We went for a bit of wreck clearing and cleaning on the Mullah and the Tek last Friday. The first attempt at hooking the wreck was foiled by a tangled anchor line resulting us then dropping it too far from the wreck. PJ now takes up the story:
In perfect sea conditions, having relocated the Mullah and dropped anchor a second time, Mike D and I descended the anchor line confident we were now on, or very close to the wreck. At the anchor (at 28m), visibility was poor, and we could nothing other than the sandy bottom, but which was rich with gobys and their burrows. Setting a bearing, I secured my 50m line and followed Mike. At the end of the line, it was clear we would need to make a circular search, and sure we were left of the true bearing, swam right. After a few minutes, debris on the sea bed indicated we were close, and then the hull appeared before us, flowing with yellow snappers. Swimming up to the main deck of the freighter, I secured the reel, and almost immediately Brendan and Geoff appeared beside us. Mike D and I moved towards the bow, as Geoff and Brendan dropped into the nearest hold. Visibility improved a little on the deck, and yellow-barred angel fish danced around us at the bow. Working back along the port-side to the stern, the hull, which lies perfectly upright, is entirely encrusted with live clams, and occasional flashes of white mother of pearl half oyster shells, which I explored for pearls (unsuccessfully).
The stern of the Mullah consists of a covered deck with a covered access to the sides and rear, and a central staircase at the stern to an open top-deck, with a small centrally located bridge. A large mast is collapsed across the deck, overhanging the starboard side near the bridge, home to a large friendly batfish. By now computer deco alarms were sounding, especially after our long deep approach across the seabed. We explored the upper deck before dropping to the main deck, to locate the reel, and line leading back to the anchor.
My computer being set conservatively, gave me an 11 minute deco stop at 3m. This was double Mike D's!, but being a gentleman he stuck it out with me. 11 minutes up, a 3 minute safety stop countdown kicked in. At 32 degrees C, this was as unwelcome as it was warm, but at least there were no jellyfish. Mike A and Ian went down once we were back on board, proceeding to clean the glass in the bridge windows!
Ian: For the second dive we called back at the Tek to carry on net clearing and do a bit more window cleaning. This still isn’t finished – the nets are proving a bit more stubborn than expected – but we’re getting there.
Back to Hamriyah but mooring the boat at the quayside wasn’t without its adventures: a fast approach, an insecure fixing to the bollard, two failed attempts to throw the painter ashore – severe loss of cool all round but at least no-one was watching!
We started last Friday with a slight disagreement about how to deploy the painter to secure the boat to the quayside whilst loading the gear. It’s a question that may never be definitively answered as we seem to have mislaid the instruction manual that came with that particular piece of rope. However after some thought, wrapping it around a bollard seemed like a good plan.
The vital issue thus resolved we headed out to sea. The original target was the “Nadia”, a name that’s been on the GPS for a while but we’ve never been out to look for. Arriving at the location 27km north of Hamriyah, we had reason to be hopeful as there were some fishing pots around although not concentrated at any one location. We searched for a while but found nothing but sandy seabed. The Nadia may indeed exist but if it does then better co-ordinates are needed. Nor did we have any luck looking for the Trading Dhow which was 8km towards the shore. We did spot a small blob on the echo sounder but it didn’t look interesting enough to use time and gas on.
Instead we headed for the Tek – which at least we know how to find. It’s a small wreck and it doesn’t need much time to see it all particularly in good viz which this wreck has had on each of our three visits so far. The one concern with the wreck was that it was covered in nets so we decided to rectify the problem. After some concerted efforts the nets are now 90% removed and what’s left is sitting on top and no real danger to anyone. One more visit and we could finish the job completely.
For the second dive we went to our old friend, the Dara. The good viz had followed us and it was an excellent dive although the current was picking up by this time. One small curiosity – Peter and Rob came across what appeared to be a 50-year old ladies bra, presumably belonging to one of the passengers. This was left where it was. Good though the Dara is to dive, you do get an occasional sobering reminder of what happened to so many of its passengers.
Also spotted was an interesting underwater double-act, later identified as a luther gobi and snapper shrimps. PJ has some good video of this which can be seen above.
With the help of Oliver Jackson, the web site got a bit of an update last week. Now on it are a couple of Peter’s “trailers” which are good fun to watch. Short versions of our more normal videos will now follow. Jutta continues to maintain the site – thank you.
After the previous week’s trip to the Musandam, we were back on home turf last Friday although not what you would call familiar territory. Having found the “Tek” at the co-ordinates given to us, we went to look at the other site we were told about - the “Mullah 2”. As with the Tek, we have no idea whether this is the real name of the ship or whether it’s a name that someone has made up but I suppose this doesn’t really matter. Anyway, I’m pleased to report that the co-ordinates were good and there is indeed a wreck to be dived.
The Mullah 2 is a cargo ship, maybe 60m long sitting upright in 28m of water, about 30km north of Hamriyah. A bit deep for inexperienced divers maybe but all the interesting stuff is in 20m or so. The holds are deeper but these are empty. There are some ways inside and further exploration is in order. The viz was a bit murky but not as bad as all that and there was some fish life though maybe not as profuse as elsewhere.
The original plan was to check out another set of co-ordinates that we have but know nothing about but we decided to save this for another day. The sea was picking up and having gone to the limit of the no-stop time, a shallower dive seemed in order. We headed for the Tek to have another look but on the way a diversion – a pod of twenty or so dolphins swimming around the boat. We followed them for ten minutes before moving off.
The Tek was as remembered which is to say a small tug boat in 18m of water. The viz was excellent as it was on our first visit which makes me wonder whether it’s usually good at that location. The ray we saw last time had moved on but there’s plenty of other fish life and you can float around with a view of the whole wreck.
The dhow trip went ahead as planned last weekend. In fact it was two weeks behind schedule, the earlier date having been cancelled due to bad weather. That must have been rough because Friday was no millpond either. The dhow rocked and rolled up the Musandam while its passengers tried to catch up on sleep and avoid moving around too much. When we reached Limah Rock the waves were still pretty heavy but there was a sheltered area on the north that a couple of dive boats had already found. Unfortunately the dhow skipper was reluctant to approach too close although he did several figure-of-eights around the area. In the end we decided to do Limah headland instead – we could dive in sheltered water.
It’s been a while since I have dived Ras Limah but it was fine. There was plenty of fish life including a large ray and a turtle. There was also some small cuttlefish at the end of the dive. There was very little current apart from the eastern end of the site where it started to pick up. The water temperature was also pleasant provided you stayed above a thermocline at 15m below which it got a bit chilly.
The second dive was at Ras Sattan, just around the corner from the Caves. It was chosen because it was a sheltered site but otherwise it wasn’t that great. There was a turtle which was seen by some divers but not alas by me. After about 25 minutes, Phil gave the “time to give up” signal (right arm raised, hand held in front of face, thumb and fingers formed into a “C”, tilt hand back and forward) and we surfaced and headed back to the dhow. A couple of drinks ensued as we headed back to Dibba.
A few pictures are attached – no doubt there will be some others Tuesday night.
A good day despite the dhow erratic skipper – thanks to Janette for organising it!
Ian Hussey and guest writers.