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Vance's Personal Dive Log for the year 2004

Vance Stevens, P.A.D.I. Open Water SCUBA Instructor #64181

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Date Logged Dive # Location Diving with Trainees and buddies
Friday January 2, 2004 538-539
Abu Dhabi, Ras Ghurab and Cement Barge ADHFC Kathleen Russel brought 3 students Mhmd, Shawn, and C...?? Assya Makawi and Huda Malhas both certified with dive #4 and one more besides. Mhmd Malhas joined for fun. Lawrence Wock did his second o/w dive at RG and dived the OCB for fun. Seas were calm for change in January, no wind hardly, lovely chilly sunny day, vis not very good. We found a big grouper at RG but not much else. OCB was full of curious bat fish and angel fish and gopies with cooperative construction crabs. On a foray over sand we found a dead discarded shark about 15 cm. All divers did well and enjoyed their day.
Thursday, January 8, 2004 540
Musandam, Lima Rock undiveable, so went in bay north of cave swim through Al Marsa Incredibly rough seas, near mutiny among crew until just before Lima something went over the side and the girls called a halt. The island was undiveable, the sea a cauldron. Boat came about and we put in at the bay just north of cave swim through. Bob Symonds and I were only amongst us to go in (Rico took Vladimir). Bob and I saw a couple of turtles and barracuda off the point and swimming in amongst the constant swirl of fish. Poor vis, surge, but a nice dive. Participants on this illfated voyage:
  1. Terry Kearney, PADI Staff Instructor
  2. Vance, PADI Instructor
  3. Bob Symonds, Divemaster
  4. Jeff Tollison, PADI divemaster
  5. Bobbi, Advanced PADI
  6. Rebecca, o/w
Friday January 9, 2004 541-542
Abu Dhabi, Delta Buoy, 14 and 15 meters ADHFC Saw a few sea snakes and lots of yellow grunts. Nice dives with Lawrence, cold, seas rough on way out but calm underwater and conditions settled during day
Saturday, January 31, 2004 543-544 Dahab, Egypt, Canyon 'Right' and Blue Hole 'Right'   Reef Divers divvied us up in the a.m. and sent us with Adam, a nice enough Egyptian instructor, and a few BSAC photographers to dive the Canyon but not the Canyon, the wall to the right of it. Clarity and vis terrific but not all that much to see, one turtle, can't recall what else. We didn't get far along the wall, turned back. Interesting winged fish in the shallows. Bobbi and I swimming in 2 meters of water admiring it when Adam notices she's at 40 bar, sends her emphatically up, leaving me to continue alone. Strange (2 meters, end of dive!, 20 meters short of having to stand up and walk) [62 min., 25.3 meters, 21 degrees C]. We had this feeling to avoid Adam's suggestion of going to Lighthouse for second dive (this turned out to be in town) and we got ourselves taken out on the morning trip instead, their second dive. Missed Bell's Blue hole but joined them for surface interval and swam across Blue Hole (diving, also odd, beginners disoriented, some going too deep, I had suggested we snorkel out) to cut in reef then along the wall, again not much there, except after all had turned around and were heading back I noticed 2 Napoleon Wrasse and went out in the blue to see them. Had to catch up with the divers who were soon heading in over the cut in the wall, Bobbi and I still with 100 bar. As we were not allowed to continue on outer wall on our own this left us no option but to explore barren hole. Richard divemaster hovered over obviously wanting us to get back up with the others, so we complied. Again pretty, but not a very interesting dive.
[48 min., 22.5 meters, 21 degrees C]
Sunday, February 1, 2004 545 Dahab, Egypt, Canyon [50 min., 29.2 meters; 20 degrees at depth] Reef Divers at Bedouin Moon Eid al Adha and Egypt had shut down, we were the only divers wanting to dive save one, and we thought we'd go where we wanted. Not. No drivers, so Eel Garden suggested and finish up in town at the Lighthouse. We prevailed on them to take us to the Canyon as they had denied us the day before. Canyon not a big deal, nothing much there, just a drop to depth and a fin up to a clump of coral called the pinnacle. Spotted ray under a staghorn coral there. Richard a good dive leader but overly conservative for us, kept us on a tight leash, stayed shallow and well back off the wall, tried to call me back when I went to peer over it. Freezing during the dive and cold enough afterwards to make us want call it a day rather than proceed to Lighthouse lunch and afternoon dive. We drove into Naama Bay instead and got ourselves on a Tihran dive on the morrow.
Monday, February 2, 2004 546-547 Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, Straits of Tihran, Jackson and Woodhouse Reef Camel Divers, nice people, let us dive on our own First dive not much, just a drop in off a nice wall where I think I was once before (used to be a big Napoleon wrasse hanging out there). Pretty fish and some nice big ones but more divers than fish, lots of them with cameras diving alone, and Bobbi and I went back and forth between the boat and the current we'd been warned away from, pretty but overcrowded and unimpressive [51 min, 26.6 meters, 22 degree water]. Best thing was the Camel Dive team didn't monitor our every move, let us find our own way back to the boat. Second dive off Woodhouse was best of the trip, a great way to end the week. Nice wall, some morays, and lots of blue spotted eels in the sandy patches. End of the dive a 3-meter white-tip shark came round the corner, saw us, headed up the reef, had second thoughts, wheeled around, proceeded on his way just below us, and finned off behind us. Two divers we'd been diving with and the camera lady had just indicated 60 bar (60? why not wait to 50?) and ascended up the wall, missed the spectacle. Buddied with Ed Shaw, divemaster [49 min. 21.8 meters, after 1:12 interval]. He had just been about to leave us when we saw the shark. Good thing he stayed!
Friday, February 13, 2004 548 Ras Gurab, 56 cold minutes, shivering, 5.7 m. max depth, 20 degrees centigrade at depth ADHFC Another 'unlucky' Friday 13th (see log of last Friday 13th dive) - Ras Gurab, the usual drop on a porite coral head surging with snappers, grunts, sgt.majors, and other tropicals, Kate Henry on her very first open water dive, just us on the boat. Then something unusual for Ras Gurab, tail tell-tale from under the coral, a sand shark as big as my arm. Second time I've seen a shark hereabouts but first time to see a mature one here. We stopped and gawked then went on with our dive. The shark did nothing. We did surface and underwater compass navigation, tired diver tows, and snorkel/reg exchange.
Thu, Feb 19, 2004 549 Delta Buoy - water 20 degrees centigrade again. 10.7 meters on my computer, 53 min. ADHFC Kate Henry on PADI open water dive #2. Calvin and Nicky and Ralph from the hospital out for a fun dive. Nicky had insisted on Delta Buoy but on arrival at the spot was surprised this was not the wreck of the Hannan, which she had in mind. The three o/w divers descended on rope and headed south, contrary to my suggestions. Kate and I went north from the anchor to the spot I always dive when I'm there now. I've got a fix on a prominent east-west ridge with a nice sandy valley, and a few pipes strewn about for navigation. I used those to find the ridge from the anchor and found a bit of line on the ridgeline between coral dollops to mark the return point, then followed the ridge up the valley. There were a couple of big hamour about, one almost 2 ft long, and in the spot where Kate did her exercises, there was a lovely leopard spotted ray. After exercises, went looking for the ray to the east, followed ridges there as long as I dared, returned to the sand valley, and went north for a bit. Returned south to the valley, followed the ridge back to the line, went south to a couple of pipes in a V then west to where I thought the boat should be and surfaced just meters from it.
Thu, Feb 26, 2004 550-552 Khor Fakkan 7 Seas
  1. Vance, Instructor, confirmed
  2. Cheralyn Coles, completed advanced course
  3. Mike Parry, completed advanced course
  4. Nicky, confirmed
  5. Ralph Allgaier, completed advanced course
  6. Alain Giguere, completed advanced course

night dive

All divers above plus

7. Mohammed Malhas

Fri, Feb 27, 2004 553-554 Mussandam - Mother of 2 Mice and Lima Rock Sahel Leema

Friday, 9:00 meet at Dibba Al Bayah, the Oman port (for info: ) for Musandam

All divers above plus

8. Cal Ponton, to do final rescue scenario, confirmed
9. Bobbi, PADI Advanced, confirmed
Sue (Mike's wife) coming on the boat for fun

Thu, March 4, 2004 555 Delta Buoy - 21 degrees C, 11.2 meters, 56 min. including 2 CESAs ADHFC Kate Henry on PADI open water dives #3. Kate's friend Katrina from Austria was alson along for a ride, as was Nasser Abi Mosleh, who did all but the compass square pattern for PADI Advanced Open Water u/w navigation dive. The first dive at Delta Buoy was pretty neat. After getting all carefully in water, going down on anchor line, vis decent for a change, an eagle ray appeared midwater. Down the anchor, we reeled out 30 meters of line so Nasser could count fin kicks and seconds, skewed by current either direction. We left the reel played out and went north a few meters to the ridge, noticing elbow pipes. I took a bead on lining up 4 coral heads to find way back then went east along ridge again noticing pipes. We saw only one big hamour but lots of schooling fish looking like squid from a distance and almost like barracuda up close, but neither. Nasser did a compass south and return north from the sandy bit. With everyone getting below 100 bar we headed back west into the current, buoyancy becoming a problem for Katrina, which I corrected. Katrina showed me 50 bar at the 4 coral lumps, but we returned to the line and regained the anchor, Nasser ostensibly leading the way. Kate and I did CESAs till she ascended on one breath, completed surface work. Cold.
Thu, March 4, 2004 556 Old Cement Barge - 22 degrees C, 11.3 meters, 28 min. plus 2 min. ascent ADHFC Kate Henry on PADI open water dive #4 for certification. Too cold for Nasser and Katrina to re-enter water, but Kate game to complete her course. OCB not as good vis but slightly warmer. We found the bat fish all huddled in a bit of the wreck, and one or two emerged right past us when we looked in on them. Lots of crabs and gopies in sand off the stern. We checked the debris around the wreck then returned up the anchor. Nice diving, and lucky to find wreck yet again.
Fri, March 19, 2004 557-558 Hannan Wreck (less than 22 meters) and Delta Buoy (less than 14 meters) ADHFC Cal Ponton completed the open water portion of the PADI Rescue course with a final comprehensive dive rescue scenario. The Hannan dive was super today. We got wet going out but had no swells that I noticed kitting up and entering the water. Our anchor line was draped over the wreck. Descending down the line, besides Cal and I, were Cherylin Coles, recently certified advanced, and Vicky Gammon and Huda Malhas, recently certified open water and pushing the depth limits ever so slightly under my supervision. The top of the wreck was at 13 and the bottom 21. On top of the wreck were schools of yellow fin something - I thought jacks and Cal thought Tuna. Swarms of big fish at any rate. Below them were large shoals of barracuda, visited again by intersecting shoals of jacks so that the wreck was surrounded by constantly coursing biomass. The barracuda were especially beautiful today, passing alongside as we circumnavigated the wreck and then surging up overhead and disappearing over the gunwales. Chunky rays were buried in the sand off the stern, and there was a dead shark caught in a fishnet streaming off the wreck. Large grouper (hamour) hugged the sand bottom and there were 4 or 5 big ones trapped all together in a fish pot. We spent 37 min. on the wreck, the maximum time allowable at that depth on our tables.

Delta Buoy was not as pleasant. The vis kept us from seeing anything interesting. Huda sat out and Mohammed joined us on that dive. We went north from about the usual spot and made our way east up the ridgeline but it was too murky to see much and when Mhmd hit 100 bar I headed south toward the boat, hoping the current would take us there. When Mhmd dropped to 50 we ascended near the boat. All exited but me, and I went diving with a pair of plastic bags, which I 'lost' south of the anchorage. I surfaced between the boat and the buoy so Mhmd would have something to reference when I came up, shouted, and went back down again. Cal and Cherylin entered the water and spotted by Mhmd, descended just west of the bags. As prearranged I raised my sausage to mark our descent point. Cal went in a square pattern and on the third leg came out on top of the bags. Cherylin went limp and he brought her to the surface and returned her to the boat, ventilating as he did so. He got her aboard, administered simulated CPR, and she quickly revived. We then discussed the many ways to rescue could have been improved.
April 9, 2004 559 Ras Gurab ADHFC Sea conditions choppy 2 foot, resulted in surge at 3 to 4.9 meters where we were diving 45 minutes at RG00 on my GPS. Straight-jacket vis with Cal and I monitoring 3 first-time divers. Decent boat briefing brought us to the surface 60 seconds after initial buddy separation 5 min into the dive, and divers then re-descended and settled into coping with difficult conditions and staying together. It was at least reasonably warm in my lycra plus coveralls plus ventilated 3 mil top. All divers performed well despite conditions, and hoping for nothing worse in near future.
  1. Vance, PADI Instructor
  2. Sally Smith, 1st open water training dive
  3. John, 1st open water training dive
  4. Karri, 1st open water training dive
  5. Calvin, almost completed Rescue Diver, assisting
  6. Rob, PADI Advanced
  7. Francois, NAUI II (advanced equivalent)
April 16, 2004 560-561 Hannan (20 meters at low tide) and Cement Barge (10 meters) ADHFC

Best Abu Dhabi dive yet on the Hannan, and Mike Parry first 5 Rescue exercises: stressed diver underwater; approach to stressed and panic divers at surface and tow back to boat; assist from boat and rescue; search for missing diver u/w at Cement Barge.

The weatherman predicted 3 to 4 foot seas last Friday but the flag over the marina mall was limp as I looked out from my balcony Friday morning and no waves could be seen washing the breakwater. We had no more than 1 or 2 foot swells as we broached the harbor mouth and skimmed out toward the Hannan.

We arrived at the well marked wreck site in pleasant conditions, warm but not hot on the boat, no swell that I can remember to disturb our kitting up, and pleasantly cool once we hit the water. The anchor was right next to the wreck and we dropped down into swirls of yellow fin dashing about above the barracuda nearer the bottom. Nicky and Ralph spotted three sharks among the barracuda and Nicky had "Sharks X 3" written on her slate in big pencil to prove it. Mohammed and I missed them, possibly because we began our dive toward the stern while the others headed for the bow, but as we rounded the stern and came onto the nets draped on the other side, we found a shark snared up to his gills, exhausted and listless, but still breathing.

I gingerly cut him loose, being careful, not sure what he would do, and once free he sluggishly headed around to the dark side of the nets to hide close in to the boat. Mohammed and I continued on our way and found the others on top of the mottled rays flush with the sand, their outlines just visible. The rays stayed put despite the many fins causing currents overhead and I decided to take the others back to where we had seen the shark in case we could find him in his hiding place. I was shining my light into where the sand meets the wreck when I saw the shark had got caught on the net again in a reflexive sprint from under the boat. This time Mike Parry cradled him to hold him still while I cut through the strands pinning his ventral fins. He went off like a puppy dog once he got free again and swam out to sea this time.

The Hannan wreck is a great one for hanging out with hulking barracuda the size of your leg. Dozens can be seen swirling just off the wreck, and it's a gas to mingle among them and chase after the bigger ones as they move languidly off. Yellow fins buzz by creating the impression of biomass in flux. Large batfish glide closer to the wreck, which is alive with smaller fish and invertebrates.

At one point I set myself on the bottom in front of one of the delta-shaped mottled rays and ran my fingers under the edge of his leading wing. He only blinked his eyes at me. Then I noticed that right behind him a gopie was poised outside a hole that his crab friend was excavating. The crab was coming out of the hole and dumping bits of rubble on the edge of the ray. Fascinated by this I was distracted by the motion of a hermit crab starting an amble across the ray, and then I noticed another on the other wing. Three crabs were at work on and around this ray and he lay camoflaged inches from my chin, motionless except for the blinking of his eyes. And then I noticed another gopie, and another, all around me, each with his crab. I sat and watched this for a few minutes and then finned off to join the barracuda.

A large ray, a dark brown one, caught my eye as he rippled toward me beneath the schools of circling barracuda. He didn't seem to notice me, came straight at me, passed under me, and I turned to follow. At this point he became aware of my presence and picked up speed. I followed, finning after him until he seriously increased speed and headed off away from the wreck. I watched him disappear and in the direction of his disappearance caught sight of another ray, a leopard spotted one this time. As I drifted on top of him, he too started rippling to make good his departure. He followed the other ray, and I was left with the relatively colorless mottled brown ones half buried in the sand, their outlines just visible, spaced here and there on the sand.

  1. Vance, PADI Instructor
  2. Ralph, PADI Advanced
  3. Nicki, advanced
  4. Mohamed Malhas, in training for advanced
  5. Mike Parry, rescue diver in training
  6. Victoria, BSAC, needs refresher
April 23, 2004 562-563 Delta Buoy (10 meters, 45 min) and Bateen Box (8 meters, 45 min) ADHFC

Lovely day at Delta Buoy. Lots of life about. Dropped anchor at the usual spot just west and north of the buoy. Finned a short distance north to arrive at the trough, found lots of grouper at home and in the sand. Dozens of big barracuda cruising to and fro. Sweet lipped yellow/black grunts, a fish that ducked into the sand without a trace, not even a burrow, a cuttlefish brown to irridescent. Great dive, dropped all but Glenn, Wael, and I dockside and went to Bateen Box. Bat fish there, a prowling barracuda, lots of small fish swarming right at us, parting around us, swirling about, followed a hermit crab carrying two soft barnacles on his shell. Temperature and seas ideal.

  1. Vance, PADI Instructor
  2. Wail Braki for is 3rd and 4th o/w dives for certification
  3. Glenn Stevens, rescue diver in training: assisting distressed diver underwater and surface on alternate air; approach and assist distressed diver at surface and tow to boat
  4. Troy Gretener for his first Open Water dive
  5. Dan Gretener, refresher
  6. Kathleen Russell, Peter (divemaster), Emmanuel, and British vet father and his 10-yr old son Cal
Sat May 1, 2004 564-565 Hannan (20 meters, 45 min) and Delta Buoy (13 meters, 45 min) ADHFC Took my family (Bobbi and Dusty) out on one of our best Abu Dhabi dive combos along with Andree Morrison (Instructor) and one advanced student, Don. Depth finder was not working on the boat but my aim was true and I managed to drop the anchor right on the propeller of the sunken ship by spotting apprx location relative to the buoys. Vis was much reduced from last time we were there and I was disappointed on descending on the Hannan and finding essentially gloom. We couldn't see the barracuda hanging off the bow and there were no sharks caught in the nets as before. It seemed to be a drab hunk-of-metal dive except that the diamond shaped mottled rays were out and about, passing mid-water, not all hunkered down in the sand. Then we forayed out from the wreck and found the barracuda and silver fish swishing to and fro. There was a sea snake half out of a hole in the sand, and lots more of those rays. Bat fish hovered off the wreck, a large puffer caught our eye. We ran our no-deco down to the nub and surfaced after 45 min. Great dive in retrospect. Next stop Delta Buoy. This time I dropped anchor due west of the buoy. The boat drifted south and we ended up finning to the buoy on a northerly heading. It was the first time I'd actually seen the chain holding down the buoy. Lots of bat fish hung off it, and schools of barracuda. Rest of dive fairly non-descript through, except for yellow spotted sweet lipped grunts we found on a ridge working west and then north from the buoy, and a passing sea snake. We worked out way back west with a current down to 12 meters and then found ourselves over barren flats trying to come east. Surfaced, took a bearing on the boat, dived down and found its anchor attached to a fender as it had gone to pick up two divers caught in current. Rescue training: Bobbi and Glenn did the rescue from boat and recovery of exhausted swimmer. Bobbi workied on panic diver and recovery but got stressed herself in currents and we aborted equipment removal. Risked losing our wt belts. Nice day out.
Fri May 14, 2004 566-567 Inside the Breakwater (The 'Hole" achieving depths of 11 meters, and just west of the west-most 'picnic' house, shallower - both dives around 45 min). ADHFC

We planned easy dives at Delta Buoy and Ras Gurab with a quick stop by Sadiyat dive site at N24 30 802 E54 24 310. High tide was 9 a.m. which is why we want to meet at 8 and be away at 8:30 to catch the ideal conditions at Delta Buoy. Kathleen was conducting a rescue course and I had arranged two boats to acccommodate her and my ten divers. However, I leveled with my group regarding the weather report: for Day 2. Friday 14 05 2004 Weather Sunny, cooler and dusty with patches of wind blown sand. Wind Fresh northwesterly Shamal of 15 to 20 knots, but strong at 20 to 30 knots at sea. Temperature Max 36°C Sea State Inshore 4 to 6 feet, offshore 8 to 10 feet. Divers turning up despite these warnings:

  1. Kathleen, PADI Instructor
  2. Kathleen's husband, Alistair
  3. Peter, PADI Divemaster
  4. Kathleen's 8 rescue diver trainees
  5. Vance, PADI Instructor
  6. Dan Gretener, PADI o/w, father of ...
  7. Troy Gretener, o/w trainee, dives 2 and 3
  8. Johann, o/w trainee, dive 1 plus one for experience
  9. Torsten, advanced trainee, boat dive and attempt at u/w navigation
  10. Cheryl Olson, refresher dive

Five of my booked divers had cancelled after my assessment of the weather, which was wise because the report was accurate. In the end we had Kathleen's crowd on one big boat while my group took the usual small one. We faced rough seas and whitecaps from right outside the Intercon, and we were soaked spray even as we crossed the channel to the lee of the gale behind the breakwater barrier. We tossed anchor in relative calm with water churning up and over the opposite side, the sea washing dramatically over the top from the caldron in the tempest beyond the breakwater.

Our early start was rewarded with fairly calm diving conditions on our first dive, though our second was frought with current 3 hours into an outgoing tide cycle. Kathleen's group anchored nearby and proceeded to call to one another for help and struggle into the current with 'unconscious' divers while our less experienced group plumbed the depths from our own boat. Vis was a problem though my group handled it well. Johan stuck to me like glue, always in view. Troy did about the same and his father was never far behind. Torsten and Cheryl buddied and did well to overcome inexperience in difficult conditions. Torsten made a fine start to his advanced o/w course but was task loaded and ran low on air prematurely without managing the safety stops, understandable considering.

We saw little more than gopies and crayfish in their holes, a few other fish, and occasional staghorn coral. We did some compass forays over the sandy silt bottom. I demonstrated on dive 1 and on the second dive Troy led us in a near perfect out and back. Torsten's u/w nav attempt was rent assunder by current that resulted in his separation from us, but I had attached my reel to the anchor and as the current placed us on its line for our ascent (both my reel and the anchor line affected by the same vector forces) we encountered Torsten hanging on the anchor line and redescended without surfacing. All divers kept their cool in difficult circumstances and we had a challenging and enjoyable day of it. Temperatures were ideal at any rate.

Thu, May 27, 2004: PADI annual Member Forum Wed eve and EDA dinner 27th 568-569 Khor Fakkan: Martini Rock and Coral Garden off Shark Island 7-Seas Wildlife: lots of eels and scorpion fish, turtle at CG, also a free swimming jaw fish
  1. Mike Parry, Rescue trainee - did lift of unconscious diver at Coral Garden
  2. Sally Smith, did o/w training dive 2 at Martini; compass nav underwater and at surface, wt belt removal, snorkel-reg xchg, cramp removal (for real), tired diver tow
  3. Nicki, advanced, joined us on both dives
  4. Ralph, PADI advanced, joined us on both dives
Fri, May 28, 2004 570-571 Khor Fakkan: Martini Rock and Urchin Garden opposite Shark Island 7-Seas Wildlife: lots of eels and scorpion fish, masses of sea urchins at Urchin Gardens, also dubbed Vance's Bluff (looking for anenome gardens next headland south of Hole in Wall, sorryyyyyyy ... !!!)
  1. Bobbi, Rescue trainee, ventilated unconscious diver at surface
  2. Glenn, Rescue trainee, ventilated unconscious diver at surface
  3. Mike Parry, Rescue trainee, ventilated unconscious diver at surface
  4. Mhm'd Malhas, completed Advanced course with properly conducted multlevel and another dive, both with 5 meter, 3 min safety stops
  5. Sally Smith, o/w training dives 3 and 4, ESA
  6. Nicki, advanced, joined us on both dives
  7. Nicki, advanced, joined us on both dives
Thu a.m. - June 3, 2004 572-573 Bateen Box (7 m x 2 30min dives)  

PADI Open Water Dive #1 to was conducted at Bateen Box in 2 waves comprising the following trainees:

  • First Wave
    1. Khalid
    2. Riyadh
    3. John Cross
  • Second Wave
    1. Samir
    2. Abdullah
    3. Salah

These dives went fairly well considering the logistics involved, but took two hours longer than anticipated. Both were done at Bateen breakwater. One diver had trouble descending on each wave which took time (not listed above). First dive was on bateen box, didn't cover much ground as first time divers familiarized with equipment and finning and managing themselves in the water. No batfish but we found gopies and crabs and watched them. We meandered back to boat and were on the anchor (which we noticed had been slipping) for slow ascent when Ashraf suddenly pulled it up to move the boat, leaving us mid-water and with a long swim to where he re-anchored. Next wave took time to get in and one diver again could not descend. One buddy pair waited at bottom while other buddy waited mid rope. Once diver A returned to surface I signaled descent to bottom and then found out diver on rope had ear problems as well. With him in midwater we drifted off breakwater and had to fin for it on compass with one diver not keeping up due to poor fin technique. Reached corner of breakwater 20 min into dive and had to swim away from boat due to current. On surface, called boat, one driver dropped weights getting on board, and I had to take his tank and go look for them (discovered then he had only 30 bar of air, had to do square pattern to find weights in poor vis). Returned to port two hours late for second batch of divers.

Thu p.m. - June 3, 2004 574 Delta Buoy (12 m for 30 min, surface, continue for 15 min) ADHFC

Training conducted at Delta Buoy with:

  1. Riyadh Open Water Dive #2
  2. John Cross Open Water Dive #2
  3. Johan Open Water Dive #2
  4. Ronan (refresher)
  5. Eric (refresher)
  6. Torsten, completed reciprocal compass heading and most of square for Advanced training

We planned dive on Torsten's advanced navigation skills. I had Ashraf anchor due east of Delta Buoy apprx 30 meters. Once down, tied line to anchor and went 30 meters north. Torsten and Eric followed, counting kicks, then returned to anchor leaving line in place. I then led divers the 30 meters to the buoy where we found curious bat fish and the occasional sea snake. I had my divers do their skills while Torsten headed north with Eric and Ronan, and when he returned I sent him off to do the square. Meant to await his return but one of my divers went low on air and I put the lot on alternate air source and had them ascend. At surface, we saw Torsten had ascended right near the buoy. He later said, and Eric confirmed, that he had done three legs of his square and was into the 4th when forced to ascend, out of air (no safety stop, unfortunately). Eric and Ronan continued on but ascended shortly thereafter due to one of them being low on air. Boat came and low air divers boarded. John and Johan and I all had 100 bar more or less so we descended and went with the current. We saw another sea snake but not much else. I remember the temperature being perfect and this part of the dive being relaxing and worry free after the trials of the morning up to then.

Fri June 4, 2004 574-577 2 dives in area Ludwig and one in area of Jassim ADHFC A marvelous day out with Calvin and Eric, just the three of us, marred unfortunately by my inability to find the wrecks on 2 dives. We had a new boat with a new fishfinder that was so good at finding fish that before the first dive on the Ludwig it confused us into thinking we were on wreck when we were over shoals of baraccuda which we saw as we descended. Water was murky so whereas being off the Ludwig by a couple dozen meters can be forgiven in normal vis, we saw nothing our first time down, dark shadows proving to be mirages. I tied a reel to the anchor and we went looking but were swept to the west away from the wreck and had to give up in 20 min, then recover the line on the reel, and surfaced just before deco set in. After a break we headed right for my GPS point and passed over the wreck most definitely imaged for us, dropped a shot right on it, draped the anchor over the amidship, and had a fabulous dive, though short, trying to avoid deco. Baraccuda all over the wreck, and nudibranchs in the sand and on the wreck, the white ones. I hurried Cal trying to find the entrance into the companionway and got us on the dull hull side then up and over to the deck side where we waited out our no deco time with batfish teasing us.

We decided to do the Jassim on the way home. Here we had the usual trouble finding the site without surface buoy reference, but dropped a shot with a buoy where we thought we had been before, and looked for the wreck 100 meters to the north of that (where we had found it our previous time there). But the fishfinder fooled us again, plus we kept passing over the other structures there giving positive readings and making us think we were on the wreck when we weren't, so when we dropped in, no Jassim in sight, though I spotted a baraccuda, indicating wreck near. We headed in the baraccuda's direction, thinking his friends might be on the wreck, and picked up debris but this turned out to lead us to a pedestal (I've seen that damn pedestal on my last three visits to this site). Calvin realized the wreck was to the north and finned off but that would have been 100 meters away. I turned back to pick up my line which had snared, and Eric stayed with me. Calvin crossed our line and found the anchor and follwed the line back to find us reeling it in. We ascended the anchor line slightly into deco, which we burned off at 5 meters.

Not a very satisfying day out except for the one for three hit, but we learned how (not) to interpret bottom image date on this new boat, and I learned that next time I do the Jassim I go with someone who can find it and I buoy it and/or get an accurate GPS reading.
Thu, June 17, 2004 578-580 Inside Bateen Breakwater (2 dives) and Ras Ghurab ADHFC

A challenging day's diving with many levels to cater to. Thursday's weather was predicted the day before to be inshore 3 to 4 feet, offshore 4 to 6 feet. By morning the forecast had changed. In fact we encountered rough conditions on exiting the harbor at 9:00 a.m. and turned back to the breakwater. By afternoon the seas had calmed a little and we went on to Ras Ghurab as originally planned. This was what the weather site was showing on Thursday:

  • Day 1. Thursday 17 06 2004 Weather Hazy otherwise sunny and cooler. Wind Light southwesterly, becoming moderate to fresh northwesterly at 12 to 17 knots during the morning. Temperature Max 39°C Sea State Inshore 1 to 2 feet, offshore 3 to 4 feet.
  • Day 2. Friday 18 06 2004 Weather Sunny and warm. Wind Light southwesterly, becoming fresh northwesterly at 12 to 17 knots during the morning. Temperature Max 39°C Sea State Inshore 3 to 4 feet, offshore 4 to 6 feet.

Inside the breakwater to 8 meters: Dive 1, Boat 1 - went well, started with surface skills, let Wessie go on compass under boat to find his snorkel but he didn't return to origin point (anchor). We went to wall, found sand, did skills for dive. Then did compass work out and back. On Abdullah/Khaled's leg east I dragged my hand in the sand to make a trail. When they headed west but veered south I was able to catch them and return them (without compass, I'd lent mine) to the mark in the sand near the origin and have them repeat the reciprocal leg, which they then did perfectly. No one asked me how I managed to retrace to the origin in 3 meter vis without a compass (instructors are supposed to just 'do' these things).

  1. Vance, Instructor
  2. Wessie, open water dive #1 and snorkel/reg exchange
  3. Khalid, Gasco, Open water dive #2 and Tired diver tow / snorkel & reg exchange / surface compass heading / compass navigation under water / CESA
  4. Abdullah, Gasco, Open water dive #2 and Tired diver tow / snorkel & reg exchange / surface compass heading / compass navigation under water
  5. Mike Parry, Rescue Course, egress with unconscious diver and First Aid for pressure related accidents

Inside the breakwater: Dive 1, Boat 2 - same plan as before, all divers did well. We found a trap underwater full of batfish and grouper and opened it. I thought it was abandoned because there was no marker to surface. Later found that local guys with us thought we should have left it. I'll ask them about it.

  1. Vance, Instructor
  2. Samer, Gasco, Open water dive #2 and Tired diver tow and cramp removal / snorkel & reg exchange / surface compass heading / compass navigation under water
  3. Salah, Gasco, Open water dive #2 and Tired diver tow and cramp removal / snorkel & reg exchange / surface compass heading / compass navigation under water / CESA
  4. Riyadh, Open water dive #3 and snorkel & reg exchange / remove & replace weights and bcd at surface
  5. John C, Open water dive #3 and Tired diver tow and cramp removal / snorkel & reg exchange / surface compass heading / remove & replace weights and bcd at surface / CESA
  6. Mike Parry, assisted with above

Second dive, Ras Ghurab - just 4 meters. Small schools of sweet lipped grunts and snappers. Coral attractive but diminished. We sheared several pieces off a bommie with our anchor, feel guilty about that (I dropped in sand but it dragged). Seas rough and divers nauseous going in, tired coming out.

  1. Vance, Instructor
  2. Wessie, open water dive #2 and Tired diver tow and cramp removal
  3. Riyadh, began open water dive #4, returned to boat after surfacing to reunite with buddy lost on return leg of u/w compass (short of finding origin point) and before attempting hover, did tired diver tow and cramp removal
  4. John C, open water dive #4, attempted u/w compass twice, both times surfaced without finding origin, not really able to hover without skulling (and when not skulling, rises or sinks). However, buoyancy control appears to me to be within tolerance seen in other certified divers at this level and I agreed to certify him.

Aprés plongé at boat harbor: Wessie, Pool Module 5

Fri, June 18, 2004 581-584 Old Cement Barge ADHFC

Saw wind blowing the Marina flag and waves washing the breakwater in a.m. from my apt, and 5-7 foot seas predicted, sort of knew we wouldn't dive Hannan. We met all promptly at 8:15 or so, kitted by 9, and headed to sea and on past the harbor mouth, bit of a swell, Mike didn't want to go to Hannan, but not that bad, so we decided on OCB. To find the site boatman wanted me to give him coordinates for his GPS and resisted my suggestions for charging on the site and dropping a shot as we passed over it approximately, eventually gave me controls, I dropped the shot, but 20 meters too late because my command wasn't responded to immediately. Boatman handed me controls at that point and sat aside, and using the shot as reference, staying N/E of it, I found the wreck at 5 to 6 meters in an 8.5 and 9 meter bottom and had the anchor dropped right on the bow.

Dive 1 - with Mike Parry and I went down the anchor line to be sure we were on the wreck and search for the shot on a 260 degree brg. As the anchor was on the wreck no need to send up my sausage, but we tied a reel to the wreck and finned 260 till we gave up finding the shot on that heading, too murky. Decided to go at an arc while reeling in. Mike had brilliant idea to go up and find shot buoy then go down on it. A few meters ascent and we found we were under the shot line, so we followed it to the shot, retrieved it, and dropped that on the wreck. That was so the boatman could pull anchor if he thought it was too rough. Back up top the divers were upchuking over the gunwales.

Dive 2 - got everyone out of the pitching boat and into the calm water, Torsten for his wreck dive and Wessie and Johan for their dive #3. Wael and Sally along for the ride, Mike helping me out. The wreck was pleasant, batfish about. We did compass navs off the bow and Johan did a CESA. All divers did well, forgot their indigestion, and returned safely topside, and we retreated to the breakwater.

Dive 3 - Rescue ex 10, response from boat/shore - We anchored off the wall between the last two green rooftops and I went in with my yellow bag buddy. I took my 'buddy' to the wall and found a sea snake with his head in a hole obviously consuming the late occupant. I watched him a bit then tied my buddy to a rock, surfaced, and reported him missing. Mike responded by mobilizing spotters who did their job so well that when we were finally joined by Torsten (to whom we wanted to introduce the art of search patterns) we dropped down right on the bag. How did we do that?? Vis was abysmal, and I had expected a tedious and perhaps too difficult search. Anyway, I went limp and Mike brought me to the surface. We then let Torsten be the victim with Wessie standing by in a snorkel and bcd to take his weights. Johan had joined in snorkeling and he and Wessie took gear as Mike peeled it off. The boat had dragged anchor and gone distant so the boatmen brought it over and when they dropped anchor in the new place I think they backed off the anchor and pulled it away off our rescue, making a frustrating situation for Mike, who shouted orders to the boatmen to stop, who finally put the boat in neutral. Torsten, stripped of his gear, was hauled aboard and revived by Mike.

Dive 4 - Now the turn of Wessie and Johan to do their final certification dive, and Torsten to complete his u/w navigation started on Delta Buoy a couple weeks back. Before descending, Sally did a bcd removal which we'd forgot from her last dive. We let T lead us from the anchor to a rope-draped rock. He then led us away from the rock and back to it, almost losing us and overshooting the rock on the return leg, but recovering well from all glitches and finding his starting point, well done. He then led us in a square but possibly due to current did not find his starting point. We set a reel where he stopped and went looking for the rope-draped rock but to no avail. Not sure what happened, vis was not just murky but milky, and it seemed he had done things correctly. I had Wessie and Johan do their final exercises at that point and then we moved to the bulge in the breakwater and at the southwest edge we found a fish trap. I took Torsten and Sally south from that 20 kicks. I had expected to do a square with him but Wessie and Johan didn't follow so I found myself 20 kicks south of my students and decided to go back and look for them. I indicated that Torsten should take Sally and compete the square and they went off. At the trap, W and J had found a ramora and were chasing it about or visa versa. I put my reel on the trap and went west to meet T and S whom I expected to arrive from their 4th leg, but we didn't see them again that dive. I went back, collected W and J, and we meandered south west and came up near the boat. We did remaining surface skills and CESA from there.

On surfacing from CESA Johan went limp at my prompting and we had to summon Mike again, this latest accident having just bobbed to the surface. Mike came in snorkel gear and pulled J back to the boat. I noticed that he didn't remove J's weights till just before hauling him aboard, but it was nevertheless an effective rescue, and fine culmination of a productive day out, one which at least ended in calm water.

At the OCB I got one GPS waypoint while I could actually see the wreck just to the south, and I got another just east of it, so I think we can locate it even better in future. The OCB can be elusively tricky to find, and not just for me. BSAC have had non-dives there and I was once misplaced by an Abu Dhabi commercial operator, since gone defunct (but found it anyway at the end of me reel!). At any rate, once found, the OCB has been fun, with batfish around plus lots of acquarium types. Even the breakwater was enjoyable, I thought. We did a lot of navigation and rescue work on it last weekend, and found sea snakes and ramora fish, and traps full of batfish and grouper.

Thu, June 24, 2004 585-586 Delta Buoy, 10 meters; last dive 44 min. ADHFC

We spent the whole time at Delta Buoy. I managed to anchor right on the ridge that I usually search for when I am there. The first one was short with 3 levels of divers and various rates of air consumption, so we stayed near the anchor line and on it mostly while I ferried divers up and down when they ran out of air and for the ESA's. But the second dive, same spot, we ventured into a magic aqualand. Big bat fish followed us around throughout the dive. We found a few big grouper at home and amusing hermit crabs. There were yellow spotted sweet lips and schools of those yellow and white striped ones swirling about, and the usual plethora of snapper in constant motion all around. I had six trainees on that one, John and Karri, and my 3 Gasco guys, (Riyadh stayed back on the boat 2nd dive). It was just very relaxing and pleasant, with all doing well, and I ended up back at the anchor right on cue, two of my divers haveing just held up 5 fingers.

Weather Sunny and very hot but dusty at times in the morning. Wind Moderate southerly at 10 – 13 knots, becoming moderate northwesterly in the afternoon. Temperature Max 45°C Sea State Inshore 1 to 2 feet, offshore 1 to 3 feet.

Open water training conducted:

  1. Abdullah, dives 2 and 4 certified!
  2. Khaled, dives 2 and 4 certified!
  3. Samir, dives 2 and 4 certified!
  4. John K, dives 2 and 3
  5. Karri, dives 2 and 3
  6. Riyadh, dive 4 to complete open water portion of course!
Fri, June 25, 2004 587-589 Hannan 18-19 meters, and Al Mutareez, 20 meters ADHFC

It was one of those days that makes you wish you could do this every weekend. Smooth seas, easy ride to the sites, hot but cool in the shade, and perfectly refreshing in the water.

We went to the Hannan first and dropped anchor a little east of the wreck. The anchor had slipped further east out of sight of the wreck, leaving a trail in the sand, when Torsten and I arrived at bottom for his deep dive. We found the wreck looming darkly beyond the end of the trail and huge barracuda there, including some very sizeable ones who had taken refuge under the bow. There were white nudibranchs on the encrusted debris at bottom. I didn't find any rays which surprised me. Torsten had a successful deep dive (one of our guages registered 20 meters, and his watch 17, and my computer and one of his guages put it just over 18). He monitored air perfectly so that we were able to find the anchor trail in the sand and go up the anchor line before he hit 50 bar, and do a safety stop. At the stop, the best safety stop I've had in recent memory, we were fascinated by the site of scores of barracuda circling us, round and round, as we ascended up the line and for the entire three minutes of the stop.

Back top I switched tanks and took Karri and John for their Open Water Dive 4 Certification dive. Glenn accompanied us. This time we enjoyed the barracuda on the way down. We found the nudibranchs and did skills nearby. We went all around the wreck and ended hovering in the hold, me concerned slightly that I didn't have much no deco time left, but Karri resolved that for me by running down to 50 not 30 min into the dive, so I led us to the east in search of the anchor trail I had easily found with Torsten. But the vis had deteriorated with the onset of a tide change and I wasn't able to find it, so we ascended mid-water, all doing well, and hovering like dive pros at the 5 min safety stop I called (for my benefit, being near deco). I had the kids reluctantly tired diver tow Glenn and I back to the boat, against the current, had to help them (i.e. 'demonstrate' the tow), and then we did surface navigation toward the buoy and snorkel reg exchance on the way back and I declared the young lads certified divers.

I had the boatmen head us toward Al Mutareez, which was indicated as a 'natural' site on Kathleen's Diving Emirates wall chart. Never been before, might not go back, but not sure we found it either. The wall chart says it's an 11-12 meter site at N24 39 10 / E54 00 00. From the GPS on the boat, this showed a 20 meter deep channel between a couple of 18 meter underwater knolls, which we decided to explore. Torsten was feelign confident and opted to do a search and recovery advanced dive so once we'd anchored in 20 meters and swung south on the anchor line in a stiffening current, I had the boatmen motor the boat to the north of the anchor line and dropped a shot line tied with a green rope to a buoy there. I figured we wouldn't see the shot from the anchor and could run a reel from there to the north and then do cross patterns east and west till we found the shot, using the reel line as a reference we would cross each leg of the search pattern.

What actually happened was somewhat different but quite instructive to both Torsten and I. First descending on the anchor line we came just before the bottom on the green rope coming from the shot line, tangled in the anchor line. Though the shot was out of sight, the green rope obviously led to it. I thought, no problem, I'll just lift the anchor over the green rope and it will then rise from the hidden shot and it will still be challenging to try and find it. So we lifted the anchor and replaced it on the sand. The shot line disappeared and so did the anchor as it started to drag south. After a feckless attempt to dig it into the sand I decided to let it go and found some marine plants to tie my reels to. That's when I discovered I didn't have my reels. I'd left them back on the boat. That's what heat will do. Sweat had been pouring off Torsten's face as we briefed the dive up top, and his condition must have mirrored mine. In that heat, you forget things if it's not part of your predive check.

Oh well, no problem, I decided we'd just have to do without the reference line. I finned northwest, the direction the current had been coming from (to try to keep a reference not affected by current). At some point Torsten and I decided to stop, more than the 30 meters we'd agreed to. With the anchor dragging that seemed reasonable. We then started executing our predetermined pattern on a westerly heading. In that direction we crossed a streak at n NW SE angle to our heading. I thought was the drag from the anchor line. Torsten correctly discerned that the angle of the streak was such that it was not in the direction of the current. Astute on his part, as therefore it would have to have been the streak from the shot as it was dragged by the anchor rope at an angle to current, and all we had to do to find our shot was follow the streak to it. However since I thought it was the anchor trail I persisted in our pattern, and as Torsten was the student and couldn't talk under water he didn't argue the point. We continued east and south and west and then east again, and on the last west leg Torsten got ahead of us again and almost out of sight, and I was getting concerned about losing our freshly certified divers, so when Torsten turned to go east, I caught him and had him stop. When Karri caught up we saw he was at 50 bar, so I signalled an ascent.

At the surface we saw that the buoy lay just to the east of us, and we probably would have hit on it on our next pattern leg, so I was very pleased with our search technique, as I think it would have succeeded, and Torsten would have found his object had Karri not run out of air.

Leaving Karri and John at the surface in protection of the boat, Glenn and Torsten and I descended on the buoy line to the shot at the bottom. We then tied my lift bag to the shot (I had at least brought that). We inflated the bag and Torsten used his finger over a hole at the top to regulate the volume of air in the bag and lift the heavy object safely to the surface.

It's a good thing we had this exercise to amuse us as there was bugger all to see at that site, just a sand bottom that silted when kicked, no fish. Everyone thought it was a great day out though, and all emerged confident and certified.

Fri, August 20, 2004 590-591 Hannan 18 plus meters, and Delta Buoy, 10-11 meters ADHFC Weather Partly cloudy, very hot and hazy with a risk of early morning mist. Wind Moderate south to southeasterly at 09 – 14 knots, becoming moderate north to northwesterly at 08-13 knots in the afternoon. Temperature Max 43°C Sea State Inshore 1 to 3 feet, offshore 2 to 3 feet
Johan Smit, Bobbi, Glenn, and Dusty on fun dives
Mhmd Malhas completed his advanced training with u/w navigation dive
Troy Grettner came on Hannan for o/w dive #4 and removed and replaced mask underwater and attempted hover (had weighting and buoyancy problems from first of dive). He wasn't feeling well so didn't complete course with ESA and surface compass navigation and snorkel / reg exchange

The Hannan was cracking on the way down. We saw a shark scurry away from the wreck right as began our descent on the anchor line and we passed schools of tuna and similar big fish on the way down. At bottom vis was pretty poor, no rays around, and I saw schools of fish but not a single baraccuda (first time on that wreck). Still a nice dive, warm 34 degrees but 5 degrees cooler than one surface reading we took. Mhmd did a navigation from the anchor and around the wreck to return us to the anchor again (not as easy as it seems, and one of the u/w nav tasks). However he was concerned about air as usual and round the bow he raced ahead of Troy whom I had to stay back with and that was the last I saw him on that dive (he was reported seen at the anchor, on his way up it). I guided Troy, monitored his air, took him up top of the wreck and then up in free ascent on compass back to the boat. He was knackered and out for the rest of the day. I went back down and followed Bobbi and Johan who after a nice 50 min dive, free ascended but drifted on to the anchor line. I continued on bottom to the anchor and came up under the boat.

Coming to Delta Buoy from the west it was difficult to find my usual anchorage, but we were not far off it. Down the anchor with all but Troy I had Mhmd lead us 30 meters to the North looking for what I was calling Delta Canyon. The plan was to possibly return to the anchor (out and back) or if it looked productive do a square from there. There was pipe and a brick there so I marked the spot and had Mhmd lead east and north in a square. This put us in the canyon so I sent the others on and let Mhmd complete his square, which he did perfectly, putting us back at the pipe and brick. We then returned NE to the canyon and meandered up it but I realized it was not the main canyon and took us over a couple of ridges to the north till we found the main one. We then went back down that one till Mhmd got down to 50 bar and we then tried to head the direction of the pipe and brick. But I saw a pipe I'd left upright several trips there before which I hadn't seen on the way down this canyon so I knew we had overshot our exit area. We looked for it anyway, but Mhmd wanted to surface so we did, and found ourselves too close to the buoy itself. Mhmd did very well with navigation that dive and it was my fault I hopped ridges and prevented him from finding his way back to the boat, which he could have done had we backtracked the way we'd come, had I not taken us off course out of curiosity. I returned him to the boat vs. current and then went back down to look for others. I didn't see them but I followed the anchor north 30 meters, didn't find the original pipe and brick but found other distinguishable pipe so headed NE from there. 30 meters on I came to the first canyon. There was a nice staghorn coral there and some groupers and I left a pipe propped on the coral to point the way back. I went another ridge over and another before coming into the familiar sand flat of the main canyon. There were more grouper there and yellow sweet lip grunts, a peaceful and beautiful spot. I explored till down to 80 bar and then found my way back to the SW two ridges over and found my pipe pointing the way. Here the grouper family came out to check me out. I fin pivoted motionless and minimized bubbles and they almost came right up to me. One was almost a meter long. We stared at each other a while, a meter apart. Getting near 50 bar I moseyed back SW to the pipes then headed south 30 meters and stopped. I looked around and soon saw the anchor, headed up the line and home.
Thu, August 26 - Fri, August 27, 2004 592-595 Inchcape 1, Pinnacles, Inchcape 2, Martini Rock 7 Seas Rescue course work: Mike Parry completed his final scenario. Dusty did a surface recovery of an unconscious diver to egress onto the boat. He and Bobbi and Glenn lifted unconscious divers to the surface.

The diving was quite good. First dive to over 30 meters at Inchcape 1 off the Meridian Aqua'a, lovely wreck with shoals of snappers and a huge honeycomb moray living just aft of the boathouse, strikingly picturesque (must get a housing for my camera). Second dive on Pinnacles (after Mike's rescue work there) a great one too. Rounding the east corner had to fin against strong current but this brought out the barracuda and other biggies. Escaped the current in the high alleys and found turtles there. Bobbi using steel tank had buoyancy problems and ended with a knee full of urchin needles but maintained cool to do a normal exit from right under the boat. I continued with Mike and my boys and Cray or Craig, the new 7 Seas dive leader. Air low but rounded the east corner with the current this time and saw the barracuda again. Next day Inchcape 2 from a boat load of divers with Kathleen's crew, nice dive in only 20 meters, scorpion fish and morays on the wreck. When Turtle divers arrived down the anchor line, 20 min into our dive, we headed west over the sand and short of the point found a number of jaw fish gaping from their core sample holes. We wound that one up in the bay one over from Martini and after rescue work in MBay, dived the rock, crowded with others but somehow we ended up to ourselves and had the usual great dive on it. Covered with scorpion fish as usual and found a couple of turtles in the alleys and in the recovering purple and orange soft corals. Dusty spotted a pair of white nudibrachs and also a huge hermit crab which none of the rest of us saw. We were diving the last two with Maher from Dubai, an elderly gentleman who tagged along unobtrusively and appreciatively.
Sept 3, 2004 596-598 Ludwig, 2 dives (26 and 21 meters) and OCB, 11 meters ADHFC

Day 2. Friday 03 09 2004 Weather Sunny, dusty, dry and very hot with a risk of wind blown dust during the morning. Wind Moderate southeasterly at 08 – 13 knots, becoming moderate northwesterly at 08 -13 knots in the afternoon. Temperature Max 44C Sea State Inshore 1 to 3 feet, offshore 2 to 4 feet.
Johan Smit did deep and underwater navigation advanced dives. Carol Martheze did deep advanced and distressed diver underwater and Alt Air Source ascent for Rescue (she's a BSAC diver qualified to do rescue course but I'd never seen her dive before, so covered both bases). Buddy pairs besides Johan and Carol, were Glenn and Calvin. We dived the wreck in sand 20 min and then came up to 20 meters for 10. Up top, collected Jon (novice o/w) and Johan and Glenn and I took him down to 15 meters and to 21 just to get in the shadow of the deck and avoid the current. The top of the wreck was really nice, lots of fish about, and the doors had been ripped off the bridge and crew quarters so you could descend into the roomy parts of the wreck, with light entering from the portholes. Interesting for sure.

After two dives there went to OCB to give Jon an easy dive and let Johan do his navigation, and Glenn search for a missing diver u/w. I took a baseball cap and left it on one of Johan's navigation legs and came back and told Glenn I had lost it, so Glenn could recover my missing buddy. He said he got distracted by Cal from the search pattern he had intended to do and never found the hat. Meanwhile, Jon had run out of air first on our team and Johan and I brought him to the surface. We saw Glenn and Cal's bubbles from there, saw they were near the hat, and went down to find them. I had dropped a shot line on my GPS mark on this wreck and this turned out to be lying right by the wreck, so we moved that over to the hat and I attached the hat to the shot. We then went looking for Cal and Glenn, didn't find them, passed back over the barge, Johan took a few pictures, and we went back to the hat and up the shot line. Cal and Glenn were on the boat and we pretended they'd forever lost my hat. We pulled anchor and then went to retrieve the shot, and lo, there was my hat, back on board the boat.
Sept 9 & 10, 2004 599-602 North side of Jun and round the western corner, Jed Island north and east toward Jun, half moon reefs off to the west of Jed, and North of Jun east and to the next island over Sawadi Beach Resort, Abdullah's company Vis quite poor, water unseasonably cold, but animals in abundance. On the second dive north and east of Jed, turtles munching coral, oblivious to the presence of divers. Big bull ray appeared out of the 'green-blue' and on one of the half moon reefs next day they were all over the place, rippling in pairs through the water, trying to get at fish caught in nets. On the NE of Jed dive, one leopard shark encounter, this one rounding a coral head as we came the other way, not in that big a hurry to get out of the way (us or him). Throughout, at least a dozen big honeycomb morays seen poking out of rocks, lots of other eels as well. School of squid in the water rounding the corner west of Jun (seen them in the same place before), sea snakes, scorpion fish looking very much like the cabbage coral and/or rocks they were hiding in, lots more besides. A word of warning though, don't bother with the 'unlimited' food and drinks package back at the hotel, too many limitations makes a la carte the cheaper option, and some items you think are included appear on your bill at checkout.
Sept 17, 2004 I acted as shore cover supervising a team of divers Al Mirfa (160 km south of Abu Dhabi out the Silla / Tareef Road) in the Marine Protected Area ERWDA and Emirates Dive Association with ADHFC assist Clean Up Arabia event with Kathleen Russell doing an excellent job in charge of organizing, divers in my team were my family Glenn, Bobbi and Dusty, and Mohammed and Huda Malhas, Johan Smit and Wessie, and Torsten Kuhlmann. We cleaned inside the harbor at Mirfah, counted the trash items collected, with an archeologist standing by dating kids' scooters and TV sets collected, assessing source of plastic water bottles, etc. The Khaleej Times report is here for a limited time.
Sept 24 and 25, 2004 603-606 Inchcape 1 and night dive at Pinnacles; Inchcape 2 and Martini Rock Scuba 2000 Johan Smit completed Advanced o/w training with wreck dive at Inchcape 1, night dive at Pinnacles, boat dive next day on Inchcape 2. Wessie began Advanced o/w training with deep dive at Inchcape 1, night dive at Pinnacles, wreck dive next day on Inchcape 2, and multilevel dive on Martini Rock. We arrived at Scuba 2000 Thu afternoon but boat was out with others so it was after 4 when we headed for Inchcape 1, which was a 30 meter dive. Full of fish, but the honeycomb moray was hiding (just saw his tail in the cockpit), and saw a scorpion fish or two, surfaced after 20 min. Went to Pinnacles and awaited dusk. Lights provided by Scuba 2000 had old batteries and were pinpricks in the darkness. I traded my good one with Wessie u/w and did the dive mainly by moonlight, 12 m. (45 min). We saw a turtle, not much else. At some point Glenn and I pushed over a gap and lost Johan and Wessie, took a compass bearing north east, got nowhere, reversed to southwest, and we completed the dive way south of the rocks, lost underwater. We should have surfaced and taken a compass bearing. Next day Inchcape 2 was superb, 22 meters. Not the wreck itself so much as the dive over the sand to where the jaw fish live. Saw lots of those. There was a ray near the rocks which only Johan saw, and a stone fish which only Luigi saw. We had planned a 20 min profile at depth, 25 at 16, ended up diving 40 min. Final dive at Martini had a similar profile, 22 / 16 / 12. Lots of turtles there, and scorpion fish, lovely rainbow wrasse, morays galore.
Friday, October 1, 2004 607-609 Ludwig bottom, Ludwig top, and Delta Buoy ADHFC

Day 4. Friday 01 10 2004 Weather Sunny and hot Wind Light easterly, becoming moderate northerly at 10 to 15 knots during the morning. Temperature Max 38°C Sea State Inshore 1 to 3 feet, offshore 2 to 4 feet.

Nasser, did Advanced Wreck dive; still needs to complete square pattern in advanced u/w navigation; Carol M did 4 Rescue exercises: approach and tow tired diver / find missing diver underwater / lift unconscious diver to surface / response to conscious swimmer from boat. Also with us: Bobbi, Mohamed and Huda, Rob Macfarlane, Peter acting as Divemaster

A fine day out, great weather, calm seas. Almost no current except mid day at D Buoy. Ludwig was like diving an aquarium. The wreck was like a ceramic toy at the bottom of a fishbowl. We could see clearly in the portholes and doorways at the top and out the doorways near the sand bottom. Peter and I went inside first dive but the others didn't follow. Not much of great interest in the way of unusual fish, no rays, swarming with snapper, guarded by batfish. The wreck simply provided great views with good vis. Second dive Peter and I took Mhmd and Huda and Bobbi to the top, 20 meters. We went up and down, a very enjoyable dive. Comfortably warm in 3 mil, finer in bare torso when I had to dive a third time to recover the anchor, surrounded by barracuda on the way up. Delta Buoy on the way back, current rising slightly. We started squares with Nasser but he was tired or ill and not on top of it. After two tries, no return to base, we moved north, me looking for the Canyon. Never found that either but at some point I motioned Peter to get lost, and Carol found him on second leg of her search. Peter's big yellow tank made the exercise realistic. I excused Peter to buddy with Rob and Carol and I accompanied Nasser on another attempt at a square but he lost count (returned to base on reciprocal just fine) and ran out of air after 3 legs of last attempt. We surfaced near boat, saw Nasser back to it, and Carol and I went down on 80 degrees to try and recover my reel and SMB. I ran out of air and we did lifts to the surface. We were near the SMB so we went down and got it (it had dragged in the sand, wasn't in orginal location). Back to boat, excellent day out.

Thursday, October 7, 2004 610-611 Ras Ghurab 3 on GPS and Bateen Box outside Breakwater

Down at 10:55 meters for 47 min., then down at 15:08 8 meters for 31 min.

Just noticeable swell in a.m. with wind up and whitecaps in afternoon: Day 2. Thursday 07 10 2004 Weather Hazy at first with mist patches, otherwise sunny and hot. Wind Light north-easterly to easterly, becoming moderate northerly at 10 to 15 knots around midday. Temperature Max 37°C Sea State Inshore 1 to 3 feet, offshore 2 to 3 feet

Nicky with us plus trainees:

  • Maedhbh did her first o/w dive plus a fun dive
  • Glenn did all but the last three rescue scenarios and the part about treatment on the boat.
  • Adrian along for a refresher dive

Ras Ghurab was pleasant with a slight lilt to the boat as the waves rolled in making footing unstable and holding on to the boat unwise. We found a 5 meter depth and anchored, then explored the bommies. Not much to see, but Maedhbh quickly adjusted to the u/w environment with good breathing / buoyancy control, Adrian appeared comfortable after a 2 year lapse. RG was a good choice. Glenn started us out with a square from the anchor and return, in anticipation of later rescue work. We then meandered east and at 150 bar (tanks last forever there) ambled back west. When Maedhbh became ill I surfaced with her and Adrian near the boat.

I found Nicky and Glenn surfacing nearby and dropped down to leave off a plastic bag with some debris in it that Nicky had handed me during the dive. I set a rock on top of the bag and surfaced in such a way that the bag was out of sight when I reached the surface, so that Glenn would look for it to the north and east. Glenn came over with Nicky and we dropped down and tied off my surface marker. He did an excellent job on the compass work. He chose an expanding square. I surface occasionally to check that we were at one point west and at another east of the marker. We didn't find the bag though so we surfaced, returned to the marker, and then did a scan of the area to the north of it. We still didn't find the bag, but Glenn was low on air, so we lifted Nicky to the surface and then I had Glenn review ventilating her, the idea being to practice how ventilations fit in with egress from the water onto the boat. I then returned to the marker and took my second reel, attached it to the point where the SMB was, and swept north and east looking for the trash left behind. Never found the damn thing. We figured it wandered off or maybe a turtle ate it (sorry, sick joke).

Nicky needed to get to Dubai but Adrian and Maedhbh were keen to continue, and Glenn was determined to find a missing buddy, so we dropped Nicky back at the Intercon and went over to the Breakwater. We kitted while sheltered inside and then got a lift to the outside where we got dropped off in swells driving us and the boat toward the seawall, with current on descent powering down the wall toward the harbor mouth. The vis was not bad there though, and we dropped on the Box and found the batfish living there. I found some detritus, a stone anchor and a length of rope, and gassed up my bcd to carry it. My plan had been to let Glenn and Adrian get ahead of Maedhbh and I and position the 'buddy' for them to find on their way back, but this was turning into a one way dive so I told Glenn to stop while Maedhbh and I went ahead. I found a recognizable point and was preparing to position the missing buddy a challenging distance away from that when I noticed Adrian bringing up our rear. He was supposed to be with Glenn so I motioned him to stop while Maedhbh and I went just out of sight and left the makeshift buddy a few meters off the sea wall, just out of sight of that. I didn't want to leave Adrian and Glenn for long alone and out of sight of me and each other. Maedhbh and I finned back upcurrent, collected Adrian, and found Glenn a little further on lolling on his back watching his bubbles rise. I made the missing buddy signs and made sure that Adrian knew to follow him. Glenn took a north heading and his angle and the current swept him after a few fin kicks right onto the missing buddy. He was chuffed with success and we continued drifting with the current. I deployed my SMB to mark our position and heard the boat follow us. Maedhbh became nauseous again and we surfaced, having seen all there was to see on the breakwater (I gave Adrian and Glenn the option to continue but Adrian was pau too; I would have handed Glenn the SMB). The boatmen had anchored and were thinking to drift back on us to collect us but we were being swept away from them and having a heck of a time staying together and off the wall. Glenn practiced surface buddy assist on Maedhbh since she was feeling poorly. We had to convince the boatmen with waving signals that their plan was flawed and eventually they pulled anchor and came to get us. For those of us who stayed well and exuberant, and even for Maedhbh I think despite her unexpected reaction to salt and dry air, the day was a pleasant one, and all divers met their objectives.

Thursday, October 14, 2004 612-613 Dibiya Buoy ADMA (a BSAC branch)

Day 4. Thursday 14 10 2004 Weather Sunny and hot. Wind Light south-easterly, becoming moderate northwesterly at 10 to 15 knots at midday. Temperature Max 39C Sea State Inshore 1 to 2 feet, offshore 2 to 4 feet.
Training conducted: Dave on his first open water dive

It was a beautifully warm day, not too hot, water temperatures ideal for a thin lycra half mil suit, cool in the shade on the rides in and out. Seas pristine. We went with Rasheed and Hazim, ADMA divers, in their boat. Several divers aborted their plans to join us for one reason or another and in the end we had Tanya and Francois (and Capt. Gabriel) in one buddy team and Dave and I in another.

We went south and west of Abu Dhabi along the coast to a place where we had to get over shallow corals. These dropped off to greater depth at a place I'd like to revisit, which I marked as Coral1 on my GPS.
40R 0209663
UTM 2695526

From there we proceeded to a channel and out as far as a buoy which I marked as Dibiya1. We had meant to go to known sites in this area but the ADMA gps had lost its data so we dived here. We found nice coral swarming with fish, particularly families of groupers, within about 100 meters on a 20 degree heading from the buoy (looking back from there to the buoy, 200 degrees). We made two 45 min dives moving the boat between them.
40R 0206846
UTM 2698530
We were well entertained on both, lots of fish, decent vis in the a.m. Rasheed says the vis out here is normally quite good. Definitely want to come here again after Ramadhan with ADMA divers and find some of these other sites.
Friday, October 22, 2004 614-615 Old Cement Barge and inside the Breakwater ADHFC

Day 2. Friday 22 10 2004 Weather Sunny and very warm, but hazy at first with a small risk of early morning fog patches. Wind Light east to southeasterly at 5 knots, becoming moderate north-westerly at 8 to 13 knots around midday. Temperature Max 37°C Sea State Inshore 1 to 2 feet, offshore 2 to 3 feet.
Training: Maedhbh (o/w dive 2), and Carol, Rescue training all but the last 3 and panicked diver. And a nice day for it, lovely weather, a bit warm perhaps, and gentle seas out to the barge, Adrian and Bobbi along for the ride, a smooth one. A current was pulling to the south. The boatman Nissam did very well at finding the OCB with his GPS coordinates and skillful use of depth finder, and he instructed Elias to drop an anchor right on the wreck. Just north of it in fact, which was a good thing as the anchor trailing line well to the south and would have dragged. We got all divers together focused on Maedhbh's skills. Huge barracuda under the line on descent, and Carol and Bobbi saw a sea snake. Other than that lots of snappers and friendly bat fish. We finned slowly to the hull letting the divers get adjusted to the wet and poor vis. I had Maedhbh do her skills there and we used her buddy Adrian for her alt air source simulation. I hadn't briefed Adrian properly on the drill, and when he signalled up he thought he was to ascend and spurted air in his bcd. I dumped from behind as he did it and held him and Maedhbh in place so neither ascended, and at the end of the exercises, I congratulated Maedhbh and we swam towards the stern. Amidships we lost Adrian. I was keeping my eye on Maedhbh, my o/w/ student (Adrian was certified). I had told Adrian to stay with us but I could have stressed that he and Maedhbh should watch each other more assiduously (Maedhbh was keeping close to me). Carol, my rescue student noticed that he had gone to the surface and offered to go get him. Bobbi, also on the rescue course, accompanied her. I stayed below with Maedhbh, on the anchor line. We waited there a couple of minutes and when no one descended I decided we should go and have a look. I had reasons for this. There wasn't that much to see on the wreck, and I had surface work to do with Maedhbh.

Up the line we found the three divers just coming down it. They were at or near the surface and I signalled all to ascend. Up top we discussed what to do. Maedhbh said she was up to surface work so we decided to work there and dive again for u/w navigation and CESA. Bobbi and Carol said they'd return to the wreck. Adrian said he'd go with the ladies.

Maedhbh and I swam away from the boat, up current to the south, doing snorkel reg exchanges. A suitable distance from the boat I suggested we return there on a northerly heading. While setting up, making sure Maedhbh understood the heading and adjusted to the compass, we were carried southwest so that a south heading would not take us to the boat. I told Maedhbh to line up on a silo on shore to the east instead, well off the bow of the boat. She started that heading and held it well. The current carried us south and as I expected, we crossed the anchor line just north of the boat. We carried on a bit and then I said I was tired. Maedhbh inflated my BCD which had become dangerously deflated (somehow ;-) and I had her tow me to the boat. There I developed leg cramps which Maedhbh helped me resolve. We then returned to the anchor line for descent on the wreck.

Just then the other three ascended safely up the line. Later I heard the full story. Adrian had become light headed and dazed on descent, rooted in the sand gazing at the wreck. The two rescue candidates had dealt in exemplary fashion with a distressed diver underwater (suspecting, I understand, that I had somehow put Adrian up to feigning, not at all true). They made sure he was under control and ushered him to the anchor line and helped him up it. We only found out about this later, but they passed us on their way up and back to the boat, and Maedhbh and I went down for her compass exercise and CESA.

I went to the stern of the wreck which is more challenging than starting off amidships because if you make an error on the reciprical heading if you don't count your kicks you can pass to the west of the wreck and miss it. I chose North because I calculated that would head us into the current on the return leg and sweep us back to our starting point. However the current was pushing slightly to the west, and Maedhbh let herself rise in the water on her northerly heading, so on the outward leg she actually got pushed off course, which she wouldn't have done had she stayed near the bottom. On the return trip she was again pushed west and so headed southwest instead of angling herself to correct for drift to the south. I kept more to the south but couldn't hold course and keep her in view. At least she stopped after her allotted kicks. I motioned to the east and we came on the wreck after a dozen kick cycles, luckily, as it is very easy to get totally lost there.

I took her back to the stern and we tried again. This time she managed depth much better but on the return journey again let herself be swept to the southwest. It was a challenging course for a first time orienteer. The second time I almost didn't recover the wreck myself. I thought it should be more to the south and bypassed it on that side. I figured that out when I came upon a tire I thought I had seen on my way down the anchor line. That would mean the wreck would be to the north. I led that way and sure enough its form came into view and we had made it there a second time. Maedhbh's compass work was good but the currents made it tricky for her.

We were now at the anchor line and I had Maedhbh do her CESA. As is normal, it took her a couple of tries to fully conceptualize the exercise. When she did it the second time she performed pretty well. We didn't complete her alternate air ascent (we'll make it up next time) and she didn't feel like yet another descent, but she had done a good job on all exercises.

Back aboard, Adrian asked if I thought he'd be ok for a second dive. I still hadn't got the full story so I said sure, but suggested we retreat inside the breakwater to work with Carol on rescue without having to fight currents. Adrian and I went on a dive and were especially observant of the crabs living in the holes the gopies were guarding. When we ascended we had arranged for Carol and Bobbi to come and meet us. Adrian became victim and Carol removed his gear as she ventilated on the way back to the boat. She didn't use the dosey doe position, but guided him almost with finger tips as she had been trained in BSAC. The purpose of the exercise is to try what works so I learned from watching her. We then tried various ways of getting Adrian onto the boat (pull over the sides and onto the platform at back, and I had the ladies start each other up the flimsy ladders at back). That was two exercises (ventilation, recovery and egress). The last exercise was treatment on board and since Carol works in that field, we had her show Bobbi and I the proper CPR techniques, head position, and the like. We all learned from the expert.
Thursday, October 28, 2004 616-617 Hannan and Delta Buoy ADHFC
Day 1. Thursday 28 10 2004 Weather Sunny and warm, but hazy at first. Wind Light southerly, becoming moderate north-westerly at 10 to 13 knots around midday. Temperature Min 23°C, Max 34°C Sea State Inshore 1 to 2 feet, offshore 2 to 3 feet.

Temperatures and sea conditions again ideal, balmy day, great for diving
Training conducted: OW dives 1 and 2 for Andrew and dive 2 for Dave
The day got off to a bad start. I had 8 divers booked when Kathleen added six more (and then I accepted a 15th and chucked my tanks in the car just in case). We ordered all 28 tanks from Al Seer so they knew our numbers but the only boat they could send us was the small one which is rated for 8 and can accommodate a dozen at max. Carol refused to go and Bobbi decided to bow out as well. Both were planning to return Friday so Wessie decided he'd join them instead of cramming aboard an already full boat. In the end it was Calvin Ponton and Dan Gretener, one team, and Johan Smit, all fun diving, with me and Andrew and Dave on the course.

So we took 11 divers, with Kathleen and Peter and her 3 funsters, to the Hannan in a mild swell, and took on water through the gunwales when we stopped at the buoy. We found the wreck but there was a slight delay in dropping anchor causing us to land it south of the wreck so was dragging in the sand some, the current running south, as we kitted up. I snorkeled down the line to check and found our line teeming with jacks and baraccuda (couldn't get down to see the wreck but the big fish suggested it was near).

My team went in last so as to have the boat to ourselves for kitting up. They were all false beginners. Dave had done 4 dives before the course and Andrew half a dozen, to depths greater than 18, which was the apprx depth of the Hannan (Peter said he reached into a hole and got 20.4). Having seen them to be competent in the pool I had no qualms about taking them down the anchor line on this wreck but had envisaged draping the anchor over it and thus having the top of the hull to land on and check everone out. Since the anchor was in the sand, we ended up dropping down to 18 meters. Both divers looked comfortable but I couldn't see the wreck. I figured it was to the north so I attached my reel to the anchor and trailed line on that heading till we came out on the wreck.

I left my reel in the sand next to the hull, which turned out to be near the stern, and I took my team up current to the bow, with baraccuda hulking alongside. We looked for rays but didn't find any, and then we explored the deck area. There were some batfish higher up and baracccuda and jacks schooling off the stern so we went there and did some compass out and backs. On return to the stern my divers were low on air so we finned up current again till just a few meters on I saw my reel. We took in the line up to the anchor and went up the rope My compter said 19 min dive time at this point but at the end of the dive, it had registered 3six minutes. We had planned on 45 min if we stayed above 20 meters and 27 minutes if we got deeper than that.

At 9 meters we stopped to vent and look at the schools of baraccuda just below, and then we eased a couple meters more up the line and I let Dave to a CESA from there. I accompanied him but kept an eye on Andrew who followed up the anchor line. At the surface we took a compass bearing on the buoy 310 and did a compass course to almost there. I then said I was tired and Dave rescued me and relieved my fake cramp. I then had Andrew tow Dave to the boat, which we were being swept to by the current, but noted that he used a face down arm push. I let us drift past the boat almost to the end of the line I'd requested attached to a buoy off our stern and had Dave push Andrew against the current with fins on shoulders. When we reached the boat I asked the guys to swim to the bow on snorkel reg exchanges, after which we exited the water.

Andrew did his CESA first thing on our second dive at Delta Buoy. I had Dave wait on the boat while I took him down and up the anchor line twice. We then descended and went looking for the Canyon on a NE heading more or less. We never really found it, but we saw a bat fish and a group of black spotted sweet lips. Toward the end of the dive we found a sea snake looking real hard at what was in holes. Oh, yeah, we also saw two kinds of gopie, one dull brown and the other with a phosporescent blue that seemed to want to lie completely outside his hole or visit other holes and play with other gopies. Watch out for sea snakes, guys! I had Andrew and Dave do their Dive 2 exercises and because Andrew seemed to drop from 100 bar (he let me know) to 50 rather quickly, and because of the current pushing FROM the south now (high tide was at 13:30, so the seas must have reversed) we came up FAR from the boat. It eventually came to get us.
Friday, October 29, 2004 618-619 Ras Gurab#3 and Inside the Breakwater ADHFC
Day 2. Friday 29 10 2004 Weather Sunny and warm, but hazy at first with a risk of fog patches around dawn. Wind Light southerly, becoming moderate north-westerly at 10 to 13 knots around midday. Temperature Min 23°C, Max 35°C Sea State Inshore 1 to 2 feet, offshore 2 to 3 feet.
Training: Steph did her first o/w dive and Carol Malthese completed her rescue training scenarios
'Twas another lovely day for diving off the coast of Abu Dhabi. No wind yet slight ripple on the morning seas going outbound, turning to glass on the inward leg. We headed for Ras Gurab, spot #3 on my GPS, and found a healthy reef castle which I GPS'd as RGREEF. Nice one here, and nice day for it. I left Carol and Bobbi on the boat while I took Steph (her very first time on a boat let alone diving) tentatively down the anchor line and into the unfamiliar world, decent vis, lots of fish. I kept a close eye on her but she relaxed to the point where I surfaced, did a compass hdg on the boat, redescended and came up under it, and took the missing buddy bag so Steph and I could place it and Carol and Bobbi could come find it. The reef was hopping. Bat fish there and a patrol of HUGE wreck sized baraccuda for us to find and follow really jazzed up the site. Steph didin't feel like a second dive but I had 46 min on my watch when I finally returned her to the surface, she was that happy with it.

Carol did very well too. She led an increasing square with Bobbi and I sweeping off the edges looking for the bag and eventually we came on it. I returned to the reef with Steph at that point and then re submerged with Nissam, our boat captain whom I'd invited for a dive. After that we went to the b/water. Carol wanted to go inside where we kitted Nissam again, set him up as a floater, and rescued him to the stairs on the b/water. Bobbi and I then went diving with the bag and placed it near the outcrop under the huts. Carol came looking for it and conducted skilled U sweeps till we found it. We then surfaced Bobbi and I took her weights and Carol's (plus mine). Time out for a quick panic diver ex and then Carol ventilated Bobbi back to the boat and rescued her aboard, and we headed home.
Friday, November 5, 2004 620-621 Khor Fakkan: Martini Rock and Shark Island Beach Reef 7 Seas o/w trainees: Maedhbh, Andrew, and Dave completed Dives 3 and 4 of O/W Course for certification. Steph did her second o/w dive except for alt. air source work. Fun divers Adrian, Mark, Paul., Jennifer Cayea, Nicki Blower (advanced) and Bobbi (advanced). There were also 3 snorkelers: Maggi, Dave, and Graham. It looked like a nice day for boating and we had a large crowd of divers and snorkelers so we requested Dibba Rock and Car Cemetery or Pinnacles but were told the boat did not have sufficient fuel for the trip, so we ended up at the usual, Martini Rock and Shark Island. Seas were not benign in any event, and we had a stiff northerly current at MRock. All divers in the water and we had delays with dropped wt belt and mask replacement and finally getting snorkelers aboard for boat handling so Cray could join us and serve as divemaster. We then went down the line and arrived at bottom missing Andrew's buddy Dave, up the line (with Cray) with ear trouble. Encountered Bobbi and Nicki there, enjoying turtles and big baraccuda. I eventualy got my crew together and went east on south side of rock keeping at 15 meters or so. At corner we hit current so I elevated to 12 and had them return to the mooring line. We went in the sand channels and did exercises there, though a bit crowded for comfort. Mask floods and fin pivots, and I took them to to north and west to the next sand channel and south through there, pointing out dozens of eels, scorpion fish, puffers, and lion fish. About to turn the corner to check out the s/w corner, Steph said she'd had enough and I had Cray take her up, though she hadn't done the alt air source breathing required on dive 2. Adrian and Maedhbh and Dave and Andrew and I continued to the s/w tip and I had Maedhbh do a compass course out and back from there. Divers indicated low air so we went up the wall but hit current and returned to depth, regaining the mooring line, and headed up that. Maedhbh and I then went diving for her lost wt belt. We found a pipe fish on the bottom and had a pleasant last look at the rock. No weights though. Second dive I tried to keep as simple as possible. We went to the back side of SIsland but Cray didn't want to anchor and I didn't want to drop divers in current without a line to hold, so I had him take us to the beach side. There is a shallow reef there apprx meters. We had kind of a boring dive there.20 min into it Steph requested to surface, no skills performed. The 5 remaining went back down and worked on mask removals and hovering. I discovered you CAN keep your eyes open under salt water with no ill effects. We then went over the coral teeming with aquarium fish until turning the corner on the island to enter the boulder environment. I didn't think the dive was very good but my trainees enjoyed it.
Friday, Nov 26, 2004 622-623 Abu Dhabi, Inside the Breakwater ADHFC Glenn worked on rescue (egress onto boat, examined Oxygen cylindar on board
Maedhbh, Wessie, and Michele all did Advanced course Underwater Navigation dive. That was for certification for Wessie, plus a boat dive for Michele and Maedhbh

The weather was blowing and the waves were a'washing so we stayed in the calm inside the b/water. Vis was poor, only a few meters, all in all ideal for u/w navigation on the sandy, featureless bottom inside Bateen Breakwater. We did a couple of long (45 min or so) dives at under ten meters. The course went well. I had the three students walk through the motions on land before takeoff. Once down the anchor line we attached my reel to it and swam 30 meters, out as I played it out and back as I took it in. I think when I do this again I'll leave the reel in place, at an angle to our course, and maybe start the course at the middle of the reel so we'll cross it a couple of times. At any rate, back at the anchor, Wessie did a compass hdg east but he only went 20 kick cycles which put us off measure when we started doing squares. I put up a marker buoy there, and Wessie took us smartly back to the anchor. Michele then took us to the north but she was following the lubber line, not the needle, before she eventually got the hang of it, and she actually took us northeast and we got lost in the rocks of the breakwater. We surfaced and swam to the marker buoy and descended there. Michele led us south from there 30 meters, well done, and I left a plastic bag marker there. However she followed the lubber again on the return leg and we had to surface again to find our marker. We had been up and down throughout the dive, weight problems adding to what else-can-go-wrong, and so we decided to do our squares on the next dive. We warmed up in the sunbeams, we were chilled at 27 degrees below, and we descended for another go. Wessie seemed to have things in hand so I left him and Glenn to do his square pattern from the anchor and around and back. He reported later coming on the middle marker. I took Maedhbh and Michele with me and we tried to retrace our route in a square as before, but we came on none of our markers. We surfaced far off our mark and once Michele realized she had been following the lubber, she was fine. Maedhbh's compass work was good. We decided to make one more attempt, starting west this time. We all three worked independently, but stayed together and paced our 30 meters ending our legs within sight of each other, which is to say a couple meters apart. On the last leg the ladies stopped after 30 meters but no anchor was in sight. I handed Michele the line on the reel and went looking for it tethered to her. I found it just a couple of meters to our left, so the square had been almost dead on. On a previous out and back the ladies had both swum under the anchor line and failed to see it or stop and I'd tugged on their fins to let them know, vis was that bad. Finishing a square nearly spot on after earnest training and in such constrained conditions was highly satisfying to all, so it hardly mattered we saw so little marine life on our dive that day.
December 3, 2004 624-626 Musandam: White Rock, IBM, Caves Al-Marsa Maedhbh did her first advanced u/w deep dive, only the 8th dive in her career, to 30 meters/50 min. at White Rock, and then planned and executed a multilevel dive at the curious IBM stack to 24 meters/45 min. just south of there (turned out to be a drift in strong current). Bobbi and Glenn accompanied on those dives, and then Glenn and I did a dusk dive with Mike Ralph at the Caves. The diving was quite good. We had wanted to go to Katchelu but the sea was exposed to a strong westerly and we retreated to White Rock for our first dive.

Our profile was 15 min/30 m. then 15 min/20 m. and exhaust the tank at 12m. First pleasure to behold was an eagle ray descending on us as we came up from depth. Around the south side we found a turtle. Neither animal had been particularly fearful of divers. Swarms of fish on this one. Maebhdh had trouble with buoyancy but controlled it to complete the dive through safety stop. We came out chilled slightly and had trouble warming up in off and on sunshine. Second dive of IBM rock with computer monitor on top. Mike told us reef would be on left (to the north) but current was running so strong south that we abandoned plan and drifted with it. Swarms of big fish again pouring down the reef. We saw honeycombed moray, another turtle, ended dive blocked by current at edge of reef which we clung to till Glenn ran low. I signalled ascent and Maedhbh reminded us of safety stop, so we did one mid water, a good lesson in depth control without visual reference. Nice dive.

The sun had slipped behind the mountains but Mike had promised a (free) third dive and having passed Lima Rock in relative glow he dutifully called in at the caves 20 min south of there. He went through the motions of organizing the dive but the others were too chilled or two sane to dive at dusk except for Glenn and I who figured Mike must know what he was doing. We figure now that Mike must have thought the instructor knew what he was doing. But we ended up the three of us in the water and slipping through the cave in waning light, no torches. Mike had mentioned a 45 min dive so we made no effort to shorten it despite the growing darkness. We couldn't see any animals or colors at all, but we were treated to the unusual spectacle of phosphorescence being switched on for the night. Animals in the sand revealed their presence with brief neon glows, and the feather coral looked like xmas trees, lights blinking on an off. When the sky grew dark it appeared we were swimming through a galaxy of phosphorescence. Every movement, every fin kick, was surrounded by sparkles. The effect was so compellingly surreal that we continued diving despite not being able to read watches of guages. We had just enough light to make it to the surface by following the reef outline up at the end of the dive. We were all highly experienced divers, the depth there was known to be not great, and we were comfortable with the environment and knew how to estimate dive time, and we surfaced with well over 50 bar each, and summoned the boat with whistles.
December 9, 2004 627-628 Abu Dhabi: Old Cement Barge and Inside Breakwater ADHFC
Turned out to be a nice day out, tame whitecaps: Day 2. Thursday 09 12 2004 Weather Cloudy, warm and dusty. Wind Moderate south to southeasterly at 10 - 15 knots becoming a light late afternoon sea breeze of 08 - 10 knots. Temperature Max 28°C Sea State Inshore 2 to 3 feet, offshore 3 to 4 feet.
Maedhbh did her last advanced o/w dive for certification with a Wreck Dive on the OCB, accompanied by Michele doing hers. Michele then followed up with a search and recovery dive that quickly developed into a drift dive. Starting out at the OCB things went well. Michele and Maedhbh and Glenn and I descended compatibly on the wreck, coming down on the northwest corner off the bow. I made it a point to indicate to the ladies as best I could with diagram in the sand the orientation of the wreck with respect to the anchor line, since one of the exercises on the dive is to return to the anchor line/exit. We drifted over the wreck communing with the snappers and angel fish and resident grouper, and enjoying the antics of the bat fish until I saw a bit of debris off the southwest stern and followed it into the sand. I glanced at my compass, too cursory a glance, and noted that I was headed roughly south. I didn't intend to come so far off the wreck that I couldn't retrace steps back over the debris but I did and on the return leg followed a northerly heading without hitting the wreck again. On dry land, reflecting, I realize that if the anchor line was pulling north on the n/w corner of the wreck, then following a northerly heading would take me alongside the wreck and beyond our boat. However, this didn't register at the time, but I did realize that I'd missed (assumed I'd passed to the south of the wreck past the stern, which thinking about it now, could not have been true). In any event, the remedy was the same, surface, find the anchor line, return to the wreck, which is what we did. All had ample air remaining for this and after a chilly amble around the wreck, and back at the bow with Michele indicating 60, I tried to get the ladies to find the anchor which was just out of sight to the west. It's all a puzzle down there, poor vis, disorientation impinging from so many sources, task loading. In any event we found the anchor line and returned up it, Maedhbh leading us in a 3 min safety stop.

All aboard, we retreated to inside the breakwater to escape the seas which were not really that bad, and Kathleen volunteered to act as victim for Glenn's rescue ex.10. She wandered off and feigned unconsciousness and Glenn went to get her and get her back on the boat.

Having done that, we prepared our second dive. Maedhbh, having bagged her advanced cert, decided to stay warm up top. We were planning to begin with Michele's s/r dive. Here's the plan: I had a scabbard piece which I would place in the sand in a 15 meter radius of the anchor. Michele would conduct an expanding square to find it. We would return to the anchor and I would take the ship's shot, which I'd rigged on a lift bag and taken with me on descent, within 30 meters of the anchor, between there and the b/water, and Michele would find it on parallel sweeps conducted 5 fin kicks apart (maybe ten would be more appropriate). Once there, we would lift the object and take it to the boat. Glenn would exit and Michele and I would dive and lose the 'buddy' bag I'd brought. We'd surface and call for help. Glenn would come and locate the bag through a series of parallel sweeps.

The first problem was that when we left the harbor a count of divers was made. There were 8 divers and 16 tanks and Kathleen and Peter were planning to use one tank each, so I left my tanks in the car, un-needed. In the course of things, two people who were with us as non-divers decided to dive (and Peter decided to sit out) with the result that when all had gone in on their second dive there was no tank for me. I had to take one with 110 bar. Then when we descended, we came down the anchor line in a stiff outgoing tidal pull. It was clear to me that searching for lost objects was going to be difficult to impossible. I decided to try anyway, since to try and change the plan underwater ??? forget it - so I tied my reel to the anchor and took it n/w toward the b/water. My plan was to leave the object to one direction of the line, return to the line, and use the line to return to the anchor. I did this but in the current decided the task of finding the object was too hard so I took the line and let the current take me till I could just see Kathleen's divers holding on to the line for support. I planted the object there and finned up current to rejoin my divers. With the exertion I was down to 90 bar. Michele gamely started her first leg, 5 kicks roughly to the west, but the current carried her to the north so when she turned she was right on the object. She didn't see it but I pointed it out to her and congratulated her on having gone through the motions of accomplishing the first task. I was down to 80 bar.

We returned to the anchor and I got the heavy shot and pumped up my bcd so I could carry it off. I took it upcurrent to the west about 20 kicks and dropped it. I then attached my surface marker buoy to it and sent it up so as to be able to find it later from the surface in case we couldn't find it below. I then tried to return to the anchor but the current made that ridiculous so I surfaced and prepared to go back down the anchor as originally planned. Peter told me that he was going to move the boat as other divers had been swept astern. I told him fine, just let me recover my divers from the anchor point. I found Glenn and Michele waiting below and was now down to 50 bar. Michele again started her excercise with 5 kicks to the west. In the current when she turned and set up for the south leg she was swept back onto the anchor. I tried to point this out to her but she was glommed on the south leg and I let her do it. I'm not sure how many kicks she did but it looked good. She turned west and took us 5 kicks. So far so good. I expected her to turn north. Instead she turned south. I wasn't sure what she was up to but with the current working the way it was it wasn't a bad move, so I let her lead us 20 kicks further to the south which was being counteracted by the current. She then turned west 5 kicks and set up again to head south. At this point I interfered, for two reasons. One, I wasn't sure what she was doing, and 2 I was down to something like 10 bar with all the exertion and short tank. So I signalled us up. As we ascended we came up on the line to my marker buoy. I herded everyone to it and at the surface had them grab on to the marker. I then suggested that Michele and Glenn, who each had half a tank, descend there and try again to find the shot and then lift it. Michele wanted to go down on the line. I thought this would be fine and suggested in that case that they just go down and lift the shot. I'd left my lift bag attached to it.

They descended and I set my self adrift toward the boat which was at a new anchorage a couple hundred meters down-current. I figured I'd reach it in 5 or 10 minutes of blissful relaxation. I'd only gone a few minutes when I heard Michele and Glenn behind me. They had lifted the shot and were now encumbered by it (though its weight was supported by the lift bag). I finned back and caught them drifting by and I took the shot off them. I suggested they continue their dive on the breakwater. They did, I returned to the boat and unloaded my excess weight, and we watched Michele and Glenn's bubbles from there sprint along the b/water and exit the harbor mouth where they apparently turned and tried to fin back but couldn't fight the current. A few minutes later they surfaced, having had a sort of a combination advanced drift search and recovery dive. And another day in the exciting life of a dive instructor was wrapped up with all back aboard who'd ventured forth (somehow!).
Friday , Dec. 17 629 Inside the Breakwater: Al Seer provided two boats, one the capacious Cleopatra, capacity 8 plus 12 including 2 boatmen. The seas looked rough and worsened as the day went on. We dived at low tide but still had a seaward current, manageable though, and Dusty and Bobbi were able to handle it and navigate. ADHFC
Day 2. Friday 17 12 2004 Weather Partly cloudy and cooler but dusty at times with patches of wind blown sand. It will be cloudy at times with a slight chance of a few light showers. Wind Light south to southwesterly at 5 – 10 knots becoming a fresh northwesterly Shamal around midday. Temperature Max 28°C Sea State 3 - 5 feet inshore and 9 -11 feet offshore.
Mark, Sami, and Mahindra all did Open Water dive 1. Bobbi and Dusty did Rescue dive. Dive time 31 minutes, depth under 10 meters. Water chilly but I didn't notice in 3.5 mm. Vis not bad, perhaps 6 meters. Johan and Eddy (advanced) and Lynette (o/w) also dived from our good ship Cleopatra. Kathleen had six divers: Alistaire and 4 others in the smaller boat.

We didn't see much in the way of fish. Mark liked the angels. We got three first time divers weight checked and heading down the anchor line, Bobbi and Dusty following behind. At bottom there was a current pulling out to see but nothing like the week before. We finned NW toward the BW. I traced a line in the sand which I never saw again. All my divers stayed together as planned. We went a little along the wall and when I saw a place to tie off my marker buoy I stopped as prearranged. The scenario for Bobbi and Dusty was to lose a buddy. The procedure would be to surface and look for lost buddy, determine after elapsed time that Buddy was in danger, and descend and search. On descent we would deploy the SMB. We didn't do all that but took up the exercise from that point. By setting the SMB up and THEN going to lose the buddy I had a way of finding Bobbi and Dusty who were waiting for me. So I took the 3 guys a little ways out over the sand and tied off the bag. I then returned to the wall and headed back downcurrent to find Dusty and Bobbi. Dusty led in a SW direction 25 kick cycles up current, 5 kicks SE, and then to the NE 50 (except he wisely reduced this to account for drift) 5 kicks SE, and so on. Bobbi spanned out to increase field of vision. I saw them start the exercise, and when I saw them again back up top they had the buddy bag. My divers survived to tell the tale as well, so well done all.
Friday , Dec. 24 630-632 Musandam: Ras Moravi, Lima Rock, and the cave on the way home Al Marsa - blowing a gale at home but pleasant if chilly on the east coast. Vis was crap Fun diving with my family: Bobbi, Glenn, and Dusty, and Omar. Omar advanced dive: deep and multilivel. Actually Bobbi had congestion and didn't dive. She didn't miss a lot. We left picturesque Dibba harbor to find dhow anchored under cliffs in pristine waters and picked up Mike Ralph for first dive at Ras Marovi, my first time there. He described a great dive, dropping in on rays etc. but vis sucked and current took us opposite to where we wanted to go and we saw a couple of turtles but that was about it. Next dive a Lima again disappointing for Lima, poor vis, dropped in middle of the island and made our way to the end where we got murky conditions and currents soup that forced our retreat. Mike had told us to take the tanks on board and have a free dive at the caves on the way back so we did but again not much there, just swim throughs the kids enjoyed.
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Last updated: February 19, 2005