This week we managed to get 2 boats out. This was due to more divers than the mandatory 5 people per boat restriction and because Graham put a shiny new tow hitch on the back of his FJ Cruiser. One of the reasons for having a good compliment of divers was because we welcomed 2 DSDC divers on board this weekend in the form of Rod and Gavin.
Neither had dived Dara before and so that was the plan. Simples. After some general boat towing instructions we found out that Gavin was a seasoned pro. That made it easy to figure out who was travelling with who. I think his FJ has a mind of its own, instead of following me as was planned it decided to turn the other way exiting the yard.
Meeting on ‘the next road up’ we formed our own little convoy and headed for Al Hamriya port. After making Paul run up and down the coast guards jetty because we forgot to give him the boat registration cards we then compounded the problem by giving him the trailer registration cards, requiring another walk up and down to an amused and apologetic coast guard. It wasn’t that hot.
We made it out to Dara in no time to find a boat already anchored in the middle of a net clearing exercise. They tie off a number of serious lifting bags and then cut their way around until it shoots for the surface. At which point the boat hares off in hot pursuit. They left with a boat full of abandoned nets.
After a short discussion with them we tied off on the permanent buoy and Rod, Gavin and guide extraordinaire Angela were over the side. There was a decent surface current running but it was not as bad on the wreck. The thermocline was not so noticeable either this week. It will soon be birthday suit weather or rash vest and shorts for the shy divers. The viz was at good 5-7 metres until you got close to the net clearing.
The wreck has opened up and even more evident now that a lot of the nets have ‘floated’ off the wreck. We all agreed the second dive was better, probably as the current had died down on the wreck and the viz improved with the departure of the net clearers.
All those new to the wreck got to see the cathedral which is still an impressive and beautiful part of the wreck to dive. There is however a huge fishing basket partly blocking one of the exits. Perhaps a job the next time we dive there again? Also on the wreck we saw numerous Nudibranchs, Monocle Bream and a Pufferfish which to the best of my recollection I’ve not seen on Dara before.
Seven happy divers returned to port and only made Paul make one trip to the coast guard to return the plastic cards. After a relatively easy process of getting the boats back on the trailers we headed for home. Graham’s FJ decided to have another opinion in that it did not want to follow me again and decided it wanted to take in the splendor of Culture Square over the more direct Wasit Square. Personally I’m not a fan of taking on Culture Square in my own car, let alone towing a trailer and boat on your maiden voyage. But the FJ will do what the FJ wants.
After performing what Graham describes as ‘the dark art’ of reversing the trailers into the yard, we washed down the boats, kit and a beverage while reminiscing about that and previous bygone days diving. To be fair a slightly bigger gate would be nice (cough* cough* Mr Chairman and Treasurer). But all joking aside, well done and thanks go to Graham for firstly sourcing the nuts and bolts to fix the trailer in the first place but also stepping up to put a tow hitch on his car and tow the boat.
Thanks also go to Paul for the blood sweat, tears and probably an expletive or two for putting said nuts and bolts on the trailer. Thanks also to Gavin for hopping in with Graham. Hopefully we will see more of him and Rod going forward.
This week must unfortunately start on a sombre note. Last week we had word that Clive Frost has died following a Covid-19 infection. Clive was a member of BSAC 406 back in the dim and distant past. He never left the country, instead since 1975 he has concentrated his energies on “Aqua Diving Services”, a diving company of which he was the founder and Managing Director. In these latter days, Clive is perhaps best known to us as the owner of the “Dara”, our perennial and favourite dive site.
Our sympathies go to his family.
Since the last email, I’ve seen and heard many expressions of sadness and sympathy over the death of Clive Frost.
I will print two of these, the first from John Lewis:
Very sad news about Clive FrostClive was my business partner and the first person I met in Dubai in 1974. He and I worked together up to the point I left the UAE in 82.
And from Stuart Shaw:
Ian, thanks for your updates, just an expression of sadness on learning that Clive has passed away, I knew him as a dynamic new arrival at 406 in around 1975, he employed a good friend of mine, Mark Haine when he left the army and that was the situation when I left the UAE in 76. For those that knew Mark I discovered from his Regiment in 82 whilst I was in Northern Ireland that Mark had died in west Africa sometime before 82.RIP .Stuart.
It’s always good to hear from past members. It’s just a shame that it was Clive’s death that was the cause of this particular exchange.
I haven't had any free time this week to do the Newsletter format so this week's log is listed below. There is much to share with you and some celebrations in order so I wanted to get the updates on the log as soon as possible. Thanks as always to Ian for the weekly email and Allen and Paul for the Dive Logs. Trying times for all of us near and far so hope our logs, pictures and videos offers some escapism. Thank you Angela for the photos of the resident Turtle and Ray.
NEW ARRIVAL ANNOUNCEMENT
Allen's log mentions the following announcement;
We got back to the yard and after the obligatory rinsing and washing sat to ‘wet the baby’s head’. Paul’s wife Amy gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Polly on Tuesday. It was probably the first time I can remember that no one was able to make our Tuesday social evening, leaving Paul on his own. Congratulations nonetheless and we made up for it on Friday post dive.
And so to the diving:
There are two accounts. I’ll start with Paul’s on the grounds that I received his first:
Jumbo; Paul & Graham
Descending the line one wondered if the reported "Fishing Lead depth charges" would be problematic and they were. First line entanglement encountered at about 20m, quickly removed from our anchor line much to my amusement and probable annoyance of the owner... Quick gas check we proceeded down the starboard side heading towards the bow, two very graceful fan tailed rays swam across our path however the only picture taken was of my pointing into the sand in the direction they rays disappeared... The next encounter was with the most greedy and despicable creature of all, the "Homo-Speargunnus-SCUBA"... fearing being caught in crossfire we rounded the bow heading towards the stern, swimming in and around the collapsed superstructure. We collected Exhibit - A (Allen can explain this bit in his report) left behind by a purveyor of fine metals.
Proceeding towards the propeller with the intention of returning down the starboard side to the anchor we were thwarted by an increasing current and elected to u turn. We located and picked up the anchor moving it from the starboard to a sandy spot on the port side and proceeded up to 5m for our safety stop.
Mariam Express; Paul & Graham
First time on this wreck for me (Paul) and having taken note of the current and lay of the wreck from Angela and Allen we proceeded down the line going from a brilliant blue to a gloomy green sea colour with and equally step change in temperature. We were anchored in the crust with the wreck over our left shoulders. Following the directions given by Allen we found the resident Turtle. We dropped to the sand and proceeded along the crust liberating fish caught in unattended (old) fish traps. Back to the anchor Graham began his ascent whilst I freed the anchor from its crusty holding.
Upon surfacing the anchor had re-snagged so I returned down the line; the anchor had broken off a boulder size of crust and wedged itself to it. I attached a lift bag and sent the anchor up clear of the crust, wreck and the ensemble of fish traps. Coming out of the green gloom into the brilliant blue was even more impressive 2nd time around. Not to mention the welcome warmer waters. Safety stop and out.
And below, Allen’s take on the afternoon:
So with a new week comes new guidelines or restrictions here in the UAE. Lockdown casualties in Abu Dhabi restricting movement in, out or around the emirate so some divers missed out on the dives of the day.
Dive 1 saw us drop anchor at a busy Jumbo unfortunately one boat with SCUBA diving spearfishing in progress. It is still 3mm shorty weather with a sharp thermocline at 10metres. We did spot some Nudibranchs and the usual shoals of Snapper and Barracuda. The presence of the boats above were ever present on the bottom with one needing to avoid the lead shot weights bobbing frantically up and down along the wreck. Graham and Paul were down next but were also joined at that time by SCUBA diving spear-fishermen. The highlight was seeing a Ray and not being speared.
I decided to head to Mariam Express as I’ve noticed a turtle has made a gash in the hull his home. Having failed Angela’s request on dive 1, I thought this to be our best shot. Luckily this was a quieter dive site and after dropping the anchor we spotted a Sea Snake on the surface – a good omen according to Angela. Within minutes Mr. Turtle came up for a few breaths on our port side. When we dropped down to see if he was home he turned to greet us and pose for pictures (see attached). He was also accommodating enough to be in when the second pair of divers dropped in to say ‘hi’. The wreck is punching though the seabed and as a result a reef has been developing about 10 metres off the hull side in a semi-circle from bow to stern. There were lots of little hiding holes with Cabs and shoals of Snapper overhead. Angela spotted a Ray as well. The current had picked up which made the swim back across the hull a bit of a challenge.
Brian will be delighted to hear after his heartbreak of a broken hammer handle that Paul was able to recover it from Jumbo. See below.
SP 312 UPDATE
SP 312 is still up on a jack but with Graham on the case we have sourced the requisite nuts and bolts. Jokingly, and as a result of work issues, Graham made the mistake of suggesting on our WhatsApp group he would be ‘full time boat mechanic, diver and golfer’. A statement jumped on by Mr. Lugg who is currently waiting a date to do the handover.
We are actually fortunate that we can go out diving at all. DSDC have still not managed to get back in the water despite Ali Fikree’s heroic attempts to overcome Dubai bureaucracy. We wish them all the best of luck.
Zoom meeting for this week: Tuesday, 4.00pm BST, 5.00pm CEST, or 7.00pm UAE.
Please click link below to join Zoom Meeting
Alternatively, contact Robin.
New members to BSAC can join Sharjah Wanderers Diving Club via the website, https://www.bsac.com/membership/select-branch/ . If you enter Sharjah, the club appears. Existing BSAC members can renew by logging into MyBSAC or using this link, https://www.bsac.com/membership/rejoin-today/
Join BSAC and claim your free dive - (406 members only).
BSAC general website: https://www.bsac.com/home/
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 Member Contributions.