There was no diving last weekend with most people otherwise engaged over the holiday period and the weather not looking over promising either. This does give me a bit of space to reflect on the highs and lows of 2011.
The low was without doubt the “perfect storm” back in January. Surfacing from a dive to find huge waves and no boat in sight is not something I’d want to repeat in a hurry. Nobody panicked and everyone did the right things but it was still a scary experience. The sheer speed with which the storm descended was a shock to all of us and a reminder never to be casual with the weather – if a storm might be brewing get the hell out of there.
Quote of the year goes to Janette both for her confession on Martini Beach that she “hated getting wet” and also when she was climbing into the boat without the ladder and was heard to cry out: “I can’t get my leg over!” An honorable mention goes to Derek and his “two breathing things”.
Discovery of the year was the MV Taha, a 54m Iranian vessel that went down last autumn full of diesel oil barrels and brand new tyres of questionable quality. It’s always good to have a new wreck to explore and we took grateful advantage. No other dive site was visited more often and although hardly a treasure ship, it did yield a couple of interesting artifacts. These included the ship’s telegraph which is still being restored and the radar which was cleaned and painted. Mike stripped and rebuilt the mechanism and it now sits on the Dive Club porch and rotates when connected to a car battery to the occasional surprise of some poolside sun-bathers.
A sad farewell was said to Geoff Taylor back in March. Geoff and Harry Adamson between them built the Dive Club that stands at the Wanderers and on a memorable Tuesday evening, they were presented with engraved tankards in honour of this achievement. Geoff, in return, handed over some photos and dive logs from earlier in the club’s history. After many years in the UAE, Geoff has moved on to pastures new. We wish him well.
Expedition of the year was the Eid Al Adha trip to Muscat. Diving on Fahal Island and in particular the wreck of the “Munasir”, an Omani navy vessel were memorable experiences. Thanks to Mike who did most of the organization and to BSAC 621 in Muscat for their generous hospitality. We also did some dhow trips to the Musandam, a couple of visits to Martini Beach and another trip on the “Lejaine”, the Turkish galleon based in Ras Al Khaimah. These were all enjoyed by those who participated.
But the highlight of the year (to me at any rate) was the Dara 50th anniversary dive in April. We’d seen the anniversary looming for some months prior and had been planning to do something to commemorate it but I’d anticipated a fairly low key event. Then DSDC got to hear and wanted to be involved as did ADSC and before I knew it the press were interested as well. The result was 60 divers on Hamriyah beach, a red ensign on the stern of the Dara as a mark of respect to those that had perished and some sympathetic and generous coverage in Gulf News and The National. Fame at last!
Finally, I’d like to thank all those who supported the club over the last year and wish everyone a happy, prosperous and safe 2012.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM BSAC 406
After a patchy record of late, it was good to get back in the water again albeit with a few problems along the way. Thursday night was Janette and Ken’s barbecue at their place in Ras Al Khaimah and very good it was too. We all had a few “beverages”, in some cases a few more than sensible but we all made it up on Friday morning ready to go diving. Not before an excellent breakfast was served, however.
We launched from Al Hamra Marina which is just round the corner from Janette and Ken’s place and the target was the Rig Supply Vessel, 10km offshore. I can’t remember ever diving it before so this was new territory. The vessel was a deliberate sinking as a reef for the fishermen so there little prospect of lots of brass portholes but you never know.
Anchored on the wreck Mike spotted a turtle on the surface apparently coming up for air. It didn’t seem to want go back down which turned out to be because the “turtle” was actually a piece of industrial footwear floating on the surface. Better luck under water maybe! Unfortunately the viz turned out to be seriously bad – of the order of 0.5m – 1m. We groped around the wreck for 40 minutes or so but apart from five or six batfish in the bridge area there was not much to see.
At this point Ken and Carolyn were preparing for their dive. Carolyn remarked that the strong current had dropped to nothing – we were obviously on slack water. It was only when they were over the side that the reason for the sudden slack water became obvious – the anchor line had disappeared and we were no longer connected to anything. “Who tied off?” Richard sheepishly raised his hand. Richard, you should understand is former Royal Navy. “Bet you never did that with your submarine!”. Richard duly received a 10 dirham fine. It might have been a bit more if he’d lost HMS Vanguard I would think.
Janette volunteered to retrieve the lost anchor and we found the wreck again and threw the spare anchor down this time attached to a buoy. Unfortunately, without anyone noticing the buoy became fouled in the boat engines causing the anchor to drag. At the second time of asking the operation was successful and we headed back to shore.
At this point I would like you to consider the “banana theory”. According to Carolyn, it’s unlucky to have bananas on a dive boat, this theory apparently having its origins in a particularly troublesome day of diving some years ago. As an engineer I have trouble believing that the chances of a problem free day out are in any way influenced by the presence of a curved and yellow fruit. However, if there is any truth in it, I am happy to blame our problems on Sami and Marc who were seen consuming the offending edible object.
While this was going on, Joff, Nick and Val, Peter Blanchflower and a couple of other former divers now returning to the fold were doing a dive of their own up in the Musandam. According to Nick they were looking for another stone anchor using a metal detector although I might have misheard this.
Sami has completed 50 dives with the club and would like to celebrate tomorrow night by sharing a small glass of the fizzy stuff. I’m sure we can help him.
Next Friday, Janette is organizing a dhow trip to the Musandam. Cost is Dhs 300 including some food. Contact her or me.
Ian Hussey and Dive Member Contributions.