This is just a quick recap of events last weekend. I booked in 8 divers for Discover Nomad, all keen to go in search of whale sharks. Bobbi and I saw one last time we were at Lima Rock March 19, and they'd been sighted off Lima the previous weekend. So the divers on the trip were keen to go. But the weekend before we were due to head out, two dropped out called away to South Africa, one got sick and couldn't dive, and Glenn and Gwen and Gulya descended on Abu Dhabi, Glenn recovering from knee surgery and couldn't dive, so Bobbi bailed too.
Jay Fortin, Bill Nash, and Greg Golden left Abu Dhabi Friday morning about the same time I did and we all rolled up at Discover Nomad, Dibba, Oman by ten in the Morning. The four of us were on a boat with two French guys using re-breathers, and two personable ladies Zana from Brazil and Laura from Lima (Peru, not the Rock). Zana, a rescue diver, turned out to be an artist with a blog: http://calligraphybyzana.blogspot.com/.
I was the "guide" for the boat so I got to tell the boatman where to take us, subject to negotiation with all on board, of course :-). First destinations both days were Lima Rock and the elusive whale sharks. To make a long story short, they eluded us all weekend. The baby was spotted off Dibba Rock on Friday, and when I stopped by Scuba Dubai on my way home Saturday, I spoke with someone who had seen one off Martini Rock, south of Khor Fakkan. None sighted off Lima by any of the divers there this weekend.
There were plenty around attracted to the prospect. I had never seen Lima Rock so crowded. On the first day there was a dhow moored off the south side chartered by the Al Ain Dive Club. I knew this because my friend Ali Bushnaq was on board. They put their divers in the water and strew over a dozen snorkelers in the water just as we were going down, and there were other dive boats at the spot as well. It seemed there was little chance of finding big game with so many people around, but we weren't entirely blameless for being there ourselves.
One nice thing was the current was slack. I went in with mask, fins, and snorkel and tested the water before every dive. So we got to pick our spot and meander over the reef at will. We found a couple of large honeycomb morays and I found a small sting ray under a rock, on both our first and second dives that day. But apart from that we didn't see much of great interest. Lots of morays, trigger fish, batfish at the cleaning stations getting their extreme makeovers courtesy of the tiny blue wrasses. Nice diving, cool temperatures, sunny but not too hot out, seas mild apart from a bit of a blow causing whitecaps on our way home the first day, dissipated by day 2.
The French divers, nice guys, had an unusual dive profile with their re-breathers. They started diving at 12:33 and were not due back for two hours, so after our dive, we had lunch on the boat while waiting for them. When they resurfaced, we headed over to Octopus Rock. We had two novice divers on board, Bill who was doing his 5th dive after completing his o/w course with me, and Laura, who had done about 25. So Octopus Rock was a bit of a gamble due to currents there. But I tested the water and found it fairly benign. There was another Nomad boat there and I noticed when their divers went down they were moved downcurrent, so with 4 in the water and Jay discovering a leaky o-ring as he was about to roll backwards, I told him to go in anyway, needed to get down while all were grouped near the rock. It worked well, we descended, Jay's air held out fine, and though we hit hard current each time we rounded the rock spiraling upwards, we had a fairly pleasant and successful dive.
Next day Jay developed ear problems and couldn't go so it was just Greg and Bill and Laura and Zana on our boat. By then we were a compatible dive team. Again Lima Rock was packed with divers from at least half dozen boats, and a bit crowded below, plus the current was back moving in from the east, so I had us dropped at that end of the rock and we swept along the entire south side. Greg had weighting problems and couldn't come down right away. Bill, impeccibly trained, joined him at the surface, so Laura and Zana and I were forced to dive without them (or resurface, and be carried to the middle of the rock). Greg and Bill continued their dive independently and did very well, ending up not far bahind the ladies and I. We didn't see much to blog home about, though Zana found us an electric ray.
The boats on the south side of Lima were picking up their divers and all moving to the north side, so I decided to heck with whale sharks, not likely to see them in the crowd, so with permission from our team I asked the boatman to take us to Ras Morovi. There, Bonita was diving with her group on the north side of the eastmost island, and Al Boom was diving there as well. I was thinking to have our boatman take us into the cove I like but another dive boat snuck in while I was pondering so there were divers there as well. We opted to have lunch and think about it. Meanwhile the divers had moved off. I wasn't familiar with that particular spot but it seemed to be popular with those who should know, my group were game, so we dropped in there.
Nice dive, one of the best of he weekend. We dropped to 25 meters in the sand. Vis there was a clear 20 meters. Again we didn't see much apart from beautiful flow of reef fish moving up and down the wall, but the dive was very pleasant, sweet, as one of the ladies put it afterwards. When we rounded the island (compass showed going north) we entered a murky patch on that side, so just as well we didn't dive the cove. Here we encountered some current so I reversed back to the south and returned us to the clear water on the east wall, and we ended our dive there.
It was a great weekend, compatible people, and nice to be diving with divers Greg, Bill, and Jay, all of whom I'd trained as advance and / or open water divers.