After last week’s adventures in foreign parts we were back in more familiar territory at the weekend – a trip to the Dara. This was largely dictated by the fact that we had 17 (count ‘em) divers sign up for the trip and the only feasible way of doing this is to make it a beach dive from Hamriyah. In fact a few drop-outs reduced the numbers to the point where we could all fit on two boats but unfortunately the change of plan didn’t reach everyone leading to all round confusion at the start. Apologies to those inconvenienced.
For the day we welcomed three members of Kuwait Mantas Dive Club (BSAC 1045) who were over here for the long weekend. Mike, Sharon and Line all enjoyed themselves – there’s nothing quite like the Dara in Kuwait so it was something of a change for them. We hope to see them again.
The trip out was made on a reasonably flat sea but having got to the wreck we found we had company. Not only was there a dive boat on station but a coast guard vessel was prowling around. After a quick discussion it turned out that the divers were suspected of spear-fishing. Sure enough, eventually a diver surfaced and was strangely reluctant to get back into his boat. He couldn’t float there forever and when it became clear the coast guard wasn’t going away he climbed back on board having first handed up the offending weapon. I think that’s what you call “bang to rights”.
The miscreants were soon returning to port “under escort” and with the place to ourselves SP312 hooked into the wreck at the first time of asking and SP125 tied on behind. It’s now officially overalls weather and the wetsuits can be retired for the summer unless you seriously feel the cold. That said there were some strange thermoclines down there with the water temperature varying a lot in different parts of the wreck.
The viz wasn’t wonderful but neither was it that bad and the fishing nets that still cover the wreck could be easily seen and avoided. There was a bit of a current – not huge but noticeable at the stern. There were some barracuda circling the anchor line on the way down and the usual multitude of other fish. Having been down so long, the vessel is growing some hard and soft corals more usually seen on the east coast and just forward of the promenade deck there is a small anemone with a very small clownfish in residence.
For the second dive we decided to stay put. Our visitors were happy to do the Dara again and the nearby Tek is not particularly exciting. Also during the morning the sea state had got up so moving further away was not appealing particularly for those in the small boat, SP125. The second dive was enjoyable anyway with a leisurely swim along the length of the vessel including a couple of trips through the cathedral. Towards the end a small leopard ray was seen although it was a bit shy and didn’t hang around once spotted. Mike A and Chris did their bit for the environment (and divers) by cutting some nets off the wreck but to remove the lot would be a major undertaking.
The trip back was a bit lumpy to say the least but it’s not a long journey and we were soon out of the water heading back to the club. In view of the numbers we got hold of a barman and got the Dive Bar open which was better than sitting outside as the temperature now seems to have cranked up for the summer.
The following day, Janette organised a trip over to the east coast with Freestyle Divers for a couple of dives including a night dive. Andy, Derek, Polly and Peter made the trip – Derek's' photos on the Dara and Dibba Rock below look pretty good to me.