Saturday, June 2, 2018

Diving Dibba Rock and Musandam with Freestyle Divers based in Dibba, Fujairah

Logged dives #1586-1588

It's been a year now since our good buddy Chris Chellapermal closed up Nomad Ocean Adventure just north of the border between UAE and Oman and sold his operations there and in Dibba, Fujairah, to Darryl and Marine Owen, who restored the name Freestyle to the dive center originally established at the Royal Beach Hotel by our good dive-buddies Terry and Andrew Moore, and later sold to Chris, who changed the name to Nomad. Meanwhile, Bobbi and I learned in February that we would be leaving the UAE and in preparation for that have not been diving so much as before, but Darryl and Marine were interested in buying some of my equipment, and offered Bobbi and I free diving for a day if we'd drive it all over there. So on June 1, just a month out from our permanent departure from our home the last 21 years, we loaded our car up with 500 kg of dive stuff, and at long last dived once more with Freestyle Divers.

We drove up on Friday morning and made a dive on Dibba Rock that afternoon, just the two of us, Bobbi and I in the boat, plus the boatman, of course. Diving was decent and refreshing. We didn't see rays or turtles but we found the common reef and bottom dwellers amid schools of snappers, and if you're watching the video, did you see the two sharks? The last one was right at the end of the video.

We took a room at the Royal Beach hotel with a lanai view of Dibba Rock popping up out of the ocean, and dived the next day on a boat provided by Freestyle heading for Musandam from the Omani port of Dibba just over the border. There was just one other diver on the boat, Valerie Hickey from Ireland. Darryl had intended to join us but had to drop out at the last minute so I got to lead the trip, and direct the boatman to take us to dive wherever I thought would be appropriate, which is one of my favorite things to do in UAE and Oman.

Our first thought was Octopus Rock, but when we arrived there, I tested the water, and found a stiff surface current that pushed hard to the north, so I decided it might not be wise to dive there with so many other choices available.

We had Virage, the boatman, take us to Ras Morovi and put in at the bay there. It was a much easier entry, and a lovely dive. We saw the usual suspects, schools of blue triggers, jacks, a conch clinging to a rock, a batfish, a zebra shark egg case, a cuttlefish, a couple of rays, and finally, near the sea-chest rock cutout on the north side of Ras Marovi, a resting zebra shark. That was the highlight of the day, though I saw a zebra shark, what I thought at the time was a leopard shark, in almost the same spot a few years back in 2013 (though I didn't carry cameras back then)

Above is the video from the Ras Morovi dive. Our second dive on Saturday was at Lima Rock. We put in just west of the middle of the north side. Current was fairly benign, so we went all the way to the east point and rounded to the other side. In the video (below), we descend onto a fish trap with a trio of lionfish, then pan to the seabed where we found a feathertail ray, except the Rollei didn't engage to capture it. We return to the reef where we follow a free swimming moray that Bobbi pointed out to us, indicating with her tank banger. From there we move to the infamous point, now at slack current, where we encounter schools of jacks. We hang out there for a bit then cross from north to south where we are rewarded with more fish life and mesmerizing schools of jacks. These go swirling on for a long time in the video.

At the end of the dive Bobbi helped me deploy my SMB by sending a flood of bubbles into it from her alternate air source. This should have worked well except that the clip holding the SMB to the reel had closed outside of the plastic, so when the SMB headed it up, the force pulled the clip apart and the SMB went up independent of its reel. We had not been diving deep so I motioned the ladies to carry on and went up, slowly and safely, to retrieve the marker bouy, which had drifted with the current a little back toward the point. Virage saw me and came with the boat, and relieved me of my weights and gear, but I retained my mask, fins, and snorkel and swam off to the east to retrieve the marker buoy. Meanwhile the ladies surfaced further west and Virage went to retrieve them. I collected my SMB and was forced to drift with the current past the point while Valerie and Bobbi took their time getting back on the boat. The only down side was that my camera was with my gear on the boat, so when the school of a couple dozen huge barracuda that live out there came up underneath me to check me out, I had no way to photograph them, but that was a cool way to end the dive. Back on the boat I attached my SMB clip to the string on the reel in such a way that it would not come off again. Live and learn.

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