Category Archives: Pushing The Boundaries

“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!


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.


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.


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!


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!

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!


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.


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.


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?


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.
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.


You v’s Us

This issue will be very different to the humour and tongue-in-cheek approach we are known for. Simple reason is to try and find another topic as the weather did us in over March and very few trips made it out.

The topic this issue is you v’s us. Who do we target as customers and who do you choose as your service provider?  If we took Maslow`s hierarchy of needs and converted into entry level divers that will do one or two dives a year as the foundation of the pyramid. Divers who have completed two or three courses, invested in low cost dive equipment, and dive purely on vacations or the odd weekend in the second tier. Divers who have made diving a serious hobby and own more expensive gear and actively seek out diving opportunities when they are able making up the third tier and then the top tier is those that have made diving a lifestyle choice and invested heavily both financially and personally.

The dive industry is cut-throat and to survive in it, you need to have a very clever strategic plan. Let us take a scenario that happens all the time. Joe/Joelene Bubbles is looking for a course and is walking along narcosis boulevard checking prices at dive centres in that street. Inevitably he/she will choose the cheapest one. Maybe he/she does a dive or two once finished his course and discontinues diving and takes up collecting coke bottle tops instead. I can almost guarantee that the reason he/she discontinued diving (why would you want to – it`s awesome) is confidence in their own abilities. Cheap is not always good. Maybe they did not like it and that is fine. These days people do not have time to spend on courses like I did. Quick is better for them and then back to checking their smartphone or family life.


So good old Joe Bubbles remains in the bottom tier and is lost to us forever! Providing quality education and an enthusiasm derived from the instructor to student to continue is paramount to us all surviving. Without the third tier of divers, there is no industry. We as dive centres/resorts need to acknowledge this and spend more time targeting these individuals. We need to provide quality and confidence to new divers to get them into this group. Discover Scuba experiences are great for a short-term approach but the shop doors need to be open in five years’ time.

There a very few consummate professionals out in this industry who will spend time with you chatting about subjects pertinent to diving, having the skill set to enact and instruct what is being said and have a beer with you in the evenings while reviewing the above. If you reading this now ask yourself the question of “where am I on the pyramid”. The second question to ask is “who would the guides on my trip be more comfortable getting into the water with?” From our perspective, that choice is easy but we also love taking someone out of the bottom tier and getting them up the ladder.

The next time you ask for Ras Musandam and end up on Red Island instead, then we have answered your question for you and the rest is up to you. We will certainly help you on your journey.

Celebrations and Explorations

With the usual mob on board we expected the demands for top world class diving to be fast and furious.  And they were!  As one by one, two by two they cleared the border post, clarifications as to the plan for the weekend started before we had even left the office, never mind the dhow leaving the harbour.  With the weather forecast to be perfect we were fast running out of excuses for an easy weekend.  Sure enough, Thursday morning dawned bright, clear and with the water like glass, we chugged closer to the Quoins and beyond.


As always, the diving was fab, albeit currents were running pretty fast so several sites were  ruled out.  This meant we got to explore.  Pushing past Kumzar, the later dives on Thursday and even Friday saw us dropping into sites that no one on board had done before.  Even The Mola-Mola Whisperer, KK and Grumpy Pants, all of whom have been diving with us for over nine years had not done at least two of the ten sites we dived during the weekend.  The risk with diving an unknown site is of course, that it is going to be rubbish.  In this case the diving gods were with us and we found ourselves spending 60+ minutes a time, up to 75 minutes in the case of some (no pointing fingers from us, KK and Little Boy Soldier) on some really cracking dives.  With careful dive management, the currents were sufficient to add a little adrenalin to the dive, but not so much that those that wanted a quieter weekend couldn’t enjoy themselves.  Underwater topography was stunning, in some cases far surpassing the marine life, which by the way was top notch; leopard sharks, boulder sized turtles, reef sharks, blah, blah, blah…….

The Lesser Spotted Scooter Fish made another appearance, albeit more fleeting than last month.  Something to do with forgetting to charge the batteries?

Thursday evening saw us moored in Kumzar bay, celebrating with the birthday boy, our very own Shamsu.  Having to work on your birthday is always a bit pants, but I suppose there are worse places to be.


If anyone thought one celebration in the weekend was enough excitement, they weren’t accounting for The Mola-Mola Whisperer’s announcement half way through the weekend, that he had just completed his 1000th dive.  Much to the relief of most, if not all on board (including his good lady wife, The Blonde Goddess), he kept this reasonably quiet until after the dive.  After all, with tradition in some parts requiring the 100th dive to be conducted naked, lord help us on the 1000th dive.  And then KK announced the first dive of the following day would be her 800th.  We paid her to keep her clothes on!

Most of you who have dived with us on our weekend dhows will know about the mad cap early morning dive.  As the summer days get longer, this requires the looneys to get up much earlier.  This weekend saw our intrepid (*insane*) divers getting up at 0430hrs to be on the fast boat by 0500hrs.  And even this was a little late to be in the water before the sky began to lighten, so the following day was even earlier!  Questioning our sanity was made slightly more palatable on the first day however, with the appearance of a pod of dolphins in the bay in which we were moored, just a few meters away from the boat.  Hard to beat this as a start to the day, but in true Sheesa Style we managed it.  Returning from a reasonable, albeit average early morning dive on the Saturday morning our small number were quietly wondering if they should have just stayed in bed.  All dives are worth getting up for, just some more than others.  This was one of those that were at bit ‘ish’, although most would never admit that once back on board the dhow, being questioned by the more intelligent (lazier) guests who do what most sane people do – sleep until at least 0600hrs.  At least it was an ‘ish dive’ until we came across the Pilot Whale and its Calf, as we headed back to the dhow.  And with that, all regrets of an early morning start flew out of the window, as did the pretty tight schedule for the rest of the day, as we hung around for the next 30 minutes for an impromptu whale watching boat trip.

As with most of our trips it wasn’t all plain sailing.  With the nitrox mixing gadget playing up, it kept the crew on their toes ensuring the correct fills were provided. This minor hiccup resolved, the rest of the weekend ran smoothly.  Chef provided the most amazing meals as is the norm and even found time to cook the never ending supply of fish being provided by Grumpy Pants who was not as grumpy as normal with a fishing rod in hand.

However, as they say, all good things must come to an end.  All too soon we were heading back to harbour, diving complete, kit washed and bags packed. Until next month anyway.  Wandering round the dhow on that final trip home is always the same.  Zero conversation, maximum snoring in the sunshine!  Won’t tell you who is the loudest though, that would be mean.  Or maybe not………….  until next time!