It turned into an interesting day last Friday. We had 13 divers out which meant that both boats had to be launched. With five different nations represented there was an international flavour to the trip that we once took for granted and which we have always valued. May it continue! To begin with though, we had a more pressing problem than uniting the human race, namely the fact that a mooring rope had wrapped itself around one of the props of SP312 while we were reversing away from the quay.
Janette manfully (womanfully?) volunteered to free the prop without getting wet and was soon wedged between the engines, perched precariously at right angles over the water pulling at the rope. It was only after the rope had been successfully removed that she realised that getting back in the boat would not be so easy. The gap between the engines was – if I may use London slang – rather smaller than her Khyber Pass. (No offence – anyone’s would have been!). To cut a long story short, with a bit of assistance she managed to haul herself upright and back on board but not before Peter had captured the glorious moment for posterity. I look forward to seeing the video on Tuesday with great interest.
The destination was the Victoria Star and the trip out was reasonably smooth although with a bit of a swell and we anchored the wreck at the second time of asking. A commercial dive boat joined us shortly afterwards and we were soon three boats in a line. It soon became apparent that the viz was below average to put it charitably. In fact it was like pea soup down there but we still managed a couple of good dives apiece. There were a couple of groupers and a family of batfish visible through the murk although the barracudas from a few weeks ago seem to have moved on. Having said that they could have been out of sight a couple of metres away and we wouldn’t have noticed.
It was better inside the wreck – with the internal partitions collapsing there are some good swim-throughs although care must still be taken. All the sediment floating in the water didn’t seem to have seeped inside and the viz seemed clearer than outside.
After that it was back to the club for a few refreshments. A good day all round – many thanks go to Geoff for doing the marshalling. A couple of group photos are attached. Same to you Davidson!
A warm welcome to Andrea and Catherine who were making their first dives with us. Many more to follow we hope.
Rob Gill has regrettably left the UAE but he sent the following report from Aqaba in Jordan:
“When eventually leaving the UAE to return to the UK permanently, there’s a long list of things that need to be sorted: Cars need to be sold, junk disposed of, plants given away, dive kit sold (who wants to dive in the UK anyway?), shippers organised, bank accounts closed, visa cancelled, landlord deposit returned……….. The list goes on and ought also to include “if visiting Jordan for a short holiday en-route to the UK, remember not to let the shippers pack your diving qualifications as you may wish to sample the underwater delights of the Red Sea”.
Hmmmmmmm. Yeah, you can guess the next bit. We rocked up in Aqaba where Toby’s PADI Junior Open Water qualification allowing him to dive to a maximum depth of 18 metres was immediately recognised and welcomed by our hotel’s dive outfit. I, on the other hand was told that as I didn’t have any qualifications with me, I would have to do a ‘Discover Scuba’ dive to check me out with a properly qualified ‘Dive Master’ and even then I’d be limited to shore diving to a maximum depth of 12 metres on the house reef. Yeah great.
One quick call to Extra Divers however (yep, the same guys that have operations in Khasab and Muscat) who have an operation Aqaba’s South Beach and it was agreed that if I could get an email from BCAS 406 telling them that I am indeed qualified to dive, all would be fine. One e-mail to Mr Hussey and a couple of phone calls via the Silver Fox to get his number to make sure he checked his personal e-mail and all was sorted. Thanks buddies.
Well, all was kind of sorted…… Toby decided to answer ‘Yes’ to the Extra Diver’s medical questionnaire saying that he’s suffered from Asthma in the past. This meant that we needed to take a taxi ride (an adventure in itself) to Aqaba’s brand new military hospital to sort out a medical certificate. Here we were met with staff who couldn’t be more helpful and personal service from an NCO who took us from one department to the next to ensure everything was sorted. I’d like to think that the service provided by the NHS for a Jordanian visiting the UK would be just as efficient.
Anyway, back to the diving: Our first dive was on the Extra Divers house reef. Frogfish, lion fish, nudibrancs. Lots of coral and a fair sized turtle. The water may have only been a chilly 24degC (been diving in the Gulf too long) and the coral may not have been up to Damaniyats standards but with 20m visibility and only a 50m walk from the dive office, we couldn’t complain.
On the basis of this, we decided to sign up to the afternoon boat dive on the local wreck, the ‘Cedar Pride’. This is a 100m long cargo ship which was deliberately sunk in the 1980s on the orders of King Hussain as he and his family liked diving and wanted to offer other divers something more than endless coral reefs. The result is a FANTASTIC wreck in 25 metres with 30 metres of visibility. Could it get much better? Well yes it could actually. Rather than being a stripped bare hull, The Cedar Pride was sunk with all the interesting bits left on it. Windlasses, windows, masts and doors all covered with just the right amount of growth to make a really pleasant dive. A couple of King fish minding their own business within sight of the anchor line just topped it all off.
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.