Our pre-typhoon dive on Sat 15th Sep was cancelled at the last minute to allow the dive boats to take their places in the typhoon shelters and that turned out to be a smart move as DA3 rocked up unsullied on Tuesday 25th Sep. Our Captain and First Mate seemed in better spirits that usual. The fetching floral attire of the Captain perhaps reflecting his joy at his boat surviving the storm. Sadly, Mr Chris Roberts was not on board so there was no chance to start a "best worst" dressed person award.
Several boats, including some dive boats and some stupidly expensive yachts lay in tatters on the rocks in Sai Kung harbour. A reminder of the power of Super-Typhoon Mangkhut. The dive on Sunday 23rd Sep from ABC had turned out, unsurprisingly, to be a very low-viz affair and we expected the same today. However, the early signs in Sai Kung looked good. The viz under the pier was pretty good, despite the battered, broken and leaking sewage plant at the south of the bay. It was a little quieter than usual on the seafront, but things looked and smelled pretty much the same as usual, although there were no P4s selling their seafood.
The plan was to head as far out as possible. With Trio Beach being officially closed, owing to pollution, we wanted to avoid any 'poo-slicks' but with the winds being Force 4-5 from the East, options were fairly limited. A return therefore to the west side of Bluff Island. To be honest having dived there once before I was not expecting much, but I am glad to say we were all pleasantly surprised. A swell was building, but we had no problem in reaching the shelter of the west of Bluff and other dive boats who tried to venture further quickly turned around. Anchor down and then a special treat! A baby Marble Ray was spotted by the Captain swimming at the surface! Only about 10 inches long this was a real youngling! It swam right under the bow and was a beautiful sight and a memorable experience for us all, especially young Plum and Bear.
The first wave jumped in at 9.40am. No faffing to be seen, things went very smoothly. Viz was reported to be pretty good at 2-3m even down to 10m where there was lots of fine white sand. Definitely ray territory! Sadly further ray sightings alluded us. Navigation was pretty much spot on, buddy teams surfacing near the boat! 10.34am, the second wave starts, again no faffing! 11.45am the third wave rolls into action. Again no faffing and things running like clockwork. Then disaster strikes! Lost metal again! This time a dive knife that was lost by our own Lamma diver (not me!). A huge challenge therefore for wave 4. The boat swinging on its anchor line and a lost dive knife being about 8 inches long it was a pretty hopeless task.
Adrian and myself tried our best. We dived, we looked, we failed. Luckily the last wave also included Andy E and Jenna! The eagle eyed duo came up with the goods and the lost knife was returned to its grateful owner who decided to thank everyone by buying a round (at Seven-Eleven when we got back to Sai Kung). The last divers surfaced, faff-free at 2.06 pm! A remarkable faffless dive day and we were underway back on our way to Sai Kung at 2.30 and back to the pier at 3.30pm.
What else did we see on our faffless dives? Loads of juvenile and intermediate painted sweetlips and snappers. Some juvenile garoupa and the usual large(ish) schools of damsels. Some larger snappers kept their distance and a pretty large tarpon dashed away at one point, so combined with a fair few stripeys, butterfly fish and puffers, this is definitely a dive site that has improved and is worth revisiting in the future.
All in, a very pleasant day and faffless day out, a mere 9 days after a super typhoon!
Roll on the next dive on 29th September. Not signed up yet? More fool you!
Also our next Sai Kung dive in on 20th Oct 2018. It should be lots of fun! Sign up now with the DM - Chris Roberts. It should prove to be a very special day!
Thanks to ADM Andy Griff for all your hard work.