After last week’s non-dive we got back into the water at the weekend. It was another trip to the Sea King 5 followed by the Dara. The Sea King is beginning to grow a few barnacles as you would expect and hopefully the fish will follow. At the moment there’s not much in the way of either interesting artefacts or nice fishes. Still give it time!
The visibility on the Dara continues to be good and the dive was excellent although the current was quite strong. We hung around at the bottom of the cathedral watching some barracuda and batfish facing the current mouths open to collect whatever snacks drifted past. There was also a ray which I didn’t see myself but couldn’t dispute because Chris had a photograph. Good also to see Ronan back with us for the first time since his move to Abu Dhabi.
Friday night was also the DSDC 30th birthday party which was a great party. The wine flowed to the tune of the house band and the food was excellent. Here’s to the next 30!
The hunt for the Al Jasourah has so far yielded nothing concrete (or steel) but investigations continue. Without any useful coordinates for this wreck we decided to revisit last week’s plan and go back to the Sea King 5 to take some more measurements. This time the weather co-operated and we got there without difficulty. The anchor missed the wreck but Mike laid a string line to the bow which we all followed.
To measure the ship’s dimensions I used the same system as we’d used on the Ajman Glory – laying a string-line down the length and across the width of the vessel. Then put a knot in the line establishing the dimensions which can be measured later by comparison with the Wanderers swimming pool. It worked fine at the Ajman Glory but on this occasion my reel jammed half-way down the starboard side so we tied on Peter’s reel to finish the job. Naturally the two lines got tangled but nevertheless we sorted them out and can now report the vessel to be 35 – 36m long by 10m wide. Peter took a video of the dive but with hindsight this and a measurement survey was probably too much to do in one dive and another trip without cameras is probably needed to finish the survey.
For the second dive we headed for the Dara or at least some of us did! One of the region’s oldest wrecks to follow diving one of its youngest. Our last experience of the Dara was not that pleasant but this was much better – the wreck is still covered in nets but the viz was much better and the nets are much less threatening if you can see them before you swim into them. There was a group of large batfish and a pufferfish at the entrance to the cathedral and some barracuda at the stern as well as the usual profusion of fish life for which the Dara is noted.
We now come to a story which can’t be allowed to pass although I must warn you that anyone with small children may want to censor this paragraph unless they’re prepared for some complicated explanations. Picture the scene: A diver – call him Peter – has finished his dive and is trying to remove his wetsuit which stubbornly refuses to move past his ankles without outside help. So he turns to the nearest person – call her Polly – and says: “Give me a pull!”
Polly’s reply is not recorded.
After last weekend exploring the Sea King 5, we were keen to get back for another look. The idea was to take some measurements of the ship’s dimensions and depth and get a few more photos. Unfortunately the weather had the last word and with serious waves predicted, we decided not to risk it. Details of the wreck’s true location have gone to the UK Hydrographic Office who will add Sea King 5 to their charts. We are already known to the UKHO after the Ajman Glory episode and should get another credit for this discovery.
The sea conditions did have one benefit for divers at least – the following report appeared in some papers on Saturday:
“An Iranian cargo ship sank in UAE waters due to rough weather, while its crew of six was airlifted to safety by a rescue helicopter, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
The Al-Jasourah went down on Friday some 10 nautical miles off the coast of the northern emirate of Umm Al-Quwain soon after it had left the neighboring emirate of Sharjah, said Gulf News. Responding to a distress call, the Emirati coastguard deployed a helicopter to airlift the all-Iranian crew to safety, it said. The size of the ship and the nature of its cargo were unknown. The meteorological service in the United Arab Emirates had previously warned of high winds affecting coastal areas of the Gulf state for several days.”
Needless to say we’ll be trying to find it!
406 wasn’t entirely inactive over the weekend. Derek went over to the east coast where the conditions were much calmer and reported the following:
“Some of us… ie me only… went to Freestyle and dived Dibba rock on the Friday. Two good dives including a turtle and a few morays, one which took a shine to Max’s arm and gave him a bit of a fright. The rock cod and groupers were out in force and it was reasonable viz 5m , could have been better but has been in worse. The middle dive of the day was a classic case of how not to navigate. We saw lots of purple broccoli, a pipe fish , one Sherri, 4 star fish , a few shells and lots of sand- back to Nav school.
Then on the Saturday after a night of putting the world to rights with Freestyle Instructer Max, owner Andy and another couple plus some decompression juice and a bottle of famous grouse, a curry, a few hazy memories and a camp in a horizontal tent we headed to Inchcape 1. The viz was great – ethereal lighting almost- electric catfish in tyres , shoals of bream and yellow tailed fish? Plus a few nice Lion fish and our friend the sea horse has moved to the starboard side near the chain to the buoy. In fact we nearly missed it and a few of the newbees, ( some young ladies , didn’t notice the lads) took some persuading it was not sea weed.
This was an interesting weekend. It got off to a slow start since SP312 hadn’t been used for a month after the various excursions to the east coast. This wouldn’t normally be a problem except that someone had forgotten to turn off the batteries which as a result were as flat as the proverbial witch. The first order of the day was to swap over the SP125 batteries as diving is usually easier when the boat engines are working. And also the echo-sounder. We were not long out of the harbour when we discovered the electrics weren’t functioning which would make it pretty hard to find the target.
After a short discussion, we decided to press on anyway. The target was the “Sea King 5” which Richard had seen on a Notice to Mariners and which seemed worth checking out. When we got there it was encouraging to see a wreck buoy, meaning that something was down there somewhere. With no other way of checking the sea bed, we tied up to the buoy and went down for a look but despite two separate searches, nothing could be found apart from flat sandy bottom. That might have been that except that during the second dive Mike – using I know not what form of black magic – managed to breathe some life into the echo-sounder. Armed with the proper tool, we soon found some wreckage on the sea bed about 200m from the stated position and promptly went down to have a look.
The “Sea King 5” is a small cargo vessel sitting upright in 28m of water with the bow facing west. The deck is at around 24m depth. Strangely, it appeared to have been stripped of anything valuable or interesting before it sunk - including one of its three propellors. Nevertheless it could be a good dive when it has been down long enough to attract some fish life. At the moment there is a solitary grouper, a small shoal of jacks, and a large barracuda swimming just off the stern but not a lot else.
For anyone interested in taking a look at what is possibly the Gulf’s newest wreck, it can be found at N 25° 34.226 E 55° 17.992. We notified the Sharjah Harbour Master who appreciated this new information.
Ian Hussey and guest writers.