Being still in the UK, I missed out on Friday’s events but there’s always a budding Tolstoy to fill the void – in this case Rob Gill who tells the story:
"Compared to recent dives the turnout on Friday morning was somewhat depleted. Nevertheless, the magnificent seven arrived on time at the club on Friday morning for a 7.30 start. Geoff was our dive marshall for the day with his motley crew made up of Brian, Derek, Peter, Andy, Rob and Yuri.
(Absent was Mike Anthony who could not dive as he was due to be flying out on Saturday. I don’t know whether or not he went to the airport but his actual flight turned out to be on Sunday.)
Launching from Al Khan gave us an easy 15 minute trip out to the Victoria Star where we met up with the DSDC boat already tied up to the mooring line that has floated up from the bow of the wreck. This is an especially interesting route onto the wreck as it takes the diver past a leaking fuel tank and the streams of diesel bubbles emanating from it.
The first wave consisted of tooled up wreckie techies Geoff and Brian who headed straight for the engine room followed closely by Rob and Derek who’s dive plan had been carefully worked out the previous day. This involved the recovery of some important marine archeological artifacts seen on a previous dive attached to ceiling of the walkway on the starboard side of the accommodation deck.
Everything was going to plan with one artefact liberated and good progress being made on the other when the entire wreck was suddenly shaken by a loud bang followed by the unmistakable sound of escaping air and an entire ship’s worth of silt being blown into the surrounding water. Outside of the wreck visibility was reduced to less than a meter so heaven knows what it was like inside. Unknown to the those divers out for a pleasant bimble on a new wreck or engaged in the recovery and preservation of important historical objects, the wreckie techies had been playing in the engine room and had pulled the wrong bit of rope. This had then immediately opened a the valves on a bank of emergency air cylinders so releasing their contents into the entire ship. Oh such fun.
Brian adds in his own defence:
“Geoff and I swam into the room with the oil bottles and the big emergency breathing air bank. After studying the plumbing I figured out that the tank valves are all daisy chained to a single pull cord. For a moment I was tempted not to pull the pull cord, but "quoting Rob" like a child in a sweet shop I just had to pull it... Boom!!!!!!! The air bank off gassed instantaneously! The plumbing was connected to the bridges ventilation system. Derek and Rob were unfortunate enough to be inside the wreck at this time. (Rob has some good descriptions to add here).”
Before the second wave, PJ asked what was obviously a rhetorical question: ‘Should I take my camera?’ Well of course you should Peter. That’s what you do! Camera in hand Peter, Andy and Black Ops Yuri disappeared beneath the waves to reappear 50 minutes later with two “solid silver” chrome platters that had been liberated from the galley.
One feeding of the fish due to the nauseous fumes emanating from the diesel coated surface of the sea later and the team were just about ready for a second dive. Brian and Geoff emerged with two whole bags of artifacts while Rob and Derek used a lifting bag to raise more important finds.
One object raised by Geoff deserves particular mention. This was the IMO number for the ship and was truly an object from the end of the "hand crafted" period in maritime history. It clearly predated the more modern and uniform designs that are now churned out in their thousands by CAD and millimetre precise machinery and exuded an artisanal quality that is impossible to find on newer ships. This should be displayed proudly in a place of prominence. “A thing of beauty”, as they say, “is a joy forever”.
With Peter sitting a second dive out, Andy and Yuri performed a fully comprehensive buddy check followed by a couple of perfect backward roll entries. Yuri in particular managed to enter the water in a wonderfully streamlined fashion unencumbered by the inconvenience of fins.
All was well on the boat with the sun shining. The sea a beautiful azure blue and a wonderful clear sky. All was right with the world with ships sedately going about their business out on the on the horizon or lying at anchor. Just as our friends on the DSDC boat were just recovering a couple of divers, one particular ship however was also spotted heading straight towards us at a range of mile or so. It didn’t take long for this to become a ship heading straight towards us at a range of half a mile as it loomed ever larger in our field of view.
“Has it turned?”,
“Nope it hasn’t”.
With a an extremely ugly 10,000 tonne ship bearing down on us, DSDC recovering divers and Yuri and Andy still in the water, the BSAC 406 boat bravely cast off and went forward to fend off impending disaster. Cursing a lack of white flares to fire towards its bridge the plucky 406ers resorted to hand waving and other gestures which eventually persuaded our new visitors to change course to starboard and come almost come to a halt. Seeing the stern close up we noticed that like the Victoria Star, it was another ship from Zanzibar leading us to postulate that this particular position must be programmed into the on board GPS of all vessels hailing from that East African port. Either that or were diving in the Zanzibar triangle where massive and unknown forces attract Zanzibar registered ships to either their doom or the doom of other smaller vessels.
All in all, an entertaining trip, with good fun had by all."
Thanks to Rob for that entertaining account. There were some vicious rumours circulating in regard to Rob’s equipment (or lack thereof) on this dive and I’m happy to publish his disclaimer:
Please note that should anyone contact you with their own “unofficial” versions of what happened on Friday, I would suggest you ignore them completely. I would for never, ever, ever remember to bring essentials such as an entire bag of tools on a dive but forget optional extras such as my BCD and have to borrow one from PJ. It is a nonsense to suggest that I could be such a dick by forgetting such a vital piece of diving equipment and any suggestion that this could be otherwise will not only be vigorously defended but will also be met with a demand for substantial damages.
Ian Hussey and guest writers.