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Dive Logs for Vance Stevens
PADI open water scuba instructor #64181
Dives 486-7
FRIDAY June 13, 2003
Lima Rock and Whiskey Reef (the Cavern swimthrough)

This is the second time we've seen this guy out here. Read about our encounter last November. - picture credit: Edvard Osterberg

Diving with: ADSAC
Dive buddies: Bobbi and Dusty, and Andres
Others in dive party: Richard and Fiona Wilding, Vivek Chandra, Marius, Edvard who took the photos ...
Conditions: pleasantly heating up, 49 degrees on car thermometer on return to dock
Visibility: 6-10 meters
Wetsuit: lycra skin
Weight: 8 kg (overweight)
Diving from: slow dhow

Friday, June 13, 2003

Ali had admitted his boats had packed in by now, so we got a dhow instead

My 486th Logged Dive since 1991

In the picture: Me holding the whaleshark's fin and Dusty's head and snorkel just visible lower left - picture credit: Edvard

Dive site: Lima Rock
Training conducted: Dusty did approach to panic diver and recovery to boat for Rescue course

Interval on computer from previous dive: nil, first dive of day

Time down on dive computer: 11:10
Max depth: 19.6 meters
Time started up from chart: 50 min
Dive time from computer: 52 min
Min Temp: 27 degrees centigrade
No-stop time left on computer: 38 min
Nitrox 21% (normal air), no deco

Description of dive:

As the dhow pulled up to Lima Rock I saw a turtle in the water and pointed it out to the divers on the startboard side. Meanwhile those on the stern were shouting 'shark'. The shark passed just under the dhow and was clearly visible our side, and easily identifiable as a whale shark. We kitted up quickly and I was first of our foursome in the water. The whale shark passed beneath me and I urged the others to join me. When all had done so I dispensed with the usual check-orient-switch-and time, just said, let's go.

The bottom was 15 meters below but I stayed at 5 to 10 and tracked to where the shark had gone. Checking my buddies I saw Dusty pointing above and behind him, and there was the whale shark, appearing as in the picture at the top of this page.

The amazing thing about this animal is that it swam around and amongst the divers for as long as we cared to play with it. It would lumber away and then circle back and it was easy to position yourself so it would cross paths with you. It would make its turn, I would fin where it was headed, and I'd watch its big head approach and see its eye blink from the side of its wide mouth as it passed within stroking distance. First time I took its fin momentarily (and Edvard caught it on film, above) but as I held on I could feel it surge forward to get away, not frantically, but like a cat might extricate itself from your cuddle when it wants to get down, so I let go. But nothing I or anyone else did diminished the creature's interest in us. It circled and passed, circled and passed, allowing all who wished to play to do so. On one pass I stroked its silky side. On another I grabbed its dorsal fin, with the same affect as before, eliciting the surge to extricate and I let go. At one point Dusty moved up and put a hand on its fin. But it continued to move around the divers still coming in the water until WE decided we'd had enough, and I signalled my group to get on with the dive. That was about ten minutes into the dive according to the chart, above.

We dropped down to 15 meters but Andres signalled ear problems so I came up a bit. Lima Rock is full of fish in shallower water so depth didn't matter here. We soon came upon an eagle ray that flapped into view, saw us, and made haste to depart up the corals. Interesting how supple they appear when swimming and how rigid they become when speeding away. The dive was remarkable as Lima always is, lots of those fish off the reef with dorsal and ventral fins equal and opposite, and blue triggers, shoals of sgt. majors, lovely soft yellow and purple corals. As we got to the east end of the island the current picked up and as usually happens here, the vis gets grainy and the fish get wild. I looked back at Andres and saw a tuna swim right past him. Andres was getting swept into the current and Bobbi and Dusty and I held the rocks while he made his way back. I looked up at him and saw the whale shark pass overhead. He'd have missed it if I hadn't pointed up. The whale shark made a couple of passes but by now we were trying to shoo him away so he wouldn't block the view of the other fish ;-) I saw a turtle head north around the point and led our group in that direction. This took us around the island to calmer water where we finished our dive in the shallows, enjoying the schools of tropical fish and sucking our tanks down to the nubs.

This was probably the best dive I've ever had in the Emirates, and among the best I've had anywhere.

Pressure group out, from tables or wheel: 38 min from deco so ok

My 487th Logged Dive since 1991

Dive site: Whiskey Reef (the Cavern swimthrough)
Training conducted: none, fun dive with Bobbi, Dusty, and Andres

Interval on computer from previous dive: 1 hour 44 min.

Pressure group in, from tables or wheel: n/a

Time down on dive computer: 13:51
Max depth: 14.7 meters
Time started up from chart: 42 min
Dive time from computer:42 min
Min Temp: degrees 28 centigrade
No-stop time left on computer: 64 min
Nitrox 21% (normal air), no deco

Description of dive:

This dive was a little weird. Bobbi and I both discovered on kitting up that we had 150 bar or less in our tanks. We had filled them ourselves so this was an unusual coincidence. I had my 7 liter pony and decided to take it to compensate. It was one of those situations where Richard was trying to get everyone in the water, hurrying Andres because he hadn't kitted up on the long motor down, so I was trying to calm him and help him kit, and it was hot in the wetsuits, like you just want to get in the water, and my primary tank had a leak somewhere. I thought it was the o-ring, turned out to be the valve I think (couldn't shut it off after the dive) and anyway went in the water with it like that thinking I'd have plenty of air with the extra pony.

Our team was in the first wave and we were nearly the first down and underwater found ourselves in a measured race with Claude and his group to the cave entrance. We all realized, first one in the cave sees the ray. We went for the darkest part but that turned out to be the back of the alcove, not the swim through. Everyone had made the same mistake so now we all finned for the boulders we had passed earlier which we now recalled was where the swim-through was. As we approached that we had strong surge. It was dark in the hole we were entering but we'd brought torches this time. The surge made it necessary to hold in place and then fin forward in fits and starts. We probed the rocks and turned up a flat brown ray agitatedly trapped among a half dozen divers. It wasn't a particularly pretty ray, and it wasn't pleasant to be caught in the surge. Just outside the cave exit, Bobbi grabbed on to me for support and I had to go knees in the sand as she had incapacitated my swimming abilities.

All this exercise had exerted us and I noted perterbedly that only 15 min into the dive I was already at 50 bar, and my buddies were indicating that the stream of bubbles from the back of my tanks was noticable. So I switched it off and went over to the pony. I had higher than normal stress regaining breathing control, getting on with leading the dive, fiddling with my gear, gathering up my hoses and kit. Checking Bobbi's air I misread her guage thinking she was at 50 bar too. She actually had 100 but I put her on the pony octopus as well. We swam along like that, tethered to the pony in such a way that to look back at Dusty and Andres we had to remove our mouthpieces. It shows what a good diver Bobbi has become that she could cope easily with this situation, and I settled down too and from then on enjoyed the dive, as we relaxedly drifted in the mild current.

We drifted over a turtle nestled against the coral at the shallow bottom. We passed him in such a relaxed state that though he watched us warily, he let us pass overhead without swimming off. We came upon cuttlefish and played with them as we drifted weightless overhead. We found swimthroughs and ducked in. It turned out to be a beautiful dive, where we shared air and kept ourselves down, breathing minimally in the gentle current, decreasing depth as we needed to conserve air, just enjoying the fish and the scenery and the cool ambience of a relaxed dive. We surfaced after 42 min.

Pressure group out, from tables or wheel: n/a 64 min no deco time

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Last updated: November 26, 2003 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0