After our diving was aborted by bad weather (or expectation of bad weather) the previous week, Luke and I returned to Nomad with Nicki in tow, Bobbi stayed sick in bed. We did a multilevel dive our first dive. We planned a 30 meter dive for 15 min, to come up to 20 meters for 10, and then finish out the dive above 16, but in actual fact we did this on our first dive at Ras Morovi:
We entered the water at 12:33
- We dove only to 75 ft (22 m) for 30 minutes to accumulate nitrogen up to PG Q
- We then came up to 50 ft (16m) for 15 minutes to accumulate nitrogen up to PG V
- And we finished above 40 ft 12 meters for 11 minutes to emerge (after a safety stop at 5 m) in PG X
The second dive was across the bay at Lulu Island. This was one where we start inside Lulu Island and round the point and then head east. It's a cool navigation exercise since after 10 min we arrive at these looming submerged rocks, swirling with trevali and other interesting fish. We didn't see much on this one, a moray on the way over, another scorpion fish. We came up the back side and crossing the saddle to the inside of the crescent which these islands form we hit stiff current, very stiff. I was already coughing since it's winter here, the water is 23 degrees (5 mm wetsuit helps :-) and I'm getting over a cold. But with the current, exertion, coughing, I was low on air at 40 min. Luke too, the two of us came up together, though I popped back down to see what Nicki was up to at 5 m, not much from what I could see.
For the record, on this dive
- we descended at 14:45 after 1 hour 12 min surface interval as G divers
- Dived at 16 meters for 42 minutes (47 min NDL)
It was a cold boat ride back to Nomad but Luke and I were prepared for it with lots of layers of wrap. It was relaxing. Back at Nomad's homey hostel, Luke and I went for a run up the road to the Golden Tulip and then returned on the beach, a lovely sunset run dodging waves lapping. On arrival back at the hostel, someone handed me a welcome beverage and I never showered from the run, just sat until dinner time enjoying the company, enjoying the company after dinner, doing a round on guitar, nodding off at the table, finally going to bed just after midnight, and sleeping till 8:40 a.m.
We had booked in at Freestyle for a boat ride out to Dibba Rock at 9:00 but at our breakfast table at Nomad I checked an email from them that said they were doing an expedition south in their only boat, but we were welcome to come and shore dive, so that's what Luke and I did. We got there at around 10:30 after espresso and croissants at Nomad, found a gorgeous day with calm clear seas, walked Luke through his last remaining advanced navigation dive on dry land, kitted up and hit the water for the long swim out on a 30 degree heading. We were doing fine until we neared the island and picked up a noticeable current that started sweeping us west. I told Luke we should descend and continue underwater, our only hope of not being swept off the site entirely.
We descended and found ourselves trying to tack north by facing east and keeping ourselves crabbing toward the reef to the north. It was hard work trying to insinuate ourselves onto the reef that way and not get hammered off it, as the current was trying to do. However as I worked my way onto the reef I was rewarded by the sight of half a dozen devil rays swooping overhead. I looked back toward Luke but there were only bubbles. Up ahead a turtle veered off the reef, again Luke a bit too far behind. I clawed my way onto the reef hand over hand grabbing whatever boulders I could find. Another turtle darted overhead. I found a sandy patch and waited for Luke. When he arrived I pulled out a slate and wrote on it, "6 devil rays, 2 turtles."
But this was not easy diving, and how were we going to do any navigation work in this current? I thought the only way was to get into the lee of the island. That would be to the north. I wrote on the slate and handed it to Luke "must go north."
I moved in that direction heading my body almost east, tracking to the north, just kicking myself into the current and letting the current move me north. A shark came into view. I turned to look for Luke, again trailing behind. I stopped and added to the slate, "1 shark". When Luke caught up I showed it to him.
Amazingly the shark came back. I saw it at the edge of vision where the shark moved, difficult to see if you weren't accustomed to their movements. Luke peered that way. The shark kept in view, circling us. Eventually he turned our way and I went his. He was in plain view now, Luke saw it, his first ever in the wild.
When the shark passed we continued north and soon arrived at the Aquarium in the lee of the current, and here we were able to conduct our navigation exercises. Luke did fine, but all the exertion had taken us below 100 bar. We still had to get back to shore, many hundred meters the way we had come. I wrote on the slate "home = 210 degrees".
We headed back that way but I deviated to follow the reef. The entire dive we were shallower than 10 meters. Overhead a devil ray passed and Luke saw that one. There were lots of other fish, like giant puffers, but no more really salient creatures. We reached the end of the reef and headed out over the sand. When Luke ran low on air we surfaced. Up top we were caught in the sideways current and had to fin at an angle toward our destination, partly against the current. But the closer we got to shore the more the current relented. Our only problem here was the bloom of jelly fish, small ones, most of whom were benign. Occasionally one would get caught in a mask strap or get trapped in our lips or neck and caused minor annoyance. But we made it back ok, interesting diving, truly advanced.