While I’m still gallivanting around the sub-arctic UK, diving goes on in the warmer temperatures of Sharjah. Mike Anthony reports:
Quick report. Crew was Dearbhla, myself and the same named Andres, father and son. All the rest cried off. So whilst the troops charged tanks I fitted the batteries and checked over the motors. Both started so things looked hopeful. We left for Hamriyah with my truck towing. Launched, port engine a bit reluctant to start and keep running. Technique discovered by Andre senior was to run the boat with the starboard engine. Start the port engine, then put it into gear. (I am here talking about SP125).
Got to the Dara, no problems, ran out on a flat sea at 51kph. Threw in the hook although the echo sounder screen has really had it. It is working but is very difficult to read. As the Andres had not dived the Dara before I went first to find where the anchor was. Took young D down with me. Anchor was in the sand but only about 10m away from the wreck on the starboard side almost at the stern. Laid a line to the wreck. Took D round the stern over the rudder into the cathedral. Viz outside was barely 1m and inside not much more than 3m. Emerged out of the cathedral and encountered two new nets (amazing how the word has not spread amongst the fishermen).
Started cutting. Was a reasonable current and I was a bit worried about D being in the wrong place. Also no knife or scissors. So I gave her my knife. But she still in the wrong place relative to the net. Scissored my way right through a net ascending as I did so. Cut it off. Descended again. Shit! No D. Searched imagining her caught in a net and panicking. Could not find her as viz so bad. Surfaced and saw only the Andres in the boat and it about 100m away. Saw bubbles. Big relief, she is still breathing. Followed the bubbles and found her hanging on a net at 6m. Surfaced in good order but she very shaken. Apparently she had become caught in a net. Panicked, even screamed. Said afterwards she could see me but could not get to me. (I was obviously not seeing her although I could hear her breathing) Anyway she calmed down and cut herself out with my knife - bet she does not leave her knife behind next time! she came up with 50 bar!
The Andres went down. They turned right at the reel attachment point and also became entangled in a net. Son cut father out - he is the one with the commercial ticket. But that they enjoyed it. Apparently the viz in SA is even worse, they said.
Usual fish, but right at the start as I was swimming away from the anchor with the reel in my hand I almost had a collision with a grey coloured cowtail ray about 800mm diameter. It just missed me.
After this decided to hit Cathy's Barge as I knew that was simple, upright and hopefully no nets. 8 kms later we were there and the hook as it turned out, was in the sand 15m away from the stern. But I found the wreck easily and tied off the line. D and I did a 20+ minute dive and a 3minute stop. It is 24m to the bottom. She surfaced with 60 bar so I had timed it about right (I had 120) Barge is upright, 2 decks at rear, open hold and a vestigial mast just forrard of the hold. No engines or props. The Andres dived and said they enjoyed it. Back to the Wanderers for a couple of beers. D none the worse for her experience.
I think the lesson here is Keep Your Eyes On Your Buddy!