Sunday, September 22, 2013

Certified Michele Campbell PADI Open Water and completed 4 out of 5 Advanced Open Water divers for "Andy" Anand Mantri

September 20-21, 2013, Nomad Ocean Adventure, Musandam
My logged dives #1241-1244

This weekend was productive from a PADI instructor point of view.  I certified Michele Campbell PADI Open Water (all but the swim, to be done in a pool midweek) and completed 4 out of 5 Advanced Open Water dives for "Andy" Anand Mantri.

Transport is getting complicated with Bobbi and I working in different cities, but I get off early so I drove up to Abu Dhabi to get her and we drove across the UAE Thu night to Dibba. We hit traffic in two places on the way.  I had the idea to drop by Al Boom (a.k.a. Scuba Dubai) and pick up some bcds being serviced, but was disabused of that notion after getting stuck in a half hour tailback near Dubai World Central (the new airport under construction) on what used to be known as Emirates Road (the 611 has now been renamed Emirates Road), I said to heck with it and picked up the gear 2 days later on my way home from Dibba to Al Ain.  The second tailback was another half hour further up the 611 where traffic was trying to exit the Dhaid to Sharjah road. We've never seen traffic jams on the 611 before (maybe that's why they renamed it Emirates Road). Fortunately the border crossing in Dibba was painless, and having got up for work at 4 that morning, I was at our home away from home Nomad Ocean Adventure by around 9 that night, 17 long hours later.

Once we got settled in and helped ourselves to the buffet spread, the weekend got very relaxing. After a great lie-in, we got started on the diving courses at Ras Morovi on Friday.  Michele was doing PADI o/w dive #2, the one with the set of basic skills done at the bottom of the ocean, and she did those perfectly.  We were in the easy bay so we went over to the alcove where I almost always find crayfish but there were none there (eaten??).  We went over the saddle to the cabbage coral, but no turtles there.  We visited the two caves where rays sometimes hang out, again nothing. We did find pipe fish on the bottom, there were lots of tropical fish, and it was a relaxing, nice long dive, 51 minutes at about 15 meters maximum depth. Meanwhile Andy was doing his peak buoyancy dive while buddied with Bobbi.

Our next dive was at Lima Rock South.  It was murky here and we didn't see much apart from honeycomb and grey morays, but Michele got through dive #3, and Andy accomplished his advanced boat dive (and more buoyancy work).  Michele was back on the surface after 35 minutes (we had touched 18 meters on the dive) but the boat was nearby and I was able to see her aboard and then rejoin Bobbi and Andy at the bottom to finish out Andy's tank near the west end of Lima Rock.  Despite the full moon, current was slack, as it's sometimes raging at that end of the island, so our dive had a peaceful ending.

We were hoping for a night dive but Nomad require 4 paying customers and we were only Andy and two others, so I went for a jog instead, and then relaxed with my wife and students over another of Aneil's great dinners. Next morning, after another rare sleep, we were back on the boat for a first dive at Lima Rock, north side this time.  I assigned Andy an advanced underwater naturalist dive, and began my dive with Michele in a controlled emergency swimming ascent (aka CESA) on a weighted line attached to the bow of the boat. On surfacing, we did the full range of surface skills, which Michele had been concerned about, but they turned out to be a piece of cake for her.

Our first turtle on Lima Rock, North, Sept 21, 2013

This dive that followed was relaxing as well.  The north side of Lima Rock has a shallower sandy bottom than that on the south side, and the terrain there makes for interesting swim-throughs and set tableaux of coral encrusted boulders teeming with fish.  And we found a turtle resting in a bed of green whip coral (but then everything looks green at depth under water).  At the end of the dive we caught up with Andy and Bobbi surrounded by a cloud of frolicking squids, in the video below.  At the surface, Michele removed and replaced weights and bcd, and in so doing completed all the scuba requirements for the PADI open water course, so congratulations to her!

Squiddlywinks on Lima Rock, North, Sept 21, 2013

Michele decided to sit the next dive out so Andy and I did the deep dive for the advanced o/w course off Ras Sanut.  We planned a profile of 24 meters for 20 minutes, 16 meters for 10, and at 12 meters till our tanks were exhausted, which would be about ten or 15 minutes for Andy, since it was his first deep dive (well, first officially, certainly his first with me :-).  The dive went well.  We had put in near the boulder with the cleaved flat face, near the point from where we often put in deeper in the bay, so we found 24 meters in sand quite easily and did our exercises there (compared depth gauges, calculated a minimum surface interval).  We then went up to the coral at about 17 meters but meandered back in the sand again looking for the rocks I knew were in deeper water somewhere but couldn't see due to algae clouded vis.  Finally I found one, and in its shadow one of the largest turtles I have seen in these waters, this one with a good size remora hitching a ride on its shell.

The huge turtle with the remora on his shell

We continued diving to the point, progressing up through our levels and enjoying slack current as the day before.  Sometimes the current can be pumping out to sea here, but today it was almost calm, and because of that there were no interesting fish around that we could see (current brings them to the point).  When Andy ran low on air we did our safety stop and Bobbi and I saw him to the surface, but we returned to 15 meters to carry on around the point and dive the Lima Rock side. Again there was not much of note but we continued our dive to over an hour, and found it refreshing with bracing thermoclines pleasant to the skin beneath our 3 mm wetsuits, 28 degrees at its most frigid, nice easy diving.

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