Last weekend we went for the camp-out up in the mountains and a very good trip it was too. We all reached the site thanks to detailed instructions from Mike and despite the GPS co-ordinates being a full degree out. Anyone trusting the numbers would have found themselves only 2km from the Taha wreck – clearly a problem for your average 4x4. After pitching tents, we cracked a few tins, lit the fire and settled down to relax and enjoy the barbecue. By the wonder of technology, we managed to have a word with Uwe in Lübeck. Last time we used this camp site, Uwe managed to erect a street light to help us see the food we were cooking – those days are missed!
In the morning, having had some breakfast, we de-camped and headed down to Dibba with the idea of diving Dibba Rock. There is a slip at the Royal Beach Hotel which is close to the rock but we soon found there were too many obstacles blocking the way. Instead Mike launched the boat from Dadna, about 9km down the coast. While we waited on the beach, Mike drove up to meet us, finding time to tackle a fire in the port engine on the way. Fortunately the damage doesn’t look terminal and Dibba rock is only a short distance off-shore and reachable on one engine.
This week’s prize for novel diving technique goes to Derek. Attempting to execute a backward roll off the boat, he didn’t notice the ladder over his feet. His fins got caught in the ladder, the ladder caught the side of the boat and Derek found himself dangling upside down, head in the water feet in the air. Unfortunately, he managed to wriggle free before we could get a camera out.
After that, anything might seem like an anti-climax but it was a very good dive. Apart from the morays, cuttlefish and the usual reef residents, there were shoals of snappers and some silver fish that seems relaxed about divers in their midst and were large enough to blot out some of the daylight. PJ was taking some video footage so hopefully we’ll have something to see on Tuesday. Mike and Wendy had the best of it on the second wave as they ran into five or six reef sharks, the largest of which may have been a couple of metres in length.
A few photos of the weekend are attached. Thanks to Mike for doing the organizing and the fire-fighting.
An interesting day out was had last Friday but not quite in the way we had anticipated. We thought we’d go and have another look at the co-ordinates we tried last week (wreck “I”) when we failed to locate anything despite some interesting looking shapes on the seabed. Alas, this time nothing appeared on the echo sounder except flat and sandy bottom. What we saw last week is anyone’s guess – I was only drinking bitter lemon I swear. After 45 minutes driving around in circles, squares and other patterns we gave up and the appearance of a pod of dolphins gave us something more interesting to look at.
We next headed for Karen’s Dhow so that we could at least get a dive in. Lamjed and Apolostolis secured the anchor and the rest of followed down the line. The fish life was a tad disappointing compared to what it can be like but it was an enjoyable dive nonetheless. However the highlight was to come. PJ, Richard and I were the last up having freed the anchor. Richard had climbed back on board when I noticed a dolphin right behind PJ’s shoulder. Looking below, there were six or seven swimming around us and the boat, not quite close enough to touch. Unfortunately, we couldn’t let go of the boat in the strong current or we might have been able to get closer but it was a memorable close encounter.
It would have been difficult to top that and after a search for another possible target (wreck “J”) had again yielded nothing, we headed home.
Ordinarily that would have been the end of the story but on the way back we spotted something very odd in the water, apparently under tow. Closer inspection showed it was the cutter-head of a dredger, clearly at an angle its maker never intended. We had a chat with the tug boat skipper, who told us it came to grief five days previously and it was under tow into Ajman. He was expecting some divers to fix some floats to the wreck to get it more or less upright for maneuvering in shallow water. The correct response (“Sure that’s us – just give us ten minutes to kit up”) didn’t occur to us in time but it was an interesting story all the same. If they don’t succeed in getting the dredger into port, they won’t have much option but to let it sink.
It seems the Al Khan coastguards are indeed expecting to see Emirates ID cards for anyone going out. Whether this is the case at other launching points we don’t know yet but it may be prudent to assume that it is. Take note.
One for the diary: a camp-out is planned for 27th April. Details to follow.
Ian Hussey and guest writers.