A couple of weeks ago, the first weekend after the Eid, we headed out to the Neptune and Jumbo. The sea was a bit lively on the way out, though nothing too serious, but we persevered and got there without too much trouble. Having wrapped the anchor around one of the fenders we set off on a round tour. The Neptune is an upturned barge that got into trouble after a collision. Part of the hull is now collapsing but there are still routes inside and through the wreck. Taking the anti-clockwise direction, the first part of the dive was mainly upturned hull and little else but the other side was a little aquarium, with the fish dense enough in places to obscure the wreck. The viz was also much better than we’ve come to expect it over this summer.
For dive 2, we made the short journey to the Jumbo, a cargo ship that went down in unknown circumstances. Again the viz was good (although it deteriorated a bit later on as the current picked up) and the fish were plentiful. There are a couple of unthreatening swim-throughs towards the bow end and the stern section is still upright with a nice prop to look at. The central cargo section is mainly collapsed.
The sea was pretty calm on the way back so we made good time back to the club. We welcomed back Dearbhla who brought her friend Fiochra for his first dive with us which he enjoyed. (Spellings from memory – apologies for mistakes). It was not such a good day for PJ who in turn lost his weightbelt, parted company with his breakfast and carried out an unscheduled disassembly of his regulator. Some fines duly followed.
Last weekend we went first to Karen’s Dhow, then on to Victoria Star. The viz on both was good, if perhaps a bit down on the previous weekend, and the dives were enjoyable. Naturally, we came up from Karen’s Dhow with a bit of glassware to take home. On The Vic Star, there was a dive boat already there – an operation from Dubai Marina who had heard of us via our Facebook pages. Thanks to Cathy and Richard who maintain them. PJ reports on his weekend diving:
While BSAC 406 was out foraging, Connie and I had taken friends from Lübeck to Khasab to enjoy the fjords and see dolphins. This gave me an opportunity for a day’s diving with Extra Divers. Kurt and Sandra was as welcoming as they were last year when we went up as a club, and I gave them a copy of the club video of that weekend. Our two dive sites were Musandam Island and Abu Rashid. Both were hour long drift dives, max depth about 20m. Very relaxing, good viz, great corals on the first dive and attractive soft corals at the beginning of the second, which otherwise was rather more rocky. All the usual reef fish, but not in profusion and nothing very special, which made me realise how spoilt we had been at the Damaniyat Islands. I did find a couple of species I had not recognised before. Two long relaxing dives with Egyptian buddy Ahmed Salem. In the meantime Connie and friends saw dolphins, and snorkeled among shoals of angel fish, fusiliers and sergeant majors, so a very good day was had by all.
And so to Tuesday night – two days ago as I write. We’ve been talking for some time about try-dives and social events and Richard decided to combine the two, taking as his theme Trafalgar Day, as Tuesday October 21st was the 209th anniversary of the battle. Richard, it should be noted, is a former Royal Navy submariner so these events have more than average significance to him. Richard turned up dressed as Admiral Nelson (some imagination required) and there were a few nautical caps and hats for the rest of us to pose around the club in.
The event was carefully planned, first up being the try-dive. We had seven or eight takers for this and while it’s impossible to say how many will move on and become divers, it was good fun for all concerned. Janette did the lion’s share of the instructing but Geoff and I pitched in as well. Peter took Connie on her first underwater trip – presumably he didn’t trust anyone else with his new wife!
After the barbecue laid on by Sharjah Wanderers, came an activity in which our club specialises namely “unter Wasser trinken”. This a skill first taught to us by Uwe Oldenburg but which is rarely taught by the mainstream training agencies. It involves taking a bottle of beer (plastic of course) to the deep end and drinking it without consuming too much pool water at the same time. This can be a bit tricky particularly if like Mike Dalton, you don’t realise that one end of the bottle has a hole in it. This tends to dilute the beer a bit. Peter bought some whisky for those qualified for advanced drink diving. All good fun for divers and spectators alike.
At the end of all this came the presentations. Firstly, Richard gave us some interesting background on the battle of Trafalgar and what led up to it. If he ever gets fed up running Mina Khalid, he could make a living on the lecture circuit! After this Peter and Geoff combined to give a humorous sketch on what Nelson would have made of a Navy encumbered by H&S regulations and political correctness. One wonders how close to the mark it was.
At this point Richard made a presentation to the club – a framed picture of the Souffleur. This is a Vichy French submarine torpedoed by the British in 1941 and went down with the loss of 53 lives just offshore from Beirut. Disowned by the French, the British and the Germans alike, there has never been any real memorial to her. For Richard’s moving account of his dive on the wreck see our website “Dive Log” for October 2012. For my own dive on the wreck a year later go to October 2013.
Further presentations followed to Katharina and Davidson for both Open Water Diver and Unter Wasser Trinken. Mike Dalton also received his UWT certificate, his intake of pool water overlooked in the spirit of the occasion. Congratulations to everyone.
To finish the toasts, raised in the Royal Navy tradition, for which SWSC had generously donated a couple of bottles of port. The loyal toast (to the Queen) was omitted on the grounds that we’re not all British and haven’t been for some time. The second toast was originally “wives and sweethearts”. This has now extended to “families” and seems to cover absent friends of significance.
At which point I must introduce a note of sadness. Some of you will remember Forrester who dived with us regularly until two years ago when he moved to Australia. On Monday I received this email from his partner, Valerie:
Hi Ian..thanks for replying.
I am emailing re fForrester, who could forget Forrester!
Well Forrester is in a bad way. He has terminal brain cancer and only a short time to live. Im not sure if u remember but he came to oz, but it didn't work out. In march he returned to England and soon after was diagnosed with brain tumours..im just passing this on. He has fond memories of Sharjah Wanderers and talked about it a lot. He still gets your emails about diving trips.so when u guys meet up in the dive bar have a drink for forrester. He doesn't have long....his memory is going, cant walk and he is in respite care in Hull. God bless him.
Cheers Ian and say hello to the gang for me."
Glasses were raised then to Forrester, himself an ex-Navy man. I hope he gets to read this. Valerie is right that no-one could forget him!
The final toast was to the “immortal memory” of Admiral Nelson and by tradition it is drunk in silence.
It was an excellent evening and many thanks to Richard who did the organisation, to the Wanderers for their support, to the try-dive instructors and to all those who came along. In amongst all of this we did manage to get a dive posted for Friday but we don’t yet know where we’re going!
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.