HOT HOT HOT: Tips for diving in hot climates

Looks like we’ve survived the summer.

It is September now and we’ve had a couple of months of hot, hot, hot, sticky hot weather and humidity, but we survived.

Temperatures haven’t really dropped yet, it’s still 36-38 degrees during the day, although less humid so it feels less suffocating but at the same time it feels like the sun is burning stronger. Water temperatures are up to 28-30 degrees although there can be a sneaky 25 degree thermocline on deeper dives.

Summer was not as bad as I thought it would be and it is amazing how fast your body gets used to the heat and humidity. In the beginning it felt gross to be sweaty and sticky all the time but now it’s just the way it is. Let’s just say that sweat is the new black and nothing beats the feeling of buttsweat rolling down your thighs.

Eeeew.

To illustrate how hot it is: A carefully conducted scientific experiment reveals that our laundry dries faster out in the sun than in the drying machine.

At one point our pool was 37 degrees because the cooling system was broken and the tarp that shades it got blown off in a storm so there was no relief to be found there either. Do you sometimes get that queasy feeling when you take a hot bath?* That’s exactly what happens when you try to do a confined water session in a 37 degree pool. Not cool. (see what I did there?)

The best place to be is generally either in the airconditioned office (but who wants to be in the office all day?) or out on the boat, but being out under the sun the whole day brings it’s own set of challenges – so here’s some tips for when you are diving in very, very hot weather.

Diveboat

Tips for diving in hot weather

 

- WATER. DRINK IT. I don’t really have to explain this one, do I? Water hydrates. Water is good for you. Being properly hydrated also decreases your risk of getting decompression sickness, so extra important when you are diving.

- Wetsuit last. Seriously, make sure all your other gear is set up and working properly before you put your wetsuit on, and put your wetsuit and gear on at the same time as your buddy. Nothing beats semi-suffocating in your full 3mm suit, already sitting in your divegear, while your buddy realizes he has a leaking o-ring and needs to change it.

- While putting said suit on, especially for you crazy people who still like to dive in 5mm’s, put your wetsuit on to waistlevel and then jump in the water to put on the rest. It will make you feel much, much better.

- Gear up in the water if you have to (and if conditions allow). Saves hauling your gear around on a rocking boat under the sun. Remember: Mask & fins first, then your BCD, and then your weightbelt. Don’t forget to do a buddycheck at the surface.

- Sunblock/lotion. Use it. Your mother will be proud and your skin will thank you later.

 

*Caused by a drop in blood pressure because your arteries and veins dilate to assist in cooling your body

Living abroad is really hard sometimes

I have been living abroad off and on for the past three years now. I have been back in The Netherlands, but never more than a few months in a row and those months were more like a holiday / being-between-jobs (in the best possible sense of the word) than living there, if you know what I mean.

You’d think I would have gotten the hang of it by now, but I struggle more than ever.

Living in Oman has been a huge test for my patience, which was never really my thing to start with (ask my mom) and sometimes I feel like I’m slowly losing it.

I don’t understand how things are run here. I am tired of hearing “next week, Inshallah” as an answer to the question when our work visas are going to be ready. We have been hearing “next week, Inshallah” for the past five months.

Tomorrow, Inshallah

I also try really hard to be culturally understanding and not to extrapolate one frustration to the general population.

I don’t understand how it is better to tell someone an un-truth (lying seems such a harsh word, but that’s what it is) rather than answer a question honestly, because we all know that it won’t be next week and definitely that it is not up to whatever higher power, but up to you doing the job that you’re paid for.

Even something as simple as renting a car can take up half a day to arrange. “I have a car, maybe, I call you back in ten minutes” means: You will have to chase me for the rest of the day and I won’t answer my phone until you have tried at least ten times, six hours later.

And I nod and smile and hope that it will be all sorted, and then when I hear it won’t be until another two weeks because suddenly the rules changed I lose my shit and go nuts which is not like me at all.

It makes me very cynical. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be: that you hear “maybe tomorrow” and you assume it is a no and shrug and find someone else to do the job (if possible at all). Maybe that just really means ‘no’ and I’m only getting it now? Just a bit late to the never-give-a-straight-answer party? But all this cynicism and frustration makes me into a person that I don’t really want to be. Time to let go – but how?

 

 

 

Diving in the Musandam (Oman)

Finally the question that all of you have been asking….How is the diving in Musandam?

To be totally honest, I didn’t come here only for the diving. The primary reasons I made my way to this little corner of the world were wanderlust, wanting to be somewhere different than Southeast Asia and because the deal with my current employer sounded (and turned out to be!) pretty sweet. The dive industry is, after all, not really known for paying high or even decent wages, so when the opportunity presents itself, you grab it.

Well, the part about it being different is true. Compared to the tropical waters of Malaysia & Indonesia where I was diving before it is quite different. (Am I stating the obvious?) and since these countries offer some of the best diving in the world, it wouldn’t be entirely fair to compare them with Oman.

That being said, the diving here is pretty damn good!

Conditions

At the moment the water is colder than what I’m used to (water temperatures of 22°C at the moment), but divers that dive regularly in Europe laugh at me and my 5mm wetsuit with hood, gloves and booties while sweating it out in their 3mm, so I guess it’s a personal thing. These kind of temperatures are only seasonal and the temperature is slowly creeping up already untill it will reach to around 30°C in the summermonths when it’s almost too hot in boardshorts and rashguard.

Colorful soft corals

Visibility is not as great as, for example, the Red Sea. We’ve had viz as low as 4m during algae blooms, but also as good as 15+m with nice blue waters. I’d say the average is around 12m which isn’t too bad. Honestly, I don’t really mind because even in ‘bad’ viz conditions there are still plenty of critters and fish to look at, it’s just a bit more spooky when suddenly a school of trevallies come up out of nowhere! And keeping in mind that viz on the other side of the peninsula (around Dubai) can be truly terrible, we can’t complain.

Most divesites are slopes or walls so straightforward to navigate. Due to the geography of the Musandam, with deep fjords, steep mountains and situated at the Strait of Hormuz, there can be some current on the sites, but there are sites further inside the bays that are more sheltered from the current and waves so there’s always something for divers of all levels.

Marine Life

Is great! First of all, all the divesites are covered in soft corals. A LOT of softcorals, so they’re all very colorfull and pretty. Dark purple, blue, pink, bright yellow, orange….it’s all there. There’s a nice mix of colorful reef fish and schooling fish such as fusiliers, trevallies, snappers, rainbow runners etc. There are some bigger fish around as well. Big Pickhandle Barracudas and Kingfish are both pretty common. We regularly find big Cowtail- & Marbled stingrays in the sand and for those who are lucky you might even spot a Torpedo Ray, Eagle ray, Devil rays, one or two ‘resident’ Mola Molas, Leopard Shark and even Whale Shark. Unfortunately, I haven’t been so lucky yet to see one of Mola Molas or sharks, but the rays are not uncommon. One of the highlights was an Eagle Ray crossing directly in front of me as I swam out of a swimthrough!

Massive Honeycomb Moray & colorful corals

It’s full of Lionfish here, and other ‘stingers’ like Scorpionfish can be seen on every divesite as well, so are different species of Moray Eels. Especially the Honeycomb Morays get massive out here!

I’m very happy with the nudibranch we find here as well. There is not a huge variety, but for those with good nudi-eyes there are lots of them hanging out on the rocks or between the soft corals. Some of them are big and very colorful and I haven’t seen them before. Obviously, that makes me really excited. So do the Cuttlefish (I looooooooooooooooooooooooove Cuttlefish!). There are beautiful Spiny Lobsters hanging out in crevices and holes too!

And then there are turtles, turtles everywhere! Seriously, I have never seen so many turtles, not even in Malaysia or Indonesia. Sometimes we see 6 turtles on one dive. They’re mostly small Green- or Loggerhead turtles that like to nibble on all the softcorals. 

Dive Sites

There are a dozen or so dive sites in the Lima Rock/Lima Bay area where we dive frequently. Lima is a tiny coastal village north of Dibba (where I’m located) and only accessible by boat. To get to these sites it takes around 45-60 minutes by speedboat. Occassionally we take the speedboat farther up North, all the way to the Strait of Hormuz, where the reefs are even more unspoiled but the diving is more challenging due to depth & currents.

Look at this!

One of my favorite dives so far is Ras Marovi. Marovi is like a very well-tended coral garden full of soft corals. Especially in the shallows (4-8m) it’s like paradise, with turtles eating the corals and reef fish darting over the reef. In the sand around 10-15m we regularly see either Cowtail or Pointed-nose stingrays.

Another favorite dive is Wonderwall where everybody else keeps seeing Mola Mola except for me, so I’ll keep my hopes up. But even without Mola Mola it’s a beautiful divesite with a wall covered in purple whip corals and some big boulders that form swimthroughs. There are a couple of resident Pickhandle Barracudas and schools of Rainbow Runners like to hang out in the current on the corner.

Perhaps the most challenging dive in the Lima Bay area is Lima Rock East. Lima Rock is a small rocky island with the east side directly facing the Gulf of Oman, but those who don’t mind the strong currents can be rewarded with big pelagics such as Devil Rays or even -if you’re lucky- a Whaleshark. Octopus Rock is another more challenging dive, starting with a small pinnacle leading to a submerged reef where you can find a resident Seahorse, big rays foraging in the sand and lots of colorful reef fish.

Want to know more about diving in the Musandam? Ask me! 

 *All photos in this post are from the Nomad Ocean Adventures website (that’s where I work, check it out!)
« Older Entries