Derek Oldham's Red Sea memoirs - SS Thistlegorm (2)

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Continuing the memoirs of Derek Oldham. Derek recently turned a grand age and has now hung up his fins but asked if he could relive his love of diving through some poignant memories...

30/7/07     Dive 33     SS THISTLEGORM (2)

Oh yes! Derek (DJ) was full of confidence now; after all he had dived Thistlegorm. Donna brought him back to earth on her check. "You intend to dive without turning on your air then?" A crestfallen DJ then followed her into the blue. The dive decks hustle and bustle, in one goes and, apart from the air, no sound but uncanny peace, superb. Down the now familiar rope to the deck with visibility a lot better. marine life abounded with every type of fish who, in the main, took no notice of divers. Skirting the anti aircraft gun, which at the time was not fired for the crew thinking the low flying aircraft were British, to the Bren gun carrier and one of the steam engines. The rope room was pointed out whilst the rest of the group concentrated on the coal and water tenders.

The German aircraft, Heinkells, aimed true as the bombs entered the holds but the RAF's were good if not better for both aircraft were shot down over the African desert with the crews held until the war ended. Wellington boots in the hold! Why in the desert? Now let's see those bikes again! But wait, what is this - a superb turtle jammed in between the railings and the distorted remains of the rope room. We all gather to watch this magnificent creature edge its way back and forth until managing to free itself; then seemingly aware of its audience, with one mighty shove launches off the wreck to descend gracefully to the sea bed some 10 metres below. Time is ticking; a furtive glance at the gauges reveals we have been down over 30 mins and the air is at 60bar. There is no time to re-enter the hold - and it now seems the buoyancy problem is a little under control for the times Donna has disappeared as I rise above her level only to reappear as I "fall" past her is laughable. We rise to see the group climbing the rope; thoughts - so much to put in the log so many sights...

Thistlegorm - Photo by René Lipmann
Thistlegorm - Photo by René Lipmann

Lying on the deck relaxed in the warm sun, log in hand, the shout goes up. DOLPHINS! We leap to the bow and there they are, tight to the pull of King Snefro and they have no buoyancy problems! So we make our way to the Carnatic and the third dive of the day.

Some weeks later, at 4000 feet above Melton Mowbray in G-LEIC carrying out an aerobatic schedule and in that process practicing aileron rolls with a persistent problem of dropping the nose below the horizon, an inverted DJ mused that those dolphins could do a better job of performing an aileron roll than he could - and they were in water.

The 50th dive and the dolphins really show me how. Watch this space...

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Bryony published on July 13, 2011 3:59 PM.

Simply the Best lives up to its name... was the previous entry in this blog.

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