Category Archives: Environmental Sustainability

“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!

e336fa8b67f046a489f6de1326f69d83

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.

20180522_095813

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.

20180522_09342820180522_093411

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!

DSC_0230DSC_0081

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!

Advertisements

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!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1362.JPG

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.

southpoint-diversDSC_0230

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.

DSC_0081DCIM100GOPROGOPR2737.JPG

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?

IMG_0318

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!

 

 

 

DM`s, Mola-Mola and Seahorse.

The water temperature has dropped faster than expected. Well, we were caught literally with our pants down due to diving in board shorts and rash vests one week and having to break out the 5.5mm wetsuits the week after. There is a plus to this however as it does bring a prehistoric species back.
IMG_0318
L-R: Dustin, Instructor Jon Athey, Eddie, Terry and Jason.
November saw us complete our dive master candidates over an intensive 3 days on a private live aboard trip. The idea was to give them live aboard experience in seeing what type of logistics and implementation goes into getting a trip out. Jon Athey took them through their skills, drills and knowledge enrichment. Too many times have I heard how instructors get a kick out of “hammering” the candidates as this is what happened to them when trained. A lot of us were military trained including Jon and it was refreshing to see an instructor teach with skill, empathy and compassion.

 

Octopus Rock has been incredible this year and we have found 3 more seahorse that are only known to us (as far as we are aware). It was very unpleasant to see 4 boats all descending onto the known ones at the beginning of the month. Couple this with poor buoyancy skills and no diver etiquette and we were very temp
The change in the way we conduct our Discover Scuba Diving experiences is reaping great rewards which allows us to show the divers more of the underwater world and less time holding them. In fact we do not hold them (there is a very watchful eye) but they dive on their own with a small amount of weight and in a horizontal position.
This is our last issue for the year and we wish everyone who celebrates Christmas a “very merry Christmas” and for “happy holidays” to everyone else.
Your friendly dive centre in the far north.

 

 

Winter is Coming #notthegot

Indeed we took the title of the blog from a well-known series! The days are mild out in the Musandam and the water temperature is the same as bath water.

 

October greeted us the same as getting into the ring with Chuck Norris and yelling obscenities about his mother – a great big smack in the face!The booking board in the office had little to no space left on it and our compressor has been working overtime.

The return of the double deck dhows for both overnight and day trips heralded the start of a new season and we had some interesting trips. From very strange spring high currents that made us delve into every bit of knowledge and prowess we have about this area to being asked for a 16kg weight belt, we had it all! Needless to say there is a diver out there now who has gone back to his previous instructor and told him that after a single dive, he was stripped of 10kg`s and for the first time in his diving career saw the underwater world from a horizontal perspective. Kudos to us, kudos to us 🙂

Our speedboats have been running every weekend (bar the odd one) since July, however we slow down with them over this period as we need every single speedboat acting as a dive tender to the dhows going out on the overnight safaris and all our permanent and freelancers are booked out as well. We wish we could have more boats and staff in the water to cater for the speedboat trips over this time but it is not feasible at the moment.

 

 

 

The highlight of our month is the sharing live aboard trip, it gives a chance to connect with new divers and hang-out with clients that are now personal friends of ours. We know their diving skill as well and thus are able to take them to more remote and certainly adventurous dive sites. The pictures in the collage above are from said trip and perfectly allow you to see what we experienced. Salamah (Great Quoin Island) is a site we have been frequenting for a few years now and bar the currents up there, it is an awesome site and besides us, not dived by anyone else. The ridge is a very special place to dive but again care needs to be taken as the currents up there are incredibly strong. Fanaku gave us a Spanish Dancer nudibranch )not found anywhere else in the musandam) and the remaining northern sites all delivered great visibility and dives. Octopus Rock was a hive of activity as 4 boats in total all descended upon the two unsuspecting seahorse on the SE ridge. We went to our secret seahorse location (180*) from those and showed off a prime specimen. A truly great group and friends ended having to come back by speedboat due to our dhow deciding to chuck its propeller off and have a well earned rest for a further 2 days.

The 2018 sharing lice aboard dates are out! Get those diaries out and start blocking off 26 days of dive time with us 🙂 We have sick notes available for the bosses in case needed.

1. January 18-20: 2 days/2 nights; 2. February 8-10: 2 days/2 nights; 3. March 29-31: 2 days/2 nights; 4. April 25-28: 3 days/3 nights; 5. May 23-26: 3 days/3 nights; 6. June 28-30: 2 days/2 nights; 7. July 26-28: 2 days/2 nights; 8. August 23-25: 2 days/2 nights;
9. September 5-8: 3 days/3 nights; 10. October 3-6: 3 days/3 nights;
11. November 22-24: 2 days/2 nights; 12. December 20-22: 2 days/2 nights. 

 

Thank-you for taking the time to read this and hopefully see you again very soon.

Neil, Cristy, Michael, Bruce, Kenji, Thahir and the staff of Sheesa.

 

The Whale Shark Issue

One would be forgiven for thinking that every morning at the moment we are waking up to paradise. Fog rests over the Hajar mountains and the temperature while enjoying the first cup of java for the day is in the high 20`s. Then we open the gate and are greeted by the goats eating cement packets and other trash and you realise that mutton is off the menu for that evening.

September has been a cracking month for diving. The seas are so flat we are convinced that Neptune has been making frequent visits to Jamaica and rolling some rather large blunts. A group of divers that have been diving with us forever and a day planned an expeditionary trip to the top of the Musandam and specifically to try and get onto a site called Ennerdale Rock which was named after a ship that sunk there many years ago. Now on a calm day the currents here can rip your mask off your face and before you all ask us when are we going there, we are not! It takes a year of planning at the minimum and you have to sit on it and wait for slack tide. However, it is possibly the best site that the Middle East has to offer. Eagle rays, marble rays were a few animals sighted and this all from only one side of the rock as everyone was sheltering from the current (we have posted a video of the site on our FB page).

The sharing trips allow us a chance to connect with friends and new divers alike and we welcomed a few new souls to the infamous Sheesa sharing trips. They certainly added value! Being Islamic new year we were able to get away a little earlier than we normally do and thus enjoy the scenery on the way up whist sipping on “Coco-Colas”. The water was like a milk pond as we decided that with the experience levels on-board, we would head for Salamah (Great Quion Island). People talk of a gut instinct and this time we were rewarded with going on it. We were about to pass Ras Musandam when that gut instinct took over and said “there is something here”. Ras Musandam was behaving as usual with a fast drift from west to east but eerily there were no fish. I started thinking of all the excuses in the book as to why the dive site had nought to offer when suddenly, a familiar shape loomed in the distance @ 20m underwater. Wally had saved the day!

We spent 15 minutes with Wally as he/she posed for various cameras, disappeared and re-appeared again for a 2nd run with us. Needless to say if we had dived the rest of the trip on a sandy bottom only with nothing to see, there would have been no complaints. Our 2nd dive on Abu Rashid was more sedate but the soft corals on the site are pure splendour. A leopard shark posed for us on Ras Khayser, Pete scared the bejesus out of a turtle (they did not see each other till the last moment) and we topped it off with a night dive on Al Maqta in Habelyn. A couple more “Coco-Colas” ended the day.

We are at pains to explain the emergence of a pink flamingo that was spotted swimming around Red Island this last weekend. In fact word has it was so tame that it ended swanning oops I mean swimming and cavorting with the guests on-board. As always photographic proof is required (otherwise you just did not see it) and it was duly obtained as well.

MKL_7120 resize

 

Please dont forget to follow your favourite and bestest dive centres social media sites for pics of the trips, blogs, updates etc. We can be found at these sites:

Face Book – Sheesa Beach Dhow Cruises – Dive & Discover

Instagram – sheesabeachdhow

Our blog is available monthly on our web page @ http://www.sheesabeach.com and click on the wordpress icon located on the upper right=-hand corner of our homepage.

We look forward to hosting you for another bumper season filled with great dives, amazing sightings, pink flamingos, plenty of laughs and delicious food.

From the nuthouse, see you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

Full to the Brim and then some….

We thought the June sharing Dhow would be a little quiet, what with most people clearing out for the summer and all that.  Contrary to popular opinion however, it seems that our clients are very sensible people, very sensible indeed, choosing to escape the Sandpit for the majestic Musandam!  So, with a full boat (so full that yours truly was left behind and had to swop a bed on the Dhow for a bed in the Al Aqah Beach Resort), the weekend commenced.

With the sea state being a little bumpy as compared to what is usually preferred, the Dhow kept relatively South of the sites visited in recent months.  However this did not impact at all on the variety of marine life spotted or the enjoyment of the weekend!

Those on board were issued strict instructions to NOT see anything exciting.  These instructions were clearly ignored however, as my loyal spies were very happy (far too happy in my opinion) to update me on their return of the amazing weekend had by all.

So, in no particular order, this weekends fish soup consisted of a 10m whale shark, which cruised by on a mission to somewhere rather than cooperatively posing for photos and videos as is the preference, plus another whale shark spotted by our ever amazing boat cover Shameem (although not spotted by any divers).  A multitude of rays including devil rays, eagle rays, etc., etc., etc., turtles, barracuda……..  In fact, one barracuda in particular was considered worthy of note, with our very own loveable elf exclaiming it was easily as big as her.  That would be most Barracuda then D???

Contrary to popular opinion, the scooter boys and girls didn’t chase everything off.  In fact, more likely corralled them in for the more traditional divers of the group to see too.  At least, that is their story and they are sticking to it!

Topside was not without its excitement either!  Although to be fair, when is it ever boring on with the usual Sheesa Shenanigans going on?

Fishing between dives and on an evening is a favourite pastime for some of our regulars, either because they are doing the fishing, or they are watching (and subsequently enjoying) the catch.  As with most weekends, tiddlers get thrown back in, whilst the larger fish are quickly incorporated into a delish dish for dinner.  Sustainable fishing all the way with Sheesa;  if you can’t eat it, don’t keep it.  So, with this in mind, one of the more unusual catches of the weekend had a lucky escape from Rajesh’s cooking pot –  the Eagle Ray (yes, you read that correctly), caught and landed by our youngest regular weekender, Jad.

So, I am sure you get the picture- a very nice picture too, and a very clear one if you were actually there.

As nice as the Al Aqah Beach Resort (with upgrade to a suite) was, your’s truly missed the fun on board. So, if you missed out this month too, then not only do you need to dust off your imaginations, but you also need to get your a*** into gear to get booked on the July and August Dhows.   Our sharing trips are the perfect way to escape the heat.  Well, not exactly escape the heat, as its pretty hot in the Musandam too, however at least it’s not as far to jump overboard and cool off.

Look forward to seeing you next month or sooner if you are signed up for one of our one day cruises.