Friday, August 21, 2015

Fun diving on Dibba Rock with Nomad Fujairah - and some sharks

My logged dive #1377

Bobbi and I hadn't been diving in a while. We avoided diving during our summer holiday, passing some time in Spain where I presented at a conference, and even though we spent some time in Malaysia, in Penang, for our son, Dusty's wedding to Michelle on Batu Farrenghi. It was the wrong time of year for diving on Lankawi just to the north of there, and we had reason to fly to Hong Kong, so we went there instead, and found we enjoyed it quite a bit. We were back in UAE in time for  our 40th wedding anniversary celebration, which we celebrated starting Thursday in Abu Dhabi and carried on non-stop through our actual anniversary Saturday, Aug 15, enjoying our favorite hotels and haunts in Abu Dhabi.

The next weekend I had planned to finish up a dive course for a couple of students at Nomad Ocean Adventure who cancelled, but Bobbi and I went ahead, driving over Thu Aug 20, and finding Lauren and Brad at Nomad had prepared a 40th anniversary (cup) cake for us, as well as treating us to a night on Nomad in one of the "chalets" there, a treat to be savored after a long first week back at work. Morning however dawned with news of high winds and whitecaps in the Lima area, and after calling up to Lima and checking and re-checking conditions several times, the diving in Musandam was cancelled.

But Nomad have just started a business south of the border at Royal Beach in Fujairah, where Freestyle divers used to be, so we decided to drive over there, though crossing the border back to UAE would be a 1-way trip due to the overly-complex permit system that stipulates single entry only on the day specified in the permit. When we arrived at Nomad at 11 am, about half an hour by car, the boat had just left for the Inchcape wreck, not that we wanted to go there, and it gave us time to have lunch at the Royal Beach restaurant before kitting up for a dive at 1300.

For best viewing, toggle your YouTube settings to HD. See how using this screen shot

Since diving was cancelled on the Musandam side, all the divers had left there, but few followed us over to Dibba, just a student who could complete her open water course on Dibba Rock with AB, her instructor, and Jean-Luc Fadou, a friendly French diver who had often been with us on boat trips to Musandam. Following our old habits, Bobbi and I had got on the boat before everyone else and were sitting there all kitted up when the dive pro came aboard to let us know we were missing our briefing back on shore. But he seemed prepared to let it go, and just informed us that our dive time would be 40 minutes. Dibba Rock is a very shallow site and when I expressed suprise, he said, no problem, how long would you like to dive? I said, an hour, the pro agreed to so inform the boatman, and when we passed that information on to Jean-Luc, he asked if he could join us as a threesome. So we wouldn't inconvenience the others, we made sure we were first in the water.

That's not all that had changed at Dibba Rock. The old 8 meter mooring was no longer there and the new one on that side was just near the rock in the shallows off the east side of the island. According I changed my plan. I had planned to go deep to 8 meters and then out in the sand to look for rays, then double back to the shallow side of the rock and look for sharks that often like to cruise in the very shallow water there, just one or two meters. Since we were dropped in the shallows I decided to make the near side of the rock our first destination, possibly circumvent the rock, and come up on the rays at the end of the dive.

So in the video above you see us swimming very shallow keeping an eye out for sharks, but then finding them, several of them, in deeper water to the northwest of the rock. They were a pleasant surprise. If you wish to see them clearly in the video, toggle your YouTube settings to HD. See how to do this using this screen shot

We carried on around the back side of the island but didn't find much apart from a couple of coy cuttlefish. We avoided going deep due to the chill below the thermocline (I was wearing only lycra and rash vest, it was 30 degrees toward the surface). I found a gap into the shallows leading to where we had dropped in at the start of the dive but again due to the chill I tried to follow the ridge around on the inside where it was shallow and warm. It seemed the ridge did not cooperate, it never turned south so I went that way on my compass over sand. I began to suspect I had overshot the ridge and turned west to come out on some reefs that turned out to be not the ones I was looking for. I was confused and it was near the end of the dive, but heading the way I was leading we came out on some attractive coral and surfaced right at 60 minutes on my computer.

Late that night I was going over the dive in my sleep. I awoke to realize that we were too shallow when I had turned west to try to find the reef from that direction.  I should have turned east and then I would have found the deeper water and perhaps the rays. I'll know next time :-)