Bubbles at Basalt
Strolling along the Sai Kung waterfront at 8:15am on a Saturday morning, coffee in hand and sunglasses duly donned, it promised to be another great day out in the Hong Kong waters. The boat was full – 19 divers, 2 guests plus crew – and we were on our way out of the harbour shortly after 8:30, pleased with our success in avoiding the madness that descends on public piers in junk season. Our destination... Still under negotiation.
Our resident paparazzi was reinstated as DM and could barely contain his excitement as we got underway, the camera all but forgotten (probably somewhere under the mountain of drybags). After a surprisingly short boat briefing, attention was turned to the force 3-4 wind forecast, post harbour chop and decidedly green waters. Three Apple devices, two Cantonese translators and one boat captain later and our destination was finally decided. The remote and far flung island of Basalt. Still green.
Undeterred, the first merry band of divers got underway. We had the usual 2 waves with an unusual addition of a rebel crew from a guest agency doing their own thing. Our resident chameleon instructor taking the opportunity to indoctrinate three diving virgins into the murky world of Hong Kong diving. Once again, BSAC embodying its motto in a show of comradery with a fellow diving agency – even the boos were mooted and only contributed by the more uncouth amongst us.
Training was a big part of the day with students and instructors launching straight into their pre-dive discussions around skills, drills and tactics. With the dummy successfully resuscitated (no, I’m not talking about the DM), the Dive Leader rescue course got underway with an awful lot of taxi hailing. This was swiftly followed by the four Sports Diver lessons and, ahem, the Open Water course. It wasn’t all academic though and several pairs of fun divers swiftly embarked on their underwater adventures.
The water itself… well on first glance… it was green. Did I mention that? Taking the plunge, it was still green. But warm. So off we went down into the soup until, at around 7m, the haze evaporated and vis lifted to an unexpected 5 whole metres! Drop deeper and you felt the chill but that didn’t put off an abundance of marine life – sweetlips, grouper, barracuda, damsels, butterflyfish, lionfish, scorpionfish, morays, octopus and crustaceans galore. Not forgetting the coiling cornets hunting around almost every corner.
A fantastic first dive. Alas, our DM’s solid efforts to find us a secluded spot failed at this point with no fewer than 3 jam-packed dive boats deciding to get in on the action. Plus a fishing boat. After some deliberation, it was decreed we’d tough it out with the masses and the first wave were back in the water in record time. Top side, it was noted that all three other dive boats were well equipped with drones. Could it be that our DM / happy snapper was suffering from a touch of task loading leading to this omission on our vessel? Homework Mr. Belshaw – just sayin’.
A storm in a teacup culminating with a valiant rescue of a wayward BCD ensued and with all divers safely back on board, we were homeward bound by 3:15pm. Obligatory smiles all round as beers were clinked, training logs filled and signatures duly given. The only frowns were from the local twitchers who were visibly unimpressed by the bunch of unruly divers getting between them and their beloved Kite.
Yet another fantastic day’s diving with SCDC! Until next time…