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Follow me, follow down to the Dollos...

...and there we shall wallow in glorious ….

Helios emerged driving his chariot across the sky and the clouds disappeared on Sunday, making it a scorcher. The wind was slight and the seas calm. St. Brendan, the patron saint of elderly travelers and divers, or both, if your name is David, gave his blessing.

We had the boat, we had 10 divers, what else could we possibly need…

For some of us the previous days non diving junk had allowed an excessive time to imbibe. But not satisfied with a full day, there was a bit of extras on the return to central. ABC breakfast was slow going in. With no tanks to stow, we loaded gear and set off at high speed for Pak Lap. A hour later we arrived. After some guess work and realization we were picking up tanks, the big DA boat indicated this was the place. Ah, we needed some tanks, that was it. Tanks loaded, we headed around the corner to …

Oh great oracle of Apollo, were should we go that rhymes with the god Apollo, who you follow? Basalt Island, - No you are sacked. How about Po Toi? - still not listening. We went to the Dollos. 10 minutes later we were on site and the first wave began some first class faffing, a master class in fact. Now if you are contemplating the full obstructive faff to score highly on the faff-o-meter, you need to commit the offense when there is a time constraint to finish the trip. In past examples of the art, you may have seen two love birds, a heap of duplicate equipment and some need for repetition of instructions come ear cupping… Although they were in fact loaded with complicated equipment configurations, contrary to instruction, they still managed to get in the water first. Cue another set of love birds.

Now I must be careful to not only disguise their identity, as above, but to move the major responsibility more so to one member of the couple. Lets say there was an increased amount of talking and little progress in the kitting up, along with some new equipment to faff with. Eventually after a buddy check and 20 minutes, they got in. Swam in a circle, then towards the dam wall, then back to the boat. Inflator leak. The boats pit crew repaired the “Ferrari “ of diving and off he went with his beau. 30 minutes to submerge, possibly a new record.

Luckily there was no such issue with the more venerable half wave who jumped in next. On the return of couple one, DM and anon, went in. It may have been quicker, but between spitting furiously at his mast, washing it with the freshest Scottish spring water, said mask had vanished. Luckily couple number one contained the man of spares and a mask was found to replace the apparently lost optical’s. It did mean an impromptu search under the boat when we got in, just in case it had been knocked into the sea. My computer said 7 minutes slowly rotating, whist holding a string, in the classic lighthouse /string search pattern. Sadly I was woken from the centre of this wheel of fun with some frantic string pulling. This signaled the winding in of the masked searcher to see if we had been successful with a text book pattern. No, I suspect he was blind, I shall enlarge on that supposition.

Now I am not sure if the lost mask was prescription, but there was some surprise at the leg tapping to point out some pretty massive shoals of Barracuda, or over half dozen lobsters that were poking out of several crevices, some in twos and threes. Gazing intently at barnacles or enigmatically into middle distance was suspect. The bottom at Dollos is flat at around 15 metres with rippled sand and a silty bottom. Swimming in at 330 degrees you hit boulders before the dam wall at around 12-13 metres. Further in at depths between 11 and 8 metres are the dollos. The stonework has a pink covering, lots of barnacles and urchins. With there being a lot of crannies, there are a few swimming and scuttling critters. Visibility was about 1-2 metres deeper and improved above 10 metres to around 3-5 metres. After a swim about and some pictures, we headed back to the boat.

Staggered waves had began again and we watched a shadow of the earlier faffing eventually plop in for dive two. Several of the waves has failed to see the amount of lobster or Barracuda we did, having turned left at the wall. Right was right on this occasion. During the off-gassing and sandwiches, our DM was able to renew his search for his mask. I was neatly packed inside his dive bag. By the great trousers of Zeus, heaven forbid if anyone else lost kit, when in fact they hadn’t… Is my attempt at suspense and twist and turns of this thriller transparent and lame?

Wave two was largely uneventful, if only a little restrictive on time for the last wave. Luckily the dive lacked the excitement of the first, having foolishly turned left for variety. One lobster. I did see a large butterfly fish, but my buddy was too slow and explaining that it had swam off with hand signals was difficult. We ended up seeing if there really was a gap and way through the Dollos. Mostly yes, but there was a bit of beep, beep reverse required for us and I understand two earlier divers. The dive was shortened, due to lack of interest and we surfaced to enjoy the day and a massive surface swim.

Back on the boat and we zoomed round to Pak Lap to return tanks. Just enough time to pack or possibly some faff practice. At some point sinore Lamborghini announced that his brand new Perdix was missing. Holy Pants. This involved some surly looking about and kit lifting to no avail. But St. Brendan, Neptune and all the gods were kind all day and it turned up. “I forgot I gave it to you for safe keeping darling”. “Vous stupide saucisse”. The skipper turned on the taps and we headed back at a 22 knot clip. (That’s silly sausage in Spanish I think).

Not wanting to arrive too early and to manage an extra beer, we diverted to Middle Island to allow some packing. This appeared to take around 5 minutes with little faff, but meant 25 minutes left over to mock anyone who could not drink. We still managed to get back to the ABC from Dollos by 1630, even with dropping tanks and a diversion for mockery. It was a good days diving.

Thanks to everyone for another great day out. I will not name anyone, but you can add comments at the end of any blog. Obviously putting “it was Belshaw” at the end of any dive blog will drive up your scores, but there are several points on offer for the observant in all things stupido. Finally a big thanks to our DM for the day who made it difficult for himself and made it happen in spite of himself.

Reef checks and Belshaws “dive of the century” are coming soon. I am corrected “Dive of the millennium”. Sign up now to guarantee disappointment.

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