After last week’s roller-coaster, we might have expected an uneventful dive but it didn’t quite work out like that. Towing the boat down to Umm Suqeim 1 for a trip to the Zainab, the boat must have been a bit too far back on the trailer and hence a bit unstable. Heading towards the Galadari underpass, at no great speed, the trailer started swinging from side to side at an alarming rate. Coasting through the underpass, the thing eventually came back under control and the incident probably only lasted a few seconds but it got the pulse racing believe me.
Having launched the boat we quickly found that the GPS wasn’t working and no amount of fiddling with switches or wires would persuade it to come to life. Normally this would be a minor problem since I almost always have my own GPS with me. Almost always. This time……you guessed. However, we noticed in the harbour a boat loading up with dive tanks that clearly wasn’t going fishing. Once it set off the name of the game was “follow that dive boat”. Unfortunately it had some serious engines and it became clear that we couldn’t keep up without flogging our engines to pieces so we let it escape. By then we had the bearing they were headed on and we thought we’d catch them eventually.
As the boat disappeared over the horizon, we spotted a cardinal buoy – but which one? No boat was near it so clearly our hare had gone elsewhere but we decided to stop where we were. Getting close we discovered we were about to dive the Mariam Express. It would have been quicker to launch from Al Khan but never mind – at least we were getting a dive in.
The Mariam used to be a superb dive until a storm in 2008 picked it up and punched it through the seabed. A lot of what was accessible is now buried and much of the rest is covered in silt but there still a couple of places to get inside. The hold is still open although the most of the china coffee sets have now been liberated. When Ken and I surfaced (second wave), we found the boat we’d been following tied up to the back of us. They’d been to the Neptune apparently and returned to the Mariam for their second dive.
The return journey was mercifully without incident but back at the club an innocent question nearly had unexpected results. When I asked Janette to “close-off” the compressors, she didn’t quite get the word “compressors” and took it as an invitation to get undressed.
While this was happening, Derek and Geoff were diving Dibba Rock. Geoff reports:
While SP312 set out west, Derek and I headed across to the east coast for a morning dive with ‘Freestyle’ at Dibba Rock. Max, David and Karyn of Freestyle arrived at ~09.15 having burnt the midnight oil in the hot spots of Dibba the previous night. I noticed four other dive boats already in the area and with no other divers showing, Max took us across and dropped us in to the south of the island. After a short swim across the shallow western reef we arrived in ‘the aquarium’ part of the site and were welcomed by the usual large shoals of reef fish in good visibility. Moving around the northern tip of the island we were treated to a variety of marine life including several lion fish (one unusual black one), box fish, a solitary pipe fish (~30cm long) on the sand, some very territorial clown fish and harlequin shrimps hidden in the rocks. After the dive we relaxed while our gear dried before setting off to explore the tracks and hills behind Khabb Hot Springs on the way to RAK, which could provide a good dive / camp combo in future!
Ian Hussey and Dive Member Contributions.