I had time off for good behaviour last weekend so I leave this week’s report to Polly with a contribution from Mike:
This week 406 was quiet in terms of divers with members overseas and or on dive missions over the East Coast for either training purposes or recreational dives.
Our Diving Officer took a weekend of approved leave and tended to domestic duties. Our Boat Engineer is free diving off Zanzibar and reporting back with pictures of blue seas and catches of the day. Other members were off trekking in the Musandam and some of the unlucky had weekend work duties to complete.
Myself and Mike, (Boat Officer / Engineer) volunteered for the Dive Log this week and probably a welcome break for our D.O. who reports each week without fail and always a welcome read.
As for my spin on the day, I awoke to a beautiful full moon over the ocean at 5.00am. Having a cuppa, listening to crashing waves and waiting for the day to break is a great soul tonic and cleanser. It was soon that time though to hit the road and of course the obligatory coffee and croissant stop for the drive to the dive club.
Once the boat checks were done, air fill checks, and kit loaded, we set off with boat in tow to our usual fishing port to launch.
Our Boat Officer must have had too many lemonades when I was asked to motor the boat for some supervised maneuvers. Brave I guess but thrilled anyway to start some introductory tasks for my pending Boat Handling and Dive Leader Training. I must say, it is not as easy as it looks. These gentlemen have been doing this for years i.e. towing the boat, launching and retrieving from the boat trailer and made to look so easy. First maneuver was to reverse off the trailer and “park” at the pick-up wall. Mike’s words were “DON’T DAMAGE MY BOAT”. I quietly muttered “I got this”.Reversing off the trailer went smoothly; parking however, as with on land, took some back and forths but at least the local fishermen had a giggle. From there it was a short distance to motor to the Coastguard check point of which I didn’t crash into thankfully.
Coastguard check point is the usual checks with ID and ordinarily a residence card is needed to proceed out of the harbour. There have been some differences with rules in other ports and a passport is accepted at some. To save the aggravation of a diver being asked to leave the boat, 406 divers and guests still need a residence card until we have official notice stating otherwise.
The boat trip out was calm for most of the journey. Always been a geek for taking pictures of boats and the usual tankers, barges, LPG ships, tugs and various other vessels were anchored along the horizon. Our destination was the Taha.
Mike Anthony reports below with a brief about the Taha;
The Taha wreck first appears in our dive logs on 25 March 2011 and we dived it very frequently after that as it was a “new wreck”
She is a small coastal trading vessel with an open hold and a cargo of oil in 40-gallon drums and 5-litre plastic containers. Of Iranian registration, her Length is: 54.0m and Beam: 9.0m. At the bow end there was a lot of scaffolding material. And there were many tyres I recall. The details of her sinking are surmised to be that she was at anchor and got swamped by a large wave and due to the open hold, she took on a great deal of water. She would have been listing and then would have rapidly succumbed to the effects of more water flooding the hold and sank. She was initially lying on her starboard side on the sand sea bed at 21m depth.
In a storm some months later after the initial sinking she broke through the crust of the seabed and sank into the bed. These days she still lies on her starboard side but with only about 4m of the hull projecting from the bed. Only part of the bow and the stern sections can now be seen. Before it sank the second time into the bed someone salvaged a great many of the 5litre plastic oil containers which would have had a decent second-hand value. The larger drums were left although we designed a plan to remove these in conjunction with a commercial company, but this never happened. The radar scanner on top of the Dive Club at Wanderers came from the Taha. At one time we had this rotating under battery power. Brian Lugg removed a door at the rear of the main hold and that gave safer access directly into the engine room. The fish life was always quite prolific and we saw that visibility was severely hampered by the many thousands of yellow snappers. Large barracuda (about 120cm long) were cruising about giving us the baleful eye.
Thank you Mike for your account.
Still on the Taha, we descended down the shot into strong currents and quite murky viz. This cleared thankfully as we got nearer the bottom and was greeted with a clear view of the wreck. Shoals of snappers were taking homage in the wreck and quite an orchestrated dance in the current. Must admit, I do like hovering around a wreck in calm “strong” currents and good viz. Freedom of flying comes to mind with just the sound of bubbles and the immense body of the ocean that your lungs are working in unison with. Quite spectacular. Wake up calls everywhere though so not an environment to be complacent. For example, fishing rope connected to the pots always pose a hazard. The usual litter of plastic is never far away. Definitely a re-visit needed to do a clean-up dive. Some unusual soft corals, one resembling a red cabbage although yet to be confirmed. Sea Slugs in abundance and Sponges on various bits of rope of differing colour ranges. Barracuda were roaming the wreck like watchmen with fangs looking quite angry ready for attack. One was at least over a meter long and a bit to close for comfort and one only hopes he had his shredded wheat for breakfast instead fancying a chunk of flesh. Heading back to surface the current had subsided and a welcome sandwich surface interval. Further buddy pairs reported much the same on their return after releasing the anchor. We then set course for the Victoria Star which is in the general direction of home to port.
We managed to hit the wreck the first time with the anchor, or so we thought. Descending to the seabed we found the anchor had lodged itself into the sea bed. Viz wasn’t that good but we managed by default to fin in the right direction to where the wreck is situated. We dragged the anchor to the wreck and secured it; mental note for next time though is to make sure the anchor is secured further up the wreck so the rope isn’t chaffing on raw metal which could sever the line from the anchor to the boat. I found an anchor on the seabed and debates later about whether we can retrieve it and restore in the club. Dive Jury still out on that one though.
Viz was poor as has become the norm in that last few weeks on the Victoria Star. We found a fresh set of nets snagged on the wreck and did what we could to cut and clear those that we found. We found a few corpses caught in the nets also. After a few pics we headed for the anchor line and surfaced. Other buddy pairs took time to cut and clear the wreck of nets so should be relatively safe next time.
Heading back to port we headed for the Coastguard check point. At this point, I was left with the task of driving the boat onto the trailer. With a watchful Coastguard adding to the pressure, and with some back and forths, I managed to nail it without too much chaos. Definitely an art to keep practicing though.
Back at the Dive Brief Table, we had rice and ginger with the catch of the day; a welcome dinner with some lemonades and banter to finish off a good day at sea. Bravery Award goes to Mike Anthony for leaving the controls of the boat with me. I’ll edit some video footage for the Log later in the week but for now, we hope you enjoy our entry this week. Safe Diving as always.
Saad will be running one more nitrox blending course at some point over the next couple of months so if anyone is interested, please let me know. This will be the last chance for a while.
DAN insurance website: https://www.daneurope.org/home
The Dive Club meets every Tuesday night in the Dive Bar.
See you there!
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.