The weather for Sunday was forecast to improve all day to sunshine and it did. So from a grey start we headed from the jetty before 9am in another record loading of the boat. We had 7 divers and two passengers for the trip under the heavenly stewardship of Niven-a. Hell for a fish is up, whereas heaven for a diver is down. I say heavenly, more zen-like, meditative, persistent vegetative state. Sea state calm, wind undetermined, tide unknown we headed for the Dollos.
The water started to turn milky green as we headed further out. It looks like the strong North Easterlies have lifted some muck and this is drifting in the water column. We went in one wave and discovered it would be challenging. We had a few ear problems and our two novice divers bailed with a lack of torch light. Dive buddies were swapped with aborted divers getting back on-board. I ended up with Rob for a salvaged dive, finding the bottom at 17/18 metres. Rob was humming different tunes, but I couldn’t recognize anything, although I suspect it was “In the Navy” and “It’s raining men”. Visibility was low, If you shone your torch at your compass or gauge a few inches in front or your face, you could read it. Navigation to the north was over sand. In bare hands there was nothing but biting shrimps. After a few posed shots we agreed that it might be better to surface after 20 minutes. There might be fish, whale shark, coral gardens and mermaids but it is one dive were I saw no fish, lots of bity shrimp and Rob doing hand signals for a cheap and popular hostel for young men. It could equally have been a hand signal for a wet sock and damp crotch.
We decided to move to Bluff, hopeful of better conditions and a change of scene for our passengers Heath and Beryl. Again we went in one wave with the incentive of lunch at Rocky Harbour. We lost 2 divers with blocked ears, but our new divers braved wetsuits and move potential viz issues for a splash around the coral at Bluff. I was with Cath. We started at 2 metres and found coral. The coral at Bluff looks in good shape. Swimming North we followed the line of coral gradually getting to 4-5 metres along the edge. There are a lot of fish, damsel, a few rabbit fish, stripy butterfly fish and we found an orange nudibranc and a purple and yellow one. After 25 minutes we went west to 10 metres or so and back on a southerly course in the muck.
The visibility dropped from around 3 metres on the coral to nearer 2 in the mud. We found two different scorpion fish, almost invisible with a layer of fine silt on them. There was an odd bit of pottery, but mainly bits of rubbish. In a feet of navigational excellence, at 50 minutes we called the dive and swam into the anchor. Deco stop at 5 metres and on-board without a swim.
The dry-suit inflation craze was back and we had a few large ladies bouncing and hefting themselves around. We then headed to Rocky Harbour for 1.30pm. Much beer was consumed (and wine) and several courses of seafood and whatever else. The sun came out and all was right with the world. We were back on the pier around 4pm, job done. From a questionable start, with vast quantities of beer it turned into a good day.