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Vance's Personal Dive Log for the year 2007

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

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Nice sentiment, I guess, but I didn't actually say that! See what I did say here.

Date Logged Dive # Location Diving with Trainees and buddies
January 20, 2007 763-764 Dibba Rock Freestyle Divers Bobbi and I had spent the night outside of RAK and run the Wadi Bih 75 km relay race on Friday. I ran 20 km and Bobbi ran at least 10. The run through the wadi was uncharacteristically cool, perfect for running. On the beach at the end it even started to rain, which scattered the crowds. So we drove to the Royal Beach Motel and got a few tins from the offlicense and sit on the veranda overlooking the ... cold wind whipping the waves into white horses all around Dibba Rock. Should we spend the night and dive next day?

Nicky and Jason and Dalia had already checked in to the Seaview Apts in central Dibba so we decided to go with the plan and next morning we rolled up to Freestyle Divers on a much nicer day, still cold despite the sun though. First dive was on the Inchcape, 20 min and 30 meters, Bobbi and I having agreed not to go into deco. The sea was fairly flat but there was a mad current, and Bobbi and I went down the line like streaming penants. At the bottom it was clutch and crawl along the wreck and sandy bottom to avoid being swept off. I still managed to go around the hull and found the big honeycomb hiding there to escape the current. Then we hauled on the ropes and nets covering the wreck, avoiding the scorpion fish lurking there. The current made us almost glad when 20 min was up and we could start up the anchor line.

Jason, Dalia, and Nicky had started down after us but they appeared to be ascending not far behind us. They were coming up near the line but not on it and in danger of being swept away so I offered a hand to Dalia and brought her to the line. Jason was lingering below and I decided I would stay with him and accumulate some deco and directed Bobbi to accompany Nicky and Dalia up the line, but this caused some distress, and Jason started up the line on his own at that point. On the line, our group fell victim to jellyfish as we were doing our safety stop, so folks up top were stung and not sure if they'd enjoyed the dive or not.

Still, all were game for another go, despite the cold, so we kitted back up for a piddle around the rock. There was a just certified diver named Scott there and I agreed to conduct him in return for a free dive. So Scott and Bobbi and I decided to go shallow over the coral patch rather than go with Nicky and Jason and Dalia on the deep side of the rock. I really like the coral patch. It's been teeming with life lately. As you head along it on the north side, it starts sloping off deeper and you just know you're going to see something interesting. We had been finning INto the current here and even that felt productive, so I was eager with anticipation. First thing we encountered, right at its edge, were baraccuda. Next we came upon a blacktip shark, a bit over a meter long, foraging left and right where the coral meets the sand. I finned toward him, he continued on his meandering way, and our paths came quite close, and we were able to follow him till he outgunned us. At that moment a turtle came whizzing by in speed bursts. Never seen a turtle go that fast. We headed toward the west and now the current was helping us. The idea was to get swept alongside the island and go over the edge and look for jawfish and rays in the sand. On the way we came upon over a dozen turtles. Many were perched on the sand and made not a move as we drifted overhead. Several were in patches of 4 and 5, adults and juveniles. The shark and the turtles made it a wonderful dive. We got down to the sand but didn't find any jawfish there.Scott did well on air but was low enough after 50 min that we had to ascend before we could look more thoroughly.
Feb 9, 2007 765-766 Dibba Rock Freestyle Divers Rebecca Moran's final two dives for certification - Bobbi, Becca, me, and Simon on the first dive, with Nick and Oscar on their own. Nick and Becca and I on 2nd dive. The diving on Dibba was a chilly 21-22 under a cold sun, clear skies, cold wind. By now I've figured out where the sharks and devil rays hang out. I can't claim to be the only one who knows where they are, but we've been having great luck with them on almost every dive on Dibba since last December. This Friday no exception. I know they're just around the corner when I spot the schools of baraccudas and hear the clacking intensify. Then they appear, in a certain corner of the rasberry coral patch. After that we let the current carry us over the parts of the coral where the turtles hang out. Lots of them about, and as we meander over the rasberry, devil rays pass overhead and sometimes a shark lumbers by. Both dives we stayed 4 to 6 meters, front side of the rock, 55 min each. Vis was better at noon than at 3. Rebecca performed very well. We had fun!
March 30, 2007 767 Beach Hotel, Abu Dhabi Ocean Dive Center Bobbi and I participated in an ODC Beach Cleanup. Tatiana organized in her inimitable way all the tanks to be ready with a sticky note with our names on them so we just arrived with our gear and slapped it on and then enjoyed the charmingly French accented briefing and the freebies from Gasco compliments of Mahir Al-Wazeer and the group photo and after that the en masse gathering at the steps leading to the water and the one by one entry after which the cleanup diving was perfunctory and anti-climactic, at least for Bobbi and I. Glenn buddied with Wayne and went to the trouble of bringing in a toilet bowl and won an award at the subsequent free dinner with copious free beer. That was later in the evening. Meanwhile David had arrived for a dive lesson and I took him off the beach. We did modules 2 and 3 and the next day I took Lance for a repeat of those modules, same place, off the back of the beach hotel. It was confined water training and doesn't count as 'diving'. Vis wasn't that bad, and water temps, while cool, were not all that unpleasant.
April 6, 2007 767-8 Redang, Malaysia Berjaya Redang Beach Resort Some time ago I won a free plane ticket in an Emirates Diving Association draw to Malaysia plus airport transfers and 3 nights at a resort of our choice in Malaysia (and Mr. Yusuf at the Malaysian Tourist Board in Dubai generously threw in the same apart from the plane ticket for Bobbi plus at least 4 dives each for the two of us, so the entire trip cost us about $1000 all inclusive of meals and diving). So right after work on Thu Apr 5 Bobbi and I got a cab for Dubai and ended up next mrning at Kuala Lumpur, where we caught a flight for Kuala Terengganu airport where the Berjaya Redang Beach Resort folks had a ferry transfer desk and from then on we were hand-held to the jetty and the boat to Redang jetty and bus to the resort on the only road on the island (between the jetty and the resort, so far as we could tell from any maps we saw while there) and while waiting for our room to be readied for us we dropped by the dive shop and booked our diving that afternoon.

The waves were washing directly into the beach resort the entire time we were there (we were told it had been glassy just before we showed up and dive operations had been conducted from right off the resort beach). So the shop bussed us down to the jetty each day where the large substantial wooden traditional Malaysian seagoing diveboat was moored, always full of more than enough tanks (which we had the habit of changing over when we got ones that had only 180-190 bar, which was starting to irritate our minders). One of THEIR irritating habits was to end dives at 40-45 minutes, so Bobbi and I typically surfaced with 100 bar in our tanks). The number of dive sites we could access in the weather conditions we had while there, seas choppy from the south, were limited so we tended to revisit sites often. They were not limited in the sense of what would be normal when diving the heaving seas off Ko Tau in Thailand, but the resort catered to small kid divers and rank beginners, and they tended to be very conservative where they dived. I would say that as a result, their dives were relaxing for us and impeccably safe for all levels of divers. Those looking for a challenge, as opposed to a relaxing holiday, might look elsewhere for adrenaline rushes, but Bobbi and I, not ones to look a gift seahorse in the mouth, were well satisfied with the relatively warm water temperatures, the clarity of the water, and the variety of not only vertibrates but invertibrates in the water there. There was always something new to see on every dive.

We found the diving there to be of high professional standard and personable, though the friendly instructors there did get slightly irritated at us when they neglected to brief or inform us, on the assumption that we would infer and fall in line like all the other divers there, which caused us to depart without realizing we were inconveniencing anyone from the prescribed plan. For example our first day there we observed on our first dives that 2:30 seemed to mean 2:30 meet, since they were checking out students in the pool until about 2:45, when they briefed us and sent us off on the bus. So next morning we lingered over coffee and turned up at the shop at 8:30 surprised that all the divers were just then leaving. We had to insist on going, we only needed bcd and reg, they said we hadn't booked, we thought we had. In the end they quickly cobbled gear together for us and we joined them on all the dives they did that day and next.

We reached compromise on all matters and we think enjoyed the pleasure of diving with one another. From watching them I got the idea to carry the instructor's cue cards in my BCD pocket on dives not so I could remind myself of what to do, but so I could show it to students when THEY didn't understand what the exercise was about. After our first day of diving with KB, I noticed the next day HE appeared with a small hand-held light so he could shine it on things he was pointing out the way we had done our first day there.

Our first afternoon we did dives at Teluk Mak Simpang and Gunter Reef, Northwest shelter on the main Redang Island

Our first dives here were very pleasant and regimented, with strict adherence to routine and safety. Went on some nice reefs with small stuff, pretty blue water, different color clown fish. Different moray eels from the ones are used to. Saw our first razor fish. KB our dive leader was very observant. We ended our second dive on a rock with lots of cucumber like echinoderms with plodding black pod pads they used to pull themselves along and they left trails of mud-like shit out the other end that looked like string on the reef. We saw some neat blue-grreen nudibranchs where we ended our second dive. But we thought the dives ended un-necessarily early, though I was impressed that they insisted on everyone's doing a 3 min safety stop. We hadn't yet worked out that independent diving was not really an option here.
April 7, 2007 769-771 Redang, Malaysia Berjaya Redang Beach Resort Morning dives at Pasir Akar and Terumbu Kili on island south of Redang jetty; afternoon dive at Gunter Reef, same as afternoon before.

This was the morning we wandered down to the shop right as all the divers were leaving, not booked on the dives (our ONLY reason for coming here and NOTHING else to do here unless you fancied staying prone by the pool or joining an escorted 'jungle' walk - there was not even any beer on the island that we could find, except at the resort). As I mentioned we were let on the dives, but in oversight we were never briefed for them.

The Pasir Akar dive was interesting because since we missed the briefing before 8:30 Bobbi and I managed to depart from the group, slightly to the chagrin of the dive organizers. Before entering the water, I asked KB what the plan was and he distractedly made some quick description of the site, we would start here, go there, come back here. So, Bobbi and I carried out that plan. First, when we entered the water we did not wait for Mamot, the dive leader, to form his group of parents and their offspring, but we descended right away. We actually meant to track their descent and follow them since they knew where to go and we didn't, but we saw a turtle and descended to about 16 meters. There was a haze in the water and we lost sight of the fins dangling from the surface. When we returned to the boat, we had lost contact with the group. So we returned down the reef as far as the sand and followed the reef around to where it ended in a sand spit that extended from the depths to the shallows.

There appeared to be bommies on the other side but hesitant to cross over I wheeled around thinking to make a big circle back to the boat. But about then Mamot appeared with his group. He too headed up the sand spit toward the shallows but as I had seen him there and knew he was in the area I crossed to the other side. The bommies were in shallower water than Mamot favored and soon I saw his bubbles moving on our side of the sand but in the depths. And by NOT following Mamat in the sand at 15 meters and staying up on the reef where it seemed there would be more life at 4 meters we found a cruising black tip shark who passed by us three times heading to and fro, pretty much oblivious to us. Somehow I got the idea that this was this shark's home reef. I tried to track Mamot on the dive but he continued on what I found out later was a one-way dive. Bobbi and I went in the sand to where someone had chucked in an experiment in reef building apparently. There were a number of different shaped structures arrayed on the bottom, apparently placed there to make substrates for reef generation in the sand . We wheeled about there and headed back to the sand spit and then diagonally down the reef until we came to a buoy that said Divers Down, weighted on the bottom by the characteristic yellow painted weights used by BRBR. Here we found no boat, but KB and his compatriot instructor appeared to complete some dive training with a couple of Malay students vacationing from KL. We hung out there and when we all surfaced together, KB asked why we weren't with that other group. I pointed out that I was just following the briefing he gave me before I went in from the boat. He had forgot that we had missed the one back at the shop. These things happen. Anyway, we had a great dive.

For the next one that morning, at Terumbu Kili, we went with the group because they were all forming for a one way trip, but again we stayed high and saw the first of 3 humphead wrasses ourselves. Mamat missed that one but saw the second two. And we saw scorpion fish on that dive and who knows what else. We had a great day..

That afternoon we went to Gunter Reef with KB and were very obedient. This was also a one-way dive. I seem to remember razor fish. It was fun diving with KB, not much seemed to slip by him.
April 8, 2007 772-4 Redang, Malaysia Berjaya Redang Beach Resort Morning dive at Pulau Kerengga Kecil but waves slightly too rough for the kids on board so we did the second morning dive at Pasir Akar, same as morning before; afternoon dive at Terumbu Kili, again same as morning before.

We saw differnet kinds of rays on this dive, and unicorn fish. At the beginning, Bobbi and I stayed high on the reef while Mamat went low in the sand as usual, and we found a small blue spotted ray that skirted the reef ahead of our group. Right at 40 min, Mamat ended the dive with a 3 min safety stop but I took Bobbi and Eleanor over to a towering bommie rather than ascending where Mamat had gone up in mid-water. We were out of site of the group for 3 min, but then re-joined them before they had all reached the surface.

The second dive, because of the rough seas, we changed plan and sheltered in the cove at Pasir Akar, and because the boat would remain at anchor I was allowed to lead me and Bobbi and our buddy that morning Eleanor on a dive, since I'd found my way back last time. This time as we dropped down the reef I noticed a discarded rice bag which I'd seen the day before, so I knew where I was and decided to go against the current and lead us in search of the resident shark. At depth we found a nice orange and red nudibranch, which I took pains to show to Eleanor since she had not seemed clear on what those were. We then moved across the sand spit wasteland to the shallow bommies and went in search of the shark that lives there at 4 meters. He wasn't home on our first pass and we ended at depth (16 meters or so) where the reef experiments were being conducted. There we found a puffer in the sand being cleaned by a small blue wrasse and we watched him for a while. We were getting down to 100 bar and I thought we'd drift with the current back over the upper regions of the reef. There we caught the shark at siesta when he suddenly darted out of hiding, clearly visible grey and white stripes with black fin tips, and outraced us over the reef. I figured he might come back so I picked a high point of the reef where I could see down and over and also shallow and eventually we found him again. Bobbi had seen him both times but Eleanor, less experienced, could not follow my pointing and she missed him both times. On the second sighting he stayed will ahead of us but in the poorer vis where there was suspended matter in the water at just a few meters, and he easily moved ahead of us and out of site, and elluded us that way. At about that time we saw a large humphead wrasse on the upper reef. We were over what I took to be the sand patch and I headed down the reef toward where I thought the boat was but Eleanor experienced ear problems and I suggested we go to the top of the reef and move along there. This is where I got off target. There was another sand patch, I thought that might be the one I was looking for, and I headed us into that patch of reef and kept going till I was down to 30 bar, when I signalled ascent. I discovered then that I had overshot the boat. Had we continued down the reef where Eleanor had her ear problem, I would have come out right on the boat. Anyway they came and got us, but my reputation for honing in on the origin point was perhaps compromised.

The afternoon dive was crowded but pleasant. We found lots of turtles that didn't seem to mind divers, including a very big one that swam confusedly amid the dozen or more alient species with strange cylindrical shells on their backs. Right at 40 min. Mamat signalled 3 min 5 meters but Bobbi and I hung out, hovering near a grazing turtle, and then Bobbi found a huge green moray in a rock seam that I had not noticed because of the turtle. It was a nice way to end our stay here.
April 20, 2007 775-6 Behind Lulu Island and Outside the Bateen Breakwater Ocean Dive Center, boat leaves from Beach Hotel, Abu Dhabi David Wright's 1st and 2nd O/W dives - The day began badly. After having been locked out of my house an hour the night before (went jogging, took a keychain with no key on it, as discovered on return) I got up at 6 to be at dive center at 8 to discover that they'd scheduled their other divers at 10. David and I worked on module 4 confined water, esp duck diving, then went off in the boat at around 10:30. Seas were rough and the boatman ducked in the channel behind Lulu Island only to discover a police boat blocking the exit. A powerboat race was about to start and we couldn't cross its path to the breakwater. So we went back the length of Lulu Island to get out and head north to Delta Buoy, but by then police craft were blocking that exit and we were trapped for the duration of the race. We decided to do our first dive on the breakwater there. Depth 7 meters, bottom fine silt, in which I traced a path with my fingers from the anchor to the seawall. We dived in murk but admired angel fish, bream, and an occasional grouper, and there was staghorn coral on the seawall. Retracing steps, we found my mark and followed it back to the boat to surface there. Time in 11:08, dive time 33 min. and happy to exit.

By then the race had finished and the way was clear to cross the channel to the breakwater. 1:30 descent and David and I started with controlled emergency swimming ascents and then snorkel / reg exchanged over to the seawall to descend and do exercises there. David was getting quite comfortable in liquid immersion so these went quickly. There happened to be a little brown ray resting in the sand nearby so I moved over and brushed sand off its wings to see its colors. Often they tolerate that but this want got up and walked away, slowly and gracefully gliding up and over a rock. We swam north to the edge and rounded the point east heading to the Bateen Box but we encountered stiff head current and when I found a couple of friendly batfish I signalled a return. Back around the corner again a lone 120 cm mackeral marauded into view. All and all a nice dive, reef teeming with schooling fish, decent vis 27 degrees water, 7-8 meters, 55 minutes. Back in port around 3:30.
April 27, 2007 777-8 Outside the Bateen Breakwater Ocean Dive Center, boat leaves from Beach Hotel, Abu Dhabi Lance Buttress's 1st and 2nd O/W dives; David Wright's 3rd and 4th O/W dives for CERTIFICATION- The beach hotel had just sent a large group out to the wrecks and tanks were in short supply for the training crowd. I met Lance and David early for training in the shallow confined ocean water off the back of the dive center. I completed David's training and did module 4 with Lance except for the duck diving. We then loaded a boat and headed for the breakwater, my used tank among the cylinders. The boat rounded the corner from the box and anchored off the west wall near the point. We descended on the anchor line and after doing David's skills went diving along the wall toward the point. I like to take divers to the box and back, but on the way, something more interesting, a pair of eagle rays. I sped up to catch them as the skirted out ahead, but had to wait for my students. Lance at least caught up and saw them I believe. We continued to the box and did compass headings out and back. On the second one coming back we saw another eagle ray, quite clearly this time, a small one, cruising ahead perpendicular to our forward heading. He didn't see us till we were close, and then made a dash into the haze. We returned to the boat looking for brown delta rays in the sand but saw none. Dive time 45 min, 7 meters.

When we reported our sightings back aboard the boat all agreed to conduct the second dive around the corner on the north side of the wall, anchoring a little east of the bateen box. David and Lance and I descended and set about knocking their skills out for the 2nd and 4th o/w dives, after which we went off in search of rays. We headed back toward the point, keeping to the sand just in sight of the wall, past the box. Considering the anticipation, the dive was a disappointment, as we saw no more rays. Because we were using light tanks, our dive was short, just 35 min (7 meters). We meandered back to the vicinity of the boat and at the surface did some weight and tank removal replacement exercises. Lance had his face in the water doing one of those exercises, looked up at me, and pointed down. I looked down through my mask and there below us passed a large and beautifully spotted eagle ray. We got back on the boat and recovered the other divers, who had gone the opposite way from us, and claimed to have seen a number of eagle rays on their dive. Perhaps the rays were cruising the wall, north side.
May 5, 2007 779 Outside the Bateen Breakwater Ocean Dive Center, boat leaves from Beach Hotel, Abu Dhabi Lance Buttress's 3rd O/W dive - Lance and I opted for the late dive, 11:00 Sat, rather than go for an early start Friday, partly because Lance had to meet me before the dive and knock out the last of his confined water skills. We did that and then boarded for the breakwater. The seas were supposed to be grossly rough "The wind will soon pick up to a strong northwesterly Shamal of 20 – 25 knots in the morning. Temperature Max 38°C Sea State 4 – 6 feet inshore, 9 – 11 feet offshore" ouch! but were not bad in fact, and we dived the outside of the breakwater. We anchored on the west side but Geoff agreed we could do a 1-way dive so as to round the point and keep going. We did our CESA first thing, bouncing down twice so Lance could perfect the skill, knocked out the other requisite tasks, and headed out on our dive. We rounded the corner, kept going. I don't recall that we saw much of anything. On the way back the boat engine conked out and we limped home on one. It was a long day out for one dive, though I think it lasted at least 50 min.
May 11, 2007 780-781 Outside the Bateen Breakwater Ocean Dive Center, boat leaves from Beach Hotel, Abu Dhabi Lance Buttress's 4th O/W dive for CERTIFICATION and 1st Advanced O/W underwater navigation dive - I tried to get the Ocean dive team to give us some variety at Ras Ghurab or Delta Buoy but I was assured the vis had been awful the day before, and the Breakwater was the only place with more than 2 meters. But seas had settled since the day before and the diving wasn't bad. Lance's training is proceeding nicely and we decided to make his second dive his first advanced one. His skills on his last dive were only to hover and remove a mask so we decided that I would on that dive model the 4 skills of the advanced u/w navigation dive, and on the second dive Lance would do the same but lead. So we knocked his skills out early in the dive, went to the wall, found a point, and I led on a compass hdg 20 fin kicks (30 meters for me). Lance counted his and got 21. We repeated the distance and time (about 56 seconds for me) back to the wall and I noticed a slight current to the north that skewed my return a few meters. I moved along the wall, found some rocks, and led us visually into the sand. We then returned and I pointed out how I was using my landmarks to find my way back. We went further along the wall and found an encrusted post, and I led us to the west 30 meters and returned. We proceeded further to a rock near which is a bit of net floating upward out in the sand and a long rope extending in a straight line in the sand to the north north east from that. Here I led us in a square. At the end of the first leg we became surrounded by a school of very meaty fish swirling about our bubbles. Not sure what they were but maybe in the jack family. We watched them for some minutes before continuing west, south, and east to complete the square. Lance was nearing 50 bar and we needed to return to the boat, so I led back south along the wall. 42 min into the dive we headed west toward the boat and surfaced a few minutes later.

On the next dive, Lance led. We went down the anchor line and I had him take us to the wall, turn, and find his way back by spotting the little twig in the sand, then the invertebrate with the orange plume, the boat shadow, the weights hanging over the side to the sand, and on to the bow till we could spot the line and the anchor at the end. We had then agreed to head north over the sand assuming we would intersect the wall at about the point where the wall turned from south-north to east. We saw nothing here but sand and we hit the wall about where the netting floated ghostly toward the surface (I had cheated and veered a little east, worried about finning on past the turning in the wall ;-). We kept on between the wall and the rope in the sand, encountering a school of half a dozen batfish, till we came to a small rock we could recognize if we saw it again and decided to work from there. Lance led us west from there 30 meters to a patch of sea grass and returned spot on the rock. We had agreed to do the square from the same place because that way your third turning should be at the patch of sea grass, and the last leg a repeat of the leg we had just done. Lance then led to the north, me right behind double checking. He stopped when I did, turned west, and finned another 30 meters. So far so good, he turned south, finned, and dead ahead we found an eagle ray, just before we reached the patch of sea grass. The ray, disturbed, left us in its contrail. Unusual to see them resting in the sand, but the fuselage head was unmistakably that of an eagle ray. We reached the grass, turned and completed the square to the small rock.

We continued only a short distance to the familar box, so I knew then we were that far along the north face of the wall, and at that point I devised a set of U's that would take us north, west, back south to the wall, so we repeated the pattern to put us off the point and back down the west face of the wall. Here I spotted the end of the rope I knew led to the ghost net and I did a square off that. No rays to be found and Lance was by now low on air, so we headed south over the sand in the direction back to the boat. When Lance reached 40 bar we surfaced, about 20 or 30 meters short of the boat. I guess we'd been diving about 50 min.

On the surface I noticed Tatiana's advanced divers doing peak buoyancy were still down so after passing up my tank and weights I had Mahmoud, our captain, direct me to their bubbles. I saw them underwater and dived down to swim through their hoops, free diving to 6- 7 meters. I didn't touch their setup, just passed through the hoops, but I must have appeared as a seal from nowhere. When that group came up Tatiana still had students she needed to take down for an o/w dive number two. I had a hundred bar left so decided to join them. I helped keep an eye on things but basically hovered overhead while they did their skills just enjoying the ideal 31 degree water and pleasantly warm air before the heat of summer sets in.
May 25, 2007 782-783 Dibba Rock Freestyle Divers Gulia's Discover Scuba Course - We shared a flat with Glenn and his latest girlfriend Gulia from Uzbekistan in Dibba and early in the morning reported to Freestyle Divers for Gulia to watch the Discover Scuba video, get the cursory explanation, and then move into the pool for mask clearing and reg recovery and alternate air source breathing. I was very heartened to see her manage the mask clearing. She would flood it instead of clear it but rather than panic, she managed the task and worked out a method to eventually purge the water from the mask. We exited the pool and walked down to the beach and repeated the exercises in the salt water there. Then we put Bobbi's fresh tank on Gulia's kit, I took the tank I'd breathed, Bobbi took Gulia's with 150 bar, and Glenn got a fresh tank, and we boarded the boat for Gulia's first dive.

Dives on Dibba Rock are pretty good. Vis was a bit hazy and Glenn took Gulia in hand literally, allowing me to go a little ahead and find the sharks and whatnot. Unfortunately by the time Glenn and Gulia caught up they had buggered off. But there was plenty of small stuff around for the kids to marvel over. I kept seeing these big Spanish Mackeral, or what I call Spanish Mackerel, I'll have to Google that and see if there is indeed such a fish, a long and powerful one, big, and can be coming right at you but will literally bend over backwards to vacate the area. We also saw a number of turtles, and one that came under attack by an angry tang (surgeonfish). The tang kept swimming at the turtle and warding it off from something. These animals!

OK, Google search on Spanish Mackerel and find at Wikipedia and here that this seems to be an Atlantic fish. This could be due to the geocentricity of the authors, but the fish I keep seeing here looks more like this one: I wonder if that's what they call kingfish here, and indeed it could be according to

There are other fish in these waters I hear called jacks and trevally and sure enough it seems the trevally look similar to those pictured here:, and they are related to jacks in the Carangidae family:

Interestingly the Spanish Mackerel have yellow spots, and there exist yellow-spotted trevally and jacks, and there are a lot of fish on Dibba Rock with mottled yellow spots, and these tend to come up to you and flit around your face mask. The can be about the size of your hand.
June 1-2, 2007 784-786 Dibba Rock Freestyle Divers Bobbi and I drove up on Friday all by ourselves and had a couple of dives together unencumbered by others for a change. We had met Rana and Basheer in Cafe Firenze the Wed evening before and they were considering doing a try dive and a quick scuba course, but changed their minds Thu so we spent that night at home and drove up to Dibba Friday a.m. leaving at a civilized 8 a.m. and arriving around 11:30 where a very crowded Freestyle divers was awash with kit and kaboodle. We got ourselves onto a boat, totally kitted and checked, and on arriving at the site, we rolled over backwards as first in, and 75 min later we were the last out, having had a very nice dive.

There was report of a slight current so rather than start at the SW mooringings Cesar dropped us at the NE corner into decent vis where we know there are rays and jawfish living. We popped down to 16 meters over the sand looking for rays but found nothing but anenomes and pipe fish. We returned to the rocks and then went back out over the sand and there saw a jaw fish in a hole. He tolerated our coming quite close to him, feeling more secure than most to creatures approaching his hole. He rotated, watching us, but not ducking deep inside as some do when we come right on top of them.

We then moved up the rocks and into a sand rock area where there were batfish among the parrots and other tropicals. In this area we saw our first shark, a small blacktip, crossing our bow and continuing out over the reef and out of sight seaward. We moved west in shallow water quite near the rock and found a hovering turtle. But surge was bothersome here so we moved south over the rasberry coral and found a shark who, when we closed on it. circled us in such a way that we were able to keep him in site for some time. We kept moving north/south and west till we got ourselves well to the west of the rock, unbeknownst to us. We had not been given a time limit so when I saw 72 min on my computer with Bobbi only touching 50 bar and me with almost 100, I decided to make it an even 75 min. In game viewing, it's always best to maximize time in the area of the game you have come to see. I had signalled up and Bobbi and I had just begun our ascent when a shark appeared to investigate us. This was unusual, normally it was the other way around. He nosed about our feet as if to ask where did we think we were going. We of course prolonged our dive 30 seconds to return the favor of his visit, and when he wandered on his way, we continued our ascent.

After such a great dive we were wondering if we should bother with a second one. But there's always the question of what else there could possibly be to do at Diba, and the danger of starting in on the beer too early. So we hung about for the second. On this one we found 4 sharks prowling the reef, got ourselves enwrapped in schools of baraccuda and meaty jacks, and intruded on schools of snapper so thick that you couldn't see to the other side. It was a beautiful and calm experience, ideal water temps, not much current, limited vis, easy and exciting diving.

That night we slept at Al Dhiyafa apartments after a Lebanese meal in Dibba and got up in the morning for an early dive before making the trip back to Abu Dhabi. The o/w dive instructor on the boat wanted a 12-14 meter free ascent so Cesar took him around to the NE corner and vis looked so good we decided to drop in there. As we floated down a good sized shark passed beneath seemingly unaware of us overhead. We continued through the bracing thermocline to 16 meters and sand looking for rays, finding none as on the day before. Also as the day before we found one jaw fish peeking out from his lair. So we swam up the rocks and into the shallows on the NW side of the island where we'd seen the shark heading earlier. There were batfish and parrots feeding off something in the coral, and shortly I spotted a shark, and behind him another. Then as we came nearer another, 4 in all that we saw, milling about a certain spot. in the coral bommies. We swam co-existent in this space without intrusion on one another. Unusual for here, the sharks outnumbered the two of us but soon withdrew to more private domains, leaving us to get on with our dive.

From that point it was mainly anticlimactic There were a couple of baraccuda over the bommies, and small clouds of snappers and jacks, but the current was against us just enough to keep us working hard and we picked our way south and east across the rasberrry coral field. Coming up the SW edge of that field I saw a last shark prowl past in the sand at the edge of the reef but visibility by then had deteriorated due to silt in the water. I wonder if it was from a dredging project up current one bay over. Hope not. 55 min into the dive I put my SMB up and at 67 minutes Cesar appeared overhead, his boat shadow a big hint for us to surface.

We were planning to dive this site the following weekend, we liked it so much. However nature had other plans. For June 8/9 2007 was the weekend Cyclone Gonu visited Oman and the UAE Apparently our favorite dive site lost 90% of its coral:
Sept 21-22 787-788 Dibba Rock Freestyle Divers Bobbi and I had not been diving in two and a half months, and we had not seen our favorite dive site since the papers showed pictures of beaches littered with coral after Gonu hit that long ago. We drove up Friday, timing arrival to check in at the National Residences, comfortable, 150 for 2 bedrooms (just us) and be ready for a 3 p.m. dive. Bobbi and I were on the boat by 3:15 and after around 3:30 I decided to snorkel out to the reef and have a look. I could see a lot of sand where I had hoped to see coral and apart from a large ray, not many fish compared to before. I ended up on Caesar's boat and he called Terry to swing by and get me for the drop down the mooring line in its usual place northwest of the rock.

The corals by the mooring looked good and supported schools of parrotfish, but they are pretty much the best patch remaining. Where before we used to head over rasberry coral beds, the only surviving bits were scattered about the bottom on boulders. Usual reef fish schooled here, big snappers, puffers, picasso triggers, surgeon tangs ... but it was difficult to see where to go to reach the big animals. We moved southwest against a current, not much to keep us in the shallows, and we headed for the wall. Our heading had been a bit too east and we went over further south than we'd calculated. This turned out to be a good thing because it dropped us in an area of sand and mud that housed lots of sting rays. We played around with them awhile, finding one by his tail only, and his blinking eye in the sand. Then we headed back to the wall and found wrasses and other reef fish, and a pair of nudibranchs that we lingered over with a light and magnifying glass I had in my pocket. We found what I thought was the passage up to the rocks at the northwest of the island and in the shallows found a small shark and were following it when a ray popped out of nowhere and swam ahead and after the shark. We tailed the two a few seconds before they suddenly split off from one another, the ray going east and she shark west. Bobbi and I looked at one another and marveled at our fortune. When we surfaced we saw we were still on the south side of the island so we had dived a different patch of wall then we did normally. As we got back on the boat we mock complained to Terry that we had seen no turtles.

We had a nice evening around the braie and next day reported for the 9:30 dive. On this dive we were taken to the south inside corner of the island so we popped over the wall and went in the sand where we thought we had been the day before. I found a ray but he threw up a sand screen and disappeared quickly. Other than that there was not much around except for beautiful fish and coral and temperate waters warm enough for just a lycra suit. We came into the shallows along the boat moorings and tried to find more coral but found shallow water disturbed by snorkelers. There wasn't much left after Gonu, compared with the rushes we had enjoyed before, but it was still a pretty dive. We'll come back when the water cools and hope for devil rays.
November 17, 2007 789 Public beach at Ras Al Ahmar EDA beach cleanup Lovely day, lovely temperatures in the water. We organized Michel Guerin, Nicky Blower, Mike Parry, and Glenn, Bobbi, and I into a team to participate in a Kathleen Russell production of the annual EDA Beach Clearnup. It was a nice spot to do that. We shore-dived, which was very convenient. Vis wasn't too bad, there was plenty of trash to collect, and we saw an interesting flatfish, a lizard-like creature about 15 cm long, flat head, two pectoral fins, and yellow in his tail fin (if that helps with species identification). The flatfish relied on camouflage to avoid us, which allowed us to get quite close each time it decided to move a few meters away and blend.
November 24, 2007 790 Dibba Rock Freestyle Divers The occasion was a reunion dive with Cal Ponton, one of my repeat dive students from the ADHFC days. Nicky rode in the car with us from Abu Dhabi and we met Cal at Freestyle Divers for a Friday afternoon dive. But reports from divers returning from the noon session were that vis was near zero. This was attributed to a combination of silt from nearby coastal construction projects and maximal tide fluctuations from the full moon. So we decided on the spur of the moment to give it a miss. Bobbi and I were checked in at the new Fujairah Rotana, 1500 dirhams per room but subsidized for us to a more reasonable 450 for something that struck us a being worth maybe half that much, so we went there but soon got bored with the hotel premises and returned to Freestyle for a more lively soiree. Next day after a predictably standard buffet breakfast, I went diving with Cal and Nicky. Bobbi had not quite shaken off her cold.

We were taken by boat to just north of the rock and we let the current take us down the back side. Vis was not great but not abysmal, a few meters. We found the usual fish swarming the reef but nothing particularly worthy of pointing out in a log document, so we headed out over the sand. Andrew had told us that the jawfish had disappeared at the time of Gonu, and we were able to find no rays either despite making two passes out from the reef. I take that back, there was one electric ray that became attracted to us. These little puppies like to come up to divers and bask in their shadows. They are begging to be fondled, but I think that might result in a jolt of some kind, so I never touch them. In any event, we moved up the reef and into the shallows. To the south of the rock there are still some nice coral outcroppings. We wandered in there hoping for a shark. Cal was first to admit he was low on air so we surfaced after an hour or so, pleasant dive, but none of us was particularly inspired to do another. And I had to go back and get Bobbi.
December 14, 2007 791-793 Martini Rock, Pinnacles or Sharm, Dibba Rock Sandy Beach in daylight, Freestyle at night Steve Wilkinson advanced dives: Boat, Drift, and Night - I agreed to give an advanced course this weekend. Steve had trouble renting a car with no international drivers license so we offered to pick him and Diane up at the Beach Hotel in Abu Dhabi and drive them over to Dibba. They thought they had booked in at Sandy Beach so we had planned a boat dive there and shore diving navigation and night dives from their room, with diving at Freestyle the following day. Bobbi and I had booked at Holiday Beach (price of room equivalent to my fees as instructor so I was working for accommodation and diving this weekend). When we got there we discovered Steve and Diane had in fact booked in at Royal Beach, not Sandy Beach. But we decided, having arranged diving with Sandy Beach, we would go there anyway, but not before changing our night dive arrangements to Freestyle, so the ladies would be close to home while the men were away. Shore diving from SB with no room to hang out in is not conducive to happy ladies.

First, the diving on Martini Rock was superb. Vis was good and the purple and white soft corals had bounced back after Gonu, and there were plenty of morays there as usual, green, grey, and one huge honeycombed one that had draped itself in the soft corals in the deep part of the rock fully exposed. There were lots of scorpion fish there as well, camouflaged. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we had planned this as a boat dive.We had a very relaxed dive, water temp a little cool but not unpleasant, nice to be back at Martini and see it in good condition. Steve turned out to be a reasonable diver for one who had just completed an o/w training course tbe previous July and not dived since. He had recurring ear problems on all dives, but managed descents by taking his time, and once down appeared to have decent buoyancy.

I had planned to do the second dive as a navigation dive off Sandy Beach shores but not staying at SB that would have been complicated so we had accepted their offer of a 2-tank boat dive, the second one at Pinnacles, or Three Rocks, or what SB now called Sharm.. This diving was running late and putting us in danger of missing our night dive at Freestyle, but events played again in our favor. For the second dive, I outlined a plan for conducting the navigation dive at the Pinnacles, begnning with laying down a reel on which there was a 30 meter mark. The student follows as I lay down the measured 30 meter distance and counts fin kicks and tracks time. At the end of the line I have him record his time and number of kicks on my slate.Then I take up the reel and the student follows and counts kicks again. For the natural navigation part of the dive, I have the student lead us without the line to where its end point was and return us on dead reckoning to the starting point.

As we descended at Pinnacles Steve had ear problems so Bobbi and I waited for him on the line. Then it seems his weight belt came loose. He released the line to readjust it. At that point he drifted off the line, and because we happened to be descending into an algae bloom, we lost it completely. This was mainly due to the current which took us with it into mid water. This was potentially problematic because Steve could have descended unknowingly in the murk despite ear pain but he was watching his depth and managed things till we drifted onto the rocks and were able to pick up wall contours for orientation and resumption of descent.

I could tell with the current, navigation was going to be difficult. I decided to lay out the line anyway. I roped it off but instead of heading out over the sand I followed the wall. I kicked with the current and moved quickly but realized it was going to be harder going back. I had taken the precaution of buddying Bobbi and Steve earlier and they followed me, and Steve wrote down the number of kicks at the end of that exercise. Then it was time for him to repeat in the opposite direction while I took in the line. He was supposed to be observing where he'd been as well and would later have taken us back over the same route and back to the start by dead reckoning, and by laying the route along the wall it was fairly easy, though he would have to be counting kicks to be sure he didn't overshoot the end point. But instead something else happened. Instructor error, absorbed in taking in the reel and countng kicks to see how different upcurrent was from down, I didn't notice till it was too late that my divers weren't following me. I was taking in the line, so they no longer had that reference, but they had the wall and would have to pass me if they stayed on it. So I reversed direction and started re-laying the line where it had been before. I reached the end point where I had set a rock on its edge as an unmistable landmark of where we had reached earlier, execpt that we were in an algae bloom, vis was poor, and a diver could miss small landmarks. Still I figured if they had drifted off the wall then they would need only return to it and they would see the line. They must be somewhere on the line then, so I decided to go the 30 meters to the start point, taking up the line again, but after doing that I still didn't see my divers. Hmmm, training and boat briefing says if you lose a buddy, look 60 seconds, and surface. It had been longer than that. So I surfaced and saw them 75 meters downcurrent, well off the wall and Pinnacles rocks.

Bobbi called to me to send the boat. I was nearer the boatman and I relayed the message. He came right away to get them. I drifted to where they were. The boatman asked if we wanted to continue but navigation in these conditions was too difficult. The diving here wasn't pleasant, and it was by then 4:30. We decided to call it a day and go into night mode and keep our 6:00 pm appt at Freestyle.

(What had happened? Later I found that they had started following me but lost sight of me. I had told Bobbi to follow Steve. Not sure what to do he had decided to return to the upturned rock but missed it and the two of them kept going with the current, which swept them well off the wall and downstream. They had then gone into lost buddy mode and surfaced, and eventually spotted me there. Through proper training, the situation had remained under control.)

Actually we decided to call it a drift dive. Steve had experienced current for the first time and kept his cool. Reviewing the requirements for the dive, we felt that he had met them. We had not planned a drift dive initially but we had planned for contingencies, and when the dive developed into a drift dive, Steve stayed with his buddy, kept his buoyancy, and reacted appropriately even to the point of compromising a safety stop, not strictly necessary for a 12 meter dive when 3 minutes remaining under water was over-ridden by the need to surface after 1 minute and reunite with the missing buddy.

We then moved down the road to Freestyle divers and readied for our night dive on Dibba Rock. Steve used Ann's old BCD and said he was comfortable with it on shore, but in the water he found that it was too small and as a result put the buoyancy to his back, not distributed around his body This caused him to be fighting buoyancy during the dive, but to his credit I was hardly aware of it. I don't remember what we saw on the dive, none of the creatures I had suggested we might see in my glorified dive briefing. The high point of the dive was shortly toward the end when we switched off the lights and kicked and flailed without lights just to churn up the phosphorescent sparklers all around, a memorable sight to realize how many organisms there are living in the water otherwised unobserved. As far as an advanced course night dive was concerned, the dive was a success.
December 15, 2007 794-795 Inchcape 2 and Dibba Rock Freestyle Steve Wilkinson advanced dives: Deep and Navigation for CERTIFICATION - The remaining two dives to complete Steve's course went very well. We had a great day for them, smooth conditions, decent vis, the algae bloom having moved to the south (where we had encountered it the day before). The first dive was at Inchcape 1, slightly over 30 meters in that day's tide conditions. Steve kitted up fine, got a little stressed heading for the descent line, but calmed down for a slow and deliberate descent while he worked though his ear problems. As a result we arrived on deck with only 12 minutes remaining in our 20 min dive, but it was a good one nonetheless. We dropped to the sand and Steve was doing fine there so I gave him the slate on which I had written a minimum surface interval problem, and Steve used my tables to work out the solution. Finning up the rail on the port side we came across a scorpion fish the size of my arm (forearm, not counting the hand). Working along the deck we found the two huge honeycomb morays that everyone likes to see. Moving fore and aft I couldn't find the wheelhouse with its conning tower (maybe gone now? lost in the storm?), but the snappers were still schooling en masse. We were down to the last minute of our dive but my computer said we had 3 min before deco due to the prolonged descent through shallower depths. I dropped to the sand to look for rays under the stern and moved toward the line tied off there. Noticing that Steve was at 70 bar I signalled up and we moved up the line staying just short of beeps on my computer. We stopped at 5 meters and did a safety stop. Popping up at the surface it was a simple drift back to the boat and it seemed to me that Steve's confidence had been restored as his skills had been improved.

Back at Freestyle we prepared for the last dive in the course, the navigation one, which we had attempted the day before. This time we had time to rehearse what we would do on the beach next to the dive center. So I was able to walk and talk Steve through the 30 meter calibration exercise, and the dead reconning out and back over the calibration route, and the compass heading out and back in a different direction, and show him how we could pace out a square on compass and come on the mark we had left at the previous exercise and return from there to the start point.

And then came time for the dive. Bobbi had given the Inchcape a miss but joined us on the second one. Diane came along as a snorkeler. We moored northwest of the rock and eased Steve down the line into just 6 meters of water. There was a green moray where the mooring was, and the fish were intriguing here. We rummaged around the bommies and rock rubble looking for a good starting point for our excercises. I found a big salient bommie and tied my line to a rock laying next to it. I headed with the line between the bommies and played out 30 meters. Being a little more careful this time I made sure my divers were following when I took in the reel. As the day before I had Steve write down the number of kicks he used. Then I sent up the marker buoy to mark this spot.

Actually I had a a bit of a problem because I made another error which I will never make again. Because my alternate reg fits in a ball that is hard to get it back into once removed, I used my primary reg to put air in the SMB, removing it from my mouth in the process. Normally I give the SMB a shot of air and I put the reg back in my mouth, but this time the reg stuck on purge and blew bubbles everywhere. Because of tha, the SMB filled up with air quickly and started pulling me up. In a controlled process, I normally simply squeeze the release on the reel and let it go but this time I was looking through a wall of bubbles. At that point nothng went right. I was barely able to control the SMB reel, but I soon realized that my biggest problem was I had no reg in my mouth and I couldn't find it through the bubble stream. I think that stream was displacing gear on my kit, because couldn't see my alternate air source nor could I find it through feeling where it should have been. Bobbi was a good buddy and came right in front of me but she couldn't see through the bubbles that I had no reg in my mouth and when she realized it and offered me her alternate I couldn't see the reg in her hand. I managed to gulp a breath or two from a passing air bubbles, but the stream continued till I was at the surface. The ascent would have been potentially dangerous, but with Bobbi helping to control it, we got no complaints from our computers, and at 6 meters, it ended with me still alive at the surface.

I was fine, a little chagrined after this very strange but instructive incident, and we re-descended immediately and I recovered the reel and tied it off and had Steve resume the exercise of taking us out where the line had been and return us to the starting point on visual reference, which he did just fine. Then I pointed him west and had him do a compass heading 30 meters in that direction. This took up out over a field of rasberry coral, which I don't think was there last time we dived here, and which may have naturally recovered after Gonu. There was clacking here, sounds I associate with devil rays and sharks. I made note, we wheeled around, and Steve led us back east to the start where my reel rested next to the bommie.

I drew a square and headings on my slate and made sure Steve understood we would do a square now, and we would start to the north. Steve led us that way and I followed, marking my own leg with the same number of fin kicks as the out and back we had just done. Steve's calculation was about the same, and we turned to the west and 30 meters north of our other entry found the same raspberry coral patch, and this time Steve made his turn in the midst of a school of barracuda. This seemed most healthy to me. I associate barracuda with other big fish. We turned south and skirted over the raspberry patch with its clacking sounds. We made our last turn at about where we had been earlier, and 30 meters later returned to the reel where we had left it. Steve had completed the skills for the course and I shook his hand.

Steve still had 70 bar so now it was time to fun dive and I knew where to go. I headed back to the west to the coral carpet and where the clacking was loud, and finned alertly. It was not long before the first black tip shark meandered across our path. Steve was looking down when it first appeared but looked up in time to see it move to our right.

I moved along the edge of the coral patch where it met the sand and shortly found yet another coral patch to the west of the first. Heading into this one it seemed to be a smaller copy of the other. This time I motioned Steve to come closer and keep an eye out. This patch was smaller but at its edge was another shark heading this time into the school of barracuda, a nice tableau of wldlife. This shark let us approach quite close, and I was almost beside it in the clear water. I saw that my divers were following its movements, which soon left us far behind where it slipped into the edge of visibility.

Noting that Steve was nearing 50 bar I headed to the east and the sand separating the two patches and since things looked a little familiar kept heading that way till we came on the bommie field and there was my reel. I was suprised to find it; I thought I'd have to be taken to it by boat. We moved to 5 meters and finished our dive with giant puffers moving through schools of snapper. Also an electric ray came up to entertain us during our safety stop.

It was a great dive but others saw turtles and devl rays. Devil rays! They'll be here all winter. They're back! So happy aout that. Bobbi and I will be back over Christmas and look for them. Dibba is returning to status of favorite dive site in the UAE.
December 29, 2007 796 Dibba Rock Freestyle I was planning to maybe start an o/w dive course for someone Friday but it never materialized and then the weather looked grungy in Abu Dhabi, and the weather stations for Fujairah were reporting unsettled weather, and Terry at Freestyle said there had been rain. Bobbi and I were intending to drive down and sleep in the car, spend the money on a nice meal instead of wasting it on expensive accommodation on the east coast, but we got too comfortable at home so in the end we decided not to drive up Friday for a single dive that day, but come in the morning instead. So we set the alarm for four and hauled ourselves up the highway, arriving at Freestyle Divers by nine in the morning.Amazingly, the place was practically empty. There was a Musandam trip on, and Terry's usual clients were all away on that. By 'Musandam' they mean not even as far as Lima Rock. I've never had any great dives in Musandam short of Lima Rock. Bobbi and I much prefer Dibba Rock, just 5 min from the dive center.

We kitted casually and waited for the others to arrive (late) and then get ready. A lady taking an advanced course had arrived right at 9:30, boat departure time, and had to be walked through the advanced navigation dive. But besides Bobbi and I, she and her instructor were the only divers besides us on the trip. There were also a number of snorkelers. The air temp was ideal, not too hot at all sitting around in our wetsuits. Out towards the rock, a devil ray broached the surface and flopped on the water with a splash.

Sea conditions were fine too, and there was only one other dive boat on the reef, moored off the eastern back side, and we moored off the western edge, inside the rock between there and the sand beach. So when we slipped under the water, 10:15 on Bobbi's watch, we were the only divers on that side of the reef.

When you drop in on that mooring and head west, you come out over a tongue of recovering raspberry coral. The clicking sound as you come near it hightens anticipation of what you might find there. On the way, our course was transected by a slowly swimming turtle. As he swam beneath an orange and black banner fish, the fish suddenly darted down and pecked the turtle on the head, and the turtle flinched, pulling in head and fins, then extending all and swimming away. Then a very large puffer fish swam alongside and in front of me. I could have stroked it but decided not to. Then a black tip reef shark came up and meandered right towards us, not threateningly, but head on and passing right beside us. As he continuted on around us I saw he had a mate, another shark prowling the edge of the reef. The first one continued in a big circle and moved in again, not interested in us particularly, but relaxed with so few divers in the water.

Moving into the raspberry patch we found the devil rays, a dozen in a school. Again, they had not been agitated yet that morning by other big creatures like us moving among them spewing bubbles so they didn't dart off as we approached as they sometimes do Vis was not excellent, perhaps 7 or 8 meters, there was some algae in the water, but we saw them fine and reasonably close. There were sharks in the area too, and sometimes we'd see the sharks and rays together. I checked my dive computer. We'd been diving for all of 8 minutes at that point.

What to do for the rest of the dive? We managed to pass the time from then on. There were turtles all over the reef, sharks on the prowl, and if we managed to position oursleves in the right part of the coral we could watch the devil rays on parade. At one point we found the part of the reef that Steve had discoverd last time we were here, where the baraccudas like to school, and we parked ourselves in a school of dozens of them. That was at the edge of the coral patch with the anchor that looks like a tv antenna in it. Move west from there and that's where we always see the sharks, and in the winter, the devil rays, right at the edge of the reef. And today, turtles.

What a dive.When we got out we were a little cold and it was clouding up and disturbing the sea. We didn't see any need to do another dive. We'd seen all we'd come for so we had hot showers and drove home. Total drive time that day, 8 hours. Total dive time 55 minutes, 25 feet maximum depth.
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