Well what a dive day that was! Yet it started out so normal, except it was a Saturday, not a Sunday. Missing were a few faces too, but we ploughed on anyway, led by our outstanding Dive Manager, James. Now James is obviously very adept at allowing others in the group to feel they have a hand in proceedings, as he suggested Trio as a destination knowing full well that someone would step up and suggest Ping Min Chau as an alternative. Genius! On cue, up stepped Alex and off to Ping Min Chau we chugged. We had 12 divers on board in a broad spectrum of thermal protection, from 5+2mm down to Marcus in shorts and rash / tee. Mind you, Marcus is Scandinavian so would have been happy diving in his skeleton if he could find the zip for his skin. As it happens, the water was a sub-tropical 27 degrees, so Marcus’ attire was fine, except for some chafing, apparently. Pesky crotch strap! Top tip from 5mm + 2mm-vested Cath: use cheap tights to facilitate smoother donning of wetsuit. Top tip from ADM Griffiths: Blue tights is not a good look, no matter how cheap.
Ping Min Chau turned out to be an inspired choice. Well done James! Well done Alex! The island is in line between Jin island to the north, and the now-snubbed Trio island to the south. Anchoring in 20 metres or so, the bottom rises pretty quickly to large rocky outcrops separated by inviting gullies. Inviting, but not yielding much in the way of sightings, to be honest! The conditions offered up to 10 metres visibility. Yes! You heard me! TEN metres! The less mole-eyed amongst us came across octopus, lobster, shrimp, grouper and so on. Special mention must go to the long-finned bannerfish, a species not often round these here parts. Those like your humble scribe were still treated to an aquarium-like scenario towards the northern end of the island between say, 6-8 metres. Here there were Bengal Sergeants, snappers, needlefish, a rack of wrasses (including a solitary Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse) and my personal favourite of the day, the Stripey (a species of chub). It seems to have been named by an Australian, who do tend to go for the obvious titles. Which is not a bad thing. I always marvel at the Small-Eye Stingray which may well have small eyes, but more pertinent is the fact that it is the. largest. stingray. in the world. I digress. Hopefully someone has a photo of a Stripey, which also goes by the names: footballer fish, convict fish. I don’t know why either!
Getting back to the boat turned into an adventure for some, thanks to a north-south current (both dives) and a moved boat (2nd dive). Eppie and yours truly were glad for the company in the water, and hope the swims out to us helped Paul with his jet lag and Marcus with his chafing. Other pairs did fair rather better, but no worries anyway! Once we were all squared away post diving, all that remained to be done was crack some beers and sing ‘happy birthday’ to James’s sister via some social media recording thingy.
Hopefully the above conveys some idea of what an absolute pleasure yesterday was. Chris Dillon tells me visibility on his pair’s second dive was negligible, but: meh! All had at least one dive that had them raving about what they saw at what was, for most, a first visit to this site.
Special thanks must be given for the supply of pomelo and melon during the day courtesy of Queenie, and for the spilled beer in Momentai leading to a reduced bill. Yay, nervous serving person!