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Trip Report - Dubai, U.A.E.

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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island_sands

Erection Supervisor ;)
Supporter
Jan 19, 2001
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Yesterday we arose at the dawn of crack to drive to Ras Al Khaimah, to join up with Al S***k diving on our first dive ever in the U.A.E.

When we signed up at the shop, the colour brochure showed some pretty decent looking boats. According to the shop manager, the tanks would go in racks in the centre of the boat, and the divers around. I imagined then the boats to be something like the Maldives. Excellent.

We were told that the there would be four other divers on board, and that we would do two different wrecks.

We met up with the dive guide just after 7.00am in order to follow him to Ras Al Khaimah. We then proceeded to another spot, and waited a further half-an-hour for someone who never showed.

It took about an hour to drive to R.A.K, which was pretty scenic, loads of camels on the way and interesting aspects of middle eastern life. We arrived at the dive centre, which was a prefab building on a jetty. However, the training pool looked nice. :)

There were a couple of skiffs on the water, and we stood around a bit trying to figure out what the deal was. I asked the question, and we were told to set up our gear on the dock, and then take the basics with us as there was limited space on the boat. (It was then when it dawned on me that one of the skiffs down below, was our diving boat. All 15 ft of it).

There seemed to be far too many people on the dock for that small skiff, but yes you guessed it, four other divers, plus Dad and Uncle, plus 3 wives and a couple of kids. Of course, some us of were paying 140AED to go diving, in order to afford a family outing for others.

The other four divers, were with spearguns. We were asked if we objected, ermmm what to say??

We piled everything on the boat, down the wall of the dock which had no steps so good job we were agile. No racks for tanks, everything in the middle of the boat. Nowhere to sit, the seats at the back were occupied by the wives on their Friday outing.

Off we went, 30 minute boat ride straight out to sea. The other skiff left with some freedivers going to an oil rig.

We arrived at the dive site, however, even with a GPS on board, it took them over half an hour to land an anchor on the wreck. There was no permanent anchor or buoy on the wreck site. Everyone geared up, and I was then frustrated and wondered if we were going to get any explanation of procedures.

I asked a couple of questions, to then find out that each dive was only 30 minutes!!?? And that was after in the first instance he said that they were 25 minutes each! "oh ok we make it 30"

We geared up, the boat rocking, nowhere to sit and gear up and the dive guide was too busy setting up his speargun to assist anyone to remain stable on their feet. So i got my gear on and then fell flat on my backside on the spare tanks. Good job there is some padding there.

Then we sat for a further 15 minutes with all our gear on, as the captain wasn't happy with his first anchorage.

Finally the dive guide decided to give us a briefing, perhaps initiated by a couple of very pointed questions by me. :vangry

The briefing consisted of:
We go down, its 70 feet deep. A 15 metre tug boat. Spearguns on the outside, fun divers on the inside (fun divers??)
Max time 30 minutes.
Period. You guys go with my uncle, i'll take the spearfishing guys.

Agreed.

No standard briefing on entry, exit, safety stop. Not that we really need it, but as a paying customer you expect a certain standard and also my fiance' has never dived a wreck before where you have to return to the entry point and surface up and anchor line. This may seem easy practise for some, but as a certified PADI dive centre (for which we never signed any liability release/waiver by the way) one expects to receive a proper informative briefing.
Emergency oxygen? No idea. Emergency signal? (the boat will rev its motor. oh - i hope no-one is having a bad time close to the prop in that moment).

We entered the water, proceeded to the anchor line. There was some current, so we descended to five metres and waited there for our guide. He never arrived. After about five minutes we gave up and dived the wreck on our own. The visibility was only about five metres and the water was cold by our standards (about 25 deg). Thank goodness I took my own advice and not theirs, and wore my 7mm semi-dry. :)

There were tons of barracuda and some other reef fish, the wreck was full of huge fish traps filled with arabic bread. (Nice). We found two species of very nice nudibranch, and for the rest of the 25 minutes, avoided the sound of spearguns around us. We came around one side of the wreck, and one guy actually had his gun caught up inside the wheelhouse. (Wonderful).

We made our way to our safety stop up line, for 3 minutes, the current was medium so we had to hold on. After about 2 minutes, the spearfishing guys arrived, shot up the line with their catch, shot past us, clunked us on the heads with their tanks, (you must KNOW what i was shouting through my regulator) and went whizzing to the surface, completely out of control.

We completed our stop, and when we surfaced one guy immediately apologised (haha, he must have understood some of my fierce articulation via regulator).

We got on the boat, (you have to remove your gear and hand it up as there is no ladder) and had some sandwiches. The surface interval was one hour as the other guys weren't using computers. As we ate, we waited for them to pull anchor. We were then informed that we were diving the same site again!! Apparently the next wreck was too far (?) I pointed out that we were told two different dive sites. No go.

We decided not to dive the second one. You could hardly see anything, and trying to photograph nudibranch around pieces of arabic bread just wasn't pleasant. Also there wasn't much to see on the wreck. Its not if there was at least 10metre vis and we could hang out on the bottom and photograph garden eels. however, we would be too close to the spearfishermen on scuba. :ko

We hung out on the deck, chilled out, but couldnt hide from the sun as all the wives and children were sitting in the best spot under the canopy of the skiff. I am so glad that our boat fees afforded them a pleasant day out.

It was a bad experience, but still an experience. Al S***k? Maybe to buy my spearfishing gear, but never again for scuba diving.

Perhaps some of you feel I should make allowances.. but as having worked as a diving instructor and guide I have seen how dive centres operate in four different countries and i have NEVER seen such unprofessionalism and lack of safety and customer service as I did yesterday.

Now for the next dive centre on the list...
 

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The Killer's me

Ecologically Selective
Dec 15, 2005
210
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too bad to hear that...i am living in dubai..i am spearfishing only no scuba...i am looking forward to go scuba...Alboom diving is the best so far...a bit expensive but u will get what u asked for.

I hope that your next trip will be better..but this is the experience u will never forget.
 

island_sands

Erection Supervisor ;)
Supporter
Jan 19, 2001
7,998
1,281
418
porsc said:
that's exactly why i have no interest in going to the mid east!

That was my first experience.. however the trips to the east coast have been pretty good and the musandam is beautiful. Here are some pics.
80DSC04611.JPG

80DSC04688.JPG

80Seahorse.jpg

80DSC04649.JPG

80urchin1.jpg


The middle east sports some pretty good diving, especially down jordan way and the Gulf of Aqaba.
This trip was with Paul from Divers Down in Fujairah, very nice trip indeed. The Pavilion Dive Centre also give 5* diving service.
However, those are at tourist prices. If you want to dive often and go to loads of different wrecks, join the Desert Sport Divers Club (which is essentially BSAC but invite everyone), pay AED1000 and dive for a year, for free. :)
 
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island_sands

Erection Supervisor ;)
Supporter
Jan 19, 2001
7,998
1,281
418
porsc said:
that's exactly why i have no interest in going to the mid east!

You seemed to have dived around a little then porsc.. how about an introduction? :D
 

porsc

Profound Pursuits
Jan 27, 2006
53
1
0
those pic's are great!
my name is stevae, and i am currently living in taiwan. i just found this site a day or two ago, and i am glad that i have. i am heading to palau next month and very excited about that. you seem to post quite a bit sands, and i enjoy reading your posts.
 

island_sands

Erection Supervisor ;)
Supporter
Jan 19, 2001
7,998
1,281
418
porsc said:
those pic's are great!
my name is stevae, and i am currently living in taiwan. i just found this site a day or two ago, and i am glad that i have. i am heading to palau next month and very excited about that. you seem to post quite a bit sands, and i enjoy reading your posts.


hey Stevae.. i was in Kaohsiung some years back, bit of a dump but the food was great and it was very interesting. What are you doing over there?
 

porsc

Profound Pursuits
Jan 27, 2006
53
1
0
yeah, taiwan has been a bit of a disappointment. i am here teaching, and it has been an experience. but i am ready to move on. how about you, what are you doing in the UAE? i heard the money is excellent there.
 

island_sands

Erection Supervisor ;)
Supporter
Jan 19, 2001
7,998
1,281
418
Are you really based in Kaohsiung?
Ha! I missed the typhoon there in 1998 by a couple of hours... managed to get on the last plane to Hong Kong before it hit.
 

porsc

Profound Pursuits
Jan 27, 2006
53
1
0
well we had our fair share of nasty typhoons this year. i live on the 24th floor of a 27 story building, and it was dancing all over the place. that was no fun.
 
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