IMRAN SATTAR

By now most of you have heard of the tragic accident near Jurien Bay that sadly saw our good dive buddy Imran Sattar lose his life. Imran had dived with a lot of people around Australia and will be remembered by all of them as an "all around nice guy" - Rest in peace mate.

INTERNATIONAL SPEARO AND ALL ROUND NICE GUY

Last April, the club organised its first Pelagic Comp to be held mid April when macks and tuna were being spotted all up and down the coast. A new member, Imran, sent me an email looking for a spot on a boat. I had one spot spare for the big risk of running all the way to Green Head where I’d seen a good mix of pelagics the weekend before.

We decided to leave the night before and camp at the boat ramp to maximise our water time – we had to be back in Perth by mid afternoon for the weigh-in.  So it was that a softly spoken Pakistani gentleman arrived at my door that Saturday night and introduced himself. It was immediately apparent that Imran was a very polite and softly spoken guy, with a quick smile that soon warmed into a laugh as we talked and got to know each other on the 4 hour trip north.

From the tales he told me, Imran was no stranger to long drives and camping out. He had been diving and driving around Australia for a few years and seemed a very self sufficient guy who never tired of adventures. His stories of big fish in Pakistan had me mentally organising a trip over there, wondering how I could avoid all the trouble and shoot myself one of the thumping cobias he was talking about. Picture some of the most nutrient rich warm waters in the world bordering a land with almost 170 million people, and almost none of them eat fish!

When we arrived at the boat ramp we set up camp, me on the gravel near my car in the swag and Imran on the public grassed area in his tent. We quickly put our heads down to get some sleep for a big day. Some time in the middle of the night, it started to rain. Big heavy drops plopped on the canvas of my swag. After a while I realised that the rain seemed to be coming in waves. 5 seconds of rain, 10 seconds of no rain, 5 seconds of rain, repeat. Odd. So I stuck my head out to see what was up, and there was Imran moving his tent off the grass onto the gravel while the sprinklers on the lawn behind him were going full tilt at 3 in the morning! Imran had apparently stuck his tent right on top of a sprinkler and had it fill from the bottom up! When he opened the tent door to see what was happening, he got another face full of water that drenched his sleeping bag and clothes right through. The poor guy was copping water from all sides, and now had to sleep on the gravel with only his wet clothes for a mattress.

I think I got a real insight into Imran’s personality the next morning when we woke for our dive. Not once did he complain. Not once! Can you think of anyone else who would just hop out of their soaking clothes into a wetsuit on a cold autumn morning without looking back at the night before and cursing their misfortune?  He took it all with good humour and a big smile and was looking forward to a good dive.  What a legend! We didn’t even have to get in the water after that for him to have earned my respect. At the weigh in that afternoon I was proudly telling everyone about the funny story of Imran’s night on the sprinkler, and how he just shrugged it off and got on with things.

CRUISING THE CAPE

Not long after, Imran bought his own boat. An older model glass boat, with an old, small Evinrude motor on the back.  In his words, it was very slow. Matt Chave and I had planned a trip down to Injidup to do some shore diving pretty close to the Canal Rocks boat ramp, so when Imran was looking for a place to try his boat close to shore I invited him to come with us and we would bring the safety gear that he hadn’t had a chance to buy yet.

We left the ramp in a light North East wind, which blows onto the ramp a bit, with the forecast for a southerly change around lunch time. Imran’s boat, while not pretty, was actually a bit quicker than you’d expect and rode through the small chop very well.

Imran's Boat

We all had a quick dive but it was getting a little rough and there wasn’t much about so we decided to move spots.  Into the boat, anchor up, turn the key, nothing...Ahh, bugger,  Imran’s new boat is a lemon! Imran quickly whipped off the outboard cover and like all good engineers, he and I looked blankly at this strange metal contraption in front of us scratching our heads.

Matt thankfully is a little more practical and soon had Imran wrapping some cord around one of the dohickies which turns the wing wang and gets the whole thing started. Imran had one unsuccessful attempt at pull starting the engine, and while he was rewrapping the rope Matt asked if the key was on. Being a genius, I thought I’d check by turning the key. VROOOM. Away she went, and very nearly Imran’s fingers too! I quickly killed the motor and counted Imran’s fingers and we got the rope out of there and started up again.

We got a bit nervous at that stage, and decided to head back to the ramp. The northerly had gone around to the north north west and built to a good 15-20 knots and the little boat was slicing through it at around 10 knots flat out. The boat in front of us at the ramp was a carbon copy of Imran’s boat. The only difference being that Imran’s was outside of the 2 foot shorebreak and the other was sitting high and dry on the concrete next to its trailer! We tied off to the finger jetty as tightly as we could and hopped out to help and literally lift the other boat onto the trailer, the whole time waves were breaking over Imran’s “new” boat and a heap of water was sloshing about on deck. After a bit of head scratching, we borrowed a jerry can of petrol from the boat we had helped and headed off into the wind around Cape Naturaliste to the nearest boat ramp at Old Dunsborough. Matt hopped out and drove Imran’s car to meet us, half expecting that the wind would drop before we got there, but what would we do if it didn’t?

As much as it was a long, slow trip, I had a great time on that voyage. I’ve never been around that cape by boat- it is a beautiful part of the world and I had great company. We saw dolphins rounding up a massive school of salmon just before turning around the Cape itself and the sea there just felt alive with current and fish. Growing up in that area, I enjoyed playing tour guide and pointing out landmarks to Imran and planting seeds in his mind about dive spots to come back to in the future. 

The motor stopped when we got to Eagle Bay. The wind was still from the north, but much lighter and was gradually pushing us towards the beach. We tried unsuccessfully many times to start the boat and then just stopped and waited. I began eyeing off the moorings and thinking of strapping on fins to take a line to one and leave Imran’s boat there until we could organise a tow. With Imran, it was just a challenge, it wasn’t a defeat. Just a part of the adventure. I remembered his night at Green Head and kept my spirits up to match his. After a long rest, the motor started. I think it was just feeling its old age and was tired of pushing all of the water from the waves breaking over it at the boat ramp. We took it easy and finally caught sight of Matt, who was waiting patiently at the boat ramp. The ocean was glass when we arrived.