Much to report and catch up on.
Thanks to Paul and Peter for the following accounts of last weekend’s diving:
Friday Dive, destination Neptune and Jumbo.
As we rounded the breakwater waving to the fishermen and families enjoying the early morning weather it was hard to distinguish between sea and sky; with Capt. Brendan at the helm we were soon at full throttle taking advantage of the mirror-like seas we were making excellent time to the Neptune. There was an eerie calmness as we appeared to be the only ripple makers on the pond that morning. Anchor set it was time to dive...
The first two waves reporting back that there was minimal current, the viz was excellent with the wreck clearly visible as you descended the line. Jonathon and I descended the line and sure enough the wreck was visible during the descent. There was an abundance of fish, a couple of grumpy looking groupers were spotted in one of the many holes that now pepper the wreck. We completed the usual swim throughs and based on the info provided by Brendan decided to visit the "Electrical Room". Soon enough it was time to release the anchor which was accomplished easily before ascending for the 3 @ 5. Flag down, ladder up and anchor on board we made the short trip to Jumbo.
Dive waves were the same as for the Neptune. The first two waves of divers back on board, reports that the viz was good but not as good as the Neptune. As Jonathon and I descended the line we saw glimmers of Barracuda, this probably accounts for the visible fish activity on the surface. We were anchored on the bow and proceeded to swim towards the stern around and over what was the accommodation structure noting there had been a little collapse, opening up a few more areas for future exploration. Continuing our journey sternwards I saw a Marble Ray gliding away from us across the sand. A quick photo shoot at the prop we began the journey to bow, popping in and out of swim throughs. All too soon it was time to release the anchor, again achieved without problem. Stopping for 3 @ 5 we were soon back on board. kit stowed we made good time to Al Khan and were on the road to the Wandies well before 2.30pm. Decompressing around 3.15. A great day diving.
Saturday Dive, Destination Dara and Sea King 5.
Two late additions post Friday's dive meant we had a full complement of 8 divers for Saturday.
Arriving at Al Khan the boat was launched, docking at the jetty briefly. We stopped at the Coast Guard who advised us by instruction that we should not go further out than 12Nm, I explained we were Dara bound, he was familiar with the location of Dara so it was Mafi Mushkila. During the trip to the Dara we had several sightings of various types of CG craft ranging from small speed craft upwards to distant outline of a frigate.
We arrived at the Dara only to find another dive boat was already anchored in so we tied off to the newly installed (By 406) buoy some 30m away.
First down reports came back from the first waves were of varying viz and current, 4 - 6m seemed to be the consensus. Descending the line on the sand towards the stern and proceeded to the bottom entry of "Cathedral" swimming towards the "windows" exiting over where once was nets but now is clear. I spotted a turtle that appeared to have succumbed to its fate as it was no longer struggling to free itself nor try to protect itself. I quickly snipped away the rope and netting freeing the turtle. As the turtle swam away, he/she turned and looked at us as if to say thanks before swimming off. To my untrained eye he/she didn't appear to be injured and I hope he/she made it up for air.
Turtle rescue complete I continued to take Alberto on his first tour of this massively impressive now net free wreck. Several swim throughs and a bow visit later we returned to the line and ascended. On board we reported the turtle and that we'd seen Barracuda chasing prey.
A quick on-board conference led to the determination dive #2 would be better on the Dara, conditions not being so bad. More importantly the Omni-present CG fast boat meant the time honoured cliché of "discretion being the better part of valour" was applied, and as skipper for the day I didn't fancy UAE CG fine cuisine over Wandies grub, either for me or my charges.
Peter adds the below report;
Our multinational divers for the day were under Paul as Captain and Divemaster. The coastguard instructed that we stay within 12 nautical miles of the coast, so good that we had already decided on Dara. We left al Khan in reasonably smooth conditions, and tied up the new buoy had recently fixed to the stern of the Dara.
The Jacksons discovered their weight belts were left in the vehicle at Al Khan. First fine. Jim discovered he had no BCD – second fine. With much inter-borrowing, dives proceeded. Paul, on the buoy discovered his computer was still on the bridge. Third fine. There was a significant surface current, but this reduced with depth, and was only significant at the stern and bow.
For the first dive viz was reasonable at 4-6m. Connie and Peter completed a deep circumnavigation around the wreck, the highlight being a large Marble Ray in the sand close to the bow –quickly irritated, swimming away at speed. On the other hand, Paul and Alberto untangled a mature turtle, that had a hanging rope around its neck, just outside the deck exit to the cathedral. They managed to release it, and it hung around for a few more minutes before disappearing. All were efficiently retrieved. For Connie and Peter, it was a delightful and relaxing 53 minutes in water at 32 degrees. During the dive the boat was visited by the Coastguard, as it was again during the second dive. We offered to swap boats with them, but they weren’t too interested.
For our second dive, not least in view of the Coastguard’s close interest in us, and earlier instruction to remain inshore, we decided conditions were good enough for a second dive on the Dara. Although viz had deteriorated a little, had sight of the turtle, and a large Barracuda attacked a small fish just a metre or so in front of Peter’s mask, then circled, and snapped it up completely in one large bite. Impressive. Several of us explored upper areas of the wreck, swimming up and out of the cathedral through some of the new openings that have formed. The fish life was rich. There was a profusion of Snappers, Big-eye Bream, Hind, large Groupers, Bannerfish and Angelfish, and numerous Shrimp Goby – Connie spotting a bigamous one with two shrimps excavating his hole. Bonus to retrieve bagful of scallops for his dinner. Back at the club, fines were settled and new membership fees accepted, as decompression fluid flowed with beef Madras and much laughter. It was good to go out with a boat half full with new members, and a good welcome to Club diving. All in all, an excellent day out.
Thank you Peter for the above report.
Two days, four dives and eleven happy divers rounded off another great weekend for BSAC 406. On the United Nations front can anyone guess the most represented nationality on a dive boat? The Finns of course and on that note.
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/
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BSAC general website: https://www.bsac.com/home/
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The Dive Club meets every Tuesday night in the Dive Bar.
See you there.
Ian Hussey and Dive Member Contributions.