Last week’s problems with the coastguard seem to have been resolved (thanks Sami) which is good news as the UHF locator they wanted us to install is a seriously expensive bit of kit.
Thanks go to Brendan for doing the nitrox course last Tuesday. Nitrox 32 which we mix at the club is ideal for the depths that we dive round here and gives you either added bottom time or greater safety or both depending on how you set your computer.
I wasn’t involved with the dhow trip last weekend but Janette sent in a report and Derek and Jutta sent a few photos:
The day started off well with everyone arriving on time apart from one member and his partner who could not get their passport from their employer. The Dhow was a little smaller than expected and was too slow to reach Lima rock. We headed off up the coast not really knowing where to dive since the storms a few years ago had ruined many of the sites we used to dive.
Time was not on our side so we decided to check out a couple of sites that used to be quite good. The sea was fairly calm but there was a swell that affected one or two of the none divers, the up side was that as they deposited there breakfast in the sea it attracted a variety of fish life.
The first dive was at midday. As we were kitting up, a reluctant diver announced he couldn’t dive because he had forgotten to pack his BCD! Fortunately, we were able to accommodate him and provide the necessary BCD. At the end of the first dive we were a little anxious as Peter and Simon were enjoying themselves so much they were just over the hour mark when they surfaced. (Much to my relief!) We pulled further into the cove for lunch where everybody could splash around for a while.
After minor repairs and tweaking, the second dive was just across the bay and although all the stag horn coral had died there was a fantastic variety of hard corals.
You have heard about the slow boat to China well it could never have been as slow as the return Dhow to Dibba, a bottle of the Irish nectar did help to pass the time and prepare the way for the Stagg ceremonies later in the evening. It was pitch black when we got back, but everybody made a very effective chain and we quickly managed to offload and disperse all the equipment to the appropriate cars.
We hope to have regular trips in the future but certainly not on the slow boat. I will check out the other dhows and let you all know when the next one is planned.
I was in the UK last Friday but thanks to the reports of Mike and Sami, I can pass on the following:
We had quite an interesting day last Friday. It first started with being very closely scrutinized by the coast guard at Hamriyah port, where they pointed to us that we are in infringement of their regulations due to the following :
1. Boat is loaded more than the allowed numbers (we were 7 versus six licensed). They suggested that we increase the number when we renew the registration due in few days.
2. We do not have the mandatory UHF locater installed.
3. We do not have any authorization from the club for us to use the boat. However after some friendly chat with the group anda lengthy phone call with their captain, he was nice to allow us to proceed, with the promise that we shall rectify all.
There were 7 of us in the boat and we went to our "house" wreck the Dara where two German ladies, Andrea Kroeger and Tanja Hesse made their first open water dive from a boat under the watchful eye of their instructor, the indomitable Heike. Andrea was looking a little stressed at the beginning and we understand that she had some trouble clearing her ears on the way down but it was all smiles after 35 minutes underwater. Congratulations and a big welcome to the two newest members of the Dive Club. We were seriously impressed as Heike twice demonstrated how to get into the big dive boat without a ladder and without wearing fins.
After the Dara we went to No 026 on the GPS which turned out to be a football field area of steel plates that must have fallen off a barge. There must be 10,000 tonnes of steel down there. It was an aquarium for fish with many groupers which are getting quite rare these days as the fishermen hunt them. So this dive site was renamed Tanja as she dived her second dive there.
Finally, a fine was levied on Dan who had signed up for the dive but proved to be impossible to waken. He blamed Forrester for leading him astray and forcing too many beers down his throat on Thursday night. Oh and we were very pleased to see that Forrester has finally bought his intended an engagement ring!
Welcome to a man from the Valleys, Mike Murphy, (a Welsh speaker) who came along for the first time, another one of the Petrofac boys.
Mike and Sami
There was no diving last Friday on account of the sea state (this is what happens when you leave the Chairman in charge) but there was a dive on Saturday. Brendan reports:
“On Sat, 16 Oct I dived the Energy with DSDC, no current at all, and the viz wasn’t excellent (but still in the 10 - 15 m range), also not much marine life - but saw the huge prop and rudder (no plans for salvage its about 6 meters wide). Also of interest was a navy chopper that kept tabs on us all day, I suspect is to do with the hole our northern neighbour put in a ship recently (local media cited a 'rogue wave'). Also the shipping lane seems to have moved closer to shore, with a chopper constantly monitoring the passage, I suspect our days of diving the Energy are numbered.”
Let’s hope he’s wrong.
How to confuse a coastguard… PJ has scanned his identity card, his health card and driving license and laminated the lot into a single card for use on any occasion. The only flaw in this cunning plan was that as a result the coastguard thought there were three Peter Jackson’s on board! One of the Peters entertained us further by dropping a tank into the harbour when he should have been putting it into the boat.
This wasn’t the only equipment cock-up of the day. Last week Dan got fined Dhs 10 for turning up without a dive bag. This week he found a bag but neglected to put his BCD in it. Cathy brought all her gear along for the dive but only some of it was attached to her body when she went over the side. A slight but crucial deficiency in the fin department. In all fairness, I should add that this was repeated later in the day by some guy whose name escapes me for some reason.
Oh yes the diving: We started out on the Car Barge because we haven’t done that for a long time. This wreck has suffered because of the dredging for the Palm Islands. The whole boat (and the sea bed around it) is covered in silt which has killed all the marine life attached to the wreck. This seems to have impacted further up the food chain because fish were a bit sparse although far from non-existent. The tug that towing the barge is down there somewhere but the markers have gone and we couldn’t find it. The viz was a bit murky as you’d expect but could have been a lot worse.
For the second dive we took advantage of flat calm seas and opened the throttles to go to Karen’s Dhow, 20 km to the North. This was much better with all sizes of barracuda, yellow snappers, emperor snappers, tuna, jacks and much else.
It has been pointed out to me that I forgot to mention the dolphins. To rectify this some pictures (taken not far from the Car Barge) are attached. Not as exciting as lumps of brass I know but hey – you can’t have everything.
Last Friday we took a trip out to the Zainab. We were among the first divers to explore the wreck after it went down and certainly the first sports divers. I well remember the halcyon days when we came up from the wreck covered in illegal Iraqi crude (and reeking of it!) and clutching any number of brass portholes. These days the oil has gone but unfortunately so have the portholes. It still makes a good dive though.
This week’s star diver was Forrester who turned up late, left his trunks and shorty in the equipment room and was thus forced to dive in his underpants. A photo was taken of the occasion which I’m hesitant to attach lest we fall foul of the local authorities’ views on decency and morality (not to say good taste). Placed on the mantelpiece it would be guaranteed to keep the kids away from the fire.
What does a good Catholic boy from Belfast wear to go diving? Well obviously some bright orange overalls! Dan has said that rumours of a marching band next Friday are completely unfounded.
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.