Sunday, May 28, 2017

Diving on Nomad Ocean Adventure's penultimate weekend of operation: With Anand Mantri and Bobbi on Ras Morovi and Lima Rock

My logged dives #1548-1551
May 26-27, 2017

Bobbi and I have been diving almost every weekend lately with Nomad Ocean Adventures. It's an hour glass with sand running out at this point. This was supposed to be the last weekend of operation, but owner Chris Chellapermal is having trouble breaking his diving habit and has declared one final outing the first week of June, just for his friends and past clients of the dive center, with Friday scheduled as a 3-dive trip to the far north Musandam, and Saturday, no telling.

Most of Chris's staff have left so Chris has been inviting me and other instructors down to guide boats and teach students in return for free diving and room and board, so Bobbi and I have been making hay while the sun shines, going every weekend, and can't get enough of it frankly. We're all going to be in serious withdrawl in June as we hunker down and prepare our escapes for summer break in July, something we need to start planning sooner than later.

We've dived 6 of the past 7 weekends, pausing only for a weekend off to run up to Doha and see our new grandson. We're planning to dive next weekend as well but that will likely be it for a while. Enjoy the videos.

Lima Rock

The above set of video clips were taken while diving on Lima Rock, mostly the south side, in Musandam, Oman, accompanied by former dive student Anand Mantri, and my favorite dive buddy Bobbi Stevens

The first clip is from the boat on Friday, actually on the north side. Next clip is our descent on the south side on Saturday with batfish, bannerfish, and devil rays passing by at 25 meters. Then more batfsh, jacks, pretty corals, nice visibility. There is a clip from the north in there as well, and a moray that lives on that side.

Ras Morovi

Devil rays were cruising the peaceful bay where we usually put in at Ras Morovi. Three of them appeared at various points on our southern leg heading around the point. The feather tail was on the other side, near the grotto, but the terrain there is very similar to the bay, and we often see these rays there, so I edited accordingly.

The puffer was sitting in front of the crayfish cave. He headed over the shoulder where the beautiful corals are that lead into a world of blue trigger fish, angel fish, sergeant majors, and fusiliers popping in and out of the black and green whip coral, with moray eels down in the sand where the ghost fish traps are turning to rust. As we head back over the reef a third devil ray passes and takes flight.

Grey morays appear from under the brain coral, often in pairs, and a yellow mouth pokes out from coral on the sea bed. The videos end with good shots of Bobbi and Anand Mantri hovering in the water.

Farewell to Nomad

These videos were made while diving this weekend on Nomad Ocean Adventures' last publicly announced commercial weekend in business, May 26-27, 2017. We will miss the special ambiance that Chris Chellapermal has bestowed on operations at NoA, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.

The picture below was taken by Anand Mantri in the Nomad majlis while I was trying to crank out some writing before Saturday diving. Click on the pic for a peek into my computer screen.

Chris kept telling me he was seeing Mobula rays this week and last when I thought they were devil rays, and it turns out we were both right.

According to Nine facts about devil rays from the PADI website
"There are actually nine different species of devil ray, all part of the genus Mobula"

and from Wikipedia: and

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Certifying divers in PADI Scuba Diver and Open Water at Nomad Ocean Adventure - Congratulations Niaz Basheer, Léa Morin, and Julia Resnicek

My logged dives #1544-1547
May 19-20, 2017

Nomad Ocean Adventures had me working intensively this weekend in return for free diving, meals, accommodation, and even a few Nomad special super slushies for both Bobbi and I. It was a great weekend; we enjoyed it immensely. Sad to know it's the next to last for our favorite dive center on the east coast UAE and Musandam, Oman. We've had great times and great diving here, and absolutely the best in that area since Dibba Rock got wiped by cyclones and red tide, 

Knackered from a day at work that started for me with 4:30 reveille Thursday and transitioned with a 3 hour drive from Al Ain to Dibba, I went to sleep before my open water student Niaz Basheer arrived at midnight, but I met him at 6 am for briefing and pool work. He had little trouble with the pool modules, and our boat wasn't leaving until 10. As it was just the two of us, we managed to get modules 1-3 done in the pool that morning, get ourselves dockside by maybe 10:30, and we were on our way to Ras Morovi before 11:00. 

My video shows feathertail rays everywhere in the sand at the start of the dive and once Niaz had completed his skills, we rounded the reef on the northbound leg. We had a heck of a current sweeping us over the saddle and around the corner, where we came upon yet another feathertail, and then clownfish, blue wrasse, and an eel as I moved into the grotto, just checking the cave there, but no rays were at home in that spot. 

Next stop was Ras Lima, where we dropped in on a mottled eel in shallow water, then moved down to depth and found a blue crayfish in the deeper wall. An eel emerges nearby but doesn't eat the kind of fish that shares his hole apparently. Bobbi and I ended the dive in the company of an unconcerned turtle.

We spent the evening with Chris and his wife Manesha and their two sons at dinner in a majlis where the old furniture had miraculously re-appeared, with the Nomad special super slushy-maker whirring away on a nearby table. Chris's mom Sylviane was there, so nice to see her again, and Pawlie from Norway, one of the staff, and Léa Morin, an intern from France, who would be my dive student the next day. She had completed all but her last dive and I was to be granted the pleasure of completing her course with her, and also with Julia Resnicek, with whom I had spent till almost 11 pm in the pool. I had just trained Niaz earlier that day, and met Julia, who was transitioning from the SSI system to PADI, and Chris had let me take her on as well, starting from about 6 in the evening, so by the time I sat down to dinner in the Majlis, I was working on autopilot, and ready for some slushies.

Léa had already completed her pool work for her course. For her it was only the last dive to do. Julia would be doing dives #3 and #4 with me to certify as a PADI open water diver on Saturday, May 20. Our dive sites were Octopus Rock, normally an advanced dive site, but today fortunately devoid of current, and Ras Morovi, where the current was present but not like the day before. You can see how it went in the video below.

Our first videos are from Ras Morovi, on Julia's final 4th dive for PADI o/w certification. Chris and Tareq are seen looking for small stuff just at the edge of our normal dive sites, which we're exploring on open water compass exercises with the two lady o/w candidates, Léa and Julia. We are diving with Mike, Julia's buddy, and Bobbi, mine. Our compass work turns up sting rays at the start of the dive, and rounding the corner past the saddle we stumble on yet another one. This is just short of the Grotto, where we come across a puffer, but checking the cave, no rays in there again today.

Next in the video is the start of our dive on Octopus Rock, which we actually did as the first dive of the day, Léa 's 4th and final o/w dive for certification, and Julia's 3rd. It's not long before we come across a number of moray eels, including a large honeycomb one. Trigger fish are everywhere on this dive as usual, and tiny blue wrasse have set up their cleaning stations. First customers are a pair of angel fish. We move into a school of  yellow striped fusiliers, and follow trigger fish and angel fish and parrots who lead us eventually to a batfish clearning station, but I pan out to the schools of jacks so as not to miss them, then back to the batfish getting the backscratch. Fusiliers burst back on the scene. The trigger fish are ever present. We move toward a school of snappers and find a pair of blue crayfish hiding in the rocks. More fusiliers blast by. 

Now we find another batfish enjoying a complete makeover and descend on him from above as fusiliers partially block our view. At our safety stop we find an eel hiding in the rocks and jacks passing overhead, and trigger fish schooling in the distance. We head toward the jacks as we count down our final three minutes of the dive, fusiliers bursting in from the left. Jacks and fusiliers end our dive, quite beautiful there on Octopus rock here at just 5 meters.

These video clips were taken while certifying PADI divers, diving with Nomad Ocean Adventures on May 19-20, 2017, accompanied by favorite dive buddy Bobbi Stevens

GoPro videography by Vance Stevens
PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor #64181

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mobula Rays at Ras Morovi while guiding dives in Musandam for Nomad Ocean Adventures

My logged dives #1540-1543
May 12-13, 2017

This weekend I was invited again to guide boats on diving trips for Nomad Ocean Adventures. Bobbi and I went up to Dibba and crossed the border into Oman right after work on Thursday. We checked into our room at the Nomad guesthouse, which the owner Chris calls the 'Vance Special'. We had a nice meal in the majlis and got a good night's sleep. In the morning Friday I helped guide a boat where Chris was on board, but so was his family, wife and two kids, so I relieved him of having to focus on the diving the whole time, and allowed him to take them snorkeling while we did our second dive.

Chris's choice of first dive site was Lima Rock south, one of my favorites. It can be a challenging dive if there is current present, and there was on this day, so we started at the west end of the south side and set to drifting to the east.  About mid way we encountered a back-current and I let it push us back the way we had come, but then I decided we could push through it, it wasn't that strong. So I led us out to the point, where the ropes are in the video above, and there was some resistance there, but not a raging current, so we were able to round to the other side and come up there. We were guiding a diver from Croatia named Tvrtko, and he thought it was a great dive.

The video contains views from our second dive on Ras Sanut as well. The last clip from Lima Rock is the batfish in the orange and blue soft corals at our safety stop, and after that we are diving at Ras Sanut, which we also call Wonder Wall. There were a lot of moray eels there, and in one segment, we found three different kinds in one small rock space. The video ends with me leaving my camera running inadvertently. I edited most of that away, but it gives you an upturned perspective and a closeup of the equipment we carry on our dives.

Next day, I was guiding the advanced divers on our boat on Ras Morovi and Lulu Island. The Ras Morovi dive was ONE OF THE BEST WE HAVE EVER HAD THERE. In particular we saw a flight of MOBULA RAYS right at the start of the dive, and I caught up with 4 of them and got decent video (above). We also saw friendly clownfish and a feathertail ray in the sand of the bay, crayfish, a turtle, various morays, a nudibranch, more rays, pipefish, scorpion fish, and lovely reefs. We were diving again with Tvrtko, and also Roman Kvasnyj from Russia, and another advanced diver named Sandie.

Our last dive Saturday was on Lu'lu' Island (the video above). There are a number of ways to do this dive. When I lead advanced divers I start on the west side of the main island, round it to the north, and then set out east over the sand bottom at around 16 meters. This takes us to the underwater base of an island a little less than ten minutes distant. We round that to its north and then follow it south outside a ring that, if you followed it around to the west and then turn north, would take you back where you started.

We didn't get that far. Our dive ended on a south facing western leg of the reef sadly covered in ghost nets, with fish trapped live in abandoned pots. Cuttlefish were out in force today. We also saw scorpion fish, morays, lionfish, and clowns so lonely they fly in the face of oncoming divers. Brittle stars were out walking around, and my camera captured an interesting orange star. 

On these last dives, Bobbi and I were diving with Sandie, Roman Kvasnyj, and Tvrtko. Tvrtko enjoyed his dives so much that he offered to host us and show us his favorite dive sites in Croatia. We'll have to take him up on that one day.

GoPro videography by Vance Stevens
PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor #64181

For best results, view these videos using highest HD setting on YouTube