I hope you all had a good Christmas! I had a message from Peter who was in Lübeck and met up with former member, Uwe Oldenburg, no doubt for a glass or two somewhere along the way. A photo is attached – it looks cold out there! I thought of Uwe on the 26th December when me and Cath went for a post Christmas drink at Jim Darbyshire’s place in Satwa. It was Jim who inherited the solid teak bar that used to be at Uwe’s place in Sharjah. Seeing it brought back a few memories. The matching table is now outside the Dive Bar at the club.
As is usual for the last email of the year, there follows a few words on the highlights and lowlights:
I haven’t attempted to compile a set of statistics this time around but we remain active with divers in the water a lot more weekends than not. Much of the activity centred on the old favourite, the Dara, and the new favourite, the Victoria Star. The Vic Star was the most visited by some distance. Not only is it relatively new, with nooks and crannies still to be explored but it (very considerately) went down only a 20 minute ride out of Al Khan. Apart from this, the Neptune, Jumbo, Ajman Glory, Karen’s Dhow and a few others wrecks got some visits as well as a few trips to the east coast including a mountain camp-out in April.
Worth mentioning was a very good trip up to Khasab in June which Geoff organised. The Atana Hotel (formerly Golden Tulip) is a nice place to stay and the diving was well up to standard although the current on the second dive was pretty fierce. I call it character building.
For the Eid trip this year we went to Muscat to dive the Damaniyats. In the spirit of the season we’ll draw a veil over the hotel accommodation and its manifold deficiencies and instead remember the diving which was spectacular. Large morays, stingrays, turtles, cuttlefish and squid, a couple of whale sharks on the surface and best of all a leopard shark which let us approach to within a metre without swimming away. Diving doesn’t get much better.
In June we had a visit from some members of Kuwait Mantas SAC. Our Chairman Mike Dalton is an alumnus so it was good for him to meet some old friends. The dive itself was not particularly memorable – we went to the Victoria Star but neither the sea state nor the visibility co-operated. Still, the Mantas seemed to enjoy it having nothing similar on their doorstep and we had a good chat over a few glasses at the club afterwards. It was a good day.
The committee has changed slightly. Brendan has stepped down due to family commitments and also Derek who has moved to Iraq. Thanks to them both for past efforts. Brian Larkin has taken over as Equipment Officer and Richard James has become Social Secretary, a role that we have expanded slightly to include social media. We now have not one but two Facebook pages, one individual, one a group, both with a respectable number of friends.
Richard organised one of the most memorable Tuesday nights that we’ve had for a while, Trafalgar night on 21st October. This started off with a try-dive for which we got a few takers followed by some “unter Wasser trinken” which is an occasional activity at the club and for which we are indebted to Uwe (qv), the original instructor. After that Richard (an ex-Royal Navy submariner) gave us a short description of the battle and its context. This was followed by some presentations of awards, a short humorous sketch from PJ and Geoff and some toasts in the best Navy tradition. Richard also presented to the club a framed picture of the Souffleur, a French submarine that we have dived in Beirut on the last two Eid trips.
As with every year the club does not run itself and grateful thanks are due to:
Mike Anthony for continued contributions over and above the call of duty on both the boats and the Land Rover. He’s had some assistance this year from Brian Lugg – thanks also.
Joff Cottam who has organised a new trailer for us to replace the old rusting heap and which should keep us going for a good few years.
Janette Elphinstone on whom the brunt of the training falls.
Geoff Patch who has organised a couple of our east coast expeditions including an excellent Musandam trip in June.
Mike Dalton who continues to chair the club with aplomb.
Cathy Terry who keeps us up to date with memberships and who also manages one of the Facebook pages.
Richard James who manages the other one and whose Trafalgar night was so memorable.
Brian Larkin who looks after the equipment so efficiently.
Peter Jackson who looks after our money and keeps us on the financial straight and narrow, and keeps this website up to date (and also for a memorable wedding in August in Lübeck).
To all those who have supported the diving we do and those who join us on a Tuesday night we thank you very much.
Thanks also to the main Club and Committee of Sharjah Wanderers for the help and support they continue to give us.
Sadly, we mourn the passing this year of Forrester De Sa whose eccentric personality greatly enlivened the club until he moved to Australia a couple of years ago. I can’t improve on Geoff’s words:
The club is a collection of eccentrics and Forrester was no exception. Generally late, unprepared and forgetful, a trip out with Forrester was never dull. There are so many tales to tell of his exploits, like the time we went for a road trip to Musandam (a northern enclave of Oman) and he forgot his passport. It was lucky we had Sami, a Lebanese guy, in our group who wrote the customs official a 'sick note' on behalf of Forrester and managed to get him across an international border and back without a passport. Or the time he was driving the dive boat to a dive spot and rather than use the traditional method of dropping anchor drove straight over some fishing pot lines, snagging the props and simply stating 'we're here'! Another classic Forrester moment was when he forgot his wetsuit on a dive trip but rather than miss a dive entered the water in just a pair of Y-fronts! Forrester could be a bit rough around the edges but was a genuine people person.
This should not end on a downbeat note nor would Forrester want that so I should say that the Dive Bar is open for business Tuesday night as normal for those who are around. And not forgetting…
BSAC 406 would like to wish its members, past members and friends a very happy and prosperous 2015.
Safe diving next year!
A picture of our brand new trailer for SP 312. It’s basically a clone of the old one but with the crucial difference that it’s galvanised and painted rather than held together by rust. It should keep us going for a lot of years provided we take care of it. Once again massive thanks to Joff for getting the job done.
It would have been nice to report the first dive with the new trailer on Friday but although one was posted (Ajman Glory), in the end too many people were away / travelling / moving loved ones to airports / ill etc etc and we had to call off. The holiday season will disrupt things as it usually does but we’ll try and get something away over the period.
Some news of former members:
Malcolm Parker, presumably in the throes of moving, uncovered a piece of diving equipment that was popular in the days before running water and electricity (well not quite but before Facebook and Twitter). The photo is attached. Malcolm’s comment: Just look at this - the air line feed is broken, it's only 35 years old they don't make them to last do they.
We also had a message from John Lewis:
Just a quick note to wish you and all of 406 a merry Christmas and to let you know how much I enjoy the newsletters and seeing the photos.
Its a slightly different lifestyle here in Alaska but I have very fond memories of the Club from the mid seventies when it was on the Beach in Ajman and then at the old airport.
I met my wife Vicki there in 1977 and we are still happily married.
All the best to you and the Club.
Many of you will have seen the “Trucial States Sub-Aqua Club” plaque that is hanging in the Dive Bar (see attached for those that haven’t). It was John who retrieved the plaque from the wreckage of the original club in Ajman and was kind enough to send it to us from his home in Alaska. I don’t know how much diving he does these days but I’m guessing that Alaskan waters in December need more than a set of overalls for maximum comfort if such a thing is even possible. Happy Christmas John!
And on that note, BSAC 406 would like to wish all its friends and members (past and present) a very happy Christmas
Last Tuesday night coincided with the UAE National Day and possibly for that reason attendance at the club was a bit sparse. With that and SP312 still out of commission, there was nothing posted for Friday which doesn’t often happen. It may have been a moot point anyway as the winds seemed pretty strong during the day and I suspect sea conditions would have been less than ideal.
Many thanks to those who sent me stories and / or photos regarding Forrester. I’ve passed everything on and will continue to do so. I’ve had an email from his daughter, Holly, which I copy below:
Thank you for your email regarding my dad your stories are very fitting and sound very much like my dad the one from years back.
It is an extremely sad time for all of us here as im sure it has been for other people all over the world he has had the pleasure of meeting and being part of his ever hectic and eccentric lifestyle lol.
He always did love the water and that rubbed off onto me and now onto my little boy so his legacy will always remain which is nice to think.
He was a very good man and its such a shame hes had to leave this world at such a young age however its not been in vain as his stories will live on in many people from all different backgrounds and cultures. I must admit i like the story about the omani's calling him the white warrior or whatever it was he'd of loved that very much always did think of himself as a warrior and he didnt let himself down right even until the very end which was heartbreaking.
I appreciate all of the pics you have managed to send val and forward onto myself we are going to use one of them to put on his coffin as I, no he, would have wanted that.
They always say they leave the best til last and im sure his last adventure is the one he has waited for.
Thank you and please dont forget him and his wild stories. kind regards
Again no boat out at the weekend as a few of us regulars were at DSDC helping them with their champagne problem. There was a great deal less of it at the club by the time we had finished. Unfortunately this meant we missed diving with Chris De Klerk who was in the country for the first time since he left last year. Next time hopefully.
The week wasn’t devoid of underwater activity. Geoff sent this report:
Seven years ago Mr. Hamad Alzaabi of Al Jazeera Diving & Swimming Center embarked on a mission to create his own artificial reef just a few kilometres outside Port Hamra, RAK. The reef consists of numerous hollow pyramid shaped concrete blocks (~1m in height), of Mr. Alzaabi’s own design, which have been deposited progressively to create a structure almost 150m in length.
Approximately 30 of these blocks have been sponsored by Petrofac as part of their environmental commitment and I joined Mr. Alzaabi this week to see some of these blocks being installed, including a dive on the reef itself. Six blocks with buoyancy aids to assist with installation were loaded onto a typical coastal fishing boat and ferried out to the site.
After tipping the blocks into the water near the head of the reef we entered the water ourselves and watched Mr. Alzaabi and his co-worker manouvre the blocks into position. We then took a tour of the reef and although the visibility was poor (2-3m at best) it was evident that the reef was home to numerous varieties of fish and corals including sponge and reed type. I saw several nudibranchs and was lucky enough to see a turtle as well. The reef lies in about 9-10m of water and is easily accessible from Port Hamra.
Al Jazeera Diving & Swimming Center
Tel. 07 244 5331
Ian Hussey and guest writers.