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!