Going Green!

We’ve had a really good few weeks here at Sheesa!

We mean that when we say it; the best Ramadan we’ve had in years is entirely thanks to the support we get from our great clients, as well as the hard yards put in by our staff on a daily basis. We don’t get to mention our staff enough, but the work that happens behind the scenes here is something to behold. We’re grateful to our entire team, and most of all we’re grateful to you for your support.

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Our air-conditioned dhows have been going out consistently and we’ve been extremely fortunate with the conditions presented to us. Trip after trip our clients and staff return to rave about the experience and the marine-life on show.
We’ve also been able to consistently run our speedboats due to the perfect conditions at this time of year. If you haven’t managed to make it out for a trip yet, do yourself a favour and come join us. You won’t be disappointed.  

 

We mentioned last week that some big changes are coming to Sheesa and we’ll be discussing them over the next few weeks as they start to fall into place; this week we’ll start with a topic that sits close to our hearts.

 

As dive guides and tour operators we’re extremely fortunate to spend our time in a beautiful part of the world.

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We have a multi-national team from an array of different backgrounds, but we all landed in this industry for similar reasons. We have a profound passion for the environment, the ocean, and the life that lives in it. As a team we recognize the need to reduce the impact we have on the environment, and to protect the area we literally owe our livelihood to. We’re therefore embarking on a ‘Green Journey’; to improve ourselves and the way we do business. It’ll be a lengthy process of change for the better, but we’re taking it one step at a time and we’re excited about it.

 

We started the journey last month, with the launch of our campaign to combat the effects of the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish in the region.

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For those of you that don’t know the COT Starfish is an invasive species which feeds on natural coral in huge quantities. The species is doing massive damage to the coral life in our region and we feel that it’s our responsibility to step in; giving back to the area that gives so much to us. We’ve been educating our divers on ridding the area of the alien species and we’ve been working flat-out to see results as soon as possible. The campaign is running well now and we intend to keep going. Our aim is to make a real, impactful difference in the protection of our marine ecosystem.

 

The second step that we’ve taken in this journey has further reaching significance. We’re working towards a Sheesa that is entirely free of single-use plastics. We’re all aware of the impact that plastic has on the environment and we no longer want to be a part of the problem, but rather a part of the solution.

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This is by no means an easy undertaking, but we’ve set ourselves a deadline. By September 1st 2018, Sheesa Beach Dhow Cruises will have no single-use plastics in our operation. We’re committed to finding environmentally friendly alternatives.
You can help us by bringing your own water bottles when you come for a visit, so please do so if you can!

 

Moving on, we’re excited for the last week of June. We’re very nearly booked to capacity for our overnight trips and the dive centre is humming; we’ve got very excited open water students coming through and we’ll be running some rescue diver courses before month end too. So why aren’t you here up-skilling?

 

We pride ourselves on being educators, and we take a different approach to training here at Sheesa. We believe that education should be thorough, rounded and in-depth. We place emphasis on diver safety and competence, life-skills, problem-solving and crisis management from the outset. There are no shortcuts to safety and we believe in doing things the right way, every time.

 

We therefore believe in long-term skills development, which brings us to the next point.

Allow us to introduce you to Jad.

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Jad is a loyal client of ours who’s become part of the furniture here at Sheesa. At only 13 Jad already has a stack of experience under his belt and he’s shown a real passion for the sport, we’re therefore doing all we can to support his growth in the industry.
He’ll soon be joining us for an apprenticeship during his school holidays and we’re keen to show him the ropes. Our instructors will be mentoring Jad with a focus on dive-skill enhancement, equipment training, life-skills, frosty-fetching techniques and client relations. Young divers are the future of our industry and we’re excited to help Jad along his path. You’ll see him working alongside us on the trips, so please welcome him when you do!

 

That’s it for now, cheers from all of us here!

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Eid Mubarak!

It’s safe to say that we’re finally into the full grips of the Middle Eastern summer but there’s nothing at all to complain about!

Ramadan is coming to an end and it’s been a fantastic season for us, thank you to those of you who have taken the time to support us!

We’d like to take the opportunity to wish all of our Muslim friends Eid Mubarak. We hope this Eid al-Fitr is a blessed one for you and your loved ones.

 

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Our speedboats have been fully-booked and running every Friday, and those who have taken a trip have been well rewarded for it.

This time of year brings the heat, along with it warm water, great visibility and an abundance of sea life. The Musandam has been showing off; we’ve been able to pack away the wetsuits and enjoy the near-perfect conditions on offer.

If you’re interested in getting in on the action drop us an email to gm@sheesabeach.com, Neil will gladly chat to you about the available trips coming up.

We’re still running our sharing trips and liveaboards every weekend. The heat is easily beaten on our comfortable, air-conditioned dhows; filled with cold bevvies and a crystal clear ocean to dip into. What more could you ask for on a summers weekend?

We’re seeing two trips off this weekend, one for 2 nights and another for 3, we’re sure your FOMO is setting in right about now. 

We’ve also got a RAPIDLY filling-up sharing trip scheduled for the 28th to the 30th of this month. Give us a shout asap to secure your spot and avoid disappointment.

On the home front we’re undergoing some big changes here at Sheesa, and while we can’t quite tell you about it yet, we’re super excited to share the news with you as soon as possible. Watch this space!

Neil is working flat out at the helm to lead us into the next chapter of the Sheesa story, we think he may be losing his mind but as you all know he’s passionate about what we’re doing here.  

In the meantime we’ll share what we can, our family is growing and we’d like to take a minute to introduce you to the newest members.

 

Our latest addition comes in the form of Cecil as a dive guide/instructor. Cecil is hugely experienced and a great asset to the team. We’re very excited about him joining us and he’s keen to jump in and get to know all of you.

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Shayne has joined us to take care of our marketing moving forward. He’s not at all biased or writing this article, but he is extremely talented and ridiculously good-looking. He’s looking forward to getting to know the whole Sheesa extended family, including all of you!

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We’ll be more active on the blog moving forward, so if you have any ideas or anything you’d like to read about please drop a message to marketing@sheesabeach.com. Shayne would love to hear your ideas!

‘Til next time, safe diving and all the best!

Chat soon!

“I want your Job”.

Often a question that we as a team get asked on trips. So this months blog we will have a look at “well do you really want our jobs”!

The perception seems to be (not everyone) that we sit on our asses during the week while playing on FB and other social media sites and then climb onto a boat on the weekend and take you on an underwater tour or in other words we are on a permanent holiday!

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So let us break this down to a normal week in the middle of high season. In high season we get on average 5x two day/two night dhows booked with diving. Once we have chased (more like begging) the divers with regards to their equipment requirements (sizes, gas mixes, no. of tanks, amount of weight required etc), all this info is then passed onto the diving department who go through every profile return with regards to checking cards of people we do not know as well as date of last dive, emergency contact info and level of qualification.

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Then it is into the compressor room where we can pump up to 150 tanks for a weekend, pack 35 sets of dive gear, make sure all enriched air mixes are accurate to within one percent of the requested mix and prepare to put between 30-50 divers into the water for a weekend.

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As we draw closer (Wednesday and Thursday) the guides start checking weather systems (a difficult task in the musandam) as all the  weather sites vary greatly, choosing itineraries and dive sites based on levels of experience, sorting speedboats/chase boats out, crew allocation, water, diesel for the dhows and of course loading the respective dhows/speedboats with the correct gear allocated to said dhow.

We cannot afford a bad day at work whilst preparing for and on trips. The result could invariably be … we will leave it to your imagination!

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Once you are safely back in your vehicles on the way home, we start the off-loading, unpacking and cleaning of equipment. A day off arrives the next day and the following day after a rest it starts all over again.

Would we do it all over again … in a heart beat!

Keeping your Dive Guide on your side.

The similarities between a dive guide and a barman are almost identical except for the mediums in which we operate. 

We have both heard it all before and we both have an exceptionally great game face that borders on getting our own star on Hollywood Boulevard. Therefore, how would you know that your guide has a genuine, positive outlook towards you or is faking it (we do that very well).

12809777_10153916985278080_1177085423168556251_nDive Briefings – I suggest you actually listen!

Over the years of guides getting together and chatting over a cold beverage regarding the days activities one topic always rears its head. There is always the diver(s) that do not listen to briefings! Fiddling with their dive computers or chatting amongst themselves while we brief is going to get you the game face or in the case of guides who have been around for awhile – they just stop briefing and you receive the death stare. We don`t brief to hear our own voices but to keep you safe, at least afford us a small iota of respect.

” Do you know where my mask, fins, weight belt etc”, is another “mm we have a live one here moment”. Contrary to popular belief we are guides and not housekeepers. 

Chucky” No, I don`t know where you put your freaking mask”.

Dive time! When we say in-water at 7am, we mean in-water at 7am! We design schedules not only for divers but for the non-divers on board as well. Maybe the kids want to use the banana boat or some folks would like to indulge in a spot of fishing. So no it is not all about you! Being on time will get you the genuine face.

Current divers! It does not take a lot to get yourself refreshed with respect to skills and buoyancy before a trip. The last thing we need is having someone flap around on the surface while the rest of the group has decided to descend (back to the dive briefings again) and we are in the a 7 knot current. Result – you get the game face!

IMG_0318This is the face you want to see @ the end of your trip (Jon 2nd left and stoked with his group).

We make decisions based on the group collective and not individual needs. So the next time you have a dive site preference and are politely (insh`allah) told that the group is doing another site – trust me we have our reasons.  Be courteous, have fun with us, trust us and most importantly afford us a bit of respect because at the end of the day when you are 30m underwater and difficulty strikes, the only person who gives a continental snowball about you is us!

A most importantly – the biggest factor about having the guide on your side is offering us a cold bevvie at the end of the day – you are going to have a great holiday 🙂

 

The Blog with Fog.

Welcome back to the diving season. March suddenly awoke from his wintery slumber and put on a feast.

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                                             The Musandam greets us from its wintery slumber.

It has been a kiddies month as well. Two young ladies aged 11 years of age completed their Discover Scuba Experience with instructor Bruce and were greeted by a whale shark after completion. We now think the certificate came second to seeing this gentle giant up close and very personal. We bet 2 free berths on a sharing trip they enjoyed it more than playing on their iPad or phones as well!

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Wally allows us the 1st sighting this year. Blessed!

Our monthly sharing trips were back in full swing or more like full immersion. Three hours into our departure we were hit with “the fog” or more like a wall of ice that enveloped us completely and obscuring our night vision. With GPS we made safe anchorage and woke up to the musandam that was about to put on a spectacle. Dolphins bow riding and a leopard shark within 5 minutes of our descent were small reminders of this sport we love so much. We were blessed and honoured to have had Dubai`s foremost blogger Slava Noor with us imparting words of wisdom regarding social media and adding a splash of pinkness to our dives.

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Just in case you misunderstood the word pinkness 

Please feel free to follow our social media sites and leave a review of your encounter on Trip Advisor. In this day and age it helps us tremendously to stay ahead of the chasing pack.

Instagram: @sheesabeachdhow

Face book: Sheesa Beach Dhow Cruises – Dive & Discover

Trip Advisor: Sheesa Beach Dive Centre.

 

Social Media in a Swimming Pool

We have decided to shelve the humorous articles (well not much light hearted entertainment has occurred recently) and concentrate on what we call “the swimming sheep effect”.

I`m sure like the crew here if you are an avid social media follower and follow all the scuba diving pages out there, then you will no doubt have realized that every instructor/agency has a YouTube channel, Face book or Instagram page with excellent videos on how to perfect buoyancy, deploy surface marker buoys or recover a regulator. The trend and rightfully so is the mastering of the critical core skill – buoyancy. However, it is the manner in which buoyancy is now being taught by some agencies who in my humble opinion have got it absolutely right. Get off the bottom of the pool and do it mid-water!

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There is nothing worse than a diver who spends time and effort developing their knowledge and skill level in order to be able to dive in differing environments whilst on holiday and having someone with a poor skill level kicking up the sand or damaging the coral combined with poor diver etiquette ruining your not cheap holiday. Even worse if you have lined up that superb photo and have it ruined by “bouncing Barry”.

So in order to improve our skill level we sit on social media and watch videos on how to “do it right”. Do not get me wrong, there are some amazing videos being uploaded by incredibly knowledgeable and experienced dive professionals. I personally have noticed two things that are not wholly representative of real life scenarios.

  • 90% of the videos display a diver in perfect trim wearing a dry suit.
  • Every one of them is wearing a wing.
  • The skills are all done in shallow, calm water. NB: all skills need to be practiced in shallow water first! What we are talking about is certified divers who want to perfect their skills in actual diving situations.

Dry suits allow the legs to float a lot more and promote the feet up, head down profile in the water. Deploying a surface marker buoy in calm water (yes it needs to practiced here first) is not representative of deploying your SMB in a current or turbid water. Diving with a wing ( I personally endorse this over the jacket style bc) also allows the diver to correct their trim and attitude in the water more easily than the jacket style bc.

This we will also be posting videos this year on becoming a more competent diver by uploading videos of actual dives and the skills required in those situations/conditions.

They will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel as well as our FB page.

YouTube – Sheesa Beach Dhow Cruises

Face book – Sheesa Beach Dhow Cruises – Dive & Discover.

Our blogs are the opinions of ours alone!

Please bear in mind that there is no substitute for actually engaging with an instructor and honing your skills under their tutelage. 

 

The Human Factor

Welcome to 2018 and we hope it beats the “you know what” out of 2017 for you and your loved ones.

From 2016 onwards there has been an explosion of YouTube videos, Facebook videos and a host of social media platforms that offer up the “right way” to train divers.

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Personally as and educator and collectively as a dive centre we are prone to the “get your freaking knees off the bottom of the pool approach”. We train buoyancy as the core skill in diving and we allow them to fail. Here is why!

Allowing candidates to fail in a safe and non-threatening environment allows them to be vulnerable and thus the opportunity for educators, (I`m not using the word instructor as that is a topic for another time), to provide critical feedback to the candidate.

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This in turn allows them to take responsibility and be accountable to themselves only. Changing their perception from blaming failure on all and sundry to one of being self-aware and recognizing their own weak points. Is not learning the process of making mistakes and learning from them?

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Instructors, dive centres and agencies all need to hold their collective hands high and say “maybe we got it wrong”. We trained skills, we taught theory but how much of the human factor did we teach? For the learning process to be solid the human factor loop needs to in sync and that simply is accepting responsibility as educators and candidates, learning from our mistakes and recognizing our weak points without blaming anyone else. Most importantly using our mistakes to better ourselves as divers and hopefully as humans to!