We didn’t go out last Friday on account of a very dodgy forecast on Thursday evening. As it turned out the weather had calmed down by Friday so we could have got away with it but you can’t call them right every time. We were forced to spend the day relaxing and sinking a couple of jars – it was tough I can tell you. The peace and quiet was spoilt a bit by some wedding on the TV but never mind. It looked a bit OTT to me – you’d have thought they were royalty or something.
A couple of wanderers (pun intended) have returned to the fold after brief absences. Mike has finished gallivanting on fast two-wheelers around South Africa and will be marshalling next Friday’s dive – destination to be announced. Geoff has dusted the ice off his boots and returned from his trip to Mount Everest base camp. He will have some pictures to show on Tuesday – maybe one or two can go to the web site.
Jutta has done some work on the web site which is improving all the time. Also we have reclaimed our old domain name which now directs to the new site. The “weebly” address still works and takes you to the same place but the address given below is simpler.
Back in the water this week after last week’s non-event. Well some people were – I was still suffering from a cold and was limited to boat towing and driving but I enjoyed the trip all the same. It was also good to see Lamjed back in the water with us after...how long is it? Not so long until the next time we hope!
We went to the Taha to take a few more photos and hunt for the engine room entrance. The sea was reasonably calm but there was a strong current, this being only a day after the spring tides. Fortunately we hooked the wreck quickly without the need for anyone to chase the anchor down to secure it. The viz wasn’t the greatest we’ve had – it seems to get worse each time we go to this wreck. The best viz was the first time we found it.
Lamjed got his pictures on the second dive having “lost” his camera on the first. It was still attached to him but floating out of reach as he discovered on surfacing. Peter and Cathy came back with some cups and saucers from the galley which were cleaned up later by the Wanderers kitchen staff and filled with beer.
To repeat from last week: anyone who happens to have a copy of this month’s Outdoor UAE magazine will have seen a report on Geoff’s trek to Everest Base Camp. He’s raising money for cancer research and if anyone feels like supporting the cause contact him under his email "Geoffrey, Patch":
After the previous Dara 50th anniversary weekend, last Friday was a lot quieter – we ended up not going out at all. The reason for this was the forecast that – although superficially benign – also included the words: “possible thunderstorms with 8 – 12ft waves in the vicinity of the storms”. As we discovered a couple of months ago, not only are those sort of conditions highly unpleasant but can blow up very quickly indeed – certainly before you have time to get divers out of the water. I decided that discretion was perhaps the better part of valour for this one.
With a space to fill, I can instead write a few words about a new wreck we’ve dived several times recently. The MV Taha is located not far from the Neptune and it sank at the end of last year in circumstances currently unknown. It is an Iranian registered cargo ship of 54m length lying on its starboard side in about 20m of water. The vessel was carrying among other things a lot of car and truck tyres and a considerable quantity of diesel engine oil. Uwe and Lamjed are thinking of ways to remove the oil drums from the wreck – these would otherwise corrode over time releasing their contents into the Gulf.
The ship’s telegraph and steering wheel have been liberated and await restoration but anyone hoping for a festival of brass will be disappointed – the ship’s fittings are not so much “Harrods” but more “Pricebusters”. The viz has been pretty good on our visits so far and there has been plenty of fish life. It’s nice to have a new target and there’s still the engine room to find. Thanks to Cathy who originally found the co-ordinates.
Anyone who happens to have a copy of this month’s Outdoor UAE magazine will have seen a report on Geoff’s trek to Everest Base Camp. He’s raising money for cancer research and if anyone feels like supporting the cause go to: www.justgiving.com/geoff.patch
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.
A good trip last Friday – we went out to our new favorite wreck. We had a couple of dives each to see what we could find. The rays from last week seem to have moved on to pastures new but the barracuda were very much in evidence keeping their beady eyes on us.
A working party of Mike, Ian and Forrester spent Saturday changing the axles and wheels of the 312 trailer. The old ones were not really strong enough for the load they were being asked to carry with the consequent damage to tyres, hubs and wheels. The new ones are much more heavy duty although we’re now hoping the springs are up to the task!
Next Friday is Dara day – 50 years exactly since the explosion. Full details will be posted to those signed up but we will be meeting at Hamriyah beach, doing some diving followed by a barbecue later. DSDC and ADSAC are also involved and Steve Winstanley of ADSAC has acquired a red ensign to be placed on the wreck in honour of the 238 people who died. The National newspaper is sending someone and Dive magazine want a report. Don’t miss this one.
If you want to know about the Dara try reading “Last hours on Dara”. It was written by PJ Abraham who was on board for the last voyage, travelling with his wife from Bahrain to Kerala. It’s been out of print a long while – the copy I read was priced at 30 shillings – but Peter Jackson got hold of it via Amazon. The first third of the book describes the event itself – both his experiences and those of some of his travelling companions. Some of the stories of overturning lifeboats, burnt passengers, lost children and people struggling to survive were quite harrowing. The last two thirds cover the enquiry that followed. This is a lot drier (no pun intended) and I wasn’t able to get through it to be honest. It’s worth reading for the first part.
Congratulations to Aaron, Jen, Jules and Matt who completed their Ocean Diver courses and promptly headed off to dive in Sri Lanka. We await an account of their adventures. Congratulations also to Maureen who has passed her PADI Open Water course with Janette.
Ian Hussey and guest writers.