2006 - A Little Project
Archaeological Diving around the Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia



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Saturday 20th May 2006     day 22     40C    

Slick Point, Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia:
Up in good time again with a plan to get Simon and Lawrence in the water.

I was rescue diver again - Garry skipper. Ordinary dive on trimix2030 but they only got down to 30m.

In the afternoon Geoff wanted returning to Farasan, Lawrence and I went along to try again with the sonar in Janabah Bay. Entering the bay we hit a big wave badly and came pretty close to capsizing - the boat heeled right over and took on a lot of water.

The bloody sonar didn't work again - thought I'd fixed it. Looks like a more serious problem than I thought.

Took some photos of the head of a big barracuda the crew had caught - 1.5l water bottle behind it for scale. They spend the evenings fishing off the back of the ship and catch loads. Aside from 100's of small fish that end up on our plates they've caught 2 young sharks - one of them a tiger shark, a 50kg manta ray and this giant barracuda. I don't like seeing the big stuff come aboard but at least they're eating it.

   

Amazing turmoil of jumping fish and swooping seagulls alongside the Midyan at dusk. It moved around by 50m or so and continued for 15-20 minutes. So many little fish jumping it could almost have been rain.

Worked hard through the evening catching up the rest of the dive logs and the Project Log and just about got everything back up to date.

      High: got a lot done in the evening and I'm back on top of it
       Low: bloody sonar again

       whereami     Satellite view    



Sunday 21st May 2006     day 23     40C    

Slick Point, Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia:
Up early to have a quick look at the sonar again - but the battery hadn't fully charged via the puny trickle charger. No opportunity for testing the bay when the boat goes in this morning.

Boat team head off to Farasan to drop off the hire boat - we're managing with one boat from now on - and to bring Geoff back to the Midyan.

Had a tidy up, worked on the Dive Log to improve it and got everything just right. Spent a little time getting my diary and photos up to date - been busy and got well behind.

Boat returned at 1030 and the crew quickly and expertly winched our boat onto the Midyan as we're moving to a new island this afternoon.

   
   

A couple of general photos of our area. Some dive kit, and our post-dive O2 area.

 

Midyan got underway. Went back to the cabin to finish catching up my diary - I need some peace.

Helped with some more project work in the afternoon, calculating landscape/seascape slope angles for the main reef drawing that Garry's assembling and a few other odds and ends. Worked most of the evening and finished off by fixing the sonar again. Unbelievably it seems that the battery lent to me by the Midyan electrician to replace our faulty one was also faulty! A bat repeatedly flew around my head and in and out of a broom/paint locker room while I was working.

We're anchored off the northern tip of Zufaf Island but it doesn't look quite like we expected from the charts. Still hoping to get a deeper trimix dive completed tomorrow if a good spot can be found - Simon and Garry to dive.

      High: diary and all jobs up to date, and the sonar's fixed
       Low: Zufaf's not what we thought it might be

       whereami     Satellite view    



Monday 22nd May 2006     day 24     37C    

Zufaf Island, Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia:
Up at 0700 to double-check the sonar's still ok ready for some early depth checking to find a dive site for today. Lawrence was busy filling the cylinders for today's dive so I was volunteered to do the sonar and GPS. Simon, Hans and I set off at 0830 to take notes of depth profiles coming away from east coast of the island. We'd also been asked to identify any suitable points to land a few people for a look around.

We went to a bay at the south of Zufaf, and beached for a 20 minute look around. Then back north into a terrific bay - a really spectacular and desolate place with turquoise water and craggy little islands (fossil coral) jutting out here and there. Quite a few birds about including a very large pair of pelicans. It was a real little paradise - another 30 minutes on the island.

When we got going we didn't have much time for the echo sounding - the main point of being out in the boat in the first place. I managed to get a little done along the way but we didn't do it properly, we didn't take enough readings or move slowly enought to identify any detail - just the general profile.

Back at the ship it was decided to abandon the day's diving as our half-arsed soundings hadn't revealed much. I was pretty annoyed - we've spent weeks pissing about because we couldn't dive, and now we can dive we're STILL pissing about and not diving!!

We went out again on the dive boat, Simon, me and Garry this time as he really wants some proper depth profiles. It was soon clear that whilst it was not a steep drop-off as we'd hoped there were some interesting shelves at various key depths that tied in with some historical sea levels - just what we're looking for, and easily visible when you take time and do proper measurements. After 30mins we identified a good dive site but it's still only happening tomorrow.

We dropped a shot line on the dive site and headed back to the Midyan, that had moved south to anchor up just north of Doewe Reef. The captain asked us to do some soundings in a radius around the ship so he could be sure he wasn't going swing on his anchor and drift onto a reef - it was all ok.

Back aboard the Midyan and refuelled the diveboat for the first landing party to go out. They set off fairly quick and I went to have some late lunch.

Did a bit of work - wrote up some records and updated the Project Log. The boat returned to take out the 2nd landing party - I probably could have gone but I've been out twice already and there's others who've been stuck on the ship all day. And besides, I'm not really in the mood for more fun in the boat.

I didn't manage to take my camera on the previous visit to the bay so these were donated by Hans.

   
   
   
   
   

Did some more work, had dinner, and spent an hour hammering away on my keyboard writing my diary.

On the deck with Hans around midnight when we noticed big balling shoals of small fish gathering around the side of the ship in it's light. We watched for ages as they rolled around changing shape, breaking up and reforming, and occasionally breaking the surface in a boiling mass. Slightly bigger fish would jump right out from time to time in unison but spread out - I think they were the hunters storming the shoals.

      High: the beautiful bay that I was too angry to enjoy properly, and the late night shoals
       Low: we should have dived today - we've lost enough time

       whereami     Satellite view    



Tuesday 23rd May 2006     day 25     37C    

Zufaf Island, Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia:
Up at 0715 for the 0730 briefing. We discussed the 0930 dive, which has to be delayed because no plan has been drawn up so Lawrence hasn't been able to mix the (what?) gases.

The dive eventually went ahead 2 hours late and they went down to 60m on trimix for our first and probably our only "technical" dive. I joined them on their 6m decompression stop and took a few photos.

   

Back to the ship and I'm still very pissed off about the past 24 hours time-wasting. Simon and a few took Geoff to Dushuk Island for a landing and look around. There was no room on the boat for any more so I stayed behind and hammered away on my keyboard in peace to write this.

There was one lighter moment this morning. The very friendly ship's cat was found in our container where it had curled up in Simon's dive box and given birth to 3 kittens. Even I had to agree that that was quite funny. They're about 1 hour old here.

   

Up late again with Hans, leaning over the side of the ship watching the shoals rolling up and down and bats flying along the length of the ship. They swoop about erratically and come very close - it's difficult not to flinch.

      High: the night bats
       Low: frustrated at the lack of focus on getting the diving done properly

       whereami     Satellite view    




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