The ABC was full of people sailing yacht’s for a change, so we got out of the way and loaded up for a speedy departure at 9am. The original plan was to head for Beaufort and shelter, but that was reliant on getting around the corner and into that more sheltered water. The wind couldn’t make it’s mind up and was coming from the north, due east on a south westerly bearing. The waves got bigger, bags were moved inside, the DM was lashed to the mast and we hung on as we were tossed about. With spindrift in his hair, a face full of spume and the taste of salt in his nostrils and mouth, Paul decided we should head for Shek Ho. Then it started to rain and get more windy. Rain pelted through the boat, stinging eyes, cracking timbers, knuckles white on the wheel the captain said, “she cannea take any more” in more a Cantonese accent and we decided to head for Tai Tam. Mike, always a rock in a tight spot was complaining about the rough tossing - too much rigging in the frigging. Paul couldn’t see with all the salt in his eyes. Visibility down to 30 metres, bodies sliding about. There was nothing else for it. It couldn’t get any worse, until someone put the music on. No points for guessing who.
We arrived at the mouth of Tai Tam Bay on the east side, just inland of a pill box. The anchor was dropped and the wind and rain stopped. The dive gods had conspired to bring us to this site. Never dived before, could there be something we had missed in all the years in Hong Kong. Had a hand from above moved us to this spot, was there something that fate had conspired to align the stars on this day. Maybe a site that would go down on the annals of history (I spelled this right). I could build this up a bit more, but no it was a rubbish site. But don’t let me spoil the story - Oh I just did.
Wave one the camera (not the real ale beardy people) divers went in. There was a bit of current (more of that later) and we swam towards the shore. We kept swimming and saw sand, vast tracts of sand, as far as the eye could see (about 2 metres). Sand everywhere, 25 minutes of sand, then even more, then a rock. Over joyed we took a picture. Eventually we found a few rocks and octopus and an odd fish. There was also a lot of broken Chinese crockery, some of it was old.
The site is shallow, 8 metres under the boat going slowly up to around 3 metres and rocks and cliff. There isn’t too much rock until close to the shore and at shallow depth. The sand is flat, with wave ripples as you get closer in. Being so shallow, most of us were managing an hour without any problem on an 8.5 litre tank. Coming up mainly because it was too exciting down below.
The second wave decided they would explore the rocks around the base of the pill box. I suspect our civil engineer and concrete specialist was trying to determine if this was neoclassical British bunker design or the mock Tudor and pebble dashed flying buttress favoured by the Japanese. It wasn’t long before divers surfaced to look at the construction and gather the “fragmented” group together. At which point, the current on the point started to move them swiftly out to sea. After a conflab, they went for the “out swim the current on the bottom” technique. Nil points, they came up even further around the corner a few minutes later. The boat was moved and after a fashion all were safely gathered in. Surface snorkeler having lost a fin in the process. Grrr.
Back for the second dive, most people kept away from the current whipping around the headland by the pill box. The photogenic’ s team went for an inland pattern and after the obligatory 20 minutes of sand, found some rocks. There was a prawn on an anemone. A long length of fishing net with a well disguised cuttle fish hiding on top. There were a few different types of crab, an odd stripy grouper, butterfly fish, rabbit fish, an illusive moray, flat worm and octopus again. All a bit thin so far as sea life. Other groups reported flute fish and octopus and similar stuff. There was odd bits of hard coral but not a lot.
Everyone back on-board and the band played on, but we didn’t sink. The passage back was much better and there was beer. Through the day the wind dropped and the sun came out. We have a new joiner to the Club despite the rocky start to the trip, Pam. A successful day in testing conditions and another site option, if desperate, close to Aberdeen. It beats middle Island, just. Thanks to DM Paul, ADM’s Maddy (who handled the rescue with aplomb) Simon and the rest of the crew.