Friday, May 2, 2014

Diving Dibba and Musandam Apr 25-26 to Certify Anand Mantri PADI Advanced Open Water

April 25, 2014 on Dibba Rock, with Freestyle Divers

Our team: Vance, Bobbi, Anand Mantri

My logged dives #1284-1286

One of our gestures toward PADI Shark Fin Awareness

Anand Mantri asked if we could finish his PADI advanced o/w course this weekend and allowed as how he would go with our plan, so I suggested a lie-in Friday and a leisurely drive up to Dibba for a 3 pm dive on Dibba Rock with our old friends at Freestyle Divers.(well, long-time friends, they're not nearly as old as we are:-). After hearing about all the sharks and even Manta Rays (yes, mantas, confirmed by Andy Moore, who'd seen them personally) that had been sighted there lately we dipped in for a pleasant but not so eventful dive on the rock. We like to go there to see how it's doing, and always happy to see that it's gradually bouncing back from its pre-double whammy heyday.

Next time we go though we'll ask for a drop on the artificial reef Andy planted east of the rock some years ago. The stories about big sharks and rays on that spot were even more enthusiastically related to us than the tall tales of Dibba Rock adventures.  It will make a good excuse to revisit on another afternoon where we drive over on Friday, late afternoon dive with Freestyle, and spend the night at Nomad Ocean Adventure in prep for a day's diving further north Musandam.

April 26 in Musandam with Nomad Ocean Adventure

Which is what we had planned for this weekend. Andy had completed most of his PADI Advance o/w course already and we were piecemealing the remaining dives over our three dive weekend. We did some natural terrain navigation off Dibba Rock and then headed over the border for a boat dive and to complete the navigation on Saturday.

Octopus Rock

There was a group with us that specifically requested Octopus Rock this weekend and as we were flexible with Andy's course we were only too happy to oblige. Octopus, formerly known to BSAC divers as the Stack, is one of my favorite dives hereabouts, but it can also be challenging in a current. Plan A is to start at the south of the rock and fin around it to the north, then head west across the area replete with blue trigger-fish (red tooth, as Shannon calls them) and find the north-south ridge and follow that north and then back around to the south. It's good compass practice to keep track of where you are on that dive. The ridge tops out at about ten meters so if air is good I lead the dive east back to Octopus Rock to finish out on a 5 meter safety stop on the only place in the vicinity where you don't have to do that mid-water.

The current was a little stiff but allowed us to at least follow plan A. Plan B is to hide in the ridges to the east of the rock. They are deep but also interesting, and run generally east to west, so provide some shelter from a powerful current. If current allows, I like to do plan A as it's possible only under certain conditions, so I usually do plan B when I have to.

As can be seen from the video above, on our Plan A dive, we found crayfish, a pair of amorous nudibraches, and panoplies of fishlife including morays, triggerfish, and the ubiquitous batfish.

Ras Sanut (Wonder Wall)

Our last dive was planned as a PADI Underwater Navigation Adventure Dive. We were dropped in the back of the bay at Ras Sanut (south side) to give us shallow water while Shannon took the rest of the divers up to the point to work from deep back to shallow where we were, theoretically to cross in the middle. The depth was just right for navigation, but we were dropped onto a family of cow tail stingrays which seriously distracted our compass work. I managed to follow one who had lost his barb in an encounter with a bigger fish (hence it was safe to swim over the top of him) but I missed one buried in the sand, only cowtail protruding. I saw the tail, but it could have been a palm frond, and went over to investigate. I should have got my camera ready beforehand, because when I determined it was a ray and went for my camera, it took me for one of those bigger fish and in the blink of an eye emerged from the sand and disappeared in a burst of muscle flap, leaving me with only a cloud of sand, which I didn't bother to film.

After completing the navigation we worked our way out toward the point, finding a turtle and morays, but no more rays. We complied with requests to keep our dive time to 50 min though our tanks ranged from 70 to over 100 bar. On our way to the surface we made shark fin and hammerhead signs for the camera, as requested by our dive leader, for PADI Shark Fin Awareness week (find ours in the snaps top and bottom of this page and at the end our our video). On surfacing we discovered we were almost at the point, so it would have been ideal to have had permission to do a 60 min dive ;-)

Congratulations to Anand Mantri on completing his PADI Advanced Open Water certification in the course of a fun weekend.

PADI Aware Shark Fin snaps courtesy of Andy Mantri

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