... or Diving – with Dignitas/the last shred of dignity
Bring on the day - after 7 pints of coffee a trickle of divers and passengers began to fill the boat. Oberknanzler bootmarschall organized arrivals and we were all soon kitted up and ready to go. All we needed was deckjunge Adrian (ADM Adrian). Eventually he turned up and was set to work. The boat had 21 divers and 5 passengers. The wet area was designated as the entire boat and we filled nearly every seat with a tank. It was going to be busy. The briefing was extensive including an almost divine prophesy of a lost and found bureau. Dive brief over we headed out past town Island to the delights of the archipelago of Ung Kong and Wang Chau Island. The sea was calm with a low swell and the weather was great.
The boat was full of families, which is fantastic. Great to watch doting fathers and aunties clucking over their broods ready for escorted dives and the wonders that lay beneath. Fortunately I was close enough to hear the excited chat. “Dad, can you help me get up”; “give us your hand”; “I cant get up”; come on make an effort, what’s the matter with you?”. At which point it was time to point out the tank was attached to the boat and strap. “Right, take off your BCD”; Again, it required some interjection. “Don’t move, I will unclip you, this a common mistake by your father”. Just to ensure there was no further embarrassment, I turned on the tank also. It sometimes pays and sometimes doesn't to be too close to the action.
The first wave jumped in and headed for the island. The site has 1 or 2 containers and bits of barge scattered about close to the cobble beach at around 13 metres. So south from the boat and right shoulder to the island on an easterly bearing there was a lot of fish life. Deeper water at 14+ metres had a colder milky layer of water and low viz, but above were patches of 5 metres. Several large sweetlips and grouper were seen, butterfly fish, a feel eels, flute fish, hawk fish, file fish, the usual cromis and rabbit fish and large shoals of fry together with lobster and crabs. We had black, orange and a yellow/white and black bumpy nudibranch. Later dives reported seeing six cuttlefish following divers and checking them out. The sea anemones had bumblebee and/or harlequin shrimps in them in large numbers. From the cobbled beach there is a rocky outcrop and several gullies leading into dead end caves. There are patches of sand and broken rock, with fingers of rock heading towards coarse sand and compact mud in deeper water. Further on there are larger boulders and large numbers of fish hanging about. All of us managed around 50-55 minutes and returned to the boat.
Wave two had a mixture of trainee divers and fun divers. An ocean diver needed a pit stop for a free flow inflator, which was cured with a rusty spanner. Afternoon calm was shattered with cries for pizza as they went through rescue drills. After which they too went on a fun dive to look at fishies. Sandwiches were consumed the ADM watched like a bat and chastised anyone who returned with less than 50 bar. Wave two returned and we had a few minor searches to begin with. “Where’s my mask, I just put it down there, someone’s moved it, you cant leave anything around here” – “ Its on your head”.” Where’s my computer, I put it down five minutes ago and its gone, too many Shearwaters, you cant put anything down for five minutes” –“ You gave it to your girlfriend, look she is waving it at you”. It maybe an age thing.
But then…. “There were 6 there five minutes ago, but now there are only 5. You cant leave anything around here” - Yes you are right, it is definitely missing. Whilst side mount aficionados have a strong reputation for faff, until recently they have been fairly good at retaining their gear. However last week it started and this week, we had a doozey. We were going to move the boat and try a few hundred metres along the island, but we decided we would stay. Several pairs began swimming off in all directions under the boat and doing a grid pattern. Many eyes, but no success. Not a good result and a real loss for the day. We did see some more fish however. Did I mention the site was good…
Ocean divers continued drills and shouting pizza. Second wave came back, ADM checked gas and signed them back. Once back onboard the beers started flowing. Ocean divers all finished their course, 3 passes and fully qualified. Well done, a great result and strong passes in theory and practical’s. New gear was ordered from 4th Element and we headed back. The diving and viz was good all day, with a good site on the weather side of the island. The water is still blue, even with the recent rain and muck flowing down from Clearwater Bay. Thanks to Nick and Adrian for keeping us in order, thanks to the side mount crew for keeping us amused, and a big thanks to all divers, including our new first time divers on the boat Jordi, PD, Adrian and Gu. Thanks all.