This comes to you from the not-so-sunny UK where I’m spending a couple of weeks. The diving goes on regardless and the dhows were visited last Friday. Mike tells the story:
“Due to a couple of unforeseen events our numbers were depleted by four from the nine whom originally signed up but nevertheless the remainder showed and we had a good day first going to Karen's dhow. Sergey and Sa'ad dived first and reported plenty fish and a turtle. Cathy, Andrea and Mike then went down to fairly limited visibility and the usual blizzard of yellow snappers. But there was a big shoal of jacks and some friendly slow moving John Dorys. The highlight was a green turtle about 65cm along the shell and carrying several barnacles. It appeared totally unafraid and swam round us getting so close that Mike had to back off from an exploratory nibble - must have been the red overalls! Some film was taken so you will be able to see the truth of things. It manoeuvred itself under the rudder post and then appeared to be scratching its shell - perhaps in an attempt to clean it.
We moved on to the No prop dhow where initially anyway the viz was a bit better than the earlier dive. John Dorys came very close. Towards the end we were swimming in a soup of non stinging jelly fish. Such was the density that we had great difficulty finding the anchor again.
Sergey proved to be a good driver on the way out although he discovered that speed was not the right thing when trying to drive on to a wreck coordinate.
Quote of the day goes to a lady who asked for help getting her gear onto the boat citing that her heavy lift gear was away in the UK!
Returning to the Club we met Orla for the first time. This is the lady who has allegedly tamed the wild man Dan (800 years of oppression) Orla's unexpected arrival was Dan's excuse for not coming diving and in the circumstances he can be forgiven. Simon and Sarah and Mike from the Valleys also turned up at the social. Tee bone steaks were consumed and the Moores also polished off a plate of ribs. Simon was hungry!”
While this was going on a separate trip was heading up the Musandam. These words from PJ:
“Freestyle Divers have recently begun speed-boat trips up to Musandam, I circulated members with a proposal to put a few of us together last Friday. Dragging Oliver from his work, we were joined by Derek, Geoff, and 20-litre Alex. (NB - for those who’ve never dived with Alex, his tanks would not look out of place at Cape Canaveral fixed to the back of a space shuttle).
On the boat at Dibba Harbour, Oliver met an old friend from schooldays in Zimbabwe, radio DJ Sarah Kililea, among the eight other divers. Departure was set for 8.30am, but as usual there had to be one diver to hold up departure (ID difficulties at the border). Notwithstanding, it was a friendly lively bunch lining the sides of a new Omani dive boat under Freestyle dive-master Tom, and captain Ahmad as we sped northwards, into increasingly choppy conditions.
Al Hablayn is the largest of the inlets on Musandam’s east coast, and our two dive sites were at its northern and southern extremities, Ras Dillah and Ras Sarkan. The latter has seen some recent whale-shark sightings (unfortunately not for us).
Below the overshadowing cliffs of Ras Dillah, Oliver and I free-descended to some 13m below rough surface conditions to a peaceful sandy bottom abutting the rocks. Unfortunately my mask filled with water, stinging eyes troubling me for the start of the dive. Oliver quickly spotted a sizeable honeycomb moray, and soon I was also shooting a starry moray. He was close to a swimming ray – but I missed it! We experienced some very beautiful underwater soft coral landscapes, through a variety of thermoclines, and a small cave swim-through. I don’t think I have ever seen so many and such large bannerfish. A profusion of red-tooth triggers and a number of parrotfish species added to the dive. After 50 minutes we were on the surface, close to cliffs, and out of sight of the dive-boat – way beyond the others, where we were bounced around uncomfortably for over 15 minutes before pick-up. Then a serious soaking as we crossed turbulent waves to the southern Ras, to find a sheltered cove, to de-gas and enjoy a magnificent lunch (for those who were up to it!).
Buddy and I descended quickly at Ras Sarkan, to get ahead of the pack, but, quickly distracted by an anenomefish and her tiny offspring, we soon found ourselves back in a queue, the inevitable product of a full boat on a wall-dive in a comfortable current. Fins, bottoms and occasional explosions of bubbles always threatening to spoil that perfect shot! Another swim through a narrow cleft in a beautiful coral landscape. Large yellow bar angelfish, and then an impressive but solitary emperor angelfish below a rock overhang – the first I have seen. I watched Oliver almost nose on nose with a devil firefish, before I found a second. A series of really cold-hot thermoclines then marked the dive, with butterflies and Sohar surgeonfish, before we found ourselves in the dark shade below a cliff. A pair of batfish flitted between the groups of divers, and as we moved away from the rocks for our safety stop, watched Derek, Geoff and Alex drifting past with the current.
Back on the boat and de-kitted, suddenly a pod of maybe a dozen bottlenose dolphins, old and young, surfaced beside us. Quickly unpacking, and donning fins and snorkels a few of us were back in the water, hoping for a contact that never came! Immediately afterwards our professional dive master Tom, managed to fall overboard, losing his rash vest in the process. He climbed in over the stern to hearty applause. I assume that Freestyle will extract an appropriate fine! Homewards, the pair of 200HP engines seemed to struggle, but at least it was a comfortable slow ride back to Dibba, entering the port at 5.15pm. All in all, an excellent day out!!”
These emails are so much easier to write when someone else does the writing! IH
First time I’ve seen one of these – it was a fair sized beast, maybe 45cm long. Geoff Only seen one once before. Described it as really ugly looking bug like thing after the dive and was instantly berated for not nabbing it by the more experienced hunter gatherers within my old diving fraternity. Gill& Rob Is that a slipper lobster??? Supposed to be delicious... R I think you are right, Rob ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slipper_lobster Geoff