As advertised last week, Brian and Mike organised a trip out to the Zainab whilst the rest of us were in Oman. It was evidently a good trip with smooth seas and good viz. I don’t have many details, but Brian wrote on WhatsApp:
We had ideal dive conditions on Zainab. I had a Kodak moment when Mike swam below the propeller. Loads of fish. Can only be spoiled if you guys saw a whale shark!
More of that shortly. 😊
The Oman trip was organised by Angela for Sharjah and Dubai divers to dive the Damaniyat Islands which are about an hour offshore from Musannah on the Batinah coast. We arrived at the Millennium Hotel at intervals during Thursday, having crossed the border (or not) with varying degrees of trauma. There were fourteen of us in total which seemed to split about 50/50 between those who opted for an early night and those who wanted a refreshment or two by the pool before heading for bed. It seemed to me that Sharjah divers were disproportionately represented in the latter group but that might be my imagination.
Having completed the formalities with the centre, Sea Oman, we set off for the first target which was Junn Island West Wall in the western islands. But on the way a diversion. At about half distance, the boat captain noticed some fins in the water not far from the boat. It turned out to be five or six whale sharks, feeding just below the surface. It was fins, masks and snorkels in seconds and we spent about 45 minutes swimming with them. Awesome!
After that the diving threatened to be an anti-climax, but we had a good time nevertheless. The viz wasn’t great below 10m or so but the current was minimal. There were a couple of big nudibranchs and a big moray eel lurking in amongst some rocks. The second dive was on Sera Island, a few minutes away in the same island group. The viz was similar but we saw a cuttlefish, a large cow-tailed ray and a big pufferfish. It always seems to me that the fish of the Damaniyats (and also maybe the Musandam) are always a size or two bigger than their counterparts on the east coast of the UAE.
The first dive on Saturday was on the Aquarium, which is generally known as one of the better sites and is popular. Indeed, when we arrived, there was already a boat anchored up from Global Scuba at the Aviation Club down the road. The Aquarium is a submerged reef and our boat’s anchor landed just on the edge of it. We spent about 15 minutes close to the anchor as the first thing we saw were three cuttlefish. There was also a free-swimming moray that found a home amongst the rocks, soon to be followed by a turtle.
It was shortly after this that I was swimming along about 50cm above the bed when another large moray glided underneath me, mouth open. It gave me quite a shock. Polly has some video to share shortly of this very curious Moray. Going around the reef, we found quite a lot of morays, most quite big and some hidden among the soft corals. One had a “zebra” colouring which is quite rare. We also saw a torpedo ray.
This was without doubt the best dive so far and we were tempted to stay around for a second dive on the same site. Regrettably, it’s part of the eastern island group and bearing in mind the journey home, we decided use the surface interval to move ourselves closer to home. This turned out to be the Mousetrap which is an underwater ridge between Junn Island and Sera Island. It took a bit of getting to as we were put in the water on the downstream side and had to fight our way into the lee of the ridge where we had a leisurely swim from west to east. We saw another torpedo ray and some more cuttlefish but the best of it was in the top ten metres where the viz was clearer and there were lots of smaller fish.
The trip back to land threatened to turn into a marathon when one of the boat engines failed but we were picked up by the centre’s other boat and lost only about 20 minutes or so.
The photos above were taken by Angela (whale sharks 3 & 4) Allen, .Cara and Polly.
Thank you to Angela also for the Zip Line and Aqua Park antics……..always do your ‘background checks’ when it comes to Zip Lines – i.e. don’t put your hands on the line you will lose your fingers and stopping is an abrupt whip lash ending. (Polly’s words)
Thanks to the dive centre, Sea Oman. Enormous thanks to Angela for organising the weekend and to my excellent dive buddies, Sandra and Polly. It was also nice to catch up briefly with Alison Mackenzie, once a 406 member but now resident in Oman since I can’t remember when.
Saad is organizing an event later this month: ttps://www.somewhatsalty.com/tdb/
Deco is an unavoidable part of deep diving. The Deco Breakfast elegantly presents facts & fundamentals, as well as strategies & controversies. The two presentations will be of value to divers who enjoy diving in the 40m to 100m range. Registration is now open.
Some news about former members.
First Robin Hughes:
I came out to Hong Kong in August to manage a tender response for an Engineering Services company, a newly formed subsidiary of an Asset Management Group (the majority investor in this Engineering Services entity). I was on a healthy day-rate but sadly I concluded they did not have the slightest chance of winning the contract, and so gave them a close-out report and flew off to Chiang Mai where I now keep a flat four floors above my friend Dave’s flat.
The Chinese owner of the Asset Management Group, apparently struck by my relinquishing a month’s consultancy via impartial appraisal of 'contract win' prospects — everyone close was saying the tender was a 'sure thing’ -- called me back from Chiang Mai after only three days to look at another project (also non-viable). Then I was kept around to look at another project, and another, and another, until last week I was appointed as 'Director, Project Management' for the Asset Management Group.
Doesn’t this say something both about the opportunistic nature of Hong Kong, and the huge number of ‘yes men’ floating around??? So, while I continue to assist the (rather small) Engineering Services company I arrived to prepare a bid for, I now look at other projects as well. It is interesting and varied work, and I am happy to be back in Hong Kong again after the arid and expensive Middle East.
Second, Geoff Patch:
Also, as well as diving with us in Zanzibar, Geoff has been doing some diving in Plymouth, UK, and has just completed a TDI CCR normoxic trimix course (‘Mod 3’). Geoff has written interesting reports on both which I’m putting aside to publish on a “slow news week”, along with the photos he sent with them.
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Ian Hussey and Dive Member Contributions.