Sunday, April 20, 2014

Far North Musandam with Nomad Ocean Adventure, and Lima Rock and Wonder Wall Ras Sanut

April 18-19, 2014 on Dibba Rock, Musandam with Nomad Ocean Adventure

Our team: Vance, Bobbi, Nicki, and Chris G

My logged dives #1280-1283

It was an odd weekend, our first back home after our trip to Indonesia, and one where instinctively we might want to take time to recuperate at home  Given her grandmotherly instincts, Bobbi actually wanted to fly to Doha to help Gwenny celebrate her 5th or 6th birthday, but I had arranged to teach an o/w course the weekend after our return from Pulau Weh, a longstanding arrangement. But the grunge that I had through the months of February and March, a bad bronchitis that prevented both diving and enjoyment of life in that time, is now cropping up in schools around the UAE. One of my students is a teacher and was coming down with it on return from her trip to Nepal while we were in Pulau Weh. So just days ahead of time she and her buddy had to cancel their trip.

The real inconvenience was that they had been going to borrow a car and we had been hoping they could give Nicki and Bobbi a lift and I could meet them at Nomad in Dibba, driving there directly from Al Ain. Meanwhile Nicki's friend Chris wanted to join as well, neither had cars, and as we had told Nomad to expect a party of four, Bobbi and I decided to do what we could to deliver on our original commitment. Plus, not having students meant we could get in on a 3-dive trip to the “far north” Musandam, past the Lima Rock area, to where we rarely dive. But to do this I had to drive into Abu Dhabi from Al Ain to collect Bobbi and Nicki when Bobbi got off work and from there go to get Chris on our way out of town heading toward Dubai. To make a long story short, it took me a couple of extra hours to get there and out of Abu Dhabi, but we all arrived in Dibba by time for dinner, the only hiccup being a more assiduous than usual inspection at the border of a bag and cool box in our car, but the rest were overlooked, we passed muster, and arrived at Nomad without incident.

The following day we had a trio of cold currenty dives. Actually our first dive off what Hassan the boatman said he thought was Fanaku, we managed to pick a side of the island that was sheltered from the current and have a nice dive where we could see sand ledges going down well past 30 meters and a long a wall going from about 15 meters to the sand, a pleasant dive (see the video above :-).

On the second dive (above) we cruised the south side of Musandam Island and put in at a random place we now call the washing machine. We had been spotting currents on the trip out and we knew there would be no escaping them, we had been lucky on the first dive. On this one I got in the water and found myself getting washed in toward the island, a strange feeling since I expected to be swept along the reef one way or the other. At the bottom we got into a current where we had to use reef hooks to slow down but this soon led us into a spiral some distance further on and we spent the last part of the dive drifting in a wide spin like divers caught in a black hole event horizon, moving around with it as we ascended.

The last dive we did at Temple Rock, a tiny stack where it you were looking for current, that is where you would find it. As we kitted up, the boat got pushed a bit south so when we entered the water we had a swim to get back to the rock, and we knew what would happen when we went down. The only way to go was upcurrent to the north, to try and get around the rock and maybe ride it back down the other side. It wasn't that bad, nothing dangerous, and I had to pull myself along using my reef hook, but the worst part was consuming air in the effort. Chris had decided to sit it out on the boat, and Nicki and Bobbi were decidedly uncomfortable by the time we reached the point where we could finally turn to the west to get some relief as the current dissipated itself on the island before splitting off on the west side to carry divers south again. At least current brings animals. At one point I popped over a rock and found myself in company with an eagle ray who was flashing his white underside at me. It took me a moment to fumble out my camera and catch him at about the time he became aware of me, so I have a good film of an eagle ray close at hand, and then nothing but a contrail as the powerful ray willed himself to disappear in an awsome display of muscle.

Our best dive was the one on Lima Rock the next morning. It was cold there, 23 degrees C, but visibility was incredible, 15 or 20 meters perhaps. We were swimming along the wall at 15 meters with great views out into the sand when Bobbi higher on the reef found a scorpion fish and banged her tank. This caused me to look around and notice a sting ray cruising the bottom, not what she had intended to tell me about, but at the time it was what I thought she was calling my attention to, and I went after it. The ray didn't seem to mind my coming alongside, and the video shows that it tolerated me nearby nicely.

We were diving the north side of Lima because the south side was showing ripples of current swirling along its length and heading out to sea off the eastern point, but as we rounded that point we found calm water on the other side and that's where we had put in. But we were now working our way back to the eastern point and finding interesting nudibranchs and another sheltering sting ray. We were just going into the down side of 100 bar when I saw we were at the point. I saw that the ghost fish net was still in place there and used it to crawl out along the rock to where I could feel the current sweeping in from the other side. And there in that current were the barracuda.

Last dive of the day, Ras Sanut, cold and visibility not so good, but not a waste of time, if the video is of any interest.

Bobbi took a couple of snaps of me taking these pictures :-)


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