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The Mariam Express (formerly Delos Express)
We were a bit short-handed at the weekend after a couple of people pulled out and one overslept. Four is still a dive so we headed out to the Mariam Express, which I haven’t been to for a while. This is a roll-on, roll off cargo vessel which was overloaded in rough seas and sank whilst sailing from Dubai to Iraq in May 2006. It is about 30km from shore in 25m of water.
Those who were there will fondly remember the early days of the Mariam. We were on it within days and had a couple of amazing dives on a brand new wreck before the coastguards politely asked us to do our diving elsewhere for a while. The authorities eventually lost interest and it remained an excellent dive site until another storm a couple of years later resulted in it punching through the thin hard layer and settling about 10m deeper than it had been, losing many of the swim-throughs in the process.
When we got there, we found about half a dozen other boats already on the site, all fishing. We were on the point of going elsewhere when most of them departed, leaving us almost alone to hook the wreck. The anchor landed roughly halfway down the vessel which lies on its port side.
Like the last few weeks, the viz was very good although the current, slight at first, picked up during the morning. There were plenty of snappers swimming around and a shoal of barracuda, just off the wreck. Denis and I also caught a brief glimpse of a stingray on the sand before it glided away. We did a swim through the cargo hold which used to be full of coffee sets which now reside in kitchens and living rooms all over the country. Polly and Nick going second wave saw a turtle which we missed although it did come to the surface as we were leaving.
The second dive was on the Victoria Star which wasn’t so much fun. Poor viz, strongish bow to stern current and a recent visit from fishermen resulting in a wreck now covered in nets. We spent most of the dive cutting out batfish, angelfish, groupers and others in varying degrees of distress. A net cutting mission will be arranged shortly! Polly and Nick wisely decided that an early return might be a good option but managed a quick tour to free the anchor.
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