We left Sai Kung pier under a haze of diesel fumes, the good folk up early enough to see the departure would be hard press to recognize the occupants of the ship of shame. Not quite the dazzle pattern camouflage and smoke screens of the first world war, but the skipper was making an effort with his shirt, with an assist from yours truly. We headed out to sea with a motley bunch and excessive equipment from one of our passengers.
The trip was a mission to see the Stiliger ornatus, which munches on green weed, plus the possibility of seeing frog fish. Both of which were seen in the area, but are a rare sight in Hong Kong. (not to be confused with the false Pyjama or a load of bullocks nudibranchs). Acting on a tip off we chuffed to the far side of Sharp Island and near to the golf course jetty. It is possible the high pitched, almost inaudible whine of a scooter can frighten these rare and beautiful creatures, causing them to eject watery viscera. Luckily no-one was dragging their beau around on one of these devices like some fleshy easy rider, oh wait they were. In the water, no-one can hear a nudi scream, although they can squeak or pop if trodden on, apparently…
The rest of this tale is probably better explained with some background insight into the psyche of our man from Wigan. Wigan has a fierce rivalry and jealousy of Bolton, which is twinned with Le Mans. Wigan was unable to secure interest with Walt Disney world (or anywhere else who knows the place), but finally managed to twin itself with Angers. This quaint French town has since made a suicide pact with Morecambe. The town is to the north east of St Helens and the subject of the predominant south westerly winds and the smell of “Saturday night” from the back alleys of it’s southern neighbour. The locals have high standards. The talk of yellow net curtains or the vulgarity of being able to see though the house from the front door to the outdoor privy in the rear yard, bedecked in the solid wood horseshoe and adorned with last years yellow pages hanging from a nail, is enough to have you ostracised for several generations. From the streets smelling of yesterdays boiled cabbage, cinders and ammonia comes a man who bought Bruno Mars tickets. An artist so diminutive that only the first three rows of an auditorium can see him… And so it came to pass this northern man paid for two extremely expensive tickets and missed the party of a fellow boat passenger and diver.
We arrived on site. East was golf world, west was the deep and a wall of sorts. Before entering the water it is customary to detach ones tank from the boat and switch on the air, however if you are a Wiganer or “pie eater”, you may wish to disguise the act with a flurry of retrospective checks and removal of equipment - after you have strapped in. Under the boat was only 3-4 metres, the sandy bottom had clumps of green weed, but sadly no nudibranch. We saw an orange one, but not the target species. The wall was around 5 metres and dropped to 8-11 metres, depending on the section you were on. Further west there was soft silt and not a great deal to see. The visibility also deteriorated with depth. On the day we saw one or two large puffer fish, a very large grouper, spiny lobster, plenty of crabs, some sort of small jack in shoals, octopus and a bloke on a scooter.
It is customary to make a bit of an effort to navigate near to the boat. It is less familial to surface three times in order to get back to the vicinity of the boat and hope the eagle eyed ADM/DM combo would fail to see these reconnaissance observations unnoticed. They were not unnoticed.
Meanwhile back on-board it became evident that the usual northern practice of using a shoe to bite on during some form of traumatic illness or amputation was being used to simply put in his mouth. Rejected by the diplomatic corps because of his unfailing ability to make Sir Les Patterson look like the solution to world problems or the chief Asian advisor to Donal Trump.
Sir Les Patterson
He managed to plough on even when arm waving, words of silence, semaphore and thrown projectiles failed to quiet him as he raised a Belshawrian ear trumpet to his deafened ear. Like a thumb print in your mash potato or a hair on the soap, oblivious to any social toe crunching he continued.
In order to escape and reduce the time period in his presence we decided to dive in the same place and finish the trip early and to party like your turning 39. Dive two was a low viz affair, the muck from the northern reaches of Sai Kung made an appearance and the sights were similar, but not as exciting. Most people managed a good 50+ minutes, but still managed to return with a reasonable amount of reserve air. There are exceptions to the norm however and there has probably been enough character assassination for one day, but you can take a wild guess.
We were all back early and off to the pier. We had two passengers and first time visitors who were seeing how we do things. We had a diver completing 200 dives on this day that will live in infamy, the Proutster.
Hopefully the passengers were not as observant as our ADM. We had 14 on the boat and a good day. For those who didn’t head off to see a person of small stature and burn their thumb waving a lighter there was a full evening of beer and nibbles with Nicola. Thanks to Alex who put up with us all again and organised the boat in trying circumstances.
Until the next time.
Many more photos here...