It will surprise few of you to learn that we went back to the Victoria Star at the weekend. It’s not often you get to dive a wreck this new and we know from past experience that they don’t stay new for very long. Before leaving port we had a slight hurdle to overcome – Rob had left his ID card behind. There ensued a long discussion with the coastguard. We got around the problem in the end but be warned – ID’s (or passports) are needed to leave from Sharjah ports.
We had Saad back with us for the first time in a while and it was good to see him. He dived with us a couple of years ago but since then has been mostly diving with DSDC. Their buddy checks are clearly more particular than ours; after Saad had given Geoff a long and detailed description of his kit Geoff, tooled up for a thorough exploration of the wreck, turned to him and said: “I’ve got lots of shit”. Quite. This turned out to be prophetic but more of that later.
It was interesting to see what is happening to the wreck in a short time. Marine growth is already getting a grip and the ship was noticeably more encrusted than it had been last weekend. The name “Victoria Star” was less obvious on the stern and seems to have disappeared from the bow. The concrete blocks in the hold are becoming home to some fish and I can imagine this becoming a very attractive reef before too long. The viz was average rather than brilliant and I suspect this will never change that much being so close to the Palm dredging.
Not to worry – it was another excellent dive. Rob was so excited said: “It’s like a sweet shop – I saw one radar then I saw an even better one”. Actually these weren’t his exact words but discretion prevails. Mike A and Brian Lugg had a less salubrious experience working their way down a couple of levels to find the engine room. They got there but found that an effluent tank had been damaged in the sinking and they were swimming among a lot of floating turds ("turd in the hold"?). There followed a swift exit but at least they had a record of the crew’s last movements.
It seems almost an afterthought to mention the dolphins and the cormorant that came visiting during the surface interval. Neither came very close possibly because of the diesel on the surface. This is the less pleasant aspects of diving a new wreck. Although not on the scale of the Zainab which went down carrying Iraqi crude, it’s not nice floating around in a film of oil. On the way down get below the surface quickly and keep your reg in your mouth until the last moment on the way up. Cathy took this to the extreme and forgot to take it out even as her gear was being pulled out of the water nearly losing her front teeth in the process.
Back at the club the boat needed a lot of scrubbing to get rid of the oil but this was a small price to pay! So oils well that ends well!