Our Italian DM had set an ambitious schedule for the day with instructions to be at Sam Mun Tsai Pier by 8am. So bleary eyed, barely awake but remarkably on schedule, the crowd assembled at our beloved pier 3 and awaited our chariots… well, all of us except one tardy old invalid who tottered along later muttering something about early ferries and making demands for coffee that never came.
On arrival at said pier, it was unanimously declared “hot” as one nervous Frenchman worried about the wisdom of agreeing to spend a whole day on a small boat without food, shelter or water. Being the intrepid bunch we are, we sought shade and gave up trying to disguise the beads of sweat forming on our brows and waited patiently for the boats to appear on the horizon.
Once the bags and tanks were loaded, we were on our way. Well, after a quick stop at the fish farm to gear up and be thoroughly briefed. It was now unanimously upgraded to “bloody hot” by the English folk among us and everyone wanted to get in the water as soon as possible.
First stop: Ngau Shi Wu Wan. Reef check site. And dull as dishwater apparently. The water certainly looked like dishwater from above. The ‘Rubbish’ boat was banished so as not to disturb the fish (singular) ahead of the fish count and the first buddy pair set to work laying the transect. Upon seeing the fins underwater, spirits improved slightly with the prospect of at least 2m vis and sure enough, reports came back that “It wasn’t that bad”. So off we went, two by two, counting and recording the vast amounts of life that should be surveyed at our designated site. It didn’t take long.
Meanwhile on the other boat, approximately 100m south west of the survey spot, our litter pickers set to work… and found a lovely, healthy reef! An abundance of hard and soft corals, butterflyfish, damsels and urchins (obviously) were hiding in plain sight at 4-2m. Who knew?!
Survey done, lunch munched, we sped off to Breaker Reef for a fun dive. There’s just something about being on a speedboat on a gloriously sunny day that just makes your soul smile. And your back ache as it bounces along the swells. But it’s worth it to dive one of Hong Kong’s best sites. And it didn’t disappoint. Warm, clear waters (until you hit the thermocline at least) and lots of fish. Navigating around here can be challenging but the speedboats mean you can get away with it – as several of us did! And topside, the boats were full of smiles, recounting the sightings: large painted sweetlips, morwong, morays, butterflyfish, Bengal sergeants, parrotfish, wrasses to name a few.
The lure of tanks with over 120 bar of gas remaining was too much and we sped back to Kung Chau for a cheeky third dive – short and shallow – to round off the day. A beautiful sight with boulders and crevices to explore. One eagle eyed DM even spotted a decorator crab hiding in a fan coral on the far side of the island. No nudis though… well, we can’t have everything!
And that was it… we headed home to pack up, sort the trash and pose for photos. Like the rest of the day, all ran like clockwork and we were back at the pier with tanks and gear unloaded with enough time for a well earned beer before the chariots returned to take us home. Not quite so directly home for one group as our Japanese contingent arranged a detour that lasted for days… one even bailed in favour of taking a ferry home and the three remaining passengers finally got to Central some time later, starving and dehydrated from the never ending journey. Guess who is buying the drinks on Thursday!?!?