Boomer

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Angarosh reef - 10/11/12 - written by Steven Kessel

Yesterday morning we set sail from our anchor at Shaab Suedi at the crack of dawn. Fifty minutes later we were at the reef pass and geared up in the tender ready to set another mooring. Nige, Claudio and I descended to the reef at the channel and found a great spot to place the mooring. I was about to stick my hand through the hole in the rock to show Nige that it went all the way through, but Nige stopped me. He pointed in the hole and on close inspection I saw there was a large giant moray eel in there. I was very glad he stopped me, I have received a bite from one in a similar circumstance and it wasn’t very pleasant. We looked around for an alternative location but this really was the best place to put it. So a took a glove and waved it constantly in front of the moray’s face. It worked perfectly as a distraction as Nige and Claudio set the mooring.

We headed further north for about three hour to an isolated reef in call Qita el Banna. We had a monitor site picked out and a schedule to keep, but the reef had other ideas. This was the first mooring that really gave us some trouble. Nige, Cisco and I descended on the reef wall and quickly found a good spot. However, when I tried to send up the SMB to signal for Mamoun to send down the anchor and monitor, the SMB shot up about six meters and then locked in a tangle, promptly dragging me from the wall toward the surface, I dumped all my air but it was not enough to stop the ascent, so I had to ditch the SMB. I then and to surface to retrieve it as I was worried that Mamoun was going to drop the monitor in blue water. I got to the boat and fixed the reel. Nige and I descended again on the spot. Cisco was still there so we found it quick. I re deployed the SMB, tied it off to the reef and waited for the monitor. We waited and waited but it never came. We surfaced again frustrated to find the tenders had been having engine trouble and that the current was so strong it was preventing the SMB from surfacing all the way. This ruined our schedule as we had o respect a surface interval before reattempting to deploy the monitor. After we were back on the mother ship Elegante a large owl flew by the boat. . In Sudan they call owls ‘boomer’ and at sea they say they are a sign for bad weather. I never put much faith in this warning system until in 2007 when the day following an owl passing we got caught in one of the worst at sea storms I have ever experienced.

This morning we woke and heading straight out to deploy two monitors at Angarosh (translates to ‘mother of sharks’). We dove down to the plateau and instantly saw seven hammerheads at 20 m depth. This is unheard of for this time of year in Sudan. They circled round the whole time we were deploying the monitor mooring. It was very hard to stay focused on the task in hand knowing they were right there. We all just wanted to watch them but had to get the job done. We also saw several grey reefs so after the dive we headed back to the boat and got set up for fishing. Nige, Graham, Ben and I went to try to catch Grey reefs while the others went to deploy two mooring at Merlo reef. On the journey out we realized that the curse of the boomer had set in, the wind hand really picked up and the sea was angry my friends (yes a Seinfeld quote). We tried to fish for a while but it was too rough and when the outboard motor fell off the bracket due to the waves we knew it was time to call it quits and head back to the mother ship. I think we surfed back in the large waves more than we drove, but we made it back safely. We had time to deploy one more monitor at dusk meaning we only have two left to deploy for the rest of the trip. Tomorrow morning (if the weather allows) we will try our luck at fishing again, deploy the monitors and in the evening set sail back to Port Sudan.

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