Normal service almost resumed with the return of most people back from summer expeditions and in the mood to go diving. The target for the weekend was our old friend the Victoria Star. It was originally envisaged as a night dive and we’ll do this at some stage but, maybe because of the short notice, enthusiasm was a bit tepid this time around. With the start time restored to the traditional 8.00am, a few more names appeared on the board.
A slight problem with Cathy having mislaid her handbag the previous night meaning that she had no ID to show the coastguard. She kept a low profile in the boat and nobody noticed. The journey out was very smooth which was in accordance with the forecast but slightly surprising to me as the wind had been blowing the previous day. Still – not complaining.
We weren’t the first to reach the wreck. There was another boat with four or five guys who explained that they were a volunteer group who visited the wrecks of the UAE to clear nets and generally improve the environment for the benefit of their fellow divers. Very commendable – I’m sure the spear guns were only for self defence.
And the diving? Well the viz wasn’t the worst we’ve seen recently but it wasn’t that great either apart from a shoal of smallish jacks hovering around. Still, Mike and Brian had a good trip into the bowels of the engine room and the rest of us had various expeditions inside the wreck where the viz was better than outside provided you’re careful where you put your fins. A couple of enjoyable dives in the end.
It was good to welcome the temporary return of Apostolis. He last dived with us a couple of years ago since when he’s been out of the country but he might get in a couple more dives in the month or so that he’s around. In that time we might even get our tongues around his name. Apocalypse, Acropolis and other variants were heard, none very original I suspect.
Some pictures are attached. Brian Larkin took some video that I trust will make a good movie!
Oh and Cathy found her handbag – at home! A fine duly followed.
Back in the UAE too late for the club night last week but in time to go diving on Friday. The trip was a joint expedition with DSDC to visit the Energy Determination, a super-tanker that went down in 1979 during the original Gulf War. There was an explosion on board for reasons unexplained and the vessel caught fire and eventually broke in two. There are some historic club photos showing the bow section before it was towed away but the stern section sank in about 80m of water.
This is not a dive for the faint-hearted, requiring careful planning and the ability to dive to around 50m. Various nitrox mixes can be used to minimise deco time and many computers these days allow you to set two mixes to plan and execute the dive properly. At least it would if you set the damn thing. My computer thought it was on air throughout meaning that I should need about 90 minutes of deco. Instead I followed my buddies’ stops and added ten minutes for safety. This caused the computer to go into sulk mode but since we only do one dive, this is not a problem.
The extra tanks, the long deco stops, the long journey, the single dive – is it worth it? Well you wouldn’t do it every weekend but once in a while the effort is justified. The wreck, even split in half, is far bigger than anything else we dive, the fish life is bigger, the viz is usually good (provided you get the tides right) and the depth makes for a different kind of atmosphere. On Friday the first thing we saw were some monster jacks and there were also some trevallies and barracuda lurking just within the range of visibility.
Thanks to Steve Manthorpe for marshalling, Brian Lugg for boat towing and Geoff for providing the Budweiser.
Thanks also to Brian for sterling efforts in the equipment room which is now a lot tidier as a result. The yard now needs a bit of tidying which we trust the Wanderers will help with having used it as a builder’s lay-down area for the last two months.
Finally – attached some salvage from the recent German trip. It was too big to pack so I donated it to the Hamburg Maritime Museum. If you believe that…
No diving to report this week since too many people were away, myself included. These words come to you from Hamburg, reached via Lübeck, Berlin and Leipzig and I’m now writing this in the Hamburg Holiday Inn room 406 believe it or not.
Brian tells me the Energy may be on next Friday – I trust the tides are friendly – and for those asking – yes we are still planning Cyprus for Eid Al Adha.
For anyone planning to visit a German city, a few simple rules:
1. Cars stop for pedestrians and bicycles.
2. Pedestrians obey the go/don’t go lights even when there’s nothing coming.
3. Bicycles stop for nobody.
I think maybe 3 explains 2.
Also some words mean different things… see below.
The Dive Bar will be open as normal Tuesday night – I assume that the swimming pool repairs are still ongoing and that access will still be through the changing rooms rather than the blue glass doors.
I won’t be around unless you can keep the bar open until 2am – send me an SMS if you manage it. Otherwise I’ll catch up with those around over the next few days.
Since I’m presently gallivanting around foreign parts (Berlin as I write), I wasn’t around on Friday to witness the going’s on, however I can rely on others to step into the breach when the need arises: the following was written by Geoff Patch with some added words by Brian Lugg.
Due to recent cable laying a trench had been dug along the sand road where we access the dive club boat yard. (See attached photo). Recognising the potential challenges of man-handling a Discovery and 5 tonne boat across the void the workmen had been requested to fill in the ditch outside the gate before Friday. The ditch was filled in, just outside the wrong gate! So big Brian and Geoff spent the first 15 minutes of the day filling in the ditch - a nice warm up to the day.
Things got better when our other Brian arrived and promptly grounded his hire car in the sand trap at the yard entrance. More digging and manhandling managed to extricate the vehicle. We were fortunate to have two guests with us, retired 65 year old 'brass hound' Alan and his son Martin, both experienced divers originating from the garden county of Kent. The last but not least of the crew for the day was the irrepressible punctual 'one fin Soren' who had called to say he would meet us at Hamriyah.
The target for the day was the Ajman Glory. The wind was behind us and the seas were surprisingly flat, as we set out on an almost due north heading and we made good time to the site, hooking the wreck on the second attempt. The anchor had landed at the bow, which meant a swim of about 40m to the stern area with a mild current flowing across the wreck from starboard to port. Visibility was better than it had been in previous weeks but only around 4-5m at best and possibly was a result not a great deal of marine life was evident.
After the first dive the wind was beginning to pick up a little but everyone agreed to stay on site for the second dive, which followed a similar patter to the first, namely rummaging around in the fo'csle locker and bridge areas - guest diver Brass Hound Allan surfaced with a huge grin and a copper search lamp - apparently it was found just lying on the sand. At the end of the second dive Geoff unveiled half a dozen cans of decompression fluid and shared with all, except the last pair who had been waiting on fins and had yet to go down. This was the last thing One Fin Soren needed to see before descending.
The mere though of going diving instead of having a cold one had sever narcotic effects on Soran, so much so, that once kitted he stood up on the anchor locker only to find himself legless and executed a divers entry that words can only half describe - starting with a standing forward roll from the anchor locker to the port gunwale, landing momentarily in a seated upright position - seamlessly sliding into a side wards roll, with, a divers 'OK" into the ocean, and all of this without a splash. I doubt anyone will ever be able to execute the "Soren Entry" ever again with such grace and perfection, if only BSAC 406 productions had caught this event for prosperity.
Unfortunately, the last pair of divers seemed to misinterpret the "don't forget to free the anchor and tie a marker buoy to it to lift it" instruction, (clearly someone was still suffering from some narcotic effect), and we had to break the anchor line to get free. Brass Hound Allan then let us in on an old BSAC punishment, when One Fin Soren had de-kitted, and wiped the sweat from his brow, he was handed a can of not so "sweet" decompression fluid. The "Bud-sea-w-ater-iser" was not well received... The return journey was not smooth sailing as they say - heading straight into the wind and wave front made for a long, wet trip back to the quayside.
Before us chain gangers got to work on the Larkin Car Trap...
Some of you will know we were in Germany for Peter and Connie’s wedding in Lübeck. I’m happy to report the event went off without a hitch (apart from the hitch that was supposed to happen). Peter was as nervous as I’ve seen him but a few cogent words of advice (breath normally, don’t hold your breath etc) seemed to do the trick. The cake was cut on a boat travelling up the river to Travemünde where the reception was held. A good day all round and it was great to see Uwe again.
Not one but two dives to report this week. To begin with we had a mid-week break – the Eid falling on Monday and Tuesday – so we took grateful advantage with a dive on Tuesday to the Victoria Star. For the trip we were able to welcome back a couple of familiar faces not much seen these days. Denis Rooney’s last dive with us was on the Anchor Barge in January 2010. Since then he’s been in Saudi Arabia by way of Qatar and was over here for the holiday weekend. Soren Kjaer has no such excuse – he’s been here all along – but family commitments limit his diving which is not so unreasonable if you think about it.
It would be nice to report flat seas and spectacular viz but these things would only be true in a negative sense. We’ve been out in much worse sea conditions it’s true but the viz was spectacularly awful. We did manage to grope our way around and inside the wreck – Brian Lugg claimed the conditions were better in the engine room but Denis was not so sure. I think someone spotted a turtle through the murk but in truth this wasn’t one to remember. Still it beats working any day!
There was always going to be something planned for Friday but after a couple of weeks of dodgy conditions on this side, we decided an east coast trip might not be out of order. There were seven of us including Volker on his last dive before his summer break and Sergey who came with us to the Victoria Star in May but again doesn’t come out as often as he used to.
Being a late booking our choices were a bit limited but we got a place on the Sandy Beach boat which was going to Inchcape 2 and Martini Rock. On arrival we found the Inchcape 2 boat full up and we were not qualified to do Inchcape 1 which at 30m exceeded the depth limit for PADI Open Water which was the qualification that some of us had. Shortly afterwards we found ourselves on a boat heading for… Inchcape 1. What caused the change of heart I don’t know for sure but had they read the disclaimer forms and done some simple arithmetic they would have realised our combined diving experience was something approaching 3,000 dives. Enough, I guess, to do Inchcape 1 without damaging ourselves too badly.
Arriving at the dive site we found we’d been beaten to it by a boat called “Sanaf” from some outfit in Dubai whose name escapes me right now. The Inchcape 1 is a small vessel, deliberately sunk as a dive site and stripped of anything interesting. It is nevertheless a good dive. To begin with the viz was markedly better than the west coast has been recently, which after all was the whole point in going. It is also a different dive from the west coast wreck – covered in soft corals and with fishes that for the most part seem unconcerned with the presence of divers. Going down the line the first thing we saw was a mating pair of puffer fish that swam along with us for a while. There a short swim-through along the centre of the ship coming out of a forward hatch. Inside is an aquarium of small fish that have to be pushed out of the way. Being a popular dive site, there were four boats in total meaning there were a lot of divers in the water in a small space. If you hanker for a solitary diving experience, the Inchcapes are not it but after the last couple of weeks it was nice to able to see the wreck we were diving on.
The second dive was the Pinnacles. The surface interval was minimal but the site is so shallow as to make the dive an extended safety stop. The viz was not as good as the Inchcape but there was some good things to be seen including a couple of seahorses some pipefish and the usual reef fishes, some in very dense shoals. After a relaxing hour or so underwater, we headed back to shore for a bite to eat and a couple of glasses of decompression fluid.
There are a few of away over the next couple of weeks including myself however I will be checking emails and will try and get a message out as normal. I’m confident that any crimes or misdemeanours against good diving practice will be reported to me so that the good news can be passed on.
Ian Hussey and guest writers.