Sunday, June 19, 2016

Devilish Diving in Musandam - Greg Raglow begins AOW course on Octopus Rock, devil rays at Ras Morovi and Lima Headland

My logged dives #1456-1461

Friday, June 17 & Sat Jun 18, 2016

The first video shows a compilation of 3 dives done on June 17, 2016 on a liveaboard dhow arranged by Emirates Dive center. Bobbi and I were diving with Greg Raglow, who was starting his PADI advanced open water course with his deep dive on Octopus Rock. That's where I took the cameo of a batfish being cleaned and where we found our first school of jacks, which I placed at the end of the video, which actually ends with my shots of surfacing from our 2nd dive on Ras Morovi.

That next dive was on the channel side of the island just east of Ras Morovi. Here we saw the free-swimming moray, the big marble ray, and the devil rays covorting in the channel. I video'd the fish life on the south point as we were ascending and used it at the end of the video here, where it appears we were ending one long dive.

Our third dive was on Lima headland. I had requested Lima Rock but didn't mind once I was in the water since the headland was hopping. I put the videos for this dive at the start of the compilation because they show us descending in swim-throughs, followed just 10 minutes into the dive by at least 20 devil rays swooping onto the reef from deeper water. I chased them, caught up with them at 20 meters, and got them to pose for me for a few seconds until they worked out the guy in the back with the camera wasn't one of them :-) We saw the slipper lobster (cigale, or scyllarides latus) near the point at Lima headland.

The fourth dive of the day was a night dive. On the dive, I noticed that a lion fish was using my spot light to help him find his prey so I helped him find another morsel. The first was by chance, the second was on me :-)

Then next morning we made an early morning dive on the north side of Lima Rock. Bobbi and I were first in the water on the first speedboat to reach Lima Rock on Saturday, June 18, 2016, and we found the rays undisturbed and squids playing in the water.

The video below shows our 6th and last dive on Saturday, June 18, 2016. We put in around the Fishhead Rock caves area , and found the rays undisturbed even there (and left them that way). We also came on a small turtle.

In all these dives, I'm diving with favorite dive buddy Bobbi Stevens, on a trip arranged by former students Joe Broeker, Keith Kennetz, and Jon Nichols, pictured at the end of the Lima Rock dive, and on the boat at the end of the caves one.

Monday, June 13, 2016

PADI Open Water Dive Course for Delphino and Christina on Artificial Reef, Sharm, and Dibba Rock

My logged dives #1452-1455

Friday, June 10 and Sat Jun 11, 2016

Certified divers #234-235

One of my colleagues at work, Delphino Ulysses Williams, asked if I could train him and his friend Christina Schweitzer in Open Water diving this hot Ramadhan weekend, and of course I agreed. How can I resist another opportunity to train new divers?

We had many complications arranging the weekend involving others with different agendas and Nomad Ocean Adventure's new Ramadhan schedule of sending out early morning and night boats only, which makes it almost impossible to bring divers up in time Thursday to get them through 3 pool modules and ready for an early morning dive. However they promised a 9:30 a.m. boat on Saturday (and the others with different agendas postponed to the following weekend) so it would be just the 4 of us, Delphino, Christina, and Bobbi and I. The student divers had booked their eLearning through Nomad, so we decided to start at Nomad Fujairah on Friday and arranged to cross the border and finish the course in Musandam the following day.

All went well the first day. It's hard to pace these courses. You never know how the students will respond to familiarization process in training. But Delphino and Christina had no problems snorkeling and they adapted well to SCUBA, and we had confined modules 1 and 2 out of the way well before the 2 pm dive to Artificial Reef. Module 3 still remained to be done and the rental boat (the Nomad boat was under engine repair) had to be returned before we would be ready, so we rounded out the somewhat exhausting day with a shore dive off Royal Beach, focusing on compass work in addition to the usual skills for that dive.

We crossed the border into Oman after dusk and ended up at Nomad Ocean Adventure there in time for dinner. The students requested an early start next morning in lieu of more pool work that night, so we met at 6 a.m. for briefing. We were at the pool at 6:30 but had to get gear together, so it was another hour before we hit the pool. Minor glitches prolonged things, and the time of the ocean dive was brought forward to 9:00 because there was not an early boat that day, and all divers were anxious to get away before we would be ready. We were done module 4 at 8:30 but were in the position of having to finish module 5 at the beach at Ras Morovi and then somehow getting in two more dives plus flexible skills including CESA, or, Bobbi's brilliant idea, return to Fujairah and finish off at Nomad there. The students elected to take things easy and not be rushed by more advanced divers. 

We stayed behind to finish the module 5 pool work in NoA's pool, the marvelous cook at Nomad insisted on making lunch for us (ours had gone on the boat he said) and it was only this that delayed Bobbi and my arrival at Nomad FUJ to 11 a.m. where we saw the boat just then leaving. But the kind people there, Kyle and Jess, assured us there would be another at noon, so we got on that one to Dibba Rock, where I managed to find us a sting ray, and Bobbi and I saw several sharks in the shallows, but in mediocre vis, not long enough in any one sighting to GoPro them.

Our last dive was to Sharm, what we most recently used to call Three Rocks, and before that (last century) Pinnacles. It was the location where I had certified Mohammed Chowdhury as a PADI Scuba Diver just a few weeks back (so you can see the video we made there for comparison). This day was a little more murky than that dive, but still Sharm has its charm.  The video of Delphino and Christina's dive for certification there, and the subsequent selfie, round out the story.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Far north with Nomad Ocean Adventure - Diving currents in Strait of Hormuz

My logged dives #1449-1451

Friday, June 3, 2016

For some reason, a lot of people have wanted to learn how to dive lately and Bobbi and I have been having a great time showing them how or upgrading their credentials from Open Water to Advanced. It seems like every weekend in May we had another group wanting to take dive courses, and it was great fun, but Bobbi and I needed a break. We were planning one the weekend of June 3-4 when we caught wind of a far north trip to Fanaku, and possibly Kachelu, the current-ridden gem rising above the waters at the edge of the Straits of Hormuz. The trip was with Nomad Ocean Adventure, and Chris Chellapermal himself would lead the dives. Brian was the only one other booked on the trip when we added our names, so we put a note out on our Froglegs Facebook group. Jean Michel "Dro" Madery answered the call and booked, plus his friend Jean Marc. Cecil drew the lucky card from the Nomad staff to join the boatload, and by 8:15 we were headed out the harbor and on our way on the scenic trip past the entire mountainous coastline of Musandam all the way through the archipelago of islands off Kassab, all the way to the Strait of Hormuz to the island of Fanaku, beyond which there were no other islands to be seen further north.

Click here for more on the incident referred to by Kevin

Our first dive was on Fanaku, north to south on the west face. We'd been there before. It drops over a coral lip to a deep wall, down to sand where Chris likes to lead. Bobbi and I hung at an intermediate depth because we saw a leopard shark once in the more shallow coral beds there.

From there we moved to Kachelu to check it out, but the current seemed like madness both ends of the island, so we had lunch in Sphinx bay on Musandam Island, named after a rock Chris orients on, and dived from there into what turned out to be an air crunching current dive - for me, at any rate. I signaled Chris I was at 50 when I was actually at more like 30 (ok, 500 psi). Bobbi still had 100 (bar).

Time to head home with a stop at Temple  Rock, in the vicinity of Mother of Mouse to east, which for me  was the best dive of the day. We started with a ray right after descent and ended with a moray that entertained everyone with rippling gyrations. The videos tell the story.

Here's Dro Madery's take on my filming the honeycomb moray in the video above