Saturday, May 21, 2016

Busy weekend certifying 3 open water divers Naira, Alfredo, and Rodrigo, and Cheryl Advanced o/w at Nomad Fujairah

My logged dives #1444-1448

Friday-Sat, May 20-21, 2016

Certified divers #229-232

Been doin’ a whole lotta divin’ lately ... The weekend of May 20-21, I certified 4 divers, three in open water and one advanced, at Nomad Fujairah. On this weekend we found renowned local underwater photographer Jean Michel "Dro" Madery at Nomad Fujairah. He posted this video on Facebook and gave me permission to repost at my blog.

The three o/w courses were all started at Nomad Ocean Adventure in Dibba Musandam (Oman), but not completed there for one reason or another. The two Spanish divers Rodrigo and Alfredo had started the course last June on a weekend where diving was canceled one day due to bad weather.  They had trained with Roula and Jahine, two Lebanese ladies who had returned to Musandam to complete the pool training and ocean dives, but the lads were never able to complete the course despite having booked (and having to cancel) on several occasions. One of them was even caught in an odd conundrum whereby his elearning expired mid-May, before we could book him for diving, so he would have to renew his academics before he could continue his training. And his training anniversary, when he would have to repeat his training as well, was coming up in June. We consulted a course director who approved my suggestion that we allow him to complete a paper-based regime to tick in the boxes on his training record. We were up to 2:30 a.m. the night before diving, getting it done, but we were at the dive center at 8 a.m. ready to hit the pool for training, so they could finalize their open water training in dives at 12:30 and 4:30 later that day, both on Dibba Rock.

These guys were joined by Naira who had had difficulties in her first day of training on her o/w course the week before but had overcome them spectacularly and was now keen to get her open water training behind her, so she joined Alfredo and Rodrigo in the pool and on our Dibba Rock dives that afternoon. Naira had trained with Cheryl who had successfully completed her course at NoA the weekend before but wanted to join Naira when she completed hers, and she opted to do so as an advanced dive student. So I spent the morning in the pool with Naira, Alfredo, and Rodrigo, and contrived to arrange our o/w dive program so as to combine courses to include advanced o/w dives for Cheryl.

Friday afternoon, we did our first dive on Dibba Rock as an advanced boat dive for Cheryl, and as open water training dive #3 for the three open water students, each of whom had already completed dives 1 and 2. Cheryl had brought along her friend Rakesh, who was a PADI rescue diver, so I had Cheryl do the topside boat-dive requirements on the way out (she was cued to ask, when it was mentioned in the briefing, where exactly the oxygen was kept, in case it would be needed). I briefed her to be sure and do a safety stop, also required for the dive, and set her and Rakesh to carry out their dive under my indirect supervision, and focused my full attention on my open water students, and the skills they would need to perform on their dive.

I started the dive by taking Alfredo on a CESA (controlled emergency swimming ascent). Instructors may not leave o/w students unattended underwater or on the surface, so my idea was to take one student, have him exhale all the way to the surface, and then be joined by the other two students, who would enter the water at that point from the boat, and we would begin the dive all together. 

This worked well, but it would only produce two CESAs in two dives that day, so I was planning to finish Naira's the next day (Alfredo and Rodrigo were leaving after certifying on Friday). But Naira had a good idea. What if, she said, I took her on the second CESA. She didn't have ear problems so she could ascend on her CESA and go back down when I got Rodrigo in the water and took the two of them down and up again. That worked well, and with the two of them back on the surface, Alfredo joined us so we could begin our second dive.

I planned the 2nd dive that day to be Cheryl’s navigation dive. The site had originally been planned for artificial reef which is ideal for navigation, but it was shifted instead to Dibba Rock, which we dived from the east mooring, near where the stingray flats are. I proposed to my divers a plan whereby all would follow me for 30 meters over the sand while Cheryl calibrated that in time and fin kicks, and then led us back to the point where we had started, the valley just below where the mooring line was fixed on the rocks nearby.I wanted to do our compass work further out over the sand where the stingrays sometimes are so I moved the group from the valley out further to a rock outcrop I thought would be recognizable and which would put our navigation legs over featureless sand. Our groups then separated. Rakesh and Cheryl went to the north 30 meters and left a plastic bottle at the end of that leg, then returned on the reciprocal heading to the starting point. I took the open water students and had them navigate to the east. 30 meters is a little long for open water students to navigate, but they maintained their headings, and I dropped a bottle full of sand 30 meters east and, the o/w students navigated the reciprocal heading to meet up with Cheryl and Rakesh at the outcropping. 

Cheryl then took us east to where the o/w students had dropped their bottle and recovered it fine. She then finned north to complete the 2nd leg of the square, and headed west from there to find where she had left her bottle on her out-and-back leg. We never found it. Had we not had o/w students with us I would have had us conduct a search pattern to look for it, but some had low air and we needed to get on with it, so I had her close the square by heading south 30 meters. We noticed we were heading into a current, and this was altering our ability to navigate accurately. As the current was against us, when we arrived without finding our starting point, I continued tentatively. Eventually we found where we had left the CESA line tied to the mooring rope.

We sent Alfredo and Rodrigo off as certified divers and they returned to Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile Cheryl, Rakesh, Nicki, and I kitted up for Cheryl's advanced open water night dive, which you can join in the video here:

Note to self: avoid rookie errors. Hold light in FRONT of camera to prevent shadow from the camera, duh!!  Do NOT shine dive light directly on subject.

The next day began with Cheryl's advanced deep dive at the Inchcape wreck. You can see in the video how this went. Jean Michel "Dro Madery" was on this dive and he pointed out to Cheryl and I where the large honeycomb morays were. In the same movement he curled his finger in a seahorse sign and indicated a direction. He was holding a large camera, and I didn't see the curled finger, but I recognize the place where he went next as being the home of the seahorse in the video he took, which I've copied off FB. So Cheryl and I missed the seahorse, but we saw two large honeycomb moray eels in the course of a 20 min dive on Inchcape.

Cheryl completed her Advanced o/w course with a Peak Perfomance Buoyancy Dive on our final dive of the day, on Dibba Rock. We started at the Aquarium mooring, west side of the rock. I had briefed her on the dive beforehand, and she carried out the skills outlined in the briefing. Diving as a newly certified o/w student, Naira was getting quite comfortable in the water as well.

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