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Dive Logs for Vance Stevens
PADI open water scuba instructor #64181
Dive 406-407
September 7, 2001
Musandam: Ras Sarkan and Lima Rock south side

Diving with: Abu Dhabi Sub Aqua Club
Dive buddies: Richard Wilding
Others in dive party: Ian and Mike Lutz, Sue and Alister, some dudes I didn't know
Conditions: warm, pleasant
Visibility: good, 10 meters
Wetsuit combo: Scuba Pro .5 mm neoprene skin
Weight: 6 kg
Diving from:local boatmen out of Diba Oman Harbor

My 406th Logged Dive since 1991

Dive site: Ras Sarkan
Training conducted: none, fun dive

Data from dive computer:

Time down on dive computer: 10:38
Max depth: 45.3 meters
Time started up from chart: 39 min started ascent, plus safety stop
Dive time from computer: 42 min
Min Temp: 26° C
Nitrox 21% (normal air), no deco

PSI/Bar in: 200
PSI/Bar out: 20 bar

Pressure group out, from tables or wheel: on computer - exceeded depth given on PADI dive planners

Description of dive:Richard wanted to get some depth practice in before doing his first-ever 50 meter dive on the Energy Determination the following weekend, and I agreed to accompany him to 45 meters off Ras Sarkan. I too wanted to fine tune my gear, so I had brought along a 10-liter "pony" bottle. Trouble was, I had left the reg I had selected for it at home in my rush to get out of the house at 4:30 in the morning, which I discovered as I was rigging my gear on the boat. Others aboard encouraged me to take the pony along anyway to practice rigging and carrying it, but a voice inside told me that this kind of practice requires use of the air in the pony, especially if you encounter current and have to overcome the drag on the extra tank with expenditure of energy entailing increased respiration, which could set off an unpleasant chain of events at 45 meters. Knowing I had only 200 bar in my 12 liter cylinder to Richard's 230 in his 15 liter monster, plus his pony bottle, I didn't want to be taking on any additional air depletion burdens. Good thing, too!

So we dropped in near the white rocks on the point and headed down through shoals of fish, good visibility, down to where the rocks ended at around 35 meters, and then we finned out over the sloping sand bottom rapidly increasing depth but not seeing much of anything but patches of grass and increasing gloom. You never know when you'll see a shark or a big ray whizzing by at these depths, but what we did encounter was a current sweeping us further out and down. Checking to see that Richard was alright, I started heading back up into the current and had to fin hard toward the rocks ten meters up and back the way we had come. I was concerned about my air use at this depth, so concentrated on breathing steadily and when I reached the rocks I found a little relief from the current and also a handhold, which I availed myself of while looking back to check that Richard was following ok. He was lumbering along alright it seemed, and when he had drawn close, I continued a little ways up the rocks till I passed the 30 meter point, and a glance at my profile shows that I conducted the rest of the dive in stages of about five minutes at decreasing depths in an effort to conserve air. Richard was usually below and a little behind me throughout the dive.

Later on the boat Richard remarked that he had never seen anyone fin out the depths as fast as I did. His implication seemed to be that I should have been a better buddy, but he did agree with me that in that downcurrent, the situation definitely called for getting out of there and back to the safety of the reef. A strong factor in my actions was that I was carrying no air backup (other than a small tube of Spare Air), so my urge to pre-empt any situation where we might be swept deeper was stronger than his. An interesting perception resulted from our discussion when he revealed that he had been in some distress trying to keep up with me. This distress might have been compounded by the fact that, as I was just far enough ahead of him that he wouldn't have been able to see me clearly, he was not aware that I was looking back at him, and to me he seemed to be traveling slowly but steadily, taking his time. On the contrary, he was working hard on the edge of his strength. All the more reason to avoid reaching a point where the current took control. It was one of those situations where I saw danger developing and I became proactive to keep the situation under control. We had already agreed to 'bounce' 45 meters, which meant that on reaching that point, we weren't going to spend a lot of time there. What I learned from the incident is that I should have signalled my intent to bounce up rather than assume that Richard had the same perception of the situation and would instinctively do as I did. This would have made him more comfortable and would have been proper buddy procedure.

Once we'd got to a point where we were going with the current along the reef, the dive was great. The reef is beautiful with colorful invertibrates and thousands of the usual reef fish. I'm writing this a few weeks after the dive and don't remember anything particularly remarkable, except that at one point we saw a turtle cruise by with a ramora on its head that made it look a bit punk. The last 10 min of the dive I was careful to stay above 10 meters because I was breathing on less than 50 bar by then. At that depth we were affected by backwash as we rounded rocks, and we ended the dive when we got ourselves in a cove we couldn't easily get out of without finning hard, which I didn't have the air left to do. All in all, a great dive and the way we handled it, a safe one.

Surface interval: 1 hour and 41 min
Pressure Group in: didn't calculate (on computer)

My 407th Logged Dive since 1991

Dive site: Lima Rock, south side
Training conducted: none, fun dive

Data from dive computer:

Time down on dive computer: 13:07
Max depth: 36.9 meters
Time started up from chart: 49 min
Dive time from computer: 52 min.
Min Temp: 25° C
Nitrox 21% (normal air), no deco

PSI/Bar in: 200 in my steel tank plus a 10 liter pony with another 200 bar
PSI/Bar out: 50 bar on my steel and 100 on the pony (breathing freely, plus Richard took a turn on the pony)

Pressure group out: not calculated (computer)

Description of dive:

Richard didn't like the way he was carrying his pony so he decided to leave it behind and he gave me the club reg he'd been using for our second dive. Now I was able to play with rigging my pony tank. I had just had a 2 meter hose put on a reg set I'd just had serviced (and this was the one I had managed to get out the door with me that morning). So I used the club reg on my pimary tank and put the one with the long hose on the 10 liter one. I wasn't sure how to carry all that extra hose on the spare tank. Since it was my first time to try this, I used a spare weight belt to strap everything close to the tank. My theory was that the quick release buckle on the weight belt would be an appropriate mechanism for deploying the hoses. In fact it was, but if I try this in future, I'll be sure to secure the belt in turn to some part of the rigging, because when I deployed during the dive, the weight belt fell away and was lost. [The next week, as I thought through how to contain the hoses for the Energy Determination dive, and in the course of prowling shops in Dubai in search of the right bungie cord, it occurred to me that the solution was simply to strap everything in using the cumberbund on the bcd I have on the pony. In practice this didn't work well either (doesn't keep everything in place) so I ended up putting the octopus reg with the long hose through a sleeve on the bcd, and that snagged when we deployed it and added to the tangle of hoses and skirts, so I still haven't found the right solution, but I keep working on it.]

The dive was superb. We dove the south side of Lima Rock, starting at about the middle, and set up a drift to the east, planning to continue past the point where we figured the current would then push us west along the north of the island. Richard and I had plenty of air and we'd been very deep our first dive, so getting down to 35 meters on this one was no problem. On the way down I saw a big tuna fin in toward the rocks before heading back out to sea again. As we got to where the sand bottom drops away, we found shoals of big fish, especially barracuda, hundreds of them. We drifted along at that point, happily intermingling with the fish and rising slowly up along the reef. At a point where we were at around 30 meters I saw a bit of iron scrap and a large rusted rectangular object I took to be a barge a little below us at around 35 meters. Since we were in a drift and maybe verging on and off deco at that point I made no move to try to get down to the barge. The reef was insteresing enough. At one point we were accompanied by a handsome black tip shark 3 or 4 meters in length. As we approached him, he launched himself off the reef with a wriggling spasm of his tail and disappeared.

Once we rounded the point, we hit a little back current. Just 25 minutes into the dive, due to depth and exertion, I had dropped down to 50 bar, so I went over to the pony (and dived for another 25 minutes, alright!). At one point Richard took the octopus and swam comfortably alongside with it, demonstrating the value of having a 2 meter hose (as Andy McAlpine had insisted). But Richard returned the hose in order to go through some swim-throughs and I negotiated them myself despite the extra tank, which I am able to trim for buoyancy (demonstrating once again the value of giving the pony its own bcd). Richard always pumps his tanks up to 230 bar, but considering he dove to 35 meters and carried only the one 12 liter cylinder, and only borrowed my pony air for a few minutes, he did remarkably well on air consumption.

Back on board we all agreed this was an excellent dive. Great vis, scads of big fish, and a shark. Except that those who kept themselves at around 20 meters thought it was a mediocre dive and didn't know what all the fuss was about.

There's an intersting footnote about the barge at 35 meters. I appear to be the only one I'm aware of who knows about the barge. Richard, my dive buddy, appears not to have seen it, nor were others on our boat diving in the area aware of it. Al Sharifi of Marina Divers goes to Lima often, so I asked him if he'd ever dived it. "What barge?" was his response.

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Last updated: September 21, 2001 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0