Last Friday we headed for the Zainab for the first time in a while. This meant launching from Dubai which caused a bit of confusion since the usual slip, Umm Suqeim 2, is currently closed for refurbishment of the harbour. “Launch from DOSC” was the word and taking this at face value PJ and I headed there with the boat, discovering too late that “DOSC” is actually code for Umm Suqeim 1. At least Peter got some practice manoeuvring the trailer! Meanwhile Janette and Ken had gone to Umm Seq 2 thinking it was Umm Seq 1 (or maybe DOSC) and reported that this slip was closed too. Funny that.
Anyway we all got to the right place in the end and headed out on a sea that was pretty well flat calm. There’s currently a line fixed to the wreck which saves any problem of anchoring so we were pretty swiftly in the water. The Zainab went down in April 2001 whilst smuggling Iraqi oil into the UAE. We were among the first people to dive the wreck after it sank and although there was a lot of brass on the ship there was also a lot of oil floating around making it a messy dive in those days. The vessel currently lies on its port side in around 28m of water. The bridge section is easily accessible although the panelling has long since collapsed and the engine room is also worth a look although care is needed to avoid stirring up the silt. At the bow end, one of the compartments can now be entered although there’s not much inside to look at.
The fish life seemed a bit sparse possibly due to the water temperature although there were some batfish swimming around the buoy line and there were some bannerfish swimming around. The viz was reasonable rather than spectacular but it still good diving. We decided to do a second dive on the Zainab rather than move off elsewhere after which the journey back was a bit slow due to the sea state having picked up a bit. It was a good day’s diving all round and very nice to have a full boat again – 9 divers total.
There was a strange episode as we approached the harbour. A speed boat with 5 or 6 people on board came belting up to us asking us if we had an 11-year old girl on board – apparently they’d mislaid one. Their attitude seemed a bit odd not least their reluctance to notify the coastguard – we did this for them on the way in and we soon saw some police rescue boats revving up and heading out to sea. How this story finished up we’ve no idea – one can only hope it ended happily.
The trip back to Sharjah was not without incident. Only a couple of km down the road the Discovery’s engine started making funny noises and the oil light came on. The upshot was that I had to go back to the club, pick up my own car and drive back to Umm Seq to pick up the boat. The post dive refreshments were thus a bit delayed but very welcome indeed when we finally got them.
Congratulations to Derek Brown who completed his first post-training dives with us and did very well.
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.