It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Australia: Ribbon Reef 3

We had to return to Cairns overnight due to a passenger having a medical problem.  I slept through it completely, so when I woke up, I didn't even know.  But Rob woke up and heard us dock, so he filled me in.  One of the passengers had some shortness of breath after the first dive, which was apparently suspected to be a pneumothorax.  Based on her condition (pretty good), the high winds, and our proximity to shore, returning to shore by boat was a better option than evacuating by helicopter, so that's what we did.  This meant that we did not make it to where we planned to go on the second day (Ribbon Reefs 9 and 10), and also we got a late start. But we still managed to get five dives in, but only made it to two sites.  The schedule was different than planned, with (only) one breakfast in the morning, followed by two dives, lunch, then three more dives (including a night dive), then dinner.

We started at Steve's Bommie, which I think I had heard of before, so I figured it must be reasonably good. It is a pinnacle from about 20 feet to 100 feet. It's reasonably steep on all sides, with a little side bommie coming to maybe 70 feet on one side. Rob shot macro on the first dive, because there were supposed to be stonefish and other macro subjects. I thought we kind of struck out on the macro critter front though. I did see one stonefish, swimming around but it darted behind a rock and then I couldn't find it for Rob. So I felt like this dive was more like scouting for wide angle shots for dive 2.  But there were a few other good sightings. There was a nice school of barracuda right off the pinnacle on the bottom.  And a leopard shark (different than our "leopard" sharks) laying on the bottom.  He let me swim right up and get a little video, before getting annoyed and swimming off. There was also one of those little electric clams (found by a DM). Up on top of the pinnacle, there were lots of various kinds of fish swimming by.  The top of the pinnacle was just the place to be, as it had much nicer looking coral formations, lots of anemones with Nemos, and little colorful fish zipping around. It was also pretty crowded with divers by the time we got there though.

For the second dive, we got in before anyone else, and spent some time at the top before it got crowded. Then we zipped down to the side bommie for some pictures of its sea fans and yellow snapper. By the time we got back to the top, most of the crowd was gone. I found a nice big stonefish in a little cave in the side of the pinnacle. Of course Rob had the wrong lens now!  So I tried to get it with the hero cam, though a real photo would have been much nicer.

For lunch we had a bit of a mish-mash of dishes, including nachos, salads, etc., all of them tasty, many using familiar ingredients from the night before (since almost no one ate) including the beef recycled into a noodle salad and the beets into a salad with goat cheese (my favorite way to eat beets!).

After lunch we did three dives at a site whose name eludes me (but may have been "Flare Point"), with pretty short intervals between.  It was supposed to be wall-ish, though it was patchy in many places. The first dive was a drift dive, though the current wasn't very strong at all. We got onto the tender (an inflatable) and rode a couple minutes out, dropped in, and drifted back to the big boat. The directions for how to find the boat mooring weren't too clear, probably because we changed direction at the last minute (due to the current running differently than expected). We were in the first (of three) tenders dropped, but eventually all of the other teams passed us, since we were dawdling taking pictures.

The reef wasn't that beautiful for wide angle, so after the first dive, Rob switched to macro.  The second dive seemed almost like a dusk dive, because the sun gets low in the sky so early.  We meandered in the other direction, looking for critters. I think that the clownfish were the best subjects. We found an anemone out in the sand with three of them, and one was quite interested in Rob's strobe. And then Rob's hand. The night dive featured a few interesting finds, including a "nest" of baby fish wriggling all around. It was strange, but cute. But the best find of all (for the whole day I think) found me. I was swimming along with Rob on my left, when something bumped my right hand. I couldn't imagine how another diver could have snuck up that close to me. I turned to look, and it was a turtle, who had bumped me with his flipper.  He was swimming right alongside me. I had no time to switch over to my video reflector, so I quickly defocused my light and swam alongside videoing it. Rob had the great idea to go above the turtle and point his defocused light down on the turtle. I think the video turned out pretty well considering the lighting options we had available to us.

Dinner was after the night dive, which is my preference, since I don't like diving on a full tummy (plus I could drink at dinner :P). We had salmon with hollandaise (or something like that), potatoes, and veggies which were all super good.  Then for dessert we had an orange almond gluten-free pound cake with a berry sauce. Yum!

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