free us. We concluded along the way that the seabed has almost totally swallowed the ship as there is very little showing above the bed.
Next was almost a 2 hour trip into the weather 31km to the Dara and Ian displayed consummate skill in getting us there without breaking the boat or any of the passengers. So in the end Derek and I were the only divers yesterday managing 40mins in soup like conditions during which we liberated 3 stuck down fish pots and several floats from nets. Along the way I managed to unanchor the boat. The anchor had managed to free itself whilst we were diving and they tied off onto a float whose down line I cut! Marc was fined for not bringing a BCD.
It was good to have a beer or two with Peter Blanchflower last Tuesday. Peter was passing through the area and dropped in on the club. He expects to be back again from time to time.
We got the year started at the weekend although there were points during the day when we wished we hadn’t. First though some thanks are due to Joff for helping out with some repairs to 312’s trailer. Being dipped into the sea regularly doesn’t do much for the moving parts and all the springs were in dire need of replacement. Not a job that’s normally beyond us except that some of the nuts and bolts had seized to a point where no spanner could shift them and some professional help was needed. We also had the front post moved forward by a few cm to compensate for the heavier engines that the boat now carries. Friday was the first outing since the work and it towed fine.
How do you tell someone’s been an expat for a while? Possibly when he turns up at the club pre-dive and explains that he couldn’t bring any sandwiches today because “the maid isn’t back until Monday”. Actually I’m not sure he was serious but I can’t let that spoil a good story and anyway I wouldn’t dream of causing any embarrassment by naming him.
The original plan was the Ajman Glory but leaving the harbour it was soon clear that the sea was not co-operating so we changed course and headed for the Dara instead. It was not exactly a smooth ride out there but we persevered and hooked the wreck at the second time of asking. The wreck is still covered in nets and the viz was mediocre but Mike and Marc did manage to spot a large stingray, about 1.5m across. Peter, Brian and Derek meanwhile did their bit for conservation by freeing a large hammour that had become caught up. Hopefully the fish will celebrate it’s rescue by having lots of baby hammour. The population urgently needs it thanks to over-fishing for too long, particularly of juveniles who haven’t spawed. Something to think about next time you see hammour on the restaurant menu. OK sermon over.
The ride back was wet, cold and miserable for all of us apart from Marc who found the only sheltered part of the boat and crouched down there, staying comparatively comfortable. For the rest of us a warm shower and a beer couldn’t come quickly enough.
A big welcome back (albeit temporarily) to Marc De Ruyter (he who has to duck to get through doorways). For the next couple of months Marc is in the area and should be diving as much as he can (not every week – the dredging business doesn’t work like that).
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.