Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Week From Hell or From Heaven?

Wow – what a week it has been.  For those of us not used to hard work it has been a baptism of fire and then some.

The week started off last Sunday morning already with a busy agenda.  With 7 dhows,  scheduled to go out over the weekend, the week was spent prepping.  With 54 divers  we had 315 tanks to fill and load, sets of kit to prep and not enough days in the week to get it all done!

Then we went viral!  A seemingly innocuous video clip of last weekends whaleshark was merrily loaded onto our site on Saturday evening.  By Sunday evening the number of people reached, views and shares were already impressively high.  By Monday morning the number of people reached was going up by 1000 per hour.  A week later we are at 30,812 people reached, 6.6k views and 135 shares – SIXTY times the number of average views and shares that we usually have on our Facebook page – WOW!!  Serious exposure or what!  Amazing news but we are still trying to figure out how?

And just like that, our already manic week got busier.  The future monthly 2 and 3 day and bi-monthy 1 day live aboard dhow trips are filling up faster than expected, with an increase in general enquiries coming in from all over the place!  All while we are busy beavering away to get this week’s guests out and into the water.

12512678_10154003138663080_1921536244304122963_n

We have had sweat, tears and a lot of grit and determination by the team to get the job done.  It is no mean task to get (did I mention this already) 315 tanks filled and onto the Dhows.  Even with the shiny new compressor.  What we failed to mention in our previous post is that the nitrox fills take a little longer to get done than air fills and given that we encourage our guests to dive nitrox where they can (qualified), we clearly are gluttons for punishment.

Despite the monumental task ahead, the team rose to the challenge and did an amazing job.  Even with a few tense moments it all came together in the end – as it always does :).

12923321_10154003142513080_1531791995865995972_n

Our dive guides did a combined total of 48 dives across the weekend, accumulating a combined total of 2 days spent underwater diving 14 different sites.  Our boat crews and chefs ensured that 54 guests, plus colleagues were fed, watered, transported, entertained and kept safe.  We had some amazing sightings including; a Southern Right Whale (or) Pilot Whale – footage shot from a distance so difficult to identify, a Whale Shark,  Leopard Sharks, Eagle Rays, Reef Sharks, Sea Horse, tonnes of Turtles and a 10 minute show put on by a shoal of Tarpon.  The weather was perfect and although we were close to a full moon, the currents were diveable!

12809716_10154003142583080_7451419806037425796_n

WELL DONE TEAM!  You are AMAZING with a capital ‘A’!   You gave this week everything you have and showed our guests a great time.  One of the busiest weeks we have ever known and you did good!  Real good!

So, despite feeling at times like we were on a journey to hell and back, it was worth it.  I think our guests would agree that their weekend was spent, not in hell, but in ‘heaven on earth’, or more aptly ‘heaven underwater’.

12932795_10154003136773080_8091543149069758839_n

 

 

 

Advertisements

Mutiny On The Dhow!

As the Blonde Goddess stepped aboard we anticipated a relaxing, refined weekend of diving, sunbathing and chit chat.  However, we forgot that closely following behind would be her lesser half, The Mola-Mola Whisperer.  So much for relaxing.  With the Whisperer on board we would be flogged to death, getting up before (never mind at) the crack of dawn, squeezing in as many dives (and more) as is physically possible in three days of diving.  With hearts already sinking fast, it got worse as KK and Grumpy Pants arrived!  And just as we were thinking things couldn’t possibly get any worse, the Motley Crew (I am not talking about the band) turned up.

Almost immediately, a flurry of activity descended as Neil abandoned ship, citing other commitments, leaving Victor the dubious honour of Dive Manager for the weekend.  Saaed would have been close behind him except Grumpy Pants blocked his path, demanding he stay and play!

Without further ado, the Dhow set sail for the Far North or at least as far as we could go in one night, as (demanded) requested by KK.  Any further delay in port and there would be no crew left.

The following morning broke, a little overcast and chilly.  We were however sufficiently North to keep the (mob) guests happy, at least for a few hours.  With an extra day in the weekend we had a lot of dives to look forward to, and the first day of diving didn’t disappoint.  With some cracking drifts along Ras Dillah and Ras Musandam, we had a returning shoal (?) of at least fifty mobula rays and some of the largest shoals of batfish ever seen in these waters, the latter remaining alongside in the drift for around 30 minutes.  After a couple of energetic dives, we opted for a more sedate site for last dive of the day.  Thank goodness for small mercies I suppose that no one wanted to do a night dive.  Sedate however doesn’t mean boring.  And the theme of the day continued, with surprises around every corner and in particular, right at the end of the dive, not one, not two, not even three but four to five reef sharks all mooching around at about the 10m mark.  What an amazing start to the weekend!

IMG_3876

The day was not without its dramas above the waterline either.  In between dives two and three, Saaed broke the news that the Dhow couldn’t go further North.  With seemingly perfect conditions and flat calm seas, the demands for explanations were sharp and short. With a  mutinous mob on board, little heed was taken and eventually agreement to remain ‘up north’ was confirmed.  We would moor overnight in Kumzar.

Happy in victory, the mob hopped overboard for that amazing last dive of the day.  Saaed however had the last laugh. Did you really expect anything less?.  As the mob returned to the Dhow, already mentally cracking open those end of day hydration fluids, the chase boat sped round the corner of Ras Musandam, into Rat Beach Bay, and NO DHOW!  The crafty captain had taken the mob at their word and given them exactly what they had asked for.  He’d moved north.  Great! Except it would be another 30 minutes before they could safely climb aboard the Dhow, de-kit and partake of a refreshing sundowner! Funny Saaed…NOT!  Despite these usual Sheesa Shenanigans, as day one drew to a close, everyone agreed it had been an amazing start to the weekend.  Could it get any better? Hopes were high and as the sun set, preps were made for day two, a day in the Far North.  Or perhaps not?

The next morning broke, bright and breezy.  So breezy in fact that it was quickly obvious, even to a blind man that the dhow would not being going to the Far North!  Even getting out of Kumzar Bay was a challenge.  With the dhow pitching and rocking enough to give even the hardest sailors a little heart flutter, everyone quickly acknowledged Saaed’s superior (and extremely annoying) ability to read the weather conditions with flawless accuracy.  As the dhow bobbed South, with several green faces huddled in a corner of the lounge, Saaed’s (smug) knowing smile read a thousand words!

But then drama!!!  We’d lost the chase boat!  With the sea so rough, the tow rope had snapped and with waves of up to four feet high, pulling alongside wasn’t going to be an option.  Before anyone knew what was happening and so quick he was nothing but a blur as he dived past, Shamsee dived head first into the sea.  As he battled the waves (seriously, it was really rough) to reach the chase boat, everyone held their breath.  Everyone collectively sighed with relief and then with disbelief as he nimbly climbed aboard using the engines to get a ‘leg over’.

Freezing cold and soaking wet, our hero steered the chase boat to safety and eventually in the calm of the lee of Ras Musandam South, re-joined the Dhow, where he could get dry and warm up after his unexpected dip.

IMG_2645

After the excitement of the morning so far (it wasn’t even 0700 yet), the mob were extremely happy to concede to Saaed’s superior knowledge and quickly agreed with Victor that a nice quiet dive on the same site we had ended the previous day on, was perfect. Definitely no one was going to repeat the mistake of thinking they knew better than Saaed!   It wasn’t all bad though.  After all, who wouldn’t want to go swim with the reef sharks again.   Unfortunately they had other plans and failed to put in an appearance.  Instead we had to slum it and put up with this chap blocking our view as we rolled in.

IMG_3899

In fact he was such a nuisance that he kept getting in the way of our divers for the first ten minutes of the dive.  Those with cameras were most disgruntled.  After all, how can you get ‘THAT’ goby shot when a pesky great whale shark keeps getting in front of your camera lens?   What a way to start the day, and just think……., had our divers got their way and ‘gone to the Far North’, we would have totally missed him!  There is a lesson to be learned somewhere in there I am sure?

Dives Four and Five of the weekend weren’t quite so exciting unfortunately, but still an amazing diversity that we are lucky to take for granted in our part of the world.  Three more dives logged by the end of the day, with a bunch of tired but happy divers enjoying more sundowners and lots of laughs as the weekend so far was relived while Victor fired up the barbie.  With a  beautiful sunset to complete the day what more could you ask for?  Wow we are lucky to have all this on our door step.

IMG_2610

However, remember what we said at the beginning of this post?  The bit about being flogged to death by The Mola-Mola Whisperer’.  Well, true to form, he and KK were up at the crack of a sparrow fart ready to dive.  For a moment it seemed that only the two of them were crazy enough to get up at 0430hrs to go diving, but then as the moment of truth grew closer, the dive deck got busier.  So busy in fact that all bar two of our divers partook of the Dawn Dive.  As is often the case, it was a great dive, although fair to say it took second place to the previous day.  That said, there were rays and reef sharks to be seen, so not too shabby!

The final two dives of the weekend were a little more relaxed, but as always with plenty of the usual culprits to see.  Finally, morning number three turned into afternoon number three and the dhow started to head south.  The number of divers on the last few dives started to decline, with some of our gang opting to relax on deck to enjoy a snooze in the sun.   After three days on the high seas, nine dives complete, gear rinsed and packed, divers watered and fed, we were finally homeward bound and hopefully without anymore drama!

As  another great three day dhow trip drew to a close, a few sheepish faces admitted that Saaed knew best – but just to be sure, next month, we want to go to the Far North, no matter what!

And with that, we shall re-christen Yas, “The Bounty”.

A Dive Worth Getting Up For!

image

Our inaugural one day dhow took place this weekend.  With a few rain clouds and flash floods filling up social media the previous day, for a short time we wondered if we would have to cancel before we even began.  The gods were with us however and the Thursday afternoon and Friday morning shone brightly, with calm waters.

Guest arrived in dribs and drabs, a little sleepy still from an early start to get over across from Dubai however a strong coffee and Neil’s banter soon cheered them up.  Or may be not?   After all, seeing Neil’s ugly mug early in the day is probably too much even for those of us with a strong constitution.

A relaxing day was scheduled – the dhow would meander up towards Lima with a dive on Lima Rock, followed by a dive on Wonder Wall.  We also had three guests who had succumbed to temptation and had decided to dip their toes in the water to see what all the fuss was about by signing up for a Discover Scuba Diving experience.  All in all, a great day ahead.

12809777_10153916985278080_1177085423168556251_n

And boy was it a great day!  With the dive group splitting into two, two divers opted for the south side of Lima and the remainder of the group headed for the north side.  The latter were kicking themselves however, when upon surfacing an hour later, Grumpy Pants and KK regaled the rest of us with stories of the Mola-Mola, which ‘allegedly’ was not only spotted about 30 minutes into the dive, but changed direction to come across and investigate our divers.  It then ‘allegedly’ remained with them (and followed them) for over five minutes!  Of course we did not believe a word of it.  After all, Grumpy Pants and KK are renowned for spinning a few yarns to wind us up from time to time.  That is, until the video and photo’s were produced.  Poor old Victor and Neddy were spitting feathers, quite literally!

Despite the absence of a Mola-Mola for the remainder of the group, they all agreed that it had been a great dive and our DSD crew were so excited about their first experience that they were literally jumping back into the water for dive two as soon as the surface interval would allow.

The second dive on Wonder Wall proved to be pretty epic too!  The group missing out on the earlier Mola-Mola made up for it with seven turtles, all congregating in one spot and allowing our divers to take a number of selfies, several cow tail rays and (as described by KK), a monster of a marble ray.  In her own immortal words, “easily the biggest I have ever seen in nine years of diving the Musandam waters”.  We think she was talking about the marble ray?  A leopard shark was also spotted chilling out behind a rock, however he was a little more camera shy unfortunately.

With the end of dive two and a delicious lunch scoffed, DSD certificates duly awarded to our three musketeers, the dhow headed back to port, with the bright lights of Dibba guiding us home.

In conclusion, a great day and the best possible start to our new One Day Dhows.  Held bi-weekly, there are plenty of opportunities for those of you who want to see what all the fuss is about on future trips.  We hope to see you soon!

image