I was one of those in Abu Dhabi last Friday to see the Stones so I wasn’t on the boat. It would have been nice to go diving as well but you can’t always get what you want (ouch!). Derek has kindly put a few words together:
With the legendary Rolling Stones performing in Abu Dhabi, Friday’s dive boat carried fewer numbers than usual but were no less enthusiastic about another dive on the Victoria Star, ‘the wreck that just keeps giving’. After prepping the boat, Mike ‘the Silver Fox’ Antony, ‘2m Marc’, Brian ‘Larky’ Larkin, Geoff and Derek set out for Al Khan on a bright February morning. Also joining this merry band was Derek’s non-diving brother Keith who was on holiday in the UAE.
On checking in with the Coast Guard one of their fine members boarded SP312 to check the transponder was switched on …. unlike the officer who failed to notice he had only five ID’s yet there were six on the boat. The honourable gentleman who did such a fine job of gathering the IDs had in fact omitted to pass his own over! The beauty of the Victoria Star being so close to shore is the short journey time, just as well as the steering was largely unresponsive due to a lack of oil to support the hydraulic steering mechanism. Regardless of this, ‘2m Marc’ successfully manoeuvred the boat over the wreck with the anchor landing in the cargo hold just in front of the bridge.
Geoff, Brian and ‘2m Marc’ were first over the side into a fast running current and descended in 21 C water. The dive plan was to search for the ships’ records further to discovery of the fire plan the previous week. ‘2m Marc’ managed to locate some interesting documents including the ships Class certificate and crew list while Geoff managed to find the second of three fire plans in a cylinder located on the Captain’s Deck, starboard side. Mike and Derek on the second wave also had a successful dive and found an Aldis lamp in relatively good condition after seven months underwater. Still not a great deal of marine life evident apart from the increasing number of barnacles and a solitary bat fish.
Brian decided to skip the second dive and after a suitable surface interval, a spot of fishing by Keith and a sea snake sighting on the surface, the second dives followed a similar pattern to the first with further exploration of the vessels’ interior and Captains’ cabin. Back at the club some careful handling of the retrieved documents enabled photographic evidence to be obtained before they sadly disintegrated apart from a couple of certificates that had been laminated.
A few photos and documents are attached
This email comes to you from Jeddah, KSA, where I’ve come for a few days to check out a sinking quay wall. Although Saudi is superficially similar to the Emirates, you do feel the conservatism of the place that Sharjah, for all its foibles, only hints at. Walking round the local shopping mall, I saw no other westerners and I estimated about 60 – 65% of the women wearing a niqab. This I suppose, still leaves 35 – 40% with uncovered faces and there was no obvious “official” presence trying to correct that. Almost all the shop assistants are male aside from a few shops with signs: “families only”. The mall sold almost nothing apart from clothes, shoes and jewellery although this at least gave me an opportunity to buy a few shirts from M&S. I’m not a fan of shopping malls but there’s no other entertainment around here anyway. And Jeddah is liberal by Saudi standards – one wonders what Riyadh must be like.
But I digress. The Dive Bar will be open as normal – I sincerely hope to see you there for a drink!
Ian Hussey and guest writers.