Monday, August 29, 2011

Certified Jay Fortin as PADI Rescue Diver August 25-27, 2011 in Dibba Rock and Musandam

My logged dives #1068-1072

I know that Kathleen is seeing whale sharks and manta rays in the Maldives during these Eid holidays, before breakfast even, but meanwhile back in the UAE, someone's gotta churn out those certified divers :-)  This week it was the turn of Jay Fortin, who flew over from Doha to engage me for a one-on-one rescue course.  Bobbi had to work on Saturday to prepare her classroom for the coming school year, so I was missing her company this weekend.

I picked Jay up from Abu Dhabi airport on Thursday and we drove over to Dibba, reaching Freestyle Divers in plenty of time to kit up and enter the water for some self-rescue practice, and dealing with disoriented and distressed divers underwater and at the surface.  At one point a turtle passed by, in the shallow water just off the beach. We ended up with handling the unresponsive diver at the surface, ventilation and equipment removal, and finally experimented with effective carries to exit a victim from ocean to shore.

We then shopped for dinner at Lulu's, their Indian chat concoctions are to die for, and ate our purchases accompanied by duty free beverages at Seaside apartments, occupying just two of the three beds for only 250 dirhams in Ramadhan, very cheap.  Next morning we drove 15 minutes up the road to Freestyle Divers to knock out the rest of the rescue diver exercises in three dives there, planning the scenarios for the following day with Nomad Ocean Adventures.

Dibba Rock was a lovely dive at 9 a.m.  Jay and I started off with two exercises: simulated underwater recovery and surfacing the non-responsive diver.  I entered the water with a yellow shopping back I carry as a simulated victim and I left Jay at a place I could find again near the aquarium where we often start our Dibba Rock dives.  I then conducted a square pattern, just me, on which I concealed the 'missing victim.'  It was Jay's job then to find it.  He did this in a U pattern and speedily accomplished the goal, but focused on the task he missed spotting the large cow tail ray that was wondering what these silly divers were doing finning up and down like madmen.

Once Jay had found the victim, we conducted the exercise where we surfaced it, me in this case.  I survived so Jay passed that one, and then we descended for a fun dive.  We passed back by the aquarium and then headed over the reef where I almost immediately saw a shark cross our bow.  The schools of barracuda haven't been seen here in some time but there was one big one hanging out in that area.  Some German snorkelers on our boat asked me later what the big long fish was.  When we reached the western end of the reef and turned south on the L we found 7 or 8 turtles all together there.

We did two more dives on the reef, completing response from the boat to swimmers and unresponsive diver on one of them (saw a shark swim by a turtle right at the end of that dive!) and conducting the last one where I went down with the missing diver bag, hid it, surfaced, and called Jay to come find it using a square pattern, and then surface me to complete the scenario.  On all the dives we saw turtles and sharks.  On the last dive we hung out where the raspberry coral is coming back at the south end of the L and I saw three meaty blacktip sharks buzz by while hovering there (different ones, different sizes).  Nice diving on Dibba Rock that day, and highly productive from a Rescue Diver course perspective.

We checked out of the Seaside and took ourselves across the border into Oman where we turned up at Nomad Ocean Adventures in time to relax over cool drinks and then enjoy a beef stew buffet.  Next day we dove Lima Rock and Octopus Rock.

The dives were good ones.  We didn't see much on the sheltered north side of Lima Rock (I do recall a batfish, hovering mouth up, enjoying the administrations of a blue cleaner wrasse) but most of the divers in the group felt confident to push the currents at the east end of the island.  Jay and I went to the end and found a saddle where we hung out in the surge hoping for some devil rays or big barracuda.  There were jacks or trevally, or some kind of carangidae out there and lots of blue trigger fish, but nothing amazing, so I led us over the saddle to the south side of the island.  Apart from a huge honeycomb moray hiding in the saddle, again nothing amazing here, so I took us back hard against the current this time and led around the rock where I knew the current would spit us into the ocean.  Again I was hoping for schools of barracuda here but they were not there that day.  However the boat was waiting at the surface collecting all the divers who had opted for the freight train exit.

We did our remaining scenario during the surface interval, recovery of diver at the surface, getting the diver to and onto the boat, and then reviving the diver on board, during the surface interval.  Jay did well but the boat was crowded with 15 divers and most of those aboard treated the procedure as lunchtime entertainment, not doing much to help or clear space to receive the victim, so the scenario broke down at the point where in a real situation we would have thrown the bcd's overboard to make space to treat the victim (they'd have floated on the surface, but understandably no one did that, and had we pushed it we could have become a different kind of victim :-)

Rescue course out of the way, Richard requested Octopus Rock for the second dive, and since the currents were relatively benign, the request was granted.  Relatively benign but not absent, Jay had trouble following me down our first attempt at descent there and we had to meet up at the surface, then regain position for descent, which worked well the second time.  The trick was to descend into the current to where I correctly discerned that the current would be relieved near the bottom, which it was, leaving us free to wander into the valleys to the east of the rock.  We swam amid a school of big barracuda there and found clear vis, but no rays where they ought to have been in the sand at 25-30 meters. Also my compass was not rotating properly so I couldn't properly orient.  We circled one submerged rock which I realized only after coming a second time on an encrusted anchor whose boat had long departed.  I changed direction and tried to find our way on estimated compass direction but this led into the blue, so in the end I used the upwardly sloping bottom to get us back to the rock, which was swarming with fish, really beautiful, again nothing amazing for us, though others on our boat came across rays and for one lucky group, even a guitar shark.

For the record our dives on Dibba Rock lasted around an hour each and were conducted to 8 meters or so.  In Musandam we dived to about 25 meters each dive, and each lasted 50 minutes.  Water temperatures were warmer than the week before, maybe 26 degrees in Musandam, warmer at Dibba Rock.  Visibility was decent.  And Jay got certified, congratulations! my student in open water, advanced, and now rescue, well done!

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