Author: Simon C
Day and Night and Adventure!
With some great conditions in recent weeks, DM Mike B had arranged a diving spectacular for this Saturday, doubling the diving opportunity with the addition of 2 night dives to the usual 2 dive agenda. It was a popular proposition and was already full before the usual round-up of stragglers and the undecided at the regular Thursday social.
With much promise, the weather deities possibly had other ideas as a lot of rain fell the week before and Saturday morning the heavy rain set in. Undeterred as we set out, things did clear up a bit off-shore, although the swell limited the options of sites. With frogfish spotted at Basalt Island last week that was decided as the target.
Photo credit (above): Mike B
As buddy teams jumped in, the immediate reports were the visibility was still good and descending with my buddy all the way down to the bottom at 17m, it seemed to have gotten even better. With dreams of frogfish in my mind, I initiated some back and forth of hand signals with my navigator and buddy, Julie R, to confirm we were going to shallow up and head to the previously briefed frogfish location. A good reminder to be 100% clear with the Exercise and Signals in the pre-dive briefing. Julie was on plan, and less than 10 minutes into the dive, she spotted a frogfish. Result! I could not quite believe it, and this is the first I have seen in HK as they are quite rare here.
15 minutes were then spent taking a lot of photos from several different angles as said frogfish was nicely tucked away between 3 rocks. Subsequent analysis showed the majority to be slightly out of focus, which is another lesson in practicing your photography, having been 6 months since my last good close focus trip.
Photo Credit (above): Simon C
After that excitement, we moved on to survey the dive site. With great visibility there were many shoals of pearl spot chormis around, several large lionfish, some butterflyfish, shrimps, crabs and other divers. Normally in HK when you drop on a site you often feel you have it to yourself but with probably 12m+ visibility you get to see all your fellow divers for a change.
Completing the dive at the anchor line, which I can assure you is easier to find in better visibility it was time to relax on the surface for an hour. For the second dive, all teams set off in the direction of the frogfish but to no avail. Going to take me a while to live down not putting an SMB on the spot during the first dive, but with such great conditions everyone reported great dives.
Photo Credit (above): Dan Sun
With the 2 day-dives done, it was time for a nice lunch prepared by the crew (such luxury) whilst heading back to the pier for some team substitutions, but most staying on. Arriving back at the pier we picked up the new arrivals, along with a large “insurance” order of pizzas. Don’t want to be going hungry on a 4 dive day! Surprisingly, less than 2 hours after lunch, the pizzas did not last long at all.
Heading out for the third dive Trio Island was decided on, and a night dive morphed in to a “dusk-ish” dive so we had some chance of making it home in reasonable time. Jumping in the visibility remained great and the team set off to explore. At shallower depths the bottom was strewn with small rocks and boulders, with a lot of fish and crabs, heading deeper to sand. Diving along the sand border for a while and then making our way back over the rocky area was a very relaxing dive, and again back to the anchor rope. A couple of groups saw a blue ring octopus which was another great spot. Alex G takes my photographer of the day for the great pictures he captured of this.
Photo Credit (above): Alex G
Finally, it was time to head off for a night dive proper at Sharp Island. Nice and shallow and those with great gas consumption jumped in very early to make a long dive of it. The majority of us waited for dusk and jumped in as it was getting dark. There was a hard coral area with a huge amount of crabs out and about. Heading down to the sand there were a lot of flounder, a few small crocodile fish, and some crabs I had not seen before, carrying leaves or flat wood as make-do shells which was interesting.
Photo credit (above): Mike B
Photo credit (above): Andy N
Photo credit (above): Chris D
Finishing up and heading back for a respectable 20:30 it was a great day of diving. Probably the best conditions I have experienced in HK, which makes navigation, spotting the critters and bagging some reasonable photos a lot easier. Roll on next week and another chance to get out in Sai Kung. The bar has been set very high.