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!