BSAC 406 went on tour last weekend, making a trip up to Khasab to do some diving in the Musandam with Extra Divers located at the Atana Resort (formerly Golden Tulip). We last went up there about a year ago. Compared to that trip the numbers were slightly down but at least this time we all made it over the border without the comedy of errors that nearly resulted in one or two of us not making it. No such trauma this time around – some of us arrived on Thursday night with the remainder travelling up on Friday morning. Those of travelling Thurday could not help but notice the rough sea state and we could only hope for better seas on Friday.
Leaving the harbour in the morning, the sea was appeared slightly calmer and we could relax and soak up the magnificent scenery of the Hajar mountains rising out of the sea with wooden dhows at anchor as they must have been since time immemorial. Says Mike Anthony “Just look at that block wall. Not sure about the breakwater though – the armour’s packed a bit tight”
Pure poetry! Engineers are born not made I always say and I speak as one myself.
Calm though the water may have been in harbour but in open sea as we headed up the coast it was quite a lot rougher. This didn’t seem to trouble Abdul, the boat skipper who simply put his head down and opened the throttles. “I wonder if he’s related to _____ or _____ ?” I thought, the two people in question being noted for their uncompromising approach to boat driving. Looking at Abdul, probably not.
After about an hour of travelling we arrived at Musandam Island at the tip of Oman in the Strait of Hormuz. The first dive site was named “Deep Purple” on account of the corals. It was a bit flat at the point of entry with assorted but not overly abundant fish swimming around. As we went around the reef the terrain became more rugged and the fish more plentiful. We saw angelfish, triggerfish, batfish, parrotfish and most of the usual reef suspects along with a solitary but enormous barracuda. The current was close to non-existent making for a very relaxing dive.
During the surface interval a couple of devil rays (like mantas but smaller) came flying out of the water. We also saw a solitary bird of prey perched on the cliff looking down, lord (or possibly lady) of all it surveyed.
The second dive was also on Musandam Island but round the corner on a site called “Barracuda Ride”. This was quite a contrast to the first dive. Dive Master Kurt had described it as a drift dive and he wasn’t joking – there was only one direction it was possible to travel (fast). This wasn’t to everyone’s taste but most made it round the corner. The highlight was a 1.5m leopard shark seen by a few of us – the last time I saw one was at least 12 years ago.
While we were de-kitting there was another surprise – a sailfish flying out of the water. The trip back was a lot smoother than the way out and hence a bit quicker. A night dive had been on offer if there were enough takers but the bar proved a more powerful attraction for the majority at this point. This was followed by a very good buffet meal on the terrace washed down by a glass or two. There are worse ways to spend a weekend.
Many thanks to Geoff who organised the weekend, to Kurt and Sandra of Extra Divers and to boat skipper Abdul. The divers were: Mike, Wendy, Ian, Cathy, Andy, Emily and Geoff. Mention should also be made of Martin, a Dutchman from Aberdeen who was sharing our boat and who joined us afterwards at the dinner table.