Category Archives: Mola-Mola

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!

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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.

 

Pelagic Soup

We hope you are all surviving Ramadan and this leads us into the new blog.

April and May saw some incredible diving in our tiny piece of paradise. The water stayed quite cool well into May but delivered some amazing encounters. We were greeted by large pods of Dolphins on every trip out and a few lucky divers got to witness the unique spectacle of killer whales/Orcas in the Musandam. Underwater delivered Mola-Mola (sunfish), massive shoals of trevally, barracuda and tuna to name a few.

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It was great to welcome back the warm water divers (or as we would term it – ageing gracefully 😊). The shenanigans continued. If you have never been on a sharing safari and keep hearing about the shenanigans, then you need to witness it personally. Lots of heckling each other, sundowners, cheese and crackers in the evenings and loading up on bacon etc for breakfast.

Although we have a schedule to keep and all our divers buy into the schedule, we do keep it as informal and relaxed as possible. Depending on the groups we also like to push further into the lesser known sites and the rewards are often to be talked about over a sundowner in the evening.

For a number of years we have not pushed the courses here at Sheesa and if you are wondering why, it is because we walk a fine line between being a service provider to dive centres as well as being a dive centre ourselves. What we did concentrate on was the diver who wanted to continue diving after they had qualified and Jumeirah open beach did not quite do it for them anymore. There are excellent dive sites on the east coast in the UAE and some great operators to boot. The Musandam however cannot and will not be beaten by anything the UAE can throw up.

So learning to dive here is unique. We combine our live aboard trips with courses thus giving the diver the skills to survive at sea and live aboard experience. Let`s be frank, live aboard diving is the ultimate !dive holiday. The courses are also unique in that we differ quite a lot to others. Over the years and through experience in varying conditions we have thought out of the box and do not blindly follow what is written on a slate. Yes we adhere to the standards that follow but we add in more. More time is spent on buoyancy, understanding your body and the water column surrounding you and making you a bit more responsible as a diver. This not only benefits you but it definitely benefits the guides both locally and internationally.

The sheesa staff would like to thank all of you for your continued support of us and the culture we have tried to create for our clients. Book and let us do the rest! Keep an eye out for our newsletters in your inbox, the FB and Instagram posts ot pop along to our youtube channel to see the latest shenanigans we have cooked up

A Dive Worth Getting Up For!

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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.

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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!

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The Hunt For Mola-Mola

With one thing in particular on everyone’s mind we were all looking forward to a great weekend ahead. A relaxing few days away from the hubble and bubble of Dubai; no phone signal; no internet coverage; good company; amazing diving, etc., etc. You get the idea. The main topic of conversation on Thursday evening and throughout the weekend was the probability of seeing a Mola-Mola (sunfish). Normally pretty illusive in Musandam waters, but not unheard of, the excitement was palpable. Riding on the crest of a wave of frequent sightings during recent weeks and social media buzzing with videos and pictures taken by fellow divers (‘The Mola-Mola Whisperer’ himself being one of them), our confidence was high.

Day One started off well enough, with a relatively current free dive on White Rock (unheard of), followed by Mother of Mouse and the last dive of the day, Ras Dilla.  Vis on all three dives was reasonable with a variety of marine life keeping the photographers busy. All the signs of a successful diving weekend! Or so you would think!

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As each dive passed, the list of kit issues grew. At one stage it seemed as if we had inadvertently wandered onto the set of a ‘How Not To Go Diving’ educational film. What with ‘Grumpy Pants’ scooter not working on Dive One and a damaged mask sometime before Dive Two he wasn’t having the best morning. Likewise, ‘Chuckster the Huckster’ was having fun and games with his tank. With a suspected blown O-ring, he was using gas faster than normal and after taking off his kit underwater to take a closer look, took the sensible decision to abort his dive. The kit issues didn’t stop there either. Dive Three brought more bloops and bloomers with ‘The Girl With The Curl’s dry suit leaking (the result of a sea urchin puncture from an earlier dive) and a forgotten memory card making her camera a redundant item throughout the dive – a sure sign that the Mola-Mola would finally turn up. With teasing comments regarding buoyancy control and thorough pre-dive kit checks flying around during the fast boat trips back to the Dhow, it is probably no surprise that the end of the diving day came as somewhat of a relief. At least if the diving had finished for the day, no more kit problems could surface.

All that said, despite ‘a few’ unforeseen kit challenges, the day went well. No Mola-Mola yet, but plenty of other marine life to enjoy. Shoals of jack, barracuda, turtles, eagle rays, stingrays, moray eels, and much more. All topped off by a stunning sunset and some light refreshments whilst dinner under the stars was prepared.

It is amazing how, after a day of diving and fresh air, 2000hrs seems much later and with a crack of dawn dive planned for the following day, most were early to bed. So early in fact that ‘The Girl With The Curl’ was wide awake and ready to start diving again at 0100hrs! Hmmm, a bit early even by Sheesa standards!

Day Two brought the usual early morning start with ‘The Mola-Mola Whisperer’ leading the rest of the pack into the unknown. (It was Ras Sarkan actually but that doesn’t sound as dramatic!).  At first it always seems like an insane concept, getting up in the dark at 0445hrs just to jump into cold, pitch-black water. But once you have had that first cup of coffee, enjoyed the pre-dawn stars and the amazing phosphorus luminescence as the boat speeds across to the dive site, it quickly starts to feel like a good idea. So good in fact that those opting for a lie in and later start seem like the stupid ones. And today, as is often the case, we were in for a good dive. Defensive cuttlefish, sleeping turtles and sting rays, that surreal lightening of the water as the sun starts to creep over the horizon above us, surfacing just in time to witness a glorious sunrise. Magical.

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After a hearty breakfast (the variety of food Chef Rajesh produces in the tiny cubicle laughing called a kitchen never ceases to amaze me), Dives Four – Marovi Island and Five – Wonder Wall, quickly followed. Again, with good (for Musandam) viz and slightly increased water temperatures, we had some great dives. Seahorses, more rays and turtles, the list goes on. A slight current on Marovi Island, but anything worth having is worth working hard for. Right? Those who had mocked the previous day were soon eating their words as they too succumbed to kit issues.   Leaking camera housing, corrupt memory cards (credit should at least be given for remembering the memory card I suppose) and half empty tanks at the start of the dive meant that there were very few, if any ‘kit issue free’ divers left by the end of Dive Six.

The Mola-Mola? It wasn’t to be unfortunately. With each dive, we hoped the next corner would bring that magical moment where, through the gloom, its distinctive shape would appear. Of course we weren’t holding our breath (as that would be silly and dangerous), but the anticipation that any minute we would be screaming into our regs and frantically snapping away on the cameras was there throughout. Right until the very end of the last minute, on the last dive, of the last day.

With kit packed and the Dhow heading back to port, all that was left was for everyone to catch a few z’s in the afternoon sun in preparation for the drive home. Making port in good time and reasonably quick queues at the border checkpoint, the journey home was swift.

All in all, a lovely weekend with great diving, lots of fun, frolicks and banter.  Just what a Sheesa weekend is made of!