We managed to get a dive away on New Year’s Eve – the last of 2010. Bearing in mind the party later, we decided it would be prudent to do nothing too strenuous so we did a single tank dive on Karen’s dhow. The viz wasn’t wonderful but it was still much better than two weeks ago and although the dhow isn’t large it has lots of fish. The baby barracuda seem to have left home but the big ones are still much in evidence. There was also the usual abundance of fusiliers and jacks and also a couple of electric rays, one of which only had one eye (sounds like part of a playground joke!)
In some ways the most amazing thing was the surface visibility. From 25km out from Sharjah we could see Palm Jumeirah, the Atlantis and Burj Al Arab. The Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman skylines were very clear and Hamriyah and the RAK mountains could be just about seen to the north. I can’t remember seeing all this from that distance before.
Nor can I remember very much of New Year’s Day but that’s another story.
While we were munching turkey and mince pies our treasurer was having a rather different Xmas experience. Over to PJ:
“Just done the Great White experience, on a commercial boat out of Kleinbaii, near the southernmost tip of Africa. The location was a large bay with a backdrop of dunes and low mountains. The first shock was to discover that we would be getting into the floating cage with a water temperature of 10 degrees. 7mm hoody wetsuits were provided. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the bucket of boots until it was my turn to get in the water! The anchored cage was secured to the side of the boat, and the first seven climbed into the long cage, awaiting the instruction to descend to the bottom.
Encouraged by a bucket of diluted offal, it didn’t take long for a 2.5m shark to be around the boat, and attacking a large tuna head being thrown around on the end of a rope. Even half grown it provided an impressive sight, and the first seven divers dropped to the bottom of the cage for as long as they could hold their breath. From the deck there was a good view of the fish, while Ron, St.John and I waited our turn. We climbed into the chill water, when I appreciated the benefit the boots might have offered! We were shouted at to go down almost immediately. The viz was good, and we had a clear sighting of the fish, some 3m away. Came up, and waited for its return. The next sighting was better, the shark swimming alongside the cage, but my camera had steamed up in the very cold water! Then out of the cage for the rotation of groups. I dried out the camera housing climbed onto the upper deck for a different view of the shark. Everyone got a second set of underwater sightings except our last group – the beast seemingly bored by our game, so no chance of better underwater video than the first wide pass.
We were all left with a sense of disappointment. We had chosen Mike Rutzen’s Shark Diving Unlimited, because we believed it to be the most conservation orientated of the numerous White Shark commercial experiences on offer. Nothing we saw gave indication of this – they are just another commercial operation.”
Last week’s planned dive didn’t happen in the end. We had a boat ready to go but the weather didn’t co-operate. It might have been OK but no-one felt much like battling the waves on Christmas Eve. A dive will be going up for Friday all being well – hopefully we’ll have better luck on New Year’s Eve.
Thanks to Geoff for the excellent job on the trailer. Several bits have been replaced or re-welded and the paint is so bright and shiny you can see your reflection. It should now be good for a few more years.
Last Friday we went out to the Dara. The dive had looked a bit touch-and-go earlier in the week as the storms that trashed other parts of the middle-east also affected the Gulf to some extent causing monster waves. The sea had relented by Friday but unfortunately the legacy was viz of 1m or less. We saw a couple of blue spotted rays that were a reasonable size (or seemed so in the murk) but otherwise the best sight was a long line (1km +) of cormorants flying formation somewhere (presumably getting the hell out of Europe as fast as possible). The Wanderers swimming pool and bar seemed a better option at this point.
One thing though – after 12 years my BCD had finally bitten the dust. I knew the end had come when I found bits hanging off it that I didn’t even recognize never mind know how to put back where they came from. So this was the first outing for the new one and very nice it is too. However I was comprehensively out-scored terms of new dive gear by Simon and Sarah. This was the first outing for their matching “his & hers” wet suits to go with their matching “his & hers” BCD’s and matching “his & hers” fins. Only the differently coloured masks spoiled the symmetry – I mean that’s soooo last season. However they redeemed themselves for this fashion faux-pas by entering the spirit and calling each other “darling” as often as possible.
Some of you with long memories might recall an earlier diving couple who were once asked to do a buddy check. They responded with: “Enough air darling? – yes darling, you? – Yes darling!” and promptly went over the side minus some fins. We didn’t laugh of course! (well we did a bit).
The big boat was out of commission last weekend as it was off getting its trailer welded up. Just the same, Brendan took a team up to the east coast for a dive / camp-out and he reports as follows:
“We had a camp out on Friday night, 10 Dec and the weather was excellent, not very cold. Dives were done on Inchcape and Hole in the wall, with lots of marine life with mighty shoals of snapper, huge morays, and lion fish. Two separate boats came to the Inchcape but were reluctant to tie up, and after waiting a while came alongside to find out how long we were going to stay, to which I replied the second wave was pending and they were welcome to tie up and dive from our line, but they cited "special training" and then they left. Glad they did, as we don't want our divers to be shot in the water ;-)
On the conditions - surface current was a bit strong, about 10 meters visibility, flat calm sea conditions and water temperature at 24 degrees without any thermoclines. Also found the swim-through at Hole in the wall which is very nice.”
Ian Hussey and guest writers.