It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Monday, September 2, 2013

Australia: Finally Diving at Saxon Reef

On Monday, we finally got to dive after all of the travel.  We were supposed to be picked up by the Spirit of Freedom shuttle at 11:15, but that happened more like around 11:45 (which was a bit annoying, since they didn't even call to say they were running late, though that seemed predictable since they were running one instead of the usual two shuttles).  Even once we got to the boat, we got a late start due to a few people arriving late (not sure why) but we finally got moving around 1:30 or so and after a bit of a bumpy ride, we made it to our dive site for a "checkout dive".  Along the way, we had lunch, which was a spread of sandwich materials. They have a really good multi-grain bread and there was also a huge pile of sliced avocados (one of my favorite foods).

The dive was at Saxon Reef, which is a site that I think the day boats visit from Cairns.  So not too far away, though I think we were going for about an hour and half before we got there.  We were going to do two short dives with a short surface interval, since we needed to get going for our long overnight steam. On this dive, everyone had to go with a DM and at the end of the dive, we had to inflate an SMB and orally inflate our BCs at the surface.  Since we were diving unusual configurations, we had no clue what our weight would be (well, "no clue" is a bit strong). We were the first in the water, so while we were bobbing, Rob decided he could use more weight. Pretty much as soon as I descended, I realized the same, but didn't feel like going back for more weight. I figured any good DM on a checkout dive would be chock full of spare weight :). So the dive site was not an awesome dive site, as you might expect for a checkout dive. It was basically big patches of coral here and there over sand flats, with depths (in the part we saw) ranging from about 20 to 60 feet.  The highlight of the dive was three moray eels, one of which was really big, and all were quite friendly. There was also a nice patch of staghorn coral with a big school of yellow snapper wiggling around in it. We eventually turned around and meandered back.  At this point, I decided I could really use some extra weight.  So I asked Nick (the DM) for some weight, and he pulled off his belt and popped a three pounder off for me. Phew, nice to take a full breath again :P

When it was time to ascend, things got a bit squirrelly.  First, someone on our team was having trouble staying down, so the DM tried to give her more weight, but she ended up popping to the surface, and the weight he was trying to give her ended up dropping to the bottom (which was only like 25 feet, so no big deal).  After that was all sorted out, I figured we should do the stuff we were supposed to do for the "checkout", though at this point I was a bit "low" on gas (not actually low, but low from the perspective that we were supposed to return to the boat with 700 psi, and I rolled into my safety stopped with about 800 psi).  So we were supposed to put up bags during the safety stop. Fine, I can do that (usually). So I whipped out my bag and put it up (from 20 feet) and headed to 10 feet. Then Rob pulls his bag and without any sort of warning, puts it up and immediately it tangles with my line. And it had way too much line on it, so it was running diagonally from Rob to the surface. I was pretty annoyed that Rob popped his bag into mine, without any warning, so I headed to the surface in a huff, getting my fin tangled in all of his slack line in the meantime.  I managed to flail my way out of it and get to the surface, but in the process, I forgot to orally inflate my wing. Oops. Luckily the DM did not notice, and I passed my checkout anyway. Rob did too, even though I think he should have failed based on his bag shoot :). It would have been at best a 2 in Fundies : P. Oddly, when we got to the surface, Rob didn't seem to think he had done anything wrong.  Apparently it was my fault.

After a short safety stop, we got back into the water for a dusk dive. Rob and I were on our own for this dive, so we had a much better time :). The highlight of the dive was a reef shark. It was kind of creepy since it was getting dark. We also saw a cute little ray. Other than that, it seemed like there was a greater variety of fish around, presumably coming out for dinner.

The ride that night was quite rough. Dinner was pretty late that evening, and by the time it was served, there was almost no one left standing. I think there were 5 or 6 of us at dinner. Rob had gone to sleep, most of the others were sick. I was feeling pretty borderline myself. I was feeling exhausted (being on a bumpy boat always wears me out, plus I took a half Bonine), but I managed to stay awake just long enough to eat. Dinner was tasty, though unfortunately I could only eat about half of it before scurrying off to bed, since I could barely keep my eyes open.  It was some sort of steak with a brown sauce, potatoes, broccoli, and roasted root vegetables, including beets!  I've recently developed a beet addiction, so this was very exciting in theory, though the way I was feeling, I could only managed to eat about two bites :(. So I went to bed around 9, but I was pretty impressed because I stayed up later than Rob. That never happens :P

Rob didn't end up posting any pictures from the first day, but since I can't stand not to have any pictures, I am including a snapshot from my video footage (hence the bad lighting, etc.).

1 comment:

Lynne said...

I had to howl at the bag-shooting story . . .

Have you tried roasting beets? That's my current favorite way to do them.