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Dive Logs for Vance Stevens
PADI open water scuba instructor #64181
Dive 408-409
September 14, 2001
Energy Determination and Dara

Diving with: Abu Dhabi Sub Aqua Club
Dive buddies: Ron Breakwell
Others in dive party: Ian and Richard, Andy and Mike Lutz Stuart and Emma
Conditions: warm, pleasant
Visibility: good, Scuba Dubai claimed 30 meters on ED, maybe 5 meters on the Dara
Wetsuit combo: Scuba Pro .5 mm neoprene skin
Weight: 6 kg
Diving from:Scuba Dubai, Ann in charge, and Aneil at our helm

My 408th Logged Dive since 1991

Dive site: Energy Determination
Training conducted: none, fun dive

Data from dive computer:

Time down on dive computer: 10:05
Max depth: 50.6 meters
Time started up from chart: 30 min
Dive time from computer: 32 min
Min Temp: 24° C
Nitrox 21% (normal air), no deco

PSI/Bar in: 230
PSI/Bar out: 25 bar
I also carried an 8 liter steel pony but did not use it, though Ron did

Pressure group out, from tables or wheel: on computer - exceeded depth given on PADI dive planners

Description of dive:

Scuba Dubai mounted a properly planned and well supported assault on the ED. The day before, they had dived the ED and planted a buoy on it, checked sea conditions, and so forth. They had two boat-loads of divers - two boats allowed them to tie one on the wreck and the other boat would be a chase boat. The briefing given by Ann was professional and comprehensive and the staggered placement of divers in the water, provision of spare tanks with nitrox to speed deco below the boat were indicitive of level of organization. We were to meet at Ajman Marina at 7:30, the boats were underway before 8, and we were at the site in an hour 45 minutes. Ron and I were in the water at 10; compared to last time I did this when it took an hour or more just to locate the wreck.

Ron had expressed misgivings about going on the dive, not sure he was prepared for it at his level of experience, but Ron is in fact a competent diver and his misgivings disipated when he found we'd be allowed a 10 liter pony per buddy team, and that he could dive with me in a configuration we'd tested together before in Musandam. Voicing concerns indicted he was putting his participation through a process of level-headed risk assessment, and I was gratified when he decided that buddying with me would swing him over to his decision to commit to the trip.

We pulled down the mooring line to the wreck, encountering divers in various stages of deco on their way back up the rope. In a couple of minutes the wreck pulled into view. I paused at the top at 30 meters to wait for Ron still making his way down the rope.

The wreck was completely incrusted in colorful invertibrates. It was massive, on its side. The railing I was clutching dangled me down on the deck side where I could view a jumble of whatever you might find on deck, though it wasn't obvious to me what any of the shapes had once been. Vis was great, Scuba Dubai had estimated 30 meters, but I would say about 20. When Ron joined me we continued down the deck to a horizontal surface midships that had a sting ray resting on it. The ray did not seem at all bothered by divers dropping in to visit. Huge barracuda lounged about, including one that swam at us in a way I have never seen a barracuda swim that I can recall. Barracuda give the impression they sit rigid in clusters most of the time, but this one was out of his group and swimming casually towards us, his body waving, fins flapping. And then he turned with his side to us and assumed rigid cigar-like pose.

It looks from the chart that we spent about 5 min at 50 meters. We didn't go iinto much deco and whereas most of the divers were staying in the deck area, Ron and I did something different. We moved to our left and looked down over the hull. The hull spread to the bottom beyond our vision (bottoms at 87 meters I am told) and it was totally encrused, like a wall dive. It was teeming with small fish, with bigger ones hovering about in the distance. With deco on 3 min now I signalled for us to do a sloping ascent along the hull. As we angled up the 'wall' a sting ray came up from the depths moving along the vertical hull as if it were moving along the bottom. I finned ahead a little to arrange that our paths would cross. The sting ray didn't alter his movement at all, but continued up along the upended hull, passing so close that I could see his huge eye blink as it followed me from inside his raised head. He kept going up and out of sight. We didn't seem to have made much of an impact on his life.

For a moment I was thinking of following in the direction of the ray and rising up over the hull but then I noticed that the direction we were going would take us to a point where the wreck had been sheared from its other half. In other words, rather than continue indefinitely along the hull of a supertanker, we would soon arrive at a point at which we would be able to see around to the other side. So we continued in this way for another couple of minutes, returning to the 30 meter point. As we rounded to the deck side, we were in a maze of girders, like swimming through a collapsed building. Our deco wasn't serious at this point and I would like to have swum back along the deck, but Ron was signalling low on air, putting into effect our agreement to surface once we'd reached 100 bar.

So we went to the high point of the superstructure where for some anxious moments I wasn't sure where to go. It was like we were on a hill but not the hill we wanted to be on. Our hill was back the way we had come, but we couldn't see over there, and to get there along the crest of the part of the wreck we were on we would have to descend the valley and we weren't even sure that was the right way. Scouting our position as the seconds and Ron's air ticked and bubbled away, we found that our hill contained a bit of rail with two lines tied to it. One of them looked almost exactly like our mooring line. It didn't seem that our mooring line should be exactly here but then again it could be, and I didn't recall our mooring line being tied off in that way, but then again I couldn't recall exactly how our mooring line was tied off. I must pay more attention to these things in the future, but at this moment on the wreck, this line leading up as far as we could see appeared to be the way to go, so we took it. I wasn't at all surprised when a few minutes later, this line came to an end well below the surface.

I think this bothered Ron more than it did me. I had intended to follow the microbubble theory of decompression which Emma and Stuart had been talking up on the boat which decreed a one minute stop halfway to your next deco point. Realizing how unreliable it is to do math at depth, we had already worked out that this meant a one-minute stop at 20 meters and another one at about 10. I like to burn off deco at depths below the prescribed stops anyway, and I it was fresh in my mind how the week before when Richard and I had gone into deco on our second dive, how it had burned off as we had ascended slowly to the surface, in the course of our normal diving. So the end of the rope at 20 meters meant to me that we had a minute to think about it. Looking up, I saw the hull of a boat, and I pointed this out to Ron. We were being pulled at an angle into the current which was why we were at 20 meters, but it also seemed that if we stayed on the line and finned up it would arc over its point of attachment on the wreck, and just might reach the surface. It apparently had reached the surface at one point.

So basically, and without boring the reader further with details of our decompression, this what we did. We moved ourselves up to 10 meters and stayed there for a while. And then we moved to 5 or 6, all the while hanging at the end of this line. When Ron reached 50 bar he went over to my pony tank, using my 2 meter octopus hose. I stayed on my own tank because it was always above 500 psi or 30 bar. At some point, with the boat in view we left the line and finned up toward the boat. This took me a couple of minutes and brought my air down to almost 20 bar.

Turned out to be a well executed, well supported, and fascinating dive.

Surface interval: 2:19
Swim with Dolphins: The surface interval was quite interesting. While packing for the ride back we noticed a pod of dolphins nearby, and some of us slipped with snorkel gear into the water. I was the lucky one. Fanning out off the bow of the boat, I caught a glimpse of them from underwater as they breached the surface. They moved away of course when I finned nearer but soon returned, passing under me this time, about 10 meters down. That was the last any of us saw them. For me it was the first time I have ever seen them in a large group in sitio underwater.

Pressure Group in: didn't calculate (on computer)

My 409th Logged Dive since 1991

Dive site: Dara
Training conducted: none

Data from dive computer:

Time down on dive computer: 13:03
Max depth: 19.2 meters
Time started up from chart: 51 min
Dive time from computer: 53 min.
Min Temp: 32° C
Nitrox 21% (normal air), no deco

PSI/Bar in: 230 in my steel tank, didn't bother with pony
PSI/Bar out: 60 bar

Pressure group out: not calculated (computer)

Description of dive:

Not much to say here about the Dara. This is of course the passenger ship that went down early this century with lots of people aboard, resulting in substantial loss of life. Today there is not much there to remind one of this tragedy. On this day in particular there was practically nothing of note. Visibility was terrible nearer shore, not at all clear as out to see with The ED. Not anticipating a long or deep dive, and concerned about the drag of a current, I didn't take my pony tank, and didn't neet it. Ron and I basically circled the wreck a couple of times, went off on compass headings looking for rays, looked under things with our lights, swam through and inside, but saw nothing of interest, and I was glad when Ron signalled 50 bar so we could ascend. I've seen rays here before and had better vis. Today, a disappointment.

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Last updated: September 22, 2001 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0