Author: Mike B
Take a bow Andy, and other Dive Managers take note!
The Dive Manager was the one and only Andy Eastwood, a 15 year veteran with the club who has been re-energized in recent years. This was his moment, to step up and lead the dive management on the South side, considered to be the most challenging side to dive in the territory. Andy meant business, exhibiting his school headmaster’s management skills to produce a superb well-planned dive trip. For extra entertainment, Andy laid down a navigation challenge to the divers which sparked rival competition, and if that was not enough, he offered a master stroke of ingenuity, a bribe to everyone. Suffice to say, he now raises the benchmark for other dive managers to follow and earned his Gold Star.
Photo credit (above): Mike B
Photo credit (above): Cath C
Glorious autumn weather had arrived with no clouds, just blue sky with some strong Force 5 Easterly winds, and a forecast 1m swell. This meant dive selection was limited to the shelter of the west side of Po Toi, although we did have a crack at Castle Rock on the way. There was plenty of space for the 13 divers on board with plenty of ice in the ice chests for the beer (v important). Andy’s navigation challenge was simple, a prize to the dive pair who could shoot a DSMB closest to the boat at the end of their dive.
Photo credit (above): No.1 - Andy N; No.2 & 3 - Mike B
Personally, I thought we had this in the bag but was surprised when I came up 50m away on the first dive which is well below my par. It was only after 5 mins of swimming back to the boat, feeling dejected and unable to work out what went wrong, that I realized the boat was still 50m away. Of course, I felt cheated when the penny dropped, the boat was slipping anchor and was still moving away from its original spot.
The dive conditions on the first dive was below par, with visibility down to under 1 meter in most places. At least the water temperature was still warm with no thermocline, guessing 27 degrees. We spent most of the dive amongst the soft corals on “the point” at 14m, taking photos at anything which moved to expose its hiding position, or looked colourful. We did see lots by just going very slowly (that is an important tip in low visibility) – see pictures.
Photo credit (above): Mike B
We re-positioned the boat for the second dive closer to the island. This was to ensure we didn’t allow a gap between our boat and the island for other boats to pass through which had been a problem on the first dive after the boat had dragged anchor. Stuart had been on watch, and by now was almost losing his voice, shouting at several passing vessels which were just ignorant of the dive flag waving, whistles, boat sirens and screaming. He did a stella job, preventing an incident and for the record, the club is reviewing this matter to ensure this can be avoided in the future.
I’m pleased to report my navigation resumed back to normal on the second dive and came close at the end of the dive. We did see some interesting looking shrimps, flounder and soft coral which makes the South side of Hong Kong really special, and something SCDC should be proud of (given we are the only active club that frequently visit the underworld in this part of Hong Kong).
Photo credit (above): Andy N
After the last divers returned to the boat, Master Tam was given the nod as winner in the navigation competition, showing his buddy, our new sports diver student Toby how it should be done. His prize was home cooked brownies, enough to share with everyone!
Photo credit (above): Dan S
Finally, to top the day off, to ensure Andy came away with his Gold Star, out came the bottles of prosecco which he had smuggled into the ice chest. His bribe paid off and we could not refuse. Take a bow Andy, and other Dive Managers take note!