Saturday, August 13, 2016

Diving Musandam, Certified Greg Raglow as PADI Advanced Open Water

My logged dives 1478-1481

Friday August 12, 2016

Octopus Rock

We had great visibility while conducting a PADI Advanced Open Water course with Nomad Ocean Adventure for Greg Raglow, accompanied by Greg's friend Mike Kelley and by my favorite dive buddy Bobbi Stevens.  

Greg had earlier done his deep and night dives for his course, see

For his peak performance buoyancy dive we returned to Octopus Rock, which can have difficult currents but on this day they were fairly mild. With Chris out of commission due to an infection on his arm, I was in charge of the advanced boat, with three groups of three divers. I checked the current with mask, fins, and snorkel and judged it doable before pitching us all in the water, with my group of Bobbi, Greg, and I last in. By then the other two groups had left the current shadow and were drifting at the surface halfway and almost beyond the rock being carried in a mild but significant surface current. Benefiting from observing their plight, my group focused on doing better and we descended on the south point where there is often relief from current. As we were organizing ourselves on the bottom, getting buoyancy just right, the other two groups managed to join us. Current at depth was much less significant than at the surface, and I was able to lead us to the north along the ridge to the west of the rock. Here we saw masses of trigger fish and green and large honeycomb morays. Coming up the far side of the ridge and popping over the saddle to line up on the sprint to the east across the sand channel to regain the rock, we saw a turtle hiding from us. I waited till the others had caught up before edging closer, at which point the turtle rose from its hiding place and became very photogenic as s/he passed us overhead.

Lima Rock

Our second dive would be an Underwater Naturalist one, and what better place to see the wonders of nature than at Lima Rock. After lunch we motored over and found the south side rough with chop, so we headed to the north side. We put in at about the middle of the rock and moseyed along till we reached the point covered in ghost fish nets. These are convenient when there is current but there was no current on this day and we pretty much had the run of the rock. Unfortunately when there is no current there are not that many fish either, relatively speaking, when we are hanging on to the nets like pennants, surrounded by barracuda, and hoping for a whale shark to come along. Still the wildlife was interesting. We had seen lion fish, rainbow wrasse, and a slipper lobster, some eels, a large puffer, and angel fish and jacks at the point. Rounding to the south side we found the current coming up that side so we turned around and headed back the way we came, all and all a safe, well executed, and pleasant dive.

Saturday August 13, 2016

Ras Morovi 

We set out on Saturday to complete the PADI Advanced Open Water course with an Underwater Navigation dive with Greg, joined this time by Bobbi as usual, and Greg's friend Mike Kelley. After Greg had succeeded in completing his square, we continued on along the reef and came upon the aftermath of dubious fishing practices where fish had been stunned with explosives or electricity or poison. I posted what we saw on Facebook:

Lu'lu Island

On this day, the dozen or so divers at Nomad had taken a single boat out for the day, and we could have taken it anywhere for the second dive. Brandon, the newest staff member at Nomad Fujairah, had been sent up to Musandam to guide boats that weekend and wanted to learn about new dive sites, so I agreed to show him Lu'lu, just south from Ras Morovi. Lu'lu can be a so-so dive when the water is green, cold and currenty, but today vis was excellent, current only mildly to the north, and the fish were colorfully abundant.

It's a site that can be dived in various ways. The boat shelters in the shallow bay just west and behind the main island and from there you can start north and follow the rock around to the east and then do one of two things. You can keep the rock on your right and follow it east and curve back south, east, and north in a crescent along the inside of a dragon's back of islands, or you can simply head east across the sand and pick up the northern-most of that dragon's back, round that underwater, and start heading back south on the outside of the crescent.

Brandon wanted to try the latter, the more challenging route, so we headed due east over sand at 14-16 meters to pick up the pleasant surprise, after 7-10 minutes, of encountering the submerged reef just as you've given up hope of doing anything more than a sand dive. That route has the added pleasure of finding clown fish stuck in pairs on lonely anemone outcrops in the sand, so bored that they rush up to see what is passing overhead and spewing bubbles, darting curiously to discern what's behind anything glass, such as a face mask or camera housing. On our trip we also came across a large cow-tail ray that decided to depart despite my hanging well back from it to let the others catch up, so not everyone in our group saw it.

We continued our dive against the current around the back of the dragon's back, coming across a turtle so still I thought it might be dead. To escape the current I crossed to the inside of the crescent and followed it up the rubble, reef to the left, until we were again heading north, and came out on the fish traps where we had started our dive. From there I led back into the bay where the boat was, where we lingered over a scorpion fish in the sand.

Another nice way to dive this site might be the way we did it, but maybe head slightly south-east to try and hit the northmost island more to the south than where we hit it heading due east. This would allow us to dive from there to the north point, and then round that island and come back up the south. If the current was strong we could cross to the inside of the crescent but at a point which I can recognize from blue water where rock had previously been, cross over to outside of the crescent, and keep reef to the right to reach shallow coral gardens, the perfect place to end the dive, or simply carry on until you turn north and arrive back in the channel where we started.

Or if the current so dictated you could also head reef on left to see what's on the outside of the dragon's back. I've seen eagle rays on that side on a couple of occasions.

Congratulations to Greg on his accomplishment, and looking forward to many more dives together in future.