I hope you all had a good National Day 2nd December marks the date, now 48 years ago when Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid settled their differences and brought the UAE into existence, ending the period of the Trucial States. Not entirely coincidentally, this was the time when BSAC 406 was formed, initially as the Trucial States Diving Club and with a clubhouse on Ajman Beach. It was formed by members of the Union Defense Force, British Army soldiers seconded to the UAE and deployed by Sheikh Zayed to defend the newly formed country against those who might seek to undermine it. This was not an insignificant concern at a time when some people were predicting the UAE to fall apart within months.
This year’s celebrations seemed strangely muted compared to previous years. Whether this was despite or because of the generous holiday allocation I don’t know. But a five-day weekend is a five-day weekend and many of us took grateful advantage. This didn’t preclude diving on the Friday, but it did mean we didn’t get a full boat as people were away doing other things.
Myself, Nick, Allen and Cara made the effort and it was definitely worthwhile. The Taha was the first target, a wreck that was very good for a short time before a storm a few years ago caused it to punch through the hard upper layer of the seabed into to goo below, coming to rest about 7m lower and with much of the internals of the ship now buried. It’s still a nice dive on its day and worth a visit. For some reason, we couldn’t find any definitive wreckage on the echo-sounder but there was an obvious area of seabed disturbance so we threw the anchor over the side.
Nick and I were first over the side and we came down to an anchor in the sand, tyres scattered around and a big shoal of snappers in front of us. We tied a line to the anchor and set off towards the fish. Nothing. After the line ran out at 50m we set off on a sweep, eventually finding the bow on the vessel where we tied off the line. The viz was highly variable, but we had a nice dive around the wreck, seeing a lot of snappers, some batfish and a large shoal of barracuda. There was also a large fish that looked like a shark but probably wasn’t. Identification so far eludes me but it was entirely unafraid of divers.
Retracing our steps at the end of the dive, we came back to the anchor and saw a dark shape in front of us. A quick exploration confirmed that we’d been only about 10m from the bridge section but had headed in completely the wrong direction. Oh well. It was a good dive and I won’t say anything if you won’t.
The second dive was on the Mariam Express, a wreck that suffered a similar fate to the Taha, disappearing into the seabed taking with it a lot of the wreck penetration that we used to be able to do. You can still swim through the cargo hold and there are still some china coffee sets to be picked up. The viz was much better than the Taha for some reason and the fish life was equally abundant. Swimming along the hull side there were a lot of barracuda and just as we were reaching the bow, an eagle ray glided over us. We sae another ray later on which may or may not have been the same one.
Allen and Cara who followed us saw no less than three eagle rays on the hunt. Cara also had a camera to record the experience.
On the way back we stopped to do a quick bounce on Karen’s Dhow. The last time we went there, we couldn’t find it for some reason, and we wondered whether it had been swallowed or buried. I can now confirm that the wreck is alive and well and still full of glassware.
Some news of others:
Richard sends the following from Scotland:
Managed to catch up with Janette on Friday! She popped over from Dunfermline to join us in a pretty chilly Glasgow - or in diving parlance ‘dry suit weather’.
Was great to catch up over a few beers and some haggis bonbons (which I highly recommend to anyone passing Waxy O’Connors near Queens St) and remember the Sharjah days. Of course the legendary party up at the Elphinstone’s in RAK and the following day of fuzzy diving came up where someone (who shall remain nameless so as not to embarrass myself) forgot to tie the anchor off properly setting the boat adrift. 🤭
Sadly we missed Ken who was down visiting family in England but a seed to catch up in the Philippines was definitely planted!
BSAC 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.
NB; If members can email me their vids I can put them together. Some files are not supported for the website. Go-Pro clips won't upload. Thank you all.
Ian Hussey and Dive Member Contributions.