Welcome to 2013!
If you’re doing a dive on the first weekend of the year, what better place to go than the Dara? As it turned out there may have been several better places to go than the Dara but the first decision that had to be made on Thursday evening was whether to go diving at all. The previously reliable weather bulletin that was issued by the meteorological office at Dubai Airport has been shut down for some reason (perhaps Sheikh Ahmed is saving up for another A380 or two). Alternative sources of information on the web were inconsistent to say the least ranging from flat calm (good news) to 5-7 foot off-shore waves (not such good news). We decided to take the optimistic view but going to the Dara seemed prudent as this is closest to shore if we had heavy seas to cope with.
After leaving port we found a slight swell but the sea was otherwise very calm and got progressively flatter as the day wore on to the point of being almost mirror smooth on the way back. 5-7 foot waves?? Some weatherman was still suffering his New Year hangover I think!
Arriving at the wreck, the anchor went over the side attached to a buoy with the painter looped through and “secured” to the boat. After a few minutes, the boat had not stopped moving and we concluded that the anchor was dragging. Looking up we noticed that it wasn’t the anchor that was the problem but the painter which had come free and the buoy was now 30m ahead and steadily receding. It would be unfair to reveal the name of the careless individual who had fixed the painter as I’m sure Geoff would agree.
The diving was not to be all fun and games however. Although there wasn’t too much current, the viz was atrocious and the Dara itself was covered in nets to a degree that I’ve never seen before. A major clearing operation is urgently needed – until then the wreck is hazardous and great care must be taken to avoid becoming entangled. We did a short tour through the cathedral section and along the deck towards the stern before doing an ascent on a DSMB. Mike freed one large jack that had caught itself but generally we were more concerned about each other and keeping ourselves out of the nets.
For the second dive we went to the Tek, a small tug boat a few km to the north. The viz was no better but the wreck is small and getting lost is difficult. There were a few nets here as well but mainly they were a danger to fish rather than divers. We did a small favour to the environment by cutting them off.
A few club members from days gone by have tracked us down via the web site and I received the following email last week accompanied by the attached photos, Barry and his wife are stopping over in the UAE on the way to Australia and should be at the club in February. We look forward to seeing them.
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.