Having looked at the weather forecast for this weekend the prospect of diving for this wet suit diver seemed low. With temperatures in the mid-teens, wet and windy; sitting around in a wet suit between dives was looking unappealing. And so, on to Thursday night and the clubs regular social. A few pints in and some optimistic encouragement, “come on son, sign up, it will be great diving, get your wet suit out….” I was signed up, with an accompanying round of laughter from the main cheerleader of the idea.
To cut a long story short for those busy people, it was an awesome day of HK diving, with the usual mix of fun and some serious laughter. For the full story, follow on with us below.
Saturday morning arrived and the forecast 19-22 degrees had not appeared, whilst the cloud and mist remained. Ah well, onwards and downwards, we were planning to get wet anyway. The team of 9 were mostly assembled on time at ABC, in high spirits and ready for the challenge. Tanks were loaded, gear was stowed, a quick role call, and we were off and underway, for 30 yards out of Aberdeen and then time to halt for the briefing. The target was set for Beaufort Island with some skepticism whether conditions would allow, but we would try for it.
The journey out was relatively calm for a trip on the south side and good progress was being made. As the first wave kitted up, the second wave worked on getting a photograph of the chief rebreather pilot and his favorite piece of dive equipment, the infamous blue ring octopus octopus holder. Seeming to have a plastic allergy, he moved around the boat trying to get his leggings on, although eventually bowed to the pressure and the inevitable photograph. Things then got serious as he brought out his second favorite piece of gear, the pink surface safety whistle in an amusing shape. No one wanted that on their gear! It’s been a while since I have laughed so much from two pieces of cheap plastic, surely designed in China, made in China and sold to Brits with a love of such novelties.
With so much fun on board it seemed like no time until the boat arrived at the north west corner of Beaufort Island. The boat hand and seasoned regulars grouped at the front of the boat, dropped the anchor, pulled up the anchor, dropped it again and then pulled it up again. Ahhhhhh, the famous Beaufort Island anchor chain too short shuffle, this has been seen before. Other seasoned commentators were busy looking at the surface conditions and funny looking waves or lack of. Was this going to be another visit to Po Toi…. Well, credit to the DM and the boat team, we were anchored at the third attempt and time to go diving.
The first wave geared up and first in the water were the summer side-mount faffing team. Diving rebreathers has had a positive effect on proceedings that no one expected. The DMs advice was to follow the anchor line down and then head deeper to the north. Both teams in the water, the second wave got the coffee on and kitted up free of plastic distractions. 35 minutes later the open circuit team surfaced with reports of a great dive down to nearly 30M and lots of coral. 30M, hold on! In HK!
With the first wave back on board the second wave jumped. Making our way down the anchor line visibility was a reasonable 2-3M making it easy to see your buddy which is my gauge that it will be at least an ok dive in HK. Down past 15M it started getting a little dark and time to point the torch down to avoid a crash landing. At 20M it was pretty much a night dive. Heading north there was a lot of coral crops with fans, whips and soft coral. Quite a bit of fish life and thoroughly enjoyable. At 28M on an 8.6 litre tank close eyes were kept on the pressure gauge, and all too soon it was time to head shallower. The coral continued in to a sandy bottom around 20M, in line with the boat and it was time to surface.
Whilst one diver dried out his leaking dry suit and wet undergarments the first wave jumped again. Teams followed a similar plan, down the anchor line and heading east this time to not go so deep. 35 minutes later the open circuit team’s impressive navigation brought them up just ahead of the anchor line. Not to be out done, the rebreather pilots surfaced with equally precision navigation, spot on the point required to achieve the longest surface swim of the day with the least effort. Extra kudos was given for completing this feat in all that kit. Reports were of superb dives, with lots of coral and fish at 16-20M heading east.
The second wave followed the same plan, with the author persuading his buddy to save some effort and not swim to the front of the boat. Dropping straight off the back of the boat to 24M was the same beautiful coral. Heading east continued to produce lots to see and night dive conditions. Happily bumping in to the anchor chain on the ascent made a short return journey to the boat. Again, relatively short dives of 35 minutes given the depth.
With everyone back on board, leaking dry suits hung up and wet divers dried off it was time to head back to ABC reflect on a great days diving with a couple of beers. Wildlife reported included a cuttlefish, a pineapple fish, leatherbacks, small painted sweetlips, sand perch and sightings of not seen before, yet to be identified fish, for those lucky spotters; And some amazing amounts of coral if you have not picked that up yet. Photo output is still coming in and looking very promising, although not from this correspondent’s camera.
The wet suit held up and was plenty warm enough, even between dives. In total, 3 on the boat were diving wet so that’s a sign it’s getting better. The water was a barmy 20 degrees, supposedly warmer than the air but it never feels like it. With great visibility and things warming up, dust of your 5+mm to come and join in the fun. A thoroughly great days diving and special thanks to DM Paul for persevering on the site and a great days diving. Oh yes, nearly forgot; and sourcing the octopus holder!