It was day of mixed feelings on Friday. It least we got a dive away – in fact the sea was so calm we didn’t stop at the Taha but carried on to Wreck X which is another 18km out in the same direction. Like a couple of weeks ago, the surface viz was very clear – the Burj Khalifa was visible from 45km offshore and the shorter buildings on the Dubai and Sharjah skylines could be seen from not much less.
Mike and Geoff were first in the water and Geoff performed a backward roll entry that will surely pass down into 406 legend. His reel was clipped on to his BCD and became caught on the side of the boat as he went over the side. He found himself hanging from the boat, vertical but upside down, fins waving in the air and unable to move in any direction. It took two of us to haul him back on board for a second attempt (once we’d stopped laughing).
After this though, the fun stopped. The surface viz might have been 45km but the viz under water was that many centimetres. Not only that, but the anchor had missed the wreck which couldn’t be found despite a circular search. It can’t have been far away but in the dark and dingy murk you didn’t have to miss it by much and at 35m there was not much time to hang around finding it. We decided that Wreck X would wait for better conditions and headed back to the Taha which unfortunately was even more disappointing.
A short geology lesson may be needed here: the floor of the Gulf consists of sand on top of a thin (70 – 80cm) layer of cap rock. Below this is a variable layer of white nasty goo which is mostly silt but is usually known by a similar four letter word familiar to most of us. Below this is a hard layer of sandstone. What can happen to a wreck in stormy conditions is that it starts moving, punches through the cap rock, sinks through the silt (which has a bearing capacity of nil) and ends up sitting on the sandstone, a lot deeper than it used to be.
This happened to the Mariam Express four years ago, and now to the Taha. Much of what was visible has now been swallowed by the seabed. Exactly what it now looks like is difficult to say as the viz was even worse than Wreck X. We groped our way from stern to bow and back but there wasn’t much incentive to stick around too long down there. The sea was now mirror flat so we made good time back to Al Khan and thence back to the club and the dive table.
Former club members continue to emerge from the shadows. This whole thing was started by Barry Thomas who was a member in the Ajman days and plans to visit us on 19 February when passing though on the way to Australia. Since then John Lewis, Gavin Halling, Mark Hampson and Stuart Shaw have all been in contact with us (and with each other). Who needs Friends Reunited anyway? Stuart wrote the following:
From an old member circa 73/76.
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.