Category Archives: Learning to Dive

“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!

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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!

 

 

 

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.
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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.

 

 

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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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