Vance's Personal Dive Log for the year 2005
Vance Stevens, P.A.D.I. Open Water SCUBA Instructor #64181
Apo Reef, off Mindoro Philippines, January 2005
|Date||Logged Dive #||Location||Diving with||Trainees and buddies|
|January 17, 2005||633-634||Sabang, east of Pto Galera, Philippines: Escarcero
point west of Sabang Beach and around the corner through the hole in the wall
to Pink Wall and over the coral rubble
Afternoon dive at Shark Cave
|Triton Divers||Diving just me with divemaster Mark, we descended
over typical Philippines coral with lots of strands poking up to just off the
floor, many corals for ten min at 25 meters, till we saw a blue spotted ray,
and Mark signalled up gradually. We went comfortably with current to the hole,
just that, at 12 meters, nothing much inside but lots of big fish around, jacks
and triveli and a trio of chunky tuna. Then down a bit and around to the pink
wall. Nice but ... There was an orange nudibranch there and a scorpion fish,
some morays, and I found a large octopus in a hole. Nice dive, well led by
Mark, over an hour plus 3 min at 5 meters just a meter off the bottom where we
ended our dive.
That evening a pair of 'mericans wanted to go to Shark Cave so I came along. Kheith dived with them so I got to go with Mark again. We dropped down on shark cave and found a large rotund at least two meter long black tip shark sleeping in it. We crawled in and bathed him with torch light but he was wickedly unperturbed. The rest of the dive was anticlimactic though we saw some big nudibranchs, and Mark came on a lovely crocodile fish.
|January 17, 2005||635||The Canyon off Sebang||Triton Divers||Another excellent dive with Mark again. This time we put in closer to the point, seas running rough, and made our way in adverse currents to the canyon where there were schools of huge fish racing about. The dive was pretty good and challenging though I forget the particulars exactly, except that with all the exertion, pulling ourselves over the rocks and such, I got low on air after about 40 minutes, and the nature of the dive was such that we were see-sawing between 16 and 25 meters, and I found myself at 25 m with about 60 bar of air. The way out was not up but upcurrent at an angle that didn't get us even to 20 meters when I went into deco with 50 bar. I signalled calmly but firmly to Mark. He looked around for a way along the contour only momentarily before agreeing with me that a vertical ascent made the most sense, and we got carried some way midwater by the current while doing our safety stop (deco having burned off on the way up). It was fun back at the shop to watch Mark animatedly explain to Kheith how we had clawed our way through currents running counter to intuition. Mark confided that he'd had divers panic in such conditions and he was glad I wasn't one of those.|
|January 20-21, 2005||636-637||House reefs off North Pandan Island||The dive shop on North Pandan||Made an afternoon dive on arrival at North Pandan, me and a divemaster, and a morning dive next day with the French people I'd hooked up with, Pierre, Jerome, and lissom Valerie. The reefs were redundantly beautiful, reminiscent of Cook Islands, lots of small stuff but not much big or saliently stimulating. I recall lots of nudibranchs. Interesting but I was mainly passing time while awaiting a boat trip to Apo Reef.|
|January 22-23, 2005||638-642||Apo Island reefs||The dive shop on North Pandan||Diving again with, Pierre, Jerome, and Valerie. First day was not as great as expected. First dive off a vertical wall 60 meters. I went to 30 in the clear water and stopped. Others went deeper. It was easy to loose track in such clear water. Not much on the dive though except the exquisite small stuff. Second dive of the day was slightly better with a white tip to punctuate the experience. We put in at the island and walked a bamboo boardwalk to an inland pool before returning aboard for our night dive. The night dive was done in a stiff current, hard to hold position. Lots of invertebrates, quite interesting. We slept aboard and in the morning did another wall dive, more sharks and a turtle at the end. The 5th and last dive we went to the corner where the current was sweeping in and drifted fast through one of my most memorable dives ever. At 25 meters or so, sharks were cruising above and below us. A couple of mantas blew in fast with the current and swept past us. We came upon the largest barracuda I have ever seen, a good couple of meters, holding himself in the current rippling like a banner in the wind, looking almost like an undulant shark. I found another barracuda in the blue and swam after it and apparently missed a napoleon wrasse atop the reef for my pains. More sharks and at the end of the dive, when Pierre and Valerie had gone up, Jerome and I drifted more with the current and found a turtle swimming casually in water clear as a pool. We then had to exert ourselves upcurrent back to the boat and I climbed aboard sucking the last 20 bar from my tank (from the exertion). Fascinating dive.|
|Thu Feb 10, 2005||643-644||Khor Fakkan: Martini Rock and Ras Qitfah||7 Seas||Sami, Mahindra, and Mark all did o/w dives 2 and 3 plus numerous surface skills, getting just one dive short of completing their course. We dived Martini Rock first and saw lots of moray eels and scorpion fish (disguised chameleons). Near the top of the rock we came upon a turtle hovering there that let us come up to it and didn't seem at all concerned about us, so we hung there with it and looked it in the eye a while. Our second dive was at Ras Qitfah just south of there and I don't recall that we saw much there except a flounder and one tableau with a brine shrimp next to an anemone with clown fish in it. But the dive was nice (and shivery cool!!), and all divers performed well, completing their exercises for each dive and getting most of the surface work done as well. Eric Kleiss joined us along with Andy and Liana Dunn and Mohamed and Huda Malhas.|
|Fri Feb 11, 2005||645-646||Musandam: Lima Rock and Lulu Island||Al Marsa||This was an expedition with Andy and Liana Dunn,
rescue divers, Mohamed and Huda Malhas, and Michele for her final o/w advanced,
and her buddy Scott, recently advanced. Bobbi came on the boat. The Lima Rock
dive could have possibly been better. We got dropped near the west end of the
south face so it seemed we would be diving that face and not reaching the
corner. Michele planned a mnemonic 24 meter 24 min, 16 meter 16 min, and 12 to
finish out the tank profile. Thus we didn't get down to the sand but rode the
easterly current seeing not much, perhaps a barracuda or so, until we came to
the bare rock wall, where we encountered a slightly back current. By then we
had elevated to around 12 meters so it was going to be a different dive on the
way back, so I led us away from the busy corner, as Mike Ralph had requested in
the dive briefing. But on our way back we encountered Mike almost immediately
leading his divers toward the corner. He signalled me and I knew he was between
us and the corner but I continued with my group back to the west in the
shallows until we again picked up the current that had nearly carried us the
length of the island already. With Mike still to our east and the current
suggesting we go that way as well, I reversed our direction and headed us back
toward the east end of the island. We were high up the wall so the diving was
at least colorful and interesting here. Shortly we encountered Mike and his
group at the corner. The current was fairly still there so there weren't so
many fish as there usually are all swirling about there. My divers were getting
low on air and one was having difficulty overcoming the weight / depth factors
that kick in when diving shallow at the end of the dive, and when Mike took his
divers up, she was already on the surface. So the three of us surfaced, I
handed out some weight, and as we had 50 bar plus each I suggested we skim the
top of the reef on scuba. In the 5 minutes added dive time we were rewarded
with a honeycomb moray protruding from the reef in good life and vis.
We pulled into Lima Bay and had a biriani lunch and a long surface interval, so the next dive at 18 meters around Lulu Island and spiraling up and around brought us nowhere near deco. Liana stayed out so Alan and I dived together, and Michele and Scott accompanied. We hit strong current on our east heading around the rock and when we came on that spot again after a full circumnavigation, Michele and Scott headed up and Alan and I carried on south along the submerged reef there. We got as far as the next island (Lulu had an osprey on top, this one didn't). We saw a turtle on our way there.
|Thu Feb 17, 2005||647||North of the sand island off Jebel Danat, UAE||Boat arranged by Jebel Danat Hotel||A cold 19 degree water dive with Kathleen and
Alistair and me buddying with Hazem. I had provided tanks for K and A and Hazem
had brought 2 which was a good thing because I had messed up and brought two
near-empty tanks. Allistair used one of Hazem's and I went in with 75 bar (1000
Fortunately the dive was shallow, just 4-5 meters, and when it got down to 2 I just surfaced and snorkeled till I saw something interesting and in this manner managed to dive for half an hour ending up with 33 bar (500 psi).
There were interesting things to see. The site had typically Abu Dhabi fauna but lots of it. There were plenty of bat fish, big ones, in the shallow corals, and some huge groupers. Lots of sweet lipped grunts (bream?) and blue angel fish. Pretty dive. We were exploring and maybe we'll come back with students.
|February 24, 2005||648-649||Abu Dhabi: Ras Gurab and Delta Buoy||Alladin Divers at Beach Rotana||Alladin have just opened for business in Abu Dhabi.
I needed to take Sami Caracand for his final o/w training dive
for o/w certification. Jason at Alladin said he would welcome the
opportunity to GPS a few of my favorite spots. We had a deal.
Outside temps were in low 20's and the water was about the same 22 degrees at six meters at Ras Gurab. It was cloudy and raining a bit. We went to the bommie I discovered on my dive with Stephanie last year. We didn't see bat fish or barracuda, but there were wispy clouds of fish hanging off the coral mounds, pretty and serene. I had a nice dive with Sami, put him through the last-dive exercises, surfaced with him buddy breathing, had him tow me to the boat, went down the anchor line, ascended with CESA, dropped down some more, did a square pattern, explored a bommie on the third leg, and discovered on surfacing normally that the anchor had been pulled to pick up divers, which is why we couldn't return to it. Nice dive, cold.
We returned home and I offered to help Jason & Tobias look for the cement barge with a couple of air force guys who had excellent equipment and a long diving history, and a local diver named Bakheet. I was asked if it was still safe. Apparently there may be substance leaking from the cement bags. I have no idea about that and still don't because Alladin are so new they are using the Beach Hotel boat, and that boat has no depth finder, and on the way out to the barge when we discovered that, we changed the destination to Delta Buoy. So we went there, my usual spot, Delta Canyon, where I dropped in, announced I would head north and east, and found the canyon with one of the pipes I'd set upright still in place. I've been there many times in varying conditions. Funny how it looks different each time. This time the dive was pleasant, lots of breams and sweet lipped grunts, no rays and no big hamour about. I hope they haven't been fished, that big family of hamour. No sea snakes either. We did see a shoal of juvenile barracuda. We went up the canyon to the sand flat then back down the other side into the nondescript area, and when we started shivering, we surfaced.
|March 17, 2005||650||Abu Dhabi: The Beach Rotana House Reef||Alladdin Diving||Certified Mark Jolley as open water diver, his final dive #4. I took Kate Giblin for her first o/w training dive. The weather looked great and the sea glassy when I looked out over it at 10 a.m. but by noon the wind was whipping and even the protected Beach Rotana had white caps off it. I took Kate on her first pool session and afterwards in the water off the beach there. Vis was pretty poor in pool and worse off the beach. Mark arrived and we kitted up for 1:30 dive, headed out of harbor, but got met with large swells and could hardly move, worse beyond harbor mouth. We aborted even trying to get to the b/water, returned to hotel and the fabulous Beach Rotana House Reef, a wall dive on the seawall just off the resort. Kate kept buoyancy well enough to stay in site the whole time this dive, and Mark had no trouble with his skills set. Nothing much to see, a challenge keeping everyone together in very cloudy conditions, satisfying at a technical level to have executed the dive despite disorientation when dealing with problems with resort to blind trust of compass. We exited at the beach we'd put in at and Mark towed Kate, with the current, to the exit point downstream. At least the water temperature was pleasant, low 20's. Kate and I wrapped up with pool session #2 (in the pool) so we made a full day of it.|
|May 12, 2005||651-653||Khor Fakkan||Seven Seas||Started Johan Smit and Lynnette on their Rescue and
Advanced courses. First dive was deep for Lynette at Inchcape near
Martini Rock. The Inchcape is getting more and more encrusted with soft corals
and is attracting quite a lot of life by now. There are morays all over the
place, and scorpion fish lurk in abundance. We saw nudibranchs, and even a
seahorse!! First one I'd ever seen in the ocean. Bobbi was thrilled as that and
a manatee topped her wish list. After exercises with Lynette in the sand bottom
we moved up the wreck and near the rope I sent Johan up with Glenn, who
pretended to be a distressed diver and then in need of alternate air, as part
of Johan's rescue course.
The boat was moved to Martini Bay, south side, and we got out there for training in the shallows. I put Bobbi in the water and had Johan throw her a line and then rescue her as a tired, then panicked diver. Finally he practiced tows with and without gear removal. Johan and I then went diving near the boat and Johan surfaced without me and complained of a missing buddy. I placed a yellow bag meanwhile (the missing diver) and rejoined him at the surface just as Bobbi and Glenn and Lynnette were showing up fully kitted from the boat. Glenn was handling the emergency as scenario no. 11 while Bobbi and Johan would be helping with the search as scenario no.5. Bobbi did best, asking Johan where his buddy was, where he'd last been seen. When they went down, Lynnette and I set a marker buoy on the spot. Lynnette was there for her advanced navigation dive and she did very well on all the exercises. We first took a north bearing for 30 of my kicks (she counted 28 of hers, and 1 min 15 sec for the return leg). We turned at a rock with a starfish on it and navigated on my compass heading but ended up left of the marker. We encountered Johan and Glenn and Bobbi at that point carrying the bag which they'd found, so that had gone well.
We surfaced and agreed to go separate ways for a while. Lynnette and I continued with the navigation work. She led me along the rocks to the southeast and returned me to the marker. We then took a north heading and over the sand saw a grey sting ray. She returned to the marker spot on with a south heading. There was left only to do the square. Her bearing and distances were impeccable. We returned over the easterly course. I'd made marks in the sand with my finger and knew we were on track (she told me later she had noticed the marks). We then turned north 30 kicks and again 90 degrees to the west. On that leg we stopped in sand but I gave her the reel and before I lost sight of her she had carried the line to the rock with the starfish. We headed west from there and where the marker should have been we found a huge barracuda being cleaned by wrasse. Partial distraction by this and possibly a tidal current caused us to end up left of the marker again, but I thought it was good enough for Lynnette. We continued the dive and saw more barracuda, sting rays, crayfish. Not bad for a shallow shore area. Glenn and Bobbi and Johan saw four small sharks when wading near the beach there.
After the day dives Johan and Lynnette met me back at the shop at 6:30 for our night dive on Martini Rock, a pleasant experience. Johan buddied with Matt, the dive pro, and Lynnette and I had a superb dive amid the soft corals shining bright red in our light. We found lots of creatures. I found a hermit crab all decked out in a shell sporting soft anemones, looking ready for Carnival. There were cutlass fish about, denizens, one attacked Lynnette. We found a small orange mottled electric ray and didn't touch, but I got Lynnette to stroke the bottom of a flounder, handed her a pipe fish, and let her pet a puffer, all docile at night. We rounded the bottom of Martini at 20 meters and calculated later that we were on the edge of the tables on that dive, a really good one. Back on the boat, despite the warm breezes, I had fits of shivering.
|Friday May 13, 2005||654-656||Khor Fakkan||Seven Seas||It was a busy day for a dive instructor. I
certified Lynnette for advanced diving and Johan and Glenn as rescue
divers on this day.
Our first dive was Inchcape 1 just off the Meridien. I explained to all that at 30 meters this would be a 20 min dive, and that Lynnette, for her Wreck dive, was to monitor the time and lead us back to the line up prior to our ascent, which she did according to PADI standards for the dive, and then did a safety stop on the line on the way up, as required for a 30 meter dive. My computer put us into deco just as we were about to ascend, so the safety stop was warranted. I kept us there for 4 min.
The dive itself was great. There were two small crocodile fish on the deck just aft of the wheel house, and scorpion fish and morays everywhere, though the resident honeycomb wasn't in. Big needlefish meandered around the snappers massed around the wheelhouse. Photographers on the wreck had it bathed in strobe lights. It was a peaceful, attractive place to be for 20 min.
Besides our crew of 5 there was two others on the boat, Gavin and Dave, and they wanted to do their first dive on the Pinnacles so they didn't join us on the wreck, and we went there. Our time down had been 10:58, time up would have been 11:18, and we wanted a 1.5 hour surface interval to make us B divers for our second dive. We spent the time at the Pinnacles doing surface rescue training, Jonathan's scenarios 7, 8, and 9, where we used Lynnette as a victim and rescued her at the surface, ventilated her back to the boat, got her onto the boat, and treated her for DCS, all as discrete skills.
When it was time to dive I took Johan for skill 6, lifting a victim from the bottom using positive buoyancy. Glenn was waiting on the boat and Lynnette and Bobbi were doing a fish identification naturalist dive. Johan and I descended and placed one of Scuba Dubai's bright yellow bags on the bottom in such a way that he would come on it if he conducted the search in the way we had discussed back on the boat. Then I surfaced and called for help, then descended back to Johan and led him toward the boat. Glenn used Gavin and Dave as spotters and headed out to where they directed him. Johan and I intercepted him en route and dropped down where told and sent up my SMBuoy as a reference. Glenn then led us in a set of u-turns until we came on the object, at which point I retrieved it and Johan simulated being the victim. Glenn took him to the surface and back to the boat quite well, though Gavin had gone snorkeling and there was only Dave there to help us get him back on the boat. In any event, Johan survived the ordeal.
We then sent Lynnette back into the water and had Johan repeat his surface rescue except that he did it all as a cohesive scenario this time with no breaks for practice. When Lynette was back on the boat we noticed that my SMB was still out in the ocean and no divers had returned, so we decided to have Johan do the next to last scenario where I place the victim and then surface nearby and Johan comes out to find the victim. Glenn and I did all that, placing the victim in 7 meter sand near a school of spiraling barracuda. We then returned to the rocks and noticed the current had swept us west a bit, so we had to swim east to get back to the buoy. I was worried that this might throw Johan off since I had placed the victim more downcurrent than I had intended, but when he arrived he decided to start the search 15 kicks to the west. His reasoning was to cover the area either side of where we were. It was a good move on his part. He led us west a bit and then to the north to where the barracuda were still hanging out. I knew to look in that area so I got myself in position to help him sweep outside his pattern for it, and when he started the third leg I saw the victim under the barracuda.
That exercise was over and we could dive. We had agreed to return to the rock and swim across it to return to the boat from the seaward side. I followed my compass to the south and without trying came right on my buoy which I recovered. I then led us over the rock and right onto a trio of cuttlefish. Glenn saw a turtle on the surface. We headed down the valleys to the deep side of the Pinnacles. Coming over a rock finger I surprised a black tip shark moving in for a cruise. He was so startled, he doubled back on himself and bolted before the others could see him. There were some interesting big fish passing by our peripheral vision but the most interesting fish was a jaw fish elongated from his hole, looking like a garden eel. As we came on him he retreated with just his head poking over. He was small and it was a while before Johan and Glenn managed to work out what I was pointing at.
Back on board we moved to a headland near the Car Cemetery where Gavin and Dave could make their second dive and I could squeeze in Johan's final scenario for certification. The site was shallow and the vis was so good that when I came up where I'd left the bag, and Johan was directed to the spot, he saw it from the surface. Once down, Bobbi became the victim and Johan raised her and delivered her to the boat for completion of his rescue skills training.
|May 20, 2005||657-658||Abu Dhabi: Blue Dolphin's secret reef and outside the breakwater||Blue Dolphin||Nice day for diving in Abu Dhabi, not too hot, vis a good ten meters or more, water temperatures 30 degrees and ideal for just enjoying the tranquility of the underwater environment. The secret reef was approached on a 340 heading from the museum on the breakwater, just past the new island being built within site of the city and just beyond where the water turned blue and then the reef appeared as a dark streak at 7 meters, and on a transit with the Etisalat golf ball framed by the Minaret at Marina Mall housing development and the next significant bldg. at Marina Mall to its right, and the silos at Sadiyat looming distant to the north. The reef was a pleasant shallow area full of snappers and bream and gopies and their crayfish partners, and lots of tinaphores on the descent. Not much else to see but it was Kari's first dive ever and in the company of my good friend and her father Erik excellent dive buddies. Kari did exceedingly well on her first dive, controlling and correcting her depth with aplomb. We surfaced s/e of the boat and had to fin against the wind and current to it so we practiced tired diver tows getting to the tag line. Our second dive was outside the breakwater. Kari turned out to have compass skills and helped me find the corner at the breakwater on a northeast heading from our anchorage. We turned the corner there and finned east to the Bateen Box, but no batfish were home that day. Kari did her required skills there and on the way back led us west 20 kicks and back spot on to the starting point. We meandered back around the corner and to the south along the wall until an hour had elapsed and then surfaced on alternate air source and had Kari lead us head down on compass back to the boat, exchanging snorkel for reg on the way. Once there we did CESA up the anchor a couple of times. Nice day out, good exercise, good company, so tired back home had an early dinner and a nap before sundown.|
|May 27, 2005||659||Abu Dhabi Marina Mall, opposite Hiltonia||Emirates Dive Association / ERWDA Beach Cleanup||Bobbi and I dived together in a beach cleanup, half
an hour, 4 to 6 meters, murky vis but pleasant temperatures. Kathleen organized
things and later put pics up at Masaood's website:
where the story was picked up by Dubai Boating:
Here's the pic, which left to right, Doug Holroyd and his son Nick, Andree
Morrison, Glenn, me and Bobbi, and Jeff Toloson:
|June 10, 2005||660-661||Khor Fakkan: Martini Rock and Shark Island||7 Seas, Badr driving||Certified Megan Tailford o/w diving and conducted o/w training dives 2 and 3 for Kate Giblin. Tailfords were down as a family, Alan diving with us and Carol and James snorkeling. Glenn and Bobbi dived as well, and Sami Caracand, and someone working at Shk Khalifa Hospital in Abu Dhabi named Derick. First dive was Martini Rock, a nice dive as usual. Dropped down the mooring at 14 meters and had my ladies establish buoyancy, then moved them up to 12 meters and went round and round the rock like that. Lots of scorpion fish and morays in the soft corals, found a flounder near one moray. Stopped in a sand valley to do exercises then continued, my divers doing very well, but running low on air at 40 min, me with 100 bar left.. On surfacing I had Kate tow me to the boat, and then we anchored near martini beach and did surface compass work. We moved over to Shark Island where dredging has already begun on extending the harbor, so vis was silted permanently from the looks of it. Shark Island has never been one of my favorite dives - I've never seen much of interest there apart from rays and guitar sharks when night diving. Now it's even worse, though Bobbi and Glenn saw masses of larval cuttlefish or squid. Not my team. We did a few compass headings into the sand and back and wound up in coral shallows with lots of tang about, but otherwise a mediocre dive. 16 meters max, 45 minutes.|
|June 16, 2005||662||Abu Dhabi: Delta Buoy||Mike and Selwin's boat||Final certification dive for Kate Giblin. We met at 2 pm at the Club for an only slightly choppy ride out to the buoy, 284 degrees from the club following the channel markers, and anchored at my usual spot just east of the buoy. Kate and I went in first and did a couple of CESA's and then Mike joined us but had mask problems and didn't stay down long. It was easy to follow a northerly heading from the anchor line to find the ridge that I like. The ridge was teeming with fish as usual, yellow and black striped breams and spotted grunts, blue angelfish, bannerfish, butterflies, clownfish in sea anemones. We saw a dozen or so grouper (hamour) that mostly positioned themselves in our path as if asking to be eaten. At some point a bat fish took to following us around. The water was like a bath, a very pleasant 30 degrees or so. Nice dive, 11.3 meters for 53 minutes. Kate did very well on the dive|
|June 17, 2005||663-664||Khor Fakkan: Dibba Rock and 3-Rocks or Pinnacles||Scuba 2000, Badiya, Deden back at the helm||Final two dives and certification for Kari
Kleiss. No sleep the night before marking papers in my office but Erik
picked me up there at 6:00 a.m. for the start of our last adventure together
for a while, since he's moving to Tripoli (gonna miss Eric, end of an era, two
trips into Majlis Al Jinn, several ambitious Oman mountain treks, and an
advanced diving course.) I caught some heavy doped sleep in the car up despite
music the whole way and on arrival I was ready for Dibba Rock. I kept ahead of
our threesome the whole way, Kari tended to get engrossed in small things and
point them out for her father, so it was only me who saw all the sharks. On our
60 minute dive (14-16 meters), I saw another one every 10 minutes. The first
one was moving through a gap in the reef and was just in the shadow vis region
about ten meters away, and after that I kept pulling ahead to look for him or
his ilk and then holding up to check back on Kari. Further up the wall side of
the rock I saw him again, or another one, same vis conditions, large fish with
distinctive fin and sickle tail disappearing into silty fog. At that point I
called a halt and a turnaround and edged up the reef, and that's where I made
two more sightings 5 min apart of a grey blacktip heading one way and
apparently doubling back, skimming the good vis at the top of the reef, and
visible on each pass for five to ten powerful seconds. We steered into the
shallows as air ran low, and it was there I made my fifth sighting and chased
it this time, with Eric just far enough behind that the shark was out of range
for him. We saw much else on the dive, touched soft flounder, let Kari handle
the pipe fish, lots of grouper lying about as in a fish souk, morays gray to
green and one clown striped moray, and a nudibranch which we examined with the
magnifying glass in my BCD pocket. It was really an astounding dive, even for
those who saw no sharks. A best for Dibba Rock!
Last dive was at the Pinnacles. I snorkeled it first and found a place with lots of fish where I thought we might descend. It took a bit of swimming to coax Kari through the surge to the descent point but she made it and we went down to about 8 meters where we hit the icy thermocline. We hadn't brought the wetsuits for it and didn't feel like going much deeper, so we cruised around the south side of the rock and up the east. I was hoping to see a different part of the rock from what I normally dived, but we ended up in the gulley that I always swim up and from there it was same as always. Kari put her hand on an urchin in this gulley and became concerned about the pain and the unknown to follow, but she stayed collected (and submerged) and I had her finish her exercises to get her mind off it. As the pain subsided she returned to normal and we pushed through the surge in the fish-filled shallows to the west side of the rock. Vis wasn't good and there wasn't much to see and when we reached the mooring points and started to head deep, and it was cold there, we decided we'd had enough. So 45 min into the dive with half tanks remaining, we surfaced near the boat.
|July 15-20, 2005||665-675||Roatan, Honduras||Pura Vida Dive Center||11 dives including 1 night dive on the reefs off
northwest and west-end Roatan. July 15 had an easy, shallow checkout dive. July
16 three dives including a night dive. July 17, 18, 19 a morning and noon dive
each day, and July 20 a morning wreck dive. Morning dives were typically
100-110 ft or 30-34 meters, for 40-45 min, and we usually had half a tank left
after such dives. Noon dives were 60ft/18meters 45-50 min. Vis was excellent
with mild sea conditions except one day after Hurricane Emily passed to the
north of us and smashed Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. On that day we
dived West End Bay and Pablo's Place.
On these dives we saw one sting ray on West End wall and one big green moray on the wreck dive. Just beyond the wreck at 34 meters was a sand patch with hundreds of garden eels. Turtles were occasionally seen, and big potato cods with ramoras tailing off them. One interesting fish often spotted was a jaw fish that levitated from its hole and retreated when it detected potential predators. More frequently we saw interesting invertebrates, such as well camouflaged spider crabs and the more obvious red/white banded crabs, and brine shrimp with glowing red eyes on the night dive. We saw a centipede like creature a couple of times that flashed its poisonous bristles white when disturbed by wafting current over it. Nudibranch slugs were numerous but hard to spot, not colorful like ones in the Red Sea or UAE. Among bigger invertebrates we saw lobster-like crayfish on most of the dives, and in one case a lair shared with a couple of big-fist sized crabs.
Dive guides included Esteban and Martine and divemasters Diana and Ross. The numero uno best dive leader was Juan, whom we thoroughly enjoyed. Knowledgeable and experienced, he pointed out any animal of interest he saw including anemones and sea cucumbers (Juan points at bottom, where? I gesture. There, he points ... where?? ... now his finger is almost touching a sea cucumber ... oh, that bubble bubble - on later dive briefings, I teased him to give us the signal for a sea cucumber). Juan would normally carry a loaf of bread with him and parcel it out to the fish, so he often had a retinue trailing behind him in addition to the divers he conducted. On dives like Spooky Tunnel, where we entered a rock swim through and emerged on a precipitous wall, the entourage included large cod with remora on them, and a couple of 1.5 meter very tame barracuda that swam nonchalantly up to us so we could almost touch their teeth. Swim throughs and walls were a common feature of Roatan diving. There was lots of animal life lurking in the coral, the aforementioned plus a huge variety of reef fish: triggers, angel fish, wrasse, a variety of parrots, box fish, coronet fish ... etc. etc. There were no sharks or real attention getters, but the dives were very relaxed, rarely any current (and if there was we drift dived) and air seemed to last forever, though the dives were guided and controlled, and all divers were signalled to the surface 40-50 minutes into every dive.
|Aug 12, 2004||676-677||Khor Fakkan: Martini Rock and Ras Kitfah||Seven Seas||First two open water dives for David Fischer, Romeo Sulzer, and Monica Trink, with intent to conduct rescue training with Bobbi and Dusty but see below. The first dive was on Martini Rock, 12 meters plus (call it 14, NDL 98 minutes), all divers performing splendidly once buoyancy was brought under control. Vis on the rock was poor but still we saw lots of moray eels, scorpion fish, and lion fish, and we passed through schools of hovering snapper as we circumnavigated the rock. We did most of the surface skills for the course during surface interval, and our second dive on Ras Kitfah was pleasant, though we couldn't spend much time in the sand looking for rays due to air depletion and after we completed our Dive #2 skills I led up over the boulders at 8 to 5 meters. We found pipe fish and pairs of clowns in clumps of anemone. After surfacing on alternate air I took David down for a last look and came smack onto a turtle. We followed it as it moved off over the sand at 12 meters plus and then ascended up the boulders about 45 min into our extended dive.|
|August 18, 2005||678-679||Abu Dhabi: Old Cement Barge and Delta Buoy||Diving with Arabian Divers under the care of Osman, Instructor and boat handler.||Final O/W Certification Dives for Romeo Sulzer,
Monica Trink, and David Fischer; O/W Dives 1 and 2 for Wael Zeeni - Day 2.
Thursday 18 August 2005 Weather Sunny and hot. Wind Light southeasterly,
becoming a moderate northwesterly sea breeze of 10 14 knots around
midday. Temperature Max 44°C Sea State Inshore 1 3 feet and 1
3 feet offshore. - Nice day out, hot up top in direct sunlight and only
slightly cooler 30 degrees in the water, warm in the long protective clothing
I'd advised everyone to wear. We planned two ten meter dives. The first was on
the OCB (39 min. plus 10 or 15 for those doing CESAs). We found sea conditions
tolerable and did our second at Delta Buoy (35 min plus 15 for Monica and I to
retrieve my buoy).
OCB was quite nice. Vis was 5 or 6 meters, and there were lots of batfish around following us around every fin kick of the way. Gopies were everywhere in the sand and the crabs working behind were visible and active in many of the holes. In the bow of the boat (north end) we found an anemone with a pair of tiny clown fish. Lots of blue angelfish darted about, and the ubiquitous yellow snappers. From the mooring line attached near the stern on the west side (convenient and probably temporary) we made our way crisscrossing the two holds to the bow and there did our mask flooding and clearing and then compass headings for David and Monica. I then led us back to the mooring line and on to the stern where Romeo went east and then back to the west, all spot on. Some in our group were low on air then so we ascended up the mooring line to return them topside and David and Monica descended with me down the anchor Osman had dropped from the stern and we practiced emergency swimming ascents from an ideal depth of almost 10 meters and up a nearly vertical line. At the end of the dive we found another boat there with Peter aboard (wave, wave) and Andy from BSAC and some others I didn't know, who politely stood off for us while we retrieved our divers.
We moved then to Delta Buoy where, coming from the OCB and not from town, I wasn't exactly sure of my orientation the way I usually spot the gulley with the sweet lips and grouper. Osman anchored a bit close to the buoy at first and I eyeballed it while we moved anchor 60 degrees from the buoy and a little further out. My divers descended on the stern anchor that Osman had again dropped for us. It was bowed below the surface in a stiff southerly current. I took Romeo down first and had him do his CESA and then collected everyone at the top and re-descended. We did our exercises near the anchor and then went in search of the gulley. It was challenging going, finning into a very stiff current. The beginners keeping up from behind started breathing hard and rising off the bottom from the change in buoyancy. They were all excellent beginners though so each time I checked they were all arrayed behind. I was following my nose and less faithfully my compass, trying to keep myself just east of north. I could tell from the fish and coral that I was nearing the gulley. I think some in the group were at 100 bar when we finally reached it. I tried to keep everyone low in the gulley out of the current but with exertion comes a need for more control. We made it to the buoy where the leopard spotted sweet lips were, but the grouper were not at home, I hope not on someone's dinner table. I had everyone hover there and attached my marker buoy to the spot so I could come back and GPS it. We ascended from there and returned to the boat finning hard across the current to avoid being swept past it. I got a free ride from Wael who was practicing tired diver tows.
Monica had the most air left 80-90 bar, so we had Osman move toward my buoy and anchor to the south of it. It wasn't a good call on my part. I didn't want him anchoring right in that nice spot where the anchor might drag on the coral walls but the way it ended up Monica and I were left with a 50 meter hard fin against the current to find the gulley which I recognized just barely at the point we intersected. Monica did a great job as a just-certified o/w diver on a challenging dive but became dangerously low on air rather quickly and so I surfaced with her and encountered my buoy line on the way up. I had her hold the line on the surface while I dropped down and freed the reel which I rewound as I surfaced to rejoin Monica topside. We were quickly swept back to the boat, recovered from the water, and on our way home helping ourselves to cold drinks from the cool box.
|Aug 26, 2005||680-682||Khor Fakkan: Inchcape 1, Dibba Rock, Car Cemetery||7 Seas||Final O/W Certification Dives for Wael Zeeni, and
David Fischer - Deep and Wreck advanced dives, and Dusty rescue scenario #9:
treatment for DCS on a dive boat - It was a lovely day out in KF after a
spate of bad weather; reports the previous Tuesday were that KF had strong
currents and 8 ft waves and was undiveable. It took some shuffling for 7 Seas
to sort out all the business they attract by being nice to their instructors
but in the end it was Kathleen and Peter and I instructors on the 7 Seas boat
with all the other divers, James's dozen and a Russian tour group, being
shunted off to Martini Rock / Shark Island in a hired boat. We were able to
dive our plan: the Inchcape 1 for deep dive trainees, Diba Rock for my o/w
diver, and Car Cemetery to do a wreck dive with advanced and beginning o/w
Inchcape 1: a straightforward 30 meter plus dive down a mooring line to a wreck with lots of life on it. David on tables kept himself well just above 30 meters while Dusty and I went to the sand just to see how deep it was, 31. The boat is on a north / south alignment with stern to the north and the mooring rope on the NE guardrail just aft of the wheel house. Fred the huge honeycomb moray was at home, head sticking out to entertain the divers who could make him out through the cloud of yellow snappers. We made our way forward along the hull and found a huge 4-foot wide ray half exposed in the sand, eyes blinking the size of billiard balls. We didn't disturb him for the benefit of those to follow. Other than that there were huge lion fish floating in the hold, and treveli zipping around on the wreck looking a bit larger than the other fishes. We finished our dive comparing depth gauges (each said 28 meters) and timing David in a cognitive task under the watchful eye of Fred on the after-deck, and at exactly 20 min (N pressure group) after a circumnavigation of the wheelhouse, through the shoals of snappers, we ascended up the mooring line. There was a safety stop tank at 5 meters that came in handy for one in our group, allowing us all to exit safely with adequate reserves in our own tanks.
I had wanted to take Wael to Dibba Rock and had been diverted by Kathleen and Peter to Inchcape 1, so after that dive I got my wish, though it turned out that only Wael and I dived it. Dusty had planned some rescue work there but aside from the rescuscitation scenario, he was sick and dived no more the rest of the day. The trip up there and changing the tanks and prepping Wael for the dive took well over an hour so I had vented to C pressure group by the time I took Wael down the mooring for his CESA. That consumed a bit of air and then we set a compass heading for a distant northerly buoy and Wael led us there on compass and snorkel. When I saw he had the technique down we descended on the reef and found a current nudging us to the north. We went to depth at 14 meters or more and I led us against the current to the south, not horribly difficult but not totally easy either, which cost Wael a bit of air. Vis was only a couple of meters and it was gloomy and though it was fun to watch the reef fish school about there was nothing remarkable there. Wael was close to 50 bar after 20 min of difficult finning so I moved us up the reef and through a gap into a shallower area where the vis improved and the current relented enough for Wael to do a compass heading out and back on reciprocal. We were about to surface when we spotted a turtle, so we prolonged to dive by following it, and when we needed to surface we did so with the turtle swimming relaxedly just below.
Mike Ralph was driving the boat and he had transits on the Car Cemetery and was able to find it by triangulation. To be sure he dropped anchor then dragged it backward in the sand till it snagged on metal, and I GPS'd that spot, so I can find it again myself. In years of diving here and many visits to the CC area, I had never before seen any cars here. It turned out to be a nice site. Peter and his student Michel were diving it as a wreck dive so I put David with them, or Kathleen more accurately, and took Wael off anticipating he'd go out of air quickly at 16 meters, but he had his buoyancy down and lasted 37 min this time. The dive was very interesting. Vis was bad and the heaps of metal loomed in clouds of yellow snapper, but we found lots of interest here. Most notable with a large flounder a foot and a half long, the largest I'd ever seen. He appeared as a dead fish on the bottom, mostly covered in sand. Peter and I examined closely and when Peter signed its death warrant with a stroke across the throat, I nudged it with my fin, and it was off in a cloud. Peter found a couple of nudibranchs, always interesting. Wael and I found a scorpion fish and a green, grey, and honeycomb moray, one each. Peter and Michel had to surface before we needed to so Wael and I wandered alone among the scrap heap till Wael needed to surface and at that moment we saw a barracouta and followed where it led us to its friends who eventually circled us in number, though it was hard to see them clearly in the poor vis till just before we really needed to surface. I decided at 5 meters to do a 3 min safety stop as each of us had air for that, and Wael held his position at 5 meters quite nicely, ready like David to go right into an advanced course it seems. Meanwhile David was enjoying his wreck dive with Kathleen, navigated almost to the exit point, and did a 3 min safety stop on his way up top, where he exited while Wael removed and replaced weights and BCD, to complete all skills for his o/w dive course. Great day, we all thought.
|Wed, August 31, 2005||683-684||Abu Dhabi - Bar H ... and Bateen Breakwater||Blue Dolphin at Intercon||David Fischer - u/w Naturalist and Night advanced
dives. I arranged over the phone to take Dave on his advanced drift and
night dives, with me diving at no charge as the instructor, only to find on
arrival that there was a misunderstanding and we almost had to choose between
walking off or paying for two dives. I assumed bringing paying customers to the
shop to increase the numbers on a scheduled dive who wouldn't have been there
that day without me and who might return in the future was good for the
business (just one diver on the spur of the moment that day, but as can be seen
from my logs I often have multiple students, starting this time of year), but
it was made clear that this was not the view of the shop, and in future my
students would have to bear the cost of my diving (all of us considered fun
divers) or pay for the entire course through the dive shop and use its
instructors (which could be me if I wanted to run advanced courses using just
Blue Dolphin). I think David reached a compromise with the manager, finally. My
arrangement with my advanced students is that they pay me a rather modest fee
(I do the advanced course for enjoyment mainly) and all the costs of diving, so
it's awkward when the student is presented with a bigger bill than the price I
had prepared him for.
This was too bad because there are at present only two places to take students diving in Abu Dhabi, both nice to dive with but neither economical for me to use in my courses. And I have enjoyed diving with Blue Dolphin since they got their new dive boat. The sites have been new to me and full of fish, the diving has been conducted competently, and Felix the new instructor is very thorough in his briefings, giving the most comprehensive review of signals for fish that I have ever heard. On this day we met at 3:00 in the afternoon (a holiday in Abu Dhabi) and were under way at 3:30 or so and at the first site at around 4:00 which would have been along a visible reef or channel or sand bar in sight of Futaisi Island to the south, but there was no current at all for the drift dive, so we moved locations further along the channel and did an under water naturalist dive instead. We didn't see much but clouds of snapper at first until we went to the south and wandered up the submerged wall of the channel. The vis improved here and the groupers were numerous and some quite large. They would lay down on rocks for us, facing us, as curious about us as we were about them (perhaps wondering, as we were, if the other was as tasty as he looked). David and I found a large coral bommie and hung around it for the end of our dive, then drifted down to 7 meters into a school of a pinkish fish, sloping foreheads, that I should know the name of, but lots of them, beautifully relaxing as they swirled about us. For our fish spotting, we saw wrasse, angelfish, yellow spotted sweet lips, black and yellow striped grunts, blennies, gopies, and the aforementioned. Invertebrates: clams, urchins, anemones, coral, the crabs that live behind the gopies, starfish ... Time of the dive: we had been asked to surface at 40 min; depth about 8 meters.
After this surprisingly pleasant dive within site of Abu Dhabi we motored in the dusk to inside the breakwater and prepared to night dive this familiar spot. Again, it was a fine dive, pleasant temperatures, with David and I first in the water and diving alone till we doubled back and caught up with the others. There were a number of crabs about, in the rocks and wandering about in the sand where we saw them during compass headings, and hmmm I can't remember, but I enjoyed it, 9 meters, 45 min. The staghorn coral is coming back nicely at the breakwater. At the end of the dive we doused our lights and managed to stir up a little phosphorescence and swim a few meters in the ambient light just to see that it wasn't all that fearsome underwater at night. That's when we were taken unawares by what we think was a huge giant squid whose tentacles pinned us in the dark so we couldn't switch our lights back on. KIDDING!! There's nothing out there that's much different from a dark bedroom at night.
|Friday, September 2, 2005||685-687||Khor Fakkan - Inchcape 1, Martini Cove, and Martini Rock||7 Seas||David Fischer - u/w Navigation advanced dive for
certification; Dusty rescue scenarios 10 and 11 (retrieve, ventilate,
rescuscitate diver at surface, and organize people on boat to help spot then
locate missing diver. We teamed with Peter and Fiona and their crew (doing
their 500th and 200th dives respectively. Gurt, South African guy was there,
and Rory and his girlfriend (not introduced, sorry) and Richard doing the
honors at the helm. We agreed on the Inchcape 1 for our first dive, one of my
favorites, 20 meters at the bottom, 45 min. NDL, which was our dive time
exactly (and 99 min no deco time showing on my computer at end of dive, since
we ended in the rocks on the headland). What do I like about the Inchcape? It
was particularly good on this day. Vis was excellent for one thing, almost 10
meters. It's covered with life, lots of scorpion fish, speckled morays, and
under the rudder on the NE side there was a huge green moray hiding, a large
lion fish, and a scorpion fish all sheltering there. Rounding the stern I
checked airs because I was planning to head west along the bottom to the shore
and let David start his u/w navigation there. We saw a sting ray heading in
that direction and followed as it zigzagged ahead of us, now sideways to us in
full view, then out and gone. We finned over the bleak sand bottom and soon
came on a jawfish hiding in its hole. This one didn't retreat when we got
pretty much on top of it but kept its eyes on us rotating as we passed. We went
back over the sand looking for more jawfish and saw a large meter-long fish of
some kind, not one I recognized, pass seaward. In over the rocks we attracted a
remora that shadowed us and amused us even through our safety stop. Meanwhile
I'd laid down 30 meters of line and had David measure the distance, then taken
the line up so David could retrace the spot to where the grey moray was next to
the rock I'd propped askew, and then back to the starting point, a boulder with
the clown fish. And that was it for that dive.
We went into Martini Cove for surface interval and Dusty's rescue work. There were two foot waves and a slight shoreward current. David kitted up and went out for Dusty to jump in skin diving and pulled him back to the boat ventilating every 5 seconds, where all hands hauled him aboard and Dusty revived him. I then took my yellow plastic bag buddy for a dive but managed to lose him (again) and fortunately Dusty was alert and answered my lackadaisical waving by coming with scuba and locating the buddy in a series of perfectly executed U's.
We then all went off to dive Martini Rock. Peter promised to divulge where the sea horses hung out so we were all enthusiastic on descent, but braced for disappointment (Peter had his camera so figured there was no way we'd see seahorses that dive). Vis was excellent on the South side of the rock but not so good opposite side, except at depth. We came upon a turtle almost right away and saw several more during the dive, two resting on the bottom, one swimming along the top of the rock. We also saw a dozen scorpion fish, various sizes and colors. There was a speckled pipe fish alongside one of the turtles, and I found a nudibranch which we examined with my new day-light and old magnifying glass, always in my bcd pocket. But the high point of that dive was the large 6 cm seahorse in the purple corals at the NE corner of the rock as we rounded it at depth, right where Peter had said it would be. As air supply diminished, Dusty and David and I went to the shallow end of the rock and let Dave complete his advanced dive course with a compass heading out and back, followed by a well-executed square pattern, and congratulations to him on completing his two entry level PADI courses with such aplomb, in just 9 dives, each steadily improved in buoyancy, air control, and confidence, over the one before.
The only blight on the day was when the green and yellow Dive House boat appeared at Martini rock and Capt. Ahmed (not positive identification, as I've not met him yet) or whoever was captain dropped his heavy anchor on the rock despite being warned by Richard, or DM up top, that there were divers below. The anchor was in place when we rounded the rock, and we noticed with some disgust that, though we had not been directly below at the moment of its dropping, not only had it been dropped right on the rock but its line was scraping orange and white corals off the face of the rock with each surge as the boat up top rode up and down at anchor. This was completely un-necessary since the mooring buoy has been in place for some time to prevent this kind of damage and preserve the rock and its natural wonders for all, and the Ruby (the name on the side of the boat) could have tied on back of ours. Black marks on this day for Dive House!!
|September 9, 2005||688-689||Abu Dhabi: Ludwig and Jasim wrecks||ADSAC||There were only places on this trip for Dusty and I
and we boarded a boat at 8 a.m. with Mike Parry and David (South African friend
of Wessie and Johan) and Jim, who buddied with Dusty and I, quite compatibly,
plus in the other boat Wendy and dive leader ... Boyle, Kevin and Louise, among
others and set out for the Ludwig. Our boat passed quickly over a moderate chop
to get us diving by 10:17 on my watch, for 34 min (27 meters) plus a 3 min
safety stop. It was Dusty's first dive on the Ludwig and he had Bobbi's
computer so we decided to make it a wreck penetration plus go into deco for a
minute, conservatively, to let him see how that worked. Jim was equipped with
lights and computer and amicably agreed to the plan. We were first down and
found the anchor draped over the wreck near the bow so we followed the deck at
18 meters to the west along the railing swarming with snappers to the bridge
area, where I found the passage where the door is missing and let us into the
wheelhouse area. The wheelhouse is roomy and has portholes so is not so
confined, and straight down and out the other side takes you to the sand and
the sloping deck of the wreck. We went to the stern and then east in the sand
back up to the bow, and throughout we looked into the dark water for barracuda,
but saw none, or any but the most common reef fish. Still it was a nice dive,
not so good vis, and we just hung out till Dusty and I went into deco and then
we went up the deck to the anchor line and ascended safely, with plenty of
The next dive on the Jasim was kind of fun, though again nothing much to see in the way of fish. The anchor was resting off the wreck and the line went above it so after descent at 2:16 we dropped onto the wreck when we saw it and I knew we'd have trouble finding the line again. We followed a maze of metal down to the sand at 26 meters and then moved north if I recall correctly as far as the rudder, rounded that, and found a swim through that tugged at our wetsuits. We meandered until we went into deco and then by prior agreement let that build to 3 minutes. I led us up the wreck and along the ridge of the upturned hull at the top, then followed other divers to the east till my deco hit 4 min and I decided we'd better ascend anchor line or not. I stayed atop the down divers bubbles so as to remain in the wreck area and soon we passed under the line and went onto that. We added a safety stop to the deco time and surfaced again with plenty of air, conservatively, after about 40 min.
|September 15, 2005||690||Abu Dhabi, off Al Raha Beach||Sammalia Island Heritage Park||Dusty Stevens's final Rescue Scenario for
certification - and EDA u/w cleanup event - We were assigned a boat
for Froglegs: Bobbi, Dusty and I doing top cover. Buddy pairs Glenn and Mohamed
Malhas, Johan Smit and Lynnette Harwood, and Calvin Ponton and Nicky Blower;
equipment courtesy of Kathleen Russell and Andy Dunn. Our designated cleaning
area at the southwest tip of the island, just north of the Umm Al Nar factory,
didn't have a lot of debris in it, possibly because it's pretty flushed out by
the currents ripping through there. We were one of two boats assigned the spot.
Ours had an anchor (the other didn't, amazing) and when we anchored we watched
the other boat drift past us. The divers who entered the water found themselves
in strong current so the other boat was assigned chase duties while Bobbi,
Dusty, and I monitored bubbles from those who stayed closer to shore, and we
kept contact though our mobile phones. The event is documented on the EDA
and there is a PDF file of pictures published in one of the local papers of our
divers on the cleanup:
(pictured: Johan and Lynette, Nicky, Bobbi, Glenn hidden, I think maybe Mhmd,
and me pulling a tank out of the water).
Once we'd retrieved our divers I had the boatman Mhmd take us to a place with less current. There was a wharf there which we tied up to and Nicky and I took my yellow bag for a dive in 1 meter vis. We followed a reef down to 5 meters and at its edge we felt current so we left the bag there and I surfaced and signalled the boat. I popped back down on Nicky and the two of us approached the boat u/w and met Dusty on his way to the spot where the buddy was last seen. We submerged in that place and I put up a SMBuoy. Dusty then led us in a perfect U and despite getting swept off the spot when he hit the current, he found the bag on the third pass. Nicky then became the victim and Dusty surfaced her, used my pocket mask to vent her back to the boat, got her gear off effectively, and got himself up the back of the boat (no ladders) to resume where Calvin and Bobbi were working on her. She eventually came around, and Dusty just needs to take the exam now for his certification.
|October 13, 2005||691-2||Khor Fakkan||7 Seas||Gordon Reid, advanced course, deep dive,
multilevel dive, and night dive.. Gordon is an ex-commercial diver with
over 1000 dives to his credit. He needed to get a recreational certification so
he could dive locally without hassles, especially to take his 17 year old son
diving off Snoopy Rock now that the lad had just been certified back in UK. I
was happy to accommodate him, and it turned out to be a weekend where we both
learned from one another. We started on the Inchcape II with a deep dive which
we did as a m/level 24 minutes at 24 meters (though we only got just over 20)
and 20 min into it we headed off the wreck and over the sand to see the
marvelous Jaw Fish, amazing creatures, poking like frogs over their holes,
bright blue in color when viewed within. We also saw a turtle I believe. Next
dive, Martini Rock, I had Gordon lead us in a m/level, 20 meters for 20 min,
then 12 meters for a very long time. We saw the usual morays and scorpion fish
and pipe fish throughout the dive but no seahorses in the purple coral, despite
Peter and Celine looking too. We moved to the shallow end of the rock where I
took Gordon out in the sand and had him place a yellow bag victim there. We
went back to where Bobbi was waiting and indicated to her that we had
lost our buddy. She went 5 kicks north, 15 east, 5 north, 30 west, 5
north, and 30 east, and at the end of that leg we found the victim. She did it
well. I then laid out a line 30 meters and had Gordon pace off fin kicks and
time (20 kicks for me, 45 seconds = 30 meters). By then Gordon was low on air
so we took him to the surface, safety stop at the top of the rock, and got him
back to the boat and Bobbi and I went down to 12 meters and worked on
unconscious diver lifts for her rescue course.
Back at the harbor I had a flat. Changed that, drove over to Youth Hostel and checked in, left off tyre at repair shop in KF, went to 7 seas and settled up, returned to fetch tyre, and then went to Sandy Beach where Gordon was staying for a shore night dive on Snoopy Rock. Not a great dive but lots of morays out, and we laid in the sand next to a turtle who tolerated us well. Touched puffers and cuttlefish and got one cuttlefish crazy in the light so he kept racing backwards and bumping into me. I found a tiny alligator fish in the sand, kept trying to bury himself so only his eyes showed. I kept nudging him and made him do it all over again. Kind of nice dive, followed by a Ramadhan beverage and dinner at the near empty restaurant, strange for a full hotel.
|October 14, 2005||693-4||Musandam||Mike Ralph||Mike Ralph is still short of starting a business but
he was trying to put together a dive trip for Friday. In the end all canceled
but us but Mike took us anyway for probably little profit, 600 dirhams for 3
divers, plus me. We used my gear and Mike got tanks from Scuba Dubai. Mike is
always fun to dive with. He likes to join us on the dives, and the boatmen Mhmd
and Jaquoub were polite and didn't mind if we ate during Ramadhan. There were
plenty of drinks aboard, some croissants and chocolate muffins (Mike is just
Dusty's age) and Mhmd wasn't fasting.
The dives were pretty good. Quentin joined us on the first dive but not the second. We did an unconscious diver on the surface rescue for Bobbi's rescue course during the surface interval. Gordon did a naturalist dive and completed his navigation with a perfect square to and from a fish trap.
First dive was the caves just short of fishhead rock, the point that sometimes looks like Lima Rock when you're far from it. The caves are similar to the one closer to Dibba, down a hole to the left, with a ray inside. We meandered back across the cave fronts at 15 meters and encountered barracuda. We saw a turtle. We nursed air and ended up a wall keeping to 5 meters for safety stop and prolonging that to get an hour of dive time. Actually Bobbi showed 16.1 meters, which means we have to count it as an 18 meter dive, and NDL is 56 minutes for that, and we did that plus a mandatory 3 min. safety stop, and surfaced at 59 min on my computer.
Next dive was what Mike calls Ras Crack, at a crack in the rock face a little further back from Fishhead Rock. Gordon was increasingly comfortable and air consumption allowed us another hour on this dive, including the square pattern we did for the Navigation dives. We were dogged by red tide on this one, clouds of algae that we had to either swim over, below, or through. A huge school of hundreds of barracuda were lurking in one such cloud. We saw another small turtle and a large crawfish that folks hereabouts call lobster, under a ledge in such a way that we could see him completely. One nice find under a deep alcove, eyes lit up telltale in the light of my torch beam, was a hiding ray. This was a nice, relaxed, shallow 15 meters dive.
|October 20, 2005||695-6||Abu Dhabi: Old Cement Barge and Bateen Box||Arabian Divers, Osama at the helm||Jay's 1st and 2nd o/w training dives - We
started with a fun dive on the OCB and it was a great day for it. Weather and
water temperatures ideal, sunny but not hot up top and comfortably cool down
under in a half mil lycra suit, Jay in cover-alls (Jay and I both had 7 kgs, I
could have used less). Vis was decent on the barge. It could be seen from the
surface, which rarely happens. Down under, Jay took his time getting
comfortable with the environment but was treated to an excellent dive. The
barge was covered with the usual snappers and curious blue angel fish, with big
batfish hovering about and swooping in close to us. We did some compass
headings into the sand but saw little there. In the incrustations on the barge
we found an attractive nudibranch. There were some large gopies lingering
outside their holes giving us good views of the crayfish excavating behind. The
big treat for us was the rare sighting of a turtle. He was small, a little over
a foot long, and looked more haggard than his robust cousins on the east coast.
His shell sported a dozen barnacles. He was completely unperturbed about us
divers and let us swim right next to him. Eventually he left us to go up for
air where he was spotted by Osama and his friend Wael at the surface. Jay and I
finished our dive in less than ten meters of water, 51 minutes.
Osama took us over to Bateen Box. Conditions had been calm at the OCB with low tide at 7:30 and our dive commencing just after 9, but at the breakwater the incoming tide increased noticeably during our dive. We started with tired diver tows away from the boat and then returned to it with a surface swim on compass. Osama had dropped a small anchor on a vertical line and we used that for controlled emergency swimming ascent. We then descended on the box and tried a compass heading out from there but were thwarted by current so I moved us up the wall to the corner where we tried again, compass out and return very close to the rock where we started, allowing for the current effect. We sheltered in the wall to do our exercises for that module. When air ran low (40 min at 7-8 meters) we ascended on alternate air source. We returned to the boat on snorkel / reg exchange.
|November 11, 2005||697||Abu Dhabi: Bateen Box||Monday was a day off so I took Josh and Francesca Stevens on their first open water dive from their parents' small boat. Seas were quite calm so we went over behind the breakwater and anchored right on top of Bateen Box. Francesca had problems with her ears and couldn't get much below 3 or 4 meters, so after several minutes on the anchor line I took the two kids over to the boulders (vis was pretty good) and we had a dive there. Frankie did very well at shallow depth controlling her buoyancy but after 20 min. in the water with discomfort in her ears she wanted to surface. I took Josh down to the bottom at 7 or 8 meters and the two of us dived for 45 min total. We didn't see much there apart from tropical reef fish, even though we fanned out over the sand looking for sting rays, but Josh enjoyed himself immensely, and Frankie had done very well with her diving skills despite unanticipated stress.|
|December 2, 2005||698-699||Khor Fakkan: Dibba Rock and Pinnacles||7 Seas - Diving with Glenn Bobbi Richard from 7 Seas; Sami on the trip as well||Jay Morall's final o/w certification dives 4 and
5 - Lance Gunston's first two o/w dives. Bobbi's Rescue Scenario 11 (Response
from boat to find missing diver). - Had a couple of interesting dives,
first one at Pinnacles or 3-Rocks. Jay was making his 3rd o/w dive and Lance
his first. Jay was light weighted going down and gave him one and then another
kilo of weight which made me light, so I was blowing ballast most of the dive.
Buoyancy with all divers a problem throughout dive but main stick was the vis.
Very murky at outset caused the usual disorientation at the beginning of the
dive and add my family in the mix staying close and coming between me and my
students who were bobbing about on buoyancy control issues. It took us a while
to settle in to the comfort zone. Meanwhile Richard found us a ray under the
rock at the deep point, around 11 metes, before we headed up the gulley leading
over the top. The gulley was cracking at its shallow point with shoals of
barracuda, a hundred or so, sweeping one way then another, exciting. We pushed
up the top and over into clearer water but lost Lance in the shallows. Jay and
I surfaced for him, found him where expected, and re-descended onto a turtle
heading out into the murky beyond so fast my divers didn't see him. We then
turned North toward the boat but came off the rock so when we came up we had an
opportunity to do compass work and tired diver tows back to the boat.
We moved over to Dibba rock where Kathleen and Peter were diving with Mohammed at the helm. They were anchored north west of the island in the aquarium, where the water is clear and shallow and teems with fish life, some of it interesting. Lance and I went in to do his Module 2 skills and plant a dummy missing buddy for Bobbi. We saw a cuttlefish first thing. In this scenario we surface and wait there while spotters from the boat guide the rescue candidate to the spot. The currents were rising and I drifted off the spot but the spotters did well and Bobbi spotted the bag in the good vis right after setting off on her first compass leg. We returned to the boat, found a big barracuda on the way there, and picked up Jay for a look around the aquarium and then follow the current into the wall on the east side of the island. Right under the boat we found two large torpedo rays, one that stayed still for us and one that rippled off. From there we tried to meander around the aquarium but the current got us and set us on our dive plan. The current attracted big fish. Shoals of barracuda were keeping themselves steady into the current to see what opportunities would come their way and they attracted my attention. When I saw them suddenly shy to one side my attention was even more attracted and sure enough, in came a marauding tuna, an impressive 1.5 meters, but he skittered off when he saw us. We all held on to rocks there to see what else the current would bring our way.
After a minute or two we let go and went with the drift that carried us all along the wall. There were big barracuda everywhere lurking on the reef and swirling in shoals over the sand, and schools of other big fish besides. I'm not up on the names of my big fish, unfortunately, but all were attracted by the current that carried us like a train ride in a game park. This went on till we had passed by the island and the current abated and the fish appeared normal, so we headed up the sands into the shallows, so shallow that at one point I switched to snorkel, and at the same time spotted a turtle in the clear water just ahead, so I followed on the surface till the turtle descended into deeper water, so I went back on scuba and followed. My divers were strung out behind, so though I could see them all, not all saw the turtle. Nor did they see the shark I spotted a minute later. The shark came from my right and cut across my path so I headed after him to the left. He was faster and headed for deeper water.
This was one of my best ever dives on Dibba Rock. Both dives were less than 12 meters and each was on the order of 50 min, plus for the second one, three min. diving at five meters counting as a safety stop.
|December 3, 2005||700-702||Musandam: Lima Rock and Wonder Wall||Mike Ralph "Manta Divers"||Lance Gunston's final o/w certification dives 4
and 5 - first two o/w dives. Bobbi's Rescue Scenario 12 (Response from boat to
find missing diver, surface victim, ventilate while transporting to boat,
handle emergency). - We met Mike and his helpers Mario and Gareth and
girlfriend Yola and boatman Waleed plus one other customer Mark at the
appointed time and when the tanks arrived we headed up to Lima Rock. It was a
great day for a boat ride and not a bad day for diving though vis was poor.
Lance was doing well and so there was little to constrain us apart from PADI
standards. At the beginning of the dive we found a torpedo ray from his tail
sticking out of a small alcove. Further in we found crayfish in the rock wall,
and a honeycomb moray poking out just below the PADI o/w depth limit. There
were huge parrotfish and tangs surging up and down the rocks, and graceful
yellow bannerfish, and big batfish toward the end of the point. There we
encountered a backwash where we would have pushed through to the other side but
Lance was down to 50 so we backed off. Coming along right behind us, Mike saw a
shark there. But Lance and I had been first in and we were first out, 34 min
plus 3 min at 5 meters.
We pulled into Lima bay for our surface interval and all piled out except Bobbi, Glenn and Lance and I as we had further adventures in mind. We found the tanks on board with 90 bar in them and had Waleed drop us on a coral patch where Lance and I exited to complete the skills for all but the last dive. While down we planted a missing buddy for Bobbi and then came up and reported it, then resubmerged and swam for the boat where we met Bobbi coming to meet us. On that tour we passed over a white discarded boat battery in the bommies that I thought might make a good reference as it was due west of where I left the buddy. When Glenn told us from the boat to go down he did well since he placed us right on the battery. Therefore I knew where I was and I was about to place my marker buoy on that spot but Bobbi had already started her compass leg and I had to catch up. In any event she made an appropriate turn but went ten kicks to the east which was a bit too much because on her southern heading she overshot the bag and would have missed it had she not had her buddies help her spot on either side. Using her scouts, she found the bag, Lance then became the victim, Bobbi surfaced him, and yada yada yada the diver was rescued and revived on the boat and was seen on the beach shortly thereafter eating hamburgers.
Or last dive was at Wonder Wall, which I may not have dived correctly before. You're supposed to place yourself between a salient rock and a mushroom one to the right (there's a mushroom rock to the left as well, not that one, so the salient rock is the one between the two mushrooms). The wall is below that. You go to a 16 meter ledge and on a clear day you can watch the animals cruise past down to 26 meters, or go down and join them yourself. That was according to Mike's briefing. I always kid Mike about his briefings being so much better than the actual dives.
In this case Mario was leading the dive. Lance and I were going no further that 18 meters anyway, but Mario took us into clouds of brown water short of 15 meters and then headed back up. At one point he stopped to take stock of his divers and I saw what looked like a bit of brain coral buried in the sand. Something about that brain coral looked like it could be a flounder so I poked it and a small ray emerged from the sand and sat there looking a bit put out.
Apart from that there wasn't a lot to see on the dive. We were getting cold, it's getting that time of year. The topography of the dive was interesting with boulders and tunnels and overhangs, and on a clear day it's probably a great dive. We went till the point where we encountered back current and Mario turned us round. Lance was down to 60 or so and I took us up to 5 meters. On the way I found a pair of nudibranchs and was observing them when I saw a scorpion fish hugging the current and well blended in to the rock face, difficult to see. Other than that, pleasant and a little warmer in the shallows, better clarity, lots of fish. nice way to end a dive, and a weekend with three divers certified.
|December 22, 2005||703-704||Snoopy Rock, Khor Fakkan||Shore diving from Sandy Beach||Open Water dives 1 and 2 for Andrew Green - I
had agreed to take Andrew Green to complete his open water course while he was
visiting his parents over Christmas. I accepted his referral for all academic
and confined water training from his dive center in UK. He turned out to be
well prepared and conscientious in his diving, and I had no problem fitting him
into the open water portion of his course (of course, I tested his academics
and checked his esssential skills in confined water beforehand just to be
sure). His father Dick asked to join us. He had a signed off logbook showing a
half dozen dives to shallow depths completed two decades ago, so I checked him
out in confined water as well, and quickly judged that he was a natual and,
like his son, would not likely present problems during a shallow dive.
I had never dived Snoopy Rock in the daytime before, though I've been there several times on night dives, always putting in from shore at Sandy Beach. On our first dive we circumnavigated the island in half an hour underwater. There were no skills to perform and it was a relaxed dive to less than 6 meters throughout. Worth noting here is that algae had been bad the day before and now there was green scum all along the beach, but vis was ok starting from ten meters off shore.
It was quite a beautiful dive. We snorkeled to the first submerged reef and dropped into corals with shoals of snappers and of thin silver fish.. Puffers and coronet fish punctuated the biomass, which parted before us as we pushed through.
I saw some sand kick up and thinking a ray had just shot off was hoping to follow. It definitely had been a ray, I could see his outline barely in the sand. Hang on!, that wasn't an outline, it was the ray itself, mostly buried. I tugged on its skirt to be sure. The ray carried on the pretense of being perceived as being invisible, allowing Dusty and I to shake its wings and not move. We could even brush the sand off it and see its brown mottled coloring, and it stayed put throughout. We used to see these rays frequently en masse on the Hanan.
At one point in the dive a big baraccuda a meter long drifted like a torpedo in slow motion across my bow. We found flounders in the sand, morays in the rocks, nice dive.
In half an hour we had rounded the island, and all in our group (Andrew and Dick and Dusty and I) had over 100 bar, so I signalled an ascent and led us on snorkels back to the beach to swap tanks in the sand and do a second dive on the remaining air. On that one, Andrew led us to the reef on a 100 degree surface compass heading, doing snorkel-reg exchanges en route. We then dropped in and I had him do his OW Dive #2 skills set and we headed to the far east of the island and had Andrew lead us east over sand from there and then back west to the same point. We saw more rays and baraccuda and morays, and enjoyed the clouds of reef fish. On surfacing (on alternate air source) I had Andrew do cramp removals and tired diver tows back to shore. Nice day diving, almost perfect for a first open water dive.
|December 23, 2005||705-706||Khor Fakkan: Martini Rock and back of Sharq Island||7-Seas||Open Water certification dives 3 and 4 for
Andrew Green - After sharing a table with Richard at the lobster/prawn etc
etc buffet at the Fujairah Marina the evening before, we turned up at 930 for
diving with him and the fair Celine, divemaster and instructor respectively at
7-Seas. It was just us 5 for the day (Bobbi joining us now) and the preparation
and departure were relaxed, and seas were calm, though Celine at the helm
managed to soak Bobbi with a swerve of the boat that inundated just her, but
she made up for it on the dive when she found a trio of turtles and called me
and my group over. Andrew and I had just been down to do our CESA exercises
twice, and on surfacing the second time we picked up Dick for a final descent
and rounding of the submerged rocks. We were all enjoying the dive. We had
found lots of morays and scorpion fish, and a trio of nudibranchs sliming each
other, and Celine had taken Bobbi to see the sea horses, which I judged to be
too deep for my divers, though they found them at just 16 meters, on top of the
purple soft coral this time, and we were slogging up current on the north face
of the rock when we heard clacking, and there was Celine, that ain't workin',
making turtle motions like a man-a-tee, hey, that ain't workin' that's the way
you do it, diving for nothin' and your room for free. So we came along to see
what she had found and in one of the soft-coral filled gulleys there was a
large mother turtle, which I crept up on by holding myself just into the
current and gettng nearer with subtle fin strokes, non-threatening like, till
the turtle thought to check on her young one and now there were two of them.
Celine was indicating that there were in fact three but the mother was swimming
right next to me now so I didn't want to leave my position of trust, and
eventually the three turtles, mother and child and the one I never saw, swam
out slowly to sea. So we rounded the rock, spiralled upward, and continued the
dive finding lots more moray and scorpion fish and lion fish and lots of
tropicals in amongst the orange and purple soft corals, then finished off with
a safety stop, lovely dive.
The next dive off the back of shark island was colder it seemed and not so nice, skies verging on overcast, vis poor with the harbor construction now just 50 meters away. Still Dusty found an alligator fish buried in the sand, and I found brine shrimp, and a striped fish with ramora shape and coloring and mouth like a catfish. Other than that not all that interesting, but Andrew wrapped up his dive course with a successful hover and mask removal / replacement, and I had no qualms about signing him off and writing compliments in his log book. Must do the same for his dad (are you reading this Dick? two dives logged this century, and well executed, both!).
Incidentally, that time of year, a shark spotted by a group of Russian snorkelers off the south point of the beach as Sharq Island.
An interesting story from one of our trips this year: It
was a hot day in summer. We were diving with an outfit whose boat had been
beached in Martini Bay the day before when the bilge pump failed and the boat
took on too much water to float safely. Our dive boat had been detailed to
recover it so during our surface interval us 6 divers were left on the beach
while our DM, went back to harbor to collect laborers to help turn the beached
boat around. In order to do the skills for the scuba course I was teaching,
we'd all kitted fully and had left our dive bags and day packs on the derelict
boat on the beach, where the only shade was. We were all out in the bay when
our dive boat returned with laborers. My three open water and two students and
I then finned for shore and reached there at about the time the beached boat
was turned by the laborers and our dive boat was brought into position to haul
it off the beach. I managed to get aboard our dive boat and I tried to help my
divers out of the water though the focus of the boatman was on the task of
rescuing the beached craft. I had just managed to get one of my students'
weights and tank aboard, and had 4 other divers, two of them open water
trainees, still fully kitted and in the water, when the boatman succeeded in
pulling the damaged boat free of the beach and then, in order to keep it from
floundering, headed directly out to sea with it on a half hour ride to the
harbor where it was pulled into harbor and allowed to sink there in 2 meters of
water. It was pure luck I happened to be aboard the rescue craft and was able
to salvage our equipment and valuables and coolbox off the leaking boat as it
went down. It was also lucky that none of the gear was lost on the trip to
harbor as the damaged boat was taking on water over its gunwales on its final
The dive boat then returned to the bay where my divers and all the laborers had been left for slightly too long without water, shade, or appropriate supervision. In the end, we accomplished all our diving objectives, didn't lose anything, no one was injured or seriously inconvenienced, and we had an unusual story to tell about diving in this part of the world.
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Last updated: February 23, 2006