Friday, June 2, 2017

Last dives at Nomad Ocean Adventures: Musandam Island, Ras Lima, and Lima North, June 2, 2017

My logged dives #1552-1554
June 2, 2017

So last weekend in May wasn't our last with Nomad Ocean Adventures after all. Chris decided to post to Facebook an invitation to his best customers to come out for one more weekend, proposing a three-tank dive to the northermost dive sites in the vicinity of Khasab on Friday. Gary and Sandra took him up on it, and Khaled Sultani, reknowned underwater photography. Our good friend Nicki got a ride with Steven Board, and she buddied with Bobbi and I.

These are some of the people in the video above showing the picturesque approach to Fanaku, the last island out past Musandam Island. On my left is Khaled with his mother of all cameras, though he also carries a GoPro in his pocket. Chris is sitting just forward of him, Bobbi to my right with guests Bruno and Kat, and Nicki next to me. Ahmed is the boat captain.Then I shoot another segment showing the rippling in the channel caused my some mighty strong currents, that throw up spray as the boat cuts through the multiple forces of nature, including wind and waves.

Unfortunatly it was not much better at Fanaku, so we didn't dive there that day, but retreated back to Musandam Island, or possibly Ras Hindi Qabr, where we took shelter in a bay and went on a nondescript dive in the water murky with algae. Nevertheless we saw a pair of nudibranchs, a flounder, and a green moray eel curled up in a rock.

The wind was stiff from the south by now, and we beat into it as far back as White Rock before taking shelter in a bay where we had gone diving with an Al Marsa liveaboard once. I don't remember the diving being anything special there, though it had been their destination for our first dive. But Chris was sensing stress in his two engines. The boat was loaded with three tanks per diver, seas and wind were against us, and wisdom precluded lingering that far north, so we continued our retreat all the way back to Lima Headland, where we found shelter an hour from help if needed, and did our second dive there.

Chris asked us to keep our dive time to 45 minutes, but I have to admit to cheating a little. The dive began in green water, but after we'd found a cuttlefish and a slipper lobster, we came on a turtle nearer the point, and here the water was becoming blue. The fish were getting bigger and I took my time getting my marker buoy up, and angled slowly up over the point getting into position for the safety stop. Three minutes into that by my most conservative computer (I was carrying three, long story) we surfaced with 55 minutes time elapsed.

We headed across the channel to Lima Rock north where Chris asked us to keep our dive time to 30 minutes, and depth to 18 meters. It seemed restrictive at the time but he had called it pretty perfectly, as his timings and the realities of getting home from there ended up getting us into the harbor just short of sundown. Also, we had reduced our surface interval to 40 minutes, so we didn't have all that much no deco time. The dive was pleasant. We saw speckled fish, a raging crayfish, a large honeycomb moray guarding a dive weight in front of a swimthrough (which bottomed out at almost 20 meters, woops). At 30 minutes Nicki pointed to her watch so I got my buoy out, kicked along just above the sand while I unfurled it, blew into it, and five minutes later had managed to get it up to the surface. Now we had to follow it up from depth, another 5 minutes, and then endure the 3 minute surface interval. Meanwhile a large jack scooted by, and I filmed fusiliers at the safety stop. At the surface the boat was still picking up other divers. I showed 45 minutes on my computer, so all us pros were balancing each other's needs pretty accurately.

This was all bittersweet diving considering the fond farewell to Nomad Ocean Adventures, doing their best, as ever, and last dives with Chris Chellapermal, getting in his last plunges with the company he founded and managed so remarkably.

We were planning to dive the next day, and get an early start on it, but the coast guard was delaying signing off on trips to the north. Eventually the huge ferry to Khasab returned to port, having had to abort its trip across the seas we would need to travel, and that was the end of diving that weekend.

We last saw Chris and his family and Nomad staff and their last customers who were waiting on a ride to the airport, all in the pool together, We headed back to Al Ain where it's been anti-climactic ever since.