No boat out at the weekend because SP312’s trailer has come to the end of it’s useful life. We were aware some rust and holes appearing but it turned out that this time welding on patches will not solve the problem. The axles, springs, wheels and the winch are in good order and will be re-cycled but a new frame is being manufactured at minimum cost courtesy of former Chairman, Joff. Cheers!
Rather than cram into SP125, we went over to the east coast to dive the Inchcapes with Al Boom. This meant an early start but at least someone else has to do the hard work. The wrecks are good to do once in a while as the soft corals and the fish life are distinctly different from this side. At 32m, Inchcape 1 is the deeper of the two, restricting bottom times but the wrecks are not large anyway. The promised frogfish were not in evidence but there were a couple of large morays, some lionfish, porcupine fish, puffer fish and much else.
A lot of the fish seem quite tame compared to their west coast counterparts and didn’t seem to mind divers swimming through the shoals at close quarters. Perhaps this is familiarity with divers. The downside of diving these wrecks is that it can be like Piccadilly Circus down there. Still the viz was good and the water wasn’t too cold although the wet suit season has clearly arrived.
Inchcape 2 was more of the same although the viz wasn’t so clear, we got more bottom time at the shallower depth. There were a number of smaller morays and some scorpion fish lurking on the bottom. This was followed by burgers and steak sandwiches of epic dimensions washed down with a little decompression fluid. A good day all round.
Mike took a boat out to the Dara and Nasteran at the weekend while I was busy elsewhere but I am short of a written report so I can’t say much. We did convene at the club later so I can say that the current was pretty strong on the Dara (as you’d expect on a spring tide) and the viz wasn’t spectacular. The current had calmed down by the time they reached the Nasteran so presumably they’d hit slack water. The four flying the flag were Mikes A and D, Richard and Katharina.
Connie and Tim did their first open water dives with Janette and evidently did very well. Mabruk!
Unfortunately I have to report the untimely death of Forrester last night. His partner Valerie had advised us a couple of weeks ago that he was very ill and did not have long, an assessment that has proved sadly accurate. Forrester was an eccentric character who was nevertheless very proud of his dive club and was much missed when he went to Australia. We all assumed he would drop by and see us again at some point – sadly this was not to be.
After a couple of weeks of washout conditions, it was good to get back in the water last weekend, even if Dive Marshall, PJ, had to cry off with a heavy cold. That still left a team of six on the boat. The first target was the Jumbo which we found easily enough but which resisted our attempts to get hooked on. After three failed attempts, a buoy was put in the water so that Mike and Martin could follow the line down and fix the anchor on the wreck.
After the bad weather, I wasn’t expecting that much but the viz turned out to be very reasonable. There were large shoals of snappers, some batfish at the stern end near the prop and a large shoal of barracuda. While we sat on top of the wreck they circled round us for a good 5-10 minutes getting ever closer until eventually we left them to it. The wreck has a number of unthreatening swim-throughs which are good fun to do and the fish life is usually plentiful, as was the case on Friday.
Arriving at the Neptune after a short journey, we found another boat at the site with divers just entering the water. We put our anchor down what appeared to be some distance away. It turned out to have gone a bit closer to one of them than was strictly sensible. Apologies to him – a lesson to be learnt I think.
The Neptune turned out to be another good dive with reasonably good viz and plenty of fish. There were no barracuda this time but there was a lot else. The water temperature is slowly sinking and it won’t be long before the wet-suits have to come out again. It was very noticeably chilly when climbing out of the water back into the boat.
Back at the club, we briefly met Janette and Ken. Janette was off to read the lesson at her church for which she’d prepared with a few glasses of decompression fluid. As the Good Book tells us: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake” – 1 Timothy 5:23. We spent the next couple of hours getting religious.
Meanwhile, Geoff and Brian Lugg had deserted the path of righteousness. Geoff describes a day out with DSDC:
DSDC were a man light to run a boat out to Wreck X on Friday, so Geoff volunteered to go across to the dark side and spend the day as a guest diver on the Sanaf with Brian (Lugg), Danny (Couzens) and dive leader Chris (Head). A 06.30 meet at DSDC required an early dart from Sharjah but with calm seas and neap tides the Sanaf managed to depart Jumeirah Fishermans’ Harbour #1 at 08.00 and was on site by 09.00.
Brian and Chris entered the water first and spent a good part of their dive re-buoying the buoy that Brian had installed last year. Danny and Geoff then entered the water and spent almost an hour exploring the bridge and engine room of the vessel. Sitting on its’ port side in ~37m of water this can be dived on air but to maximize bottom time each diver was on nitrox with a 50% stage to reduce decompression times (with the exception of Chris who went full ‘run silent, run deep’ on his rebreather).
The second round of dives followed a similar pattern with ~35 minutes bottom time giving ample opportunity to explore the workings and admire the remaining artifacts of the vessel before a 30 minute ascent to allow sufficient time for decompression. After cleaning down the Sanaf and a light refreshment back at DSDC, Geoff headed back to base camp at Wanderers where a ‘deserter fine’ was promptly levied and paid, which added to the general joviality of the 406 post-dive wind-down (or should that be wind-up?!).
Ian Hussey and guest writers.