We were all on-board by 0830, except the Belshaw possy. This time he was unable to blame his usual dive buddy and arrived over 1 minute late. He appeared oblivious to the tardiness of his punctuality. We were then treated to an informative safety brief by our DM for the day, Mr “ G –Man” – Grioni. It was almost as though the day would be under a quiet scrutiny for any mistake or amusing incident, and you’d be right.
We were reminded to take pictures for the nature challenge and download them to the appropriate website. We were reminded that domestic animals did not count, including bovine, piscine and Ovine, Domestic Feline, Canine, even budgerigar’s. Similarly “potty plants” or translated from Italian to English “potted plants”, were not to be photographed. It wasn’t long before there was a report of “the velvety wings of death, the nemesis of the vole” – or an owl was spotted. Our resident vet was asked to identify the owl and confirmed it was one of the more common species in Hong Kong, The Teat –owl. (That’s Tea towel) . There were no water voles seen. As even the most amateur naturist will tell you the vole is a semi aquatic fresh water species found in temperate climates and is also one of the few venomous mammals. More of the amateur naturist later, signaling to the drone.
We were originally heading for Ping Chau, but once we got out of Clearwater Bay the swell started to build from seaward. It was decided that a low roll would be the undoing of many a hearty breakfast, so we headed for the more sheltered Wang Chau. The waves were divided into the trainee sports finishers, under the tutelage of Mr Belshaw. It looked deadly serious, planning dives, leading people about and doing some other stuff, rescue? We also had a few new divers on the day, so welcome to Sam, Victor and Keilem. We also had a mixed bag of old divers and a passenger.
The dive site was a mix of rock, boulder and some gullies in the shallows, at 3-7 metres. Heading west into the water between the islands it got down to 12 metres after a long swim. In the deeper parts there was sand, some rocks and the odd outcrop and boulder. The water was clear with viz around 5-6 metres while the water was still slack at high water. The sea life looks to be waking up now with shoals of juvenile and adult cromis. There were several species of nudibranch squiggling about, clown fish a large ray and the usual suspects of rabbit fish, grouper and striped grouper. The dive was given a thumbs up, but a long line of ghost net was found which looked like it had been there for some time. This was largely rolled until the eco divers were running low on air.
Sandwiches and lashings of lemonade were consumed in the interval and the drone made an appearance to film those divers who had experienced a magnetic anomaly and surfaced several hundred yards from the boat. The drone drivers were not immune to shame set to gas mark “egg on the face”, with an expensive Goodman’s handle being found under the boat. Surfacing divers were treated to the international signal for “swim away from the boat” as The Who’s deceased drummer Keith made an appearance.
Dive two was in the same spot. The tide was starting to ebb, so it was notable that the muck from Sai Kung was starting to drift past. The visibility dropped to 3-4 metres for the second dive. There were several divers who forgot to turn on their gas, but did manage to turn on their own gas mark of shame for failing to check. Divers scattered in different directions for more of the same. We had a free flow doing some air-share drills, which took a large gulp out of the small 8.5 litre tanks. Luckily this allowed the opportunity to air-share for a few minutes and find the standing end of the ghost net, hop over and swim back to the boat.
All returned, even those taking turns as sport dive leaders. A quick third dive removed the net which was balled up and towed back. Beers were consumed on the return trip and we were all back Jolly Rogered by 4pm.
A big thanks to everyone, Nicola, the scorcher Maddy, Paul, Jo, Andy and all the new people. With an especially big thanks to Alex for organizing and putting up with several nuisance divers.
... and as ususal... more photos here