Saturday, May 2, 2015

Fun diving Dibba Rock and Inchcape 2 with friends Jay and Robin Fortin

My logged dives #1357-1358

On May 2, 2015, I joined my friends Jay and Robin Fortin for a day of diving with Divers Down. Jay and Robin were staying at the Miramar Hotel on Al Aqah Beach, UAE, and that's where the dive shop was. We did two dives, one on Dibba Rock, and the other on Inchcape 2. These are my GoPro videos of the two  dives.

I went down on Friday and met Jay and Robin for dinner at the Miramar and then drove over to a nearby beach where I had scoped out the parking / sleeping possibilities on the way down. Nights were reasonably cool and I had the back of my 4x4 made into a bed so I could just park and crawl in it. But I had to move from my first spot because people were driving up and down there all night, even though I was parked a few hundred meters off the beach. So I moved to the beach right next to the Miramar, parked down a track leading to the beach, and slept fine there until in the morning I was awakened by the sound of car engines. This turned out to be fishermen who were using wenches on the front of those cars to haul in their nets. The net they were hauling in surrounded me on both sides of my car, I guess I was parked in their favorite fishing spot. In any event when I made ready to move they let one rope slack so I could drive over it.

I was the first customer at the Miramar for their buffet breakfast where I was joined eventually by Jay and Robin. We passed time at breakfast till time to go diving. Divers Down were making trips out and back at 9:00, noon, and 3:00, and we went on the first two trips. Visibility had been good at Dibba Rock the day before so this was their first destination. It's a place I have dived often over the years, in good times and bad, but life is bouncing back there now and it's one of the best sites again on that coastline (which really speaks to the deterioration of the other sites in the area, compared to what they used to be). Still the dive shops are packed with people wanting to go diving.

Here is my video from the Dibba Rock dive -

We returned to Divers Down base at the Miramar Hotel and switched tanks for our second dive, this one planned for the Inchcape 2. I had explained to Robin and Jay that I planned to dive this one in an unorthodox manner. We would spend about 20 minutes on the wreck, which would give us time to peruse the deck for whatever critters might be hiding there. The encrustations are home to scorpion fish, nudibranchs, seahorses, and lots of small things good at camouflage.  But after 20 minutes you'll find most of the crocodile fish and rays in the sand that are lurking there, and you'll have covered the deck from bow to stern, time to head for the coastline.

Before we went in the dive guide conducted the boat briefing which was to spend the entire time on the wreck. As people were kitting up I told him we would finish up in the bay. What I really like about diving in UAE is that you are not guided if you don't want to be. The dive guide said fine, thanks for telling him.

The wreck is slightly deeper than Robin's open water depth max so we spent little time at the bottom, but to head for shore on a s/w heading we had to stay a bit off the sand until the bottom came up to meet us. After 5 min on compass I looked around for jawfish and caught a glimpse of one just popping back in his hole because one of the other divers didn't see him in time and they are quite shy of people overhead. They are incredible creatures, live in holes, have long eel-like bodies, but the most most people see of them is their heads, which are like, as David Muirhead says, whack-a-moles. They will turn side to side checking out divers surrounding their holes. They have great mouths swarming with cleaner shrimp. When divers get to close, they go way down in their holes.

We continued into the bay finding the ubiquitous moray eels. At the back of the bay, in shallow water brilliant with light, there are some lovely table corals. It's a pretty dive, here's the video:

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