Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sérgio Simoes starts an Advanced OW dive course

July 12, Nomad Ocean Adventure speedboat trips to Musandam
My logged dives #1211-1212

Sérgio's wife Daniela is a colleague of mine at work. She told me that Sérgio had recently certified as an open water diver and was wondering if he could join us on one of our trips, but though he had completed the course in May, still in July he had still not received his certification. I offered to contact the dive center and see what the problem was, and soon his certification was visible on on PADI's Dive Chek, certified in May, processed in July, but now he was legit to dive with me.

I woke up after a deep, long sleep at Nomad Ocean Adventure on Friday and met Sérgio, who had driven down that morning from Al Ain, and after a chat over coffee, we decided to start working on his advanced course, so we arranged to do our two dives that day as an advanced o/w boat dive, and peak performance buoyancy dive.

Seas were a little rough due to rain over the mountains, so the boatman took his time, taking an hour and a half to reach Ras Morovi.  But once there we had a great first dive. Sérgio and I had worked out correct exposure protection, I had extra weights, we fine tuned buoyancy on the bottom with fin pivots and set out to explore the reef.  Vis was decent and Sérgio's diving was fine.  We skirted the bottom looking for rays and came up to the cave where I can always find at least one crayfish.  That cave is home to batfish as well and they are not camera shy.  Just outside the cave a trio of lion fish posed for photographers.

We continued south along the reef till I judged it was time to pop over to the other side. I have a favorite spot on this dive, a grotto where there are sometimes sting rays, and I had mentioned to Sérgio that turtles lived in this neighborhood.  As we progressed along the eastern side of the reef, heading north now, I moved deliberately ahead of other divers who had also popped over to this side of the reef, so as to be first to the grotto to see what might be lurking there.  There were no rays, but we came upon a very large turtle relaxing there.

When we came along he contemplated our presence and decided we were crowding him, so he moved slowly and gracefully out of his niche and headed down the other side of the reef, and I followed him with my GoPro.

Sérgio's air held out well and we had a 50 minute dive plus a safety stop. Sérgio had the typical novice problems with buoyancy toward the end of the dive and surfaced inadvertently, but unlike most at his stage of diving he got control of it and came back down to finish out the safety stop.

To make all of this a learning experience we decided to conduct the next dive as a peak buoyancy one. We finished lunch and motored over to Lima Rock to see if the seas had calmed enough for diving there.  The south side was still too rough, with waves crashing on the island, but the north was sheltered, so we went in there. Again we would work on fin pivots, breathing and hovering, and do swim-throughs as buoyancy exercises.  

We entered the water at about the middle of the north side of Lima. My strategy here was to reach the point and see what was there.  Along the way we found this cute little yellowmouth with a wrasse exploring all the yellow parts.  I meant to take this as a video with my GoPro, in which case you would have seen the little blue wrasse enter way inside the moray's mouth and disappear down the throat, only to emerge and continue his ministrations.  However the GoPro has no display and works on button presses, so I had pressed one too many, and the GoPro was in a mode where it takes multiple shots of the same scene, but only over a second or two, so I didn't get the video shot I wanted.

Sérgio signaled he was at 100 bar as we neared the point but there was little current there, so there was no problem edging our way past the gap and further along the wall.  There was a swirling school of jacks present, and I went out on the rock where John and I had found the barracuda the week before hoping to get a shot of them this time; I was very aware of my camera today :-)  However, the barracuda weren't home so we went back to the gap and found a crayfish in a crevice.  Sérgio signaled 50 bar so we worked our way around the corner and into safety stop position at 5 meters on the reef, heading back the way we had come on the north side.  Our dive profile was 18 meters at 39 minutes, plus the safety stop.

Chris and Armand were already back on the boat when we emerged, but they had seen an eagle ray, perhaps the same one I saw last week, at about 12 meters depth near where we had surfaced.  The boatman went around picking up other divers on the north side but avoided the south where white horses raged.  However, some of our divers had rounded the point and were now floating in the chop.  We picked up two, and the one from Oman, Nasser, amazingly fasting despite the heat and salt water, asked if the others had seen what was behind the school of jacks.  Neither had seen anything there, but Nasser insisted he had seen a whale shark swish its tail and move away. He had a big camera and owned a diver center in Seeb.  If he got the shot maybe we'll see it on his website,

So all in all, it was a nice day of diving, with plenty of critters around, and I'm looking forward to diving with Sérgio again when he is ready to complete his advanced course.

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