As promised, last weekend was camp-out time, although switched to Friday / Saturday by popular demand. We elected to head for the hills rather than the beach as the weather has taken a turn for the hot and sweaty so some altitude seemed like the best plan if we were to get any sleep. Before then though, Geoff and Andy decided to slip in an early dive as Geoff now recounts:
With the dive club camp out planned for Friday evening Geoff thought it wise to get his diving in before refreshments ensued and headed over to Freestyle at Royal Beach Hotel to embark on the 09.30 dive. Andy and Emily were also diving with Freestyle that morning and took the Dibba Rock option while Geoff headed for Inchcape 1 with Ollie and four others.
On arrival, five dive boats were already on the line and after kitting up the Freestyle boat manoeuvred ahead of the flotilla and dropped the divers upcurrent to drift back to the buoy – a significantly better option than to haul oneself forward past five boats! Visibility was about 3-4m and the large number of divers did not help matters. However, the usual schools of fish were seen in abundance around the bow and the highlight was one of the large resident honeycomb morays swimming in the open around the base of the wreck. Although diving on nitrox the others in the group were all on air so bottom time was limited to 19 minutes. A slow controlled ascent, with a safety ‘deep stop’ at 16m returned everyone towards the surface to find a swirling mass of divers from the buoy at 6m and up. In such circumstances it is best to hang a few metres back from the line, watch your depth and grind out your 3minutes safety stop!
The second dive on Dibba Rock was more civilized, with Geoff joining Andy and Emily for a sedate but enjoyable slow drift around the seaward side of the island. Visibility was quite good, maybe 7-8m making it easy to see a wide range of marine life including zebra and honeycomb morays, broom tailed wrasse (they seem to be multiplying rapidly!), squirrel fish, a school of Indian mackerel, lion fish and a solitary pipe fish to name a few. After the dive, while the dive gear dried in the afternoon sun, the ‘406’ divers aided their surface decompression by relaxing with some liquid refreshment and a snack from the Royal Beach restaurant.
By the time Geoff arrived at the camp-site the rest of us had the camp established and were getting the fire going. Numbers were a bit down on previous events but we’ve never let that stop us having a good time. We also had a visitor – a donkey came over looking to share the feast but went ambling off when it realised there was nothing doing. The climate was good, the night was relaxed and I felt pleasantly mellow seeing off some fizzy wine and good food. The Michelin star goes to Richard and Sharon for their fish, spiced up with ginger and spring onion, prepared on site, wrapped in foil and gently barbecued. Not to mention their unfeasibly large prawns. They might have overdone the provisions as Sharon was constantly offering lots of stuff to the rest of us. It looked good and I would have been tempted but having (almost) seen off a steak the size of a house-brick, I couldn’t have eaten any more if you’d paid me.
In the morning the donkey was back and this time we were able to offer a breakfast of bananas and carrots – gratefully received. Breaking camp and heading back down the mountain, we hooked up the boat and headed for the coast. We launched from the new slip at Husn Dibba (Resident Engineer – Mr M.G. Anthony BSc CEng MICE) and headed for Dibba rock. We got there just in time to be first hooking up to one of the permanent buoys. We were soon first in a line of three boats with two more the other side of the rock and a few others floating around amongst the divers and snorkelers. I counted eight boats in total.
I’m happy to report the viz was good and the fish plentiful. We saw morays, a couple of big cuttlefish trying to make some small ones, plenty of clown fish fiercely protecting their anemones, parrot fish and the usual reef inhabitants as well as large shoals of snappers. It didn’t go quite according to plan. Diving with Cathy, I took a wrong turn at some point going round the rock and ended up rather further from the boat than I’d intended. Saving us a swim back, one of the boats spotted us and came over: “Are you with the white boat?”. Since all the boats on site were pretty much the same colour (white), this didn’t narrow it down an awful lot but it seemed prudent to keep this thought to myself. I kept my mouth shut and the guy helpfully went back and notified one of the white boats (the right one) which came and picked us up. Yes Peter, I will pay a fine.
After that it was a drive home and a couple of drinks around the pool. A good weekend!
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.