This week's contribution comes from Peter:
With high waves forecast for Friday, and demand for two boats, Derek rightly cancelled the planned dives to Mariam Express and Jumbo. Half the team however decided to drive across to Freestyle near Dibba, where a smooth sea was anticipated. As it turned out, strong early morning wind raised a choppy sea on the East Coast, but not sufficient to interfere with diving. In fact Freestyle was proving very popular; other divers having had the same idea as us. But we were all made welcome, though some of us hadn’t pre-booked. And the breeze made for a comfortable day.
One of the advantages of Club diving became clear when we had to wait well over an hour for the boats to arrive from the harbour. Derek, Geoff and Brian Larkin opted for dives on the two” Inchcapes”, while Peter introduced Andy Balthrop to the marine life of Dibba Rock.
For our first dive on the rock, we took advantage of high tide, to explore the shallows for possible shark sightings, but without success. Peter’s mask leaked badly, interfering with both his dive and video! Eventually he surfaced, and loosened it, which sorted the problem for the remainder of the dive. The water temperature was very comfortable at 27 degrees. A young colourful lion fish, a pipefish, a shy Moses sole (we would see a larger one on our next dive), and shoals of parrotfish provided the best entertainment. The surface of the reef was rich with newly born fish and eggs.
We returned to the beach to find Richard waiting to join us for the next dive. In the meantime one of the instructors was assisting his young teenage daughter, Cora, dress for her 100th dive – as a fairy, complete with tutu, vivid pink wig, wings and magic wand! A group of first time divers would also be joining her.
So for the second dive, we were three, and descending to the back of the rock were soon finding large puffer fish, trunk fish, larger parrot fish and wrasse, and two well concealed undulated moray eels, the largest one spotted by Andy. Clown fish, a variegated lizard fish, shoals of snappers, fusiliers and sergeant majors all contributed to a colourful dive. More colour arrived with the fleet of students, followed by our day-glow pink-haired fairy, complete with trappings. She won’t forget her 100th dive! Alone again in the colourful corals in the shallows, we spotted a shoal of fornicating cephalopods, dancing in pairs and totally pre-occupied with the meaning of life. Amazing to watch, and all caught on video; one of those dives, we won’t forget!
Geoff now describes the deep dives:
Having loaded up the Freestyle dive boat for a two tank trip, we had a fairly smooth trip out to Inchcape 1. The Al Boom dive boat was already on site but in the process of retrieving its’ final divers and moved off as we approached leaving the site to ourselves. However, Al Boom’s farewell comment of “the viz is …..very poor*” proved to be an accurate assessment. Derek and I were first in, diving on 36% nitrox with 50% nitrox stage bottles, along with Brian on 32% nitrox. On descending the line through the gloom, the wreck finally came into view with viz 2m at best. We searched the wreck from bow to stern looking for the transitory sea horse but to no avail. However, Brian did spot a huge Lionfish, and a solitary Moray was also seen. At one point we drifted about 5m away from the wreck where visibility was curiously somewhat better and we could see two good sized porcupine fish circling above us, however visibility over the wreck remained limited. The highlight were large schools of catfish and monocled bream, so dense at times if felt like being inside a wreck. With the benefit of nitrox we spent about 25 minutes on the wreck at 29m before starting our ascent, swapping onto the 50% nitrox at 21m and conducting a good practice ‘deep stop’ at 15m for 1 minute to assist our decompression profile. During the obligatory three minute safety stop at 5m we were entertained by a file fish seeking shelter beneath the barrel connected to the line before finishing the dive.
*Translated from the Anglo-Saxon terminology actually used.
Our second dive was on Inchcape 2 near Khor Fakkan harbour where we arrived just as the Al Boom boat was moving off – perfect timing! Visibility here was significantly better than the first dive and was ~8-10m at a depth of 20m. This obviously helped with orientation on the wreck and searching for marine life. The wreck was alive with morays with at least 8 separate eels sighted, moorish idols, blue-tailed trunkfish (box fish) and a variety of reef fish were also seen. On entering the wreck from the open hatches towards the stern, another moray was sighted along with what looked like a number of lizardfish. Moving forward through the wreck we were treated to several large harlequin shrimps scuttling around and some damselfish seemingly floating in mid-air . Swimming 10m off the wreck to what looked like some piping on the seabed, a well camouflaged scorpion fish was seen next to a grouper. The bottom temperature was 24 C, justifying the choice of 3mm wetsuit for the dives. On surfacing, Andy of Freestyle steered us steadily through increasingly choppy waters back to base, the journey passing quickly with the on-board banter. Sharing stories and some decompression fluid with the other 406 members back on dry land was a pleasant end to a good day out on the east coast.”
Back to Peter:
The day ended with a BSAC 406 group photo, but including of course some fairy dust!
Thanks to Freestyle, in particular Andy, Trevor and Max, for accommodating us all with virtually no notice, and to Cora for her unusual entertainment.
Look out for this week’s movie, “Last Tango in Dibba”, coming soon to a dive bar near you!
Ian Hussey and guest writers.