Some severe waves (16 – 20ft offshore) during last week led us to suspect the worst but by the weekend the sea state had calmed down enough for us to get out there. In fact the sea was calmer than advertised and the current was minor despite the spring tide. It was a bit chilly down there though – 5mm wetsuits (at least) are recommended for the next month or so.
Our targets were the two dhows that we go to regularly. These are neither huge wrecks nor massively challenging but they do have good fish life and it’s also nice to go to places that no-one else does. The first was the Bigprop dhow, so named for the unfeasibly large propeller that we spent several dives sawing off and the next 12 months trying to move back to shore. On this occasion there was a pair of batfish on the stern posing for photographs, a shy grouper, a large and unusually friendly barracuda and on the bow and some large silver fish now positively identified as minstrel sweetlips (thanks Peter). There was also a cuttlefish lurking in the timbers that gave Derek a squirt of ink when he tried for a photo.
The curse of the banana struck PJ twice over. Having consumed the offending fruit on the way out, he then got up close and personal with a jellyfish on the first dive. Less painful for him but more entertaining for the rest of us, he proceeded to execute a backward roll entry that was perfect in all respects save for a crucial deficiency in the fin department. As club treasurer, he will no doubt be keen to donate 10 dirhams to club funds!
The second dive was on Karen’s dhow, a couple of kilometers away. The viz was a lot worse on this wreck for some reason but we still saw some more barracuda and groupers. PJ also managed a close encounter with a turtle that wasn’t spotted by anyone else. He had his camera running so we can’t dispute his story!
In the past when anyone claimed a sighting of whale sharks, manta rays or some other marine exotica, the response was always: “Show us your photos!” By implying doubt, one could keep the bragging within sensible limits and in the days when underwater photography was comparatively rare, this was an almost foolproof system. With the advent of inexpensive digital photography and video, anyone asking for photos now is likely to be shown not just photos but a 20 minute movie complete with opening / closing credits and a musical soundtrack! Oh well – it should be a good film. We look forward to the premiere tomorrow.
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.