Dive Camp – The tears of a clown


Weight upon weight, heap on heap, the camp gear grew. Gogo vans came and went and we filled the boat. Great things were anticipated, but visibility was not one of them. After consultation with astrologers Cuddles decided on a radical plan – Basalt Island. We have not dived there this year, so it would make a pleasant change and it would be different. Different it was, you couldn’t see anything.

It was however as popular as ever with divers and other boats had made the journey to see the same brown water. James was sporting his new wet suit with drip dry fly. This appears to be permanently open, maybe it is an age thing. It was good to see his family on such a memorable trip.

Keen to improve we moved site. The seldom seen (this year but pants anyway) Jin Island. Jin is sand and fine silt in deeper water, but anything over 8 metres depth and the viz started to close in. At 12 metres it was maybe 20-30 centimetres. You may ask why not turn around at 8. Not, when swimming a bearing, you continue and hope things improve with depth, not worsen. However after 10 minutes, there was a dramatic rethink, course change and the shallow waters had at least 1 metre viz, a huge improvement from shining a torch on a computer. In both dives we had a reported blue ring octopus, a cuttlefish, crabs, glass shrimp, and the odd skittish fish, oh and the obligatory clown fish and urchins. Tons of urchins. The silt and urge were something else, moving even down towards 10 metres there was swell, a prelude to later perhaps. If only Cuddles had read the signs and the tidal warnings. And he did a dive over one hour and he came up with 30 bar, it didn’t look good for carefree Cuddles.

After a bit of skunk eye from the skippers mate for running late, we eventually decanted the mountain of apparel, entirely necessary for a nights camping. It wasn’t long before campsites were claimed and the fading wet sand ignored. So long as we were a few feet above the tide line we would be OK at 2124 as the tide peaked… Tents up clown gear on.

There was a bit of effort this year. There were happy clowns, sad clowns, harlequins, mime clowns, evil clowns, even a robot clown. Suitably attired in highly flammable nylon, we lit the barbecue. The beer flowed, the food burned and the music played. Probably around 8pm, it was noted that several of the bigger waves were pushing up the beach and closing in on the previous high water mark a little early. Several campers began building walls in order to stop the onslaught. Rockeries, shrubberies and sandcastles. The Barbecue area began to shrink and gear was moved up the beach. There was a realization as the ramparts began to crumble that the tide was going to be a bit high.

After a valiant attempt at walls, many tents were thrown into the trees. This is one strategy, if you can throw your tent and have trees. The other option is to allow your tent to become tidal. The Barbecue succumbed to water and we retreated to the last vestiges of sand and scrub. It went on and on. High water passed and still the waves came. It was near 11 pm before it had retreated sufficiently to reclaim the beach. The BBQ was relit, drinking resumed and tents were sited again. Or if you had a tidal tent, dug out, bailed out and de-liced. After some judicial pegging there was some further drinking. The hardened, decided to drink through as there was little chance of sleep. Psycho-Cath look suicidal, remaining in character throughout.

In the wee hours the wind built up. A peg in sand is not the best anchor, so once again the wigwam was assaulted by the elements. The front lifted the back billowed and the pole took a lean. This required some weight. The nearby public bin, the esky, BBQ and a barrel were sufficient to provide the needed weight and sleep was resumed. Most people seemed to rise late, but our boat crew managed to arrive early to put some pressure on for a decamp. The clowns had disappeared, replaced by the living dead. Bundled up, we put goods and chattels on the boat.

There was the chance of another dive. Having seen the swell and the wind the night before, there was little prospect that diving would suddenly improve. This didn’t matter, we are a bunch of clowns that happen to dive. We headed for Jin and the patch of coral. Before the business of diving began, punishment was required for the crimes committed by DM Cuddles. The charges were long, but among the list were failure to dive his own plan, failing to check the tide and having a fake 6 pack. Custard pies were launched by our smallest clown and enforcer, Pongo. Pongo got carried away and served pies on a few people. The brave put their gear back on and reported that the visibility had barely changed, in fact it had worsened. No fish of significance was reported.

Another rush and we headed to Rocky harbor and lunch. This was successful and food and beer were consumed. After some ice-cream the survivors gathered on the jetty for a group shot and we boarded the boat home. A big thanks to Cuddles for organizing, Jo for sorting BBQ’s and bits for the fire and food. Thanks to everyone in making an effort for a very colourful camp. Fantoosh. Until next time. Chris – AKA Chuckles.

Clowns

Mike B - Cuddles

Catheryn C - Psycho

Paul B - Bonzo

Julie - Juggles

Simon - Spanky

Nicola - Noodles Derclown

Rob - Randy the Robo Clown

Sin Wah - Snuggles

Chris - Chuckles

Jo - Jiggles

Andy Niven - Scruffy

Abel - Ruffles

Queenie - Quiggles

Maddy - Mad Molly

James – Wheezy

Charlie – Chip

James’s Sis – Tipples

Chris - Unknown

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