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Abu Dhabi 1980 Party 012

I arrived in Abu Dhabi on 9th  January 1980 after my short spell in Brunei. It was the first time I'd seen a shallow marine crew, and was hoping to learn some more about what an assistant computer was supposed to do.

As it turned out, my main job was being camp boss - creating menus, fixing toilets, administering bar bills, accounting for dynamite and so on. It was great fun and the crew were great. Totally mad, but great. Alan Sealey's web site has a few photos from here as well - this one explains why the tents were so knackered.

Life revolved around the purpose-built bar in the first camp site (Zubbaya), which was very impressive. We soon moved on to the new camp that's featured in the gallery, but I can't remember where it was.

It was great fun nipping around at 50 knots in the hovercraft, except when we used it to take us to Butini island for a fly camp operation - the sea was very rough and more and more water was sloshing around inside as we climbed over the waves. I'd never been so scared.

Butini was a weird experience. It's a tiny island in the Arabian Gulf. Apparently the crew had been there before, when there were two hovercraft (a very nasty accident happened on the cargo hovercraft used for dynamite shooting, resulting in many deaths). They'd used the hovercraft to take out a Toyota Land Cruiser to the island a couple of years before to help them move stores around, and couldn't get it back to the mainland after the accident.

We got there and found the Toyota rusting away in a bit of mangrove. So we put a battery in, changed the oil and water, added some petrol and it started up almost first time. Incredible.

We were living in tents, but the abundance of driftwood and lack of things to do for the camp dwellers (such as myself) led to some odd sights. We ended up competing to see who could make the most bizarre additions to their tent using driftwood. It started off with simple wash stands and bed frames, and ended up with full decking. I even made myself a full four-poster bed.

Evenings on Butini were dull, so we got a board game aptly called Colditz which was a riot. The hovercraft captain drew some excellent cartoons, which I'm sure I still have stashed away somewhere.

The crew

Ken Humphrey - PC

Colin Cleaver - Surveyor

Bruce Smith - Surveyor

Steve Collins - Mechanic

Jim Box - Mechanic

Ken Webb - Mechanic

Scipio Brooks - Observer

Howard Richardson - Observer