Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fun Diving with Nomad: Cheese Divers

May 24-25, 2013
My logged dives #1196-1199

Fun diving with Bobbi and Nicki, Rachel, Steve and Anna, and Bonnie Friday, add Charlie and Liv on Saturday, cheese diving at Nomad hostel in between

Our first dive Ras Morovi, we got dropped in at the north. It was a glorious sunny day, not too hot, and water cool enough for 5 mm wetsuits. First dive was very nice and relaxed. I took pictures of different colored soft corals, a large honyecomb moray, and some lionfish hovering around a rock. We went into sand at 20 meters coming round the point and then followed it up into the shallower channel, a good move for the divers low on air. Rachel and I somehow lost the others when I realized we were coming on to my favorite cave at Ras Morovi and I scurried to get to it while Nicki was back taking her own pictures. The cave has a small alcove where there are sometimes rays and then a deeper alcove in the back. Since Rachel was with me and likes caves I decided to go into it as far as I could and really examine what was wayyyy back in the back. We found a couple of large fish hiding back there, agitated that we had lit up their world, and we lit up the red eyes of some glass shrimp as well, and found a long spiky tentacle of an ever-feeding invertebrate. Leaving the cave area we met back up with Nicky and Bobbi and found a turtle in the cabbage coral. We had only consumed 100 bar but we were an hour into our dive so we surfaced, and Bobbi and Nicki followed minutes later.

We pulled in to the bay to have lunch. Nomad goes out of its way to accommodate multiple dietary preferences, so we had had a flurry of emails during the week about which vegetarians would eat fish, who was strictly veg, and when egg and cheese sandwiches were suggested I replied that I didn't eat egg. So on the boat one sandwich was produced which said 'no egg', and it appeared to be for me. It was just cheese. This was almost worst case except that there was an additional container with meat and cheese. Apparently the cook had remembered that I had had a diver before who couldn't eat bread and although that diver was not with us, the cooks had associated me with him and had included this spare chicken to be put with the cheese wrap that James said resulted in a man-wich. It was funny because the evening before, when I had sent joking email saying that two of our divers didn't eat meat but were partial to “lobster and large shrimps” two plates of fish and shrimps were brought out and the vegetarians concerned were sought.This happened both nights, so we all shared the windfall at dinner. Nomad do go out of their way to please our palates.

After lunch we motored past Lima Rock because James didn't want to take his discover scuba divers there for risk of current and we ended up at Ras Sanut instead. This turned out to be cracking dive, our best ever at Ras Sanut. While waiting for our group to descend I went to investigate a large boulder out to sea and found a large marble ray parked next to it. He was friendly. He tried to ignore me at first but then decided to move, but instead of fleeing, he came towards me, and then went around me and then circled back and came right up to me again. When he moved off we found another one like it a little further on, who put on the same performance. And further on from that we found a huge cow tail ray pointed into a rock with his tail sticking out. We photographed it with our GoPros.

This was a super dive. Later on we found a turtle, and shoals of fish hovering dreamily off the deep rocks. At one point a huge lone barracuda passed right over Nicki's bow and headed up the reef. I followed him to a cleaning station where he opened his mouth wide for the wrasse to enter and clean. We found large honeycomb morays on all our dives that weekend. Toward the end of the dive I went to a deep boulder with a school of bannerfish hanging off it and Rachel followed but we lost the others. We found a swim through there with a huge crayfish inside. We surfaced through the picturesque corals past the batfish cleaning stations and places where the triggerfish were hiding in rocks and found a last sting ray, this one more diamond shaped than the others. The dive lasted an hour and was superb.

Later we found that the first whale shark sightings of the season had been made on Lima Rock that day. We were disappointed to miss the whale shark but we had had a great alternative dive instead. Next day we returned to Lima Rock and had two dives there, but no one saw any whale sharks from any dive boat (from any company) our second day there.

Still our dives were pleasant.  There was a little current on Lima Rock so rather than fight it out to the east point we opted for a nice drift dive most of the way on the south side of Lima Rock. There were lots of honeycomb morays, including one that came up behind us when we were filming its cousin and went through my legs on his way to a suitable lair.  As usual on Lima Rock there were lots of batfish being cleaned, including one arge batfish with a serrated edge, and a school of batfish at 5 meters followed by a school of young barracuda on the western point.

For our last dive, we decided to try Lima Rock north side and attempt the east point from the rear that way.  Our group comprised Bobbi and Nicki and Anna and Steve. We started on the north side of Lima and rode the mild current (going clockwise around the rock it seemed) to the corner where we shot the gap and hit current coming up the other side. Bobbi and I pulled ourselves along with our hooks but there were no huge barracuda here like before and no whale shark. We found as we turned the corner on the south side of the island that the current essentially dropped off, but vis became crystal clear, and Nicki found a turtle resting on the bottom with no intent to move off no matter how intrusively she caressed it with her camera.  It was a beautiful dive but we'll have to come back to see the whale sharks.

Back in port, we took a parting shot at the Dibba Oman fish market:

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