It was just Luke and I, Luke driving, as we set out on Maroor Road in Abu Dhabi just before 7 a.m. and arrived at Nomad Ocean Adventure just after 10 a.m. We got Luke a 5 mm wetsuit and before heading for the harbor we plotted a multilevel profile on the giant presentation wheel at NOA which Luke would execute on his first advanced deep dive.
The profile was
- 27 meters for 20 minutes
- 18 meters for 10 minutes
- 18 meters for 40 minutes is allowed, but we decided to limit ourselves to 20 min at 12 meters
which would put us in W pressure group
In the event, we didn't have enough air for a 50 min dive including some time at 27 meters, and we came up from the first dive at 40 minutes, or 43 including the safety stop at 5 meters. But since we didn't have a wheel with us and couldn't recalculate, we went with the conservative measure and used that to calculate how long we could stay down on our next dive. If we had a 2 hour surface interval and limited our next dive to 16 meters we would have 59 min dive time. As it turned out we went down with only 1:45 min surface interval which I realized as we were descending on the second dive. But we were carrying tables with us and were able to recalculate as we descended that after surfacing from a first dive as W divers, with a 1:45 min surface interval, we would be ok at 16 meters with 55 min dive time.
I'm really cheeved at PADI for discontinuing production of the wheel, a remarkably versatile instrument for such situations. The new electronic planner can't be taken underwater so it's impossible for beginners to recalculate on the fly underwater unless they are carrying computers, in which case no recalculations necessary. But there is great value I think in knowing how close you are to DCS, and in being able to visualize that, whether you have a computer or not. Of course my computer was mostly showing 99 minutes of no-deco time on these dives, but if you're diving tables, then an electronic dive planner that can't be taken with you in the water is a really poor replacement for tables and wheels.
So much for the technicalities of our diving. The dives themselves were not great but were pleasant and replete with fish. On the first dive at Ras Sarkan we saw a large cow-tail ray trying to hide out in the sand. The others on the boat saw turtles. On the second dive at Lima Rock we saw not much more than a moray eel plus the other fish you normally see there, triggers, batfish, snappers, trevali, etc. Vis wasn't great, the water was cool, but with 5 mm wetsuits we were fine. It was much colder up on the boat.
Seas were calm but skies were overcast. That night it rained, and it was drizzling in the morning so the gear we cleaned and left out to dry stayed wet. I had an email from Freestyle telling me they had cancelled their Inchcape trip for Saturday due to expected bad weather. We assumed the UAE coast guard had restricted boating. The Omanis don't impose such controls for Musandam but Nomad weren't going out either, except maybe to the caves, so Luke and I decided to make the best of a less than perfect situation and get home and do things we needed to get done back in the real world. We re-booked our dives for the following weekend and headed back to Abu Dhabi.
To be continued (next week) ...
To be continued (next week) ...