Category Archives: Three Day Dhow Cruise

“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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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!

 

 

 

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā 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.

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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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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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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!

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The Week From Hell or From Heaven?

Wow Рwhat a week it has been.  For those of us not used to hard work it has been a baptism of fire and then some.

The week started off last Sunday morning already with a busy agenda.  With 7 dhows,  scheduled to go out over the weekend, the week was spent prepping.  With 54 divers  we had 315 tanks to fill and load, sets of kit to prep and not enough days in the week to get it all done!

Then we went viral!  A seemingly innocuous video clip of last weekends whaleshark was merrily loaded onto our site on Saturday evening.  By Sunday evening the number of people reached, views and shares were already impressively high.  By Monday morning the number of people reached was going up by 1000 per hour.  A week later we are at 30,812 people reached, 6.6k views and 135 shares РSIXTY times the number of average views and shares that we usually have on our Facebook page РWOW!!  Serious exposure or what!  Amazing news but we are still trying to figure out how?

And just like¬†that, our already manic week got busier. ¬†The future monthly 2 and 3 day and bi-monthy 1 day live aboard dhow trips are filling up faster than expected, with an increase in general enquiries coming in from all over the place! ¬†All while we are busy beavering away to get this week’s guests out and¬†into¬†the water.

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We have had sweat, tears and a lot of grit and determination by the team to get the job done.  It is no mean task to get (did I mention this already) 315 tanks filled and onto the Dhows.  Even with the shiny new compressor.  What we failed to mention in our previous post is that the nitrox fills take a little longer to get done than air fills and given that we encourage our guests to dive nitrox where they can (qualified), we clearly are gluttons for punishment.

Despite the monumental task ahead, the team rose to the challenge and did an amazing job.  Even with a few tense moments it all came together in the end Рas it always does :).

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Our dive guides did a combined total of 48 dives across the weekend, accumulating a combined total of 2 days spent underwater diving 14 different sites.  Our boat crews and chefs ensured that 54 guests, plus colleagues were fed, watered, transported, entertained and kept safe.  We had some amazing sightings including; a Southern Right Whale (or) Pilot Whale Рfootage shot from a distance so difficult to identify, a Whale Shark,  Leopard Sharks, Eagle Rays, Reef Sharks, Sea Horse, tonnes of Turtles and a 10 minute show put on by a shoal of Tarpon.  The weather was perfect and although we were close to a full moon, the currents were diveable!

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WELL DONE TEAM! ¬†You are AMAZING with a capital ‘A’! ¬†¬†You gave this week everything you have and showed our guests a great time. ¬†One of the busiest weeks we have ever known and you did good! ¬†Real good!

So, despite feeling at times like we were on a journey to hell and back, it was worth it. ¬†I think our guests would agree that their weekend was spent, not in hell, but¬†in ‘heaven on earth’, or more aptly ‘heaven underwater’.

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