Rainy day on the reef
This morning the place to be, was on the reef. Just as we warmed up and dried off, weather-wise, it turned wet, grey and just plain nasty out. The good news was, it doesn’t rain underwater and there’s a boat captain paid enough to sit on the surface chewing betel nut and getting poured on while watching for bubbles while we play.
The sky was so dark, the ocean looked an even more emerald green. At 60 feet the weather was awesome- about 82 degrees, clear and blue. Charcoal colored storm clouds above make for a different ambiance underwater. The only place it was calm, quiet and warm, was on the reef.
We were on the Pacific side of the island where it’s mostly an easy sloping corral wall with a lot of micro-topography and small fish. Sand bottoms, overhangs, swim throughs, cracks and giant undercut corral pillars decorated our field of view.
Nico took us down the reef slope over a deep canyon with an either-or option; stay on top with all the light and color, or go deep and drift a vertical wall floating over a white sand bottom. Even if you dived this site on back-to-back tanks, you would see new terrain.
Down in the corral, all the little guys were out in full color and charm. We had manta shrimp, lobster and little nudibranchs doing whatever nudibranchs do, we even saw a flat worm swimming in mid-water. Pat was filming it swim straight up like it was climbing a staircase, then turn on its back fold up and drop like a rock, like some kind of flatworm workout.
Spare Air, my stupidity counterweight. On our surface interval I unloaded a tank with over 800 psi and reloaded with a tank with less than 300. Before the second dive I failed to double check my setup, and about 8 minutes into our dive, it in a swim through, I ran out of air. I looked at my computer and it showed 0 psi and before I even started thinking about how this all happened, I pulled a spare air bottle off my gear and made a safe ascent. Today was my experience building.
After a quick tank swap at the boat and the drama was over and I rejoined the group. Meanwhile, back on the reef, everything was business as usual, the 5 guest 2 guide dive group had the site to themselves and nobody even knew the blogger was gone.
We crossed a huge sand flat where Nico was hoping to get us some big rays or sleeping white tips, but all we saw was endless trigger fish nests and super excited triggers darting all around us.
Two days ago in Goofnuw channel, Pat was engaged by a territorial trigger fish and found herself in it’s crosshairs. Brian saw the whole thing go down and went through about 400 psi laughing at her. After hearing that story at the bar, I went up close to Nico and Jim then flipped my camera to video so I could catch a trigger fish attack and share it here. Today wasn’t the day I filmed a wildlife comedy show.
The water was excellent and the reef’s weather was perfect for a dive party of 8.
The worst part about the day, aside from the obvious, was heading back to the surface. The last moments underwater had a white tip cruising underneath my safety stop then shortly after that the world turned mono-color and wet again.
Thankfully, safe harbor, warm showers and cold micro-brew are just a few minutes away from the dive sites. Short boat rides were appreciated by all today. This is what it looked like when I surfaced.d
Bill said the island received 2 inches of rain this morning. It was definitely a wet one, the place to be was at 60 feet, with a full tank.
The group went out again for a third tank after we returned and had a great dive at Slow n Easy. The only thing to do today, was dive.
One thing about being at a resort with small groups is that everyone hangs out, cuts loose a bit and gets to know each other. Bill’s op is a fun place to be, even when the surface weather sucks. It rained so much, the rinse tanks were cascading onto the gravel and the water was still the warmest place to be.