8 May 2010

Catch Up!!!

Looking at the date of my last blog, it's been a long time – Hurricane Tomas came and went, and here on Viti Levu we were not too badly affected, strong winds and rough seas being about the worst of it. On the outer islands it was a different story, luckily there weren't many lives lost, but crops were devastated, and when you survive on subsistence farming it's a huge blow. There will also have been damage to the reefs around some of the outer islands, though the impact will be hard to determine due to the remoteness of the islands. We are nearing the end of cyclone season, the end of May is the official finish, so fingers crossed we will have a peaceful tropical winter.

During the last two months I spent another three weeks at Mango Bay as we waved good bye to Nick and waited for Damos, our new instructor to start. It was a busy few weeks, with eight people completing their open water courses and two more their advanced courses. Robbie stayed on to complete his divemaster course and is already nearing the end of his internship. You guys all know who you are – plenty of fun had and friendships made. I hope everyone enjoyed their travels and their diving!

Fast forward to the last couple of weeks, and the diving has been interesting! A huge rainstorm caused all the rivers to flood, the silty run off streams being clearly visible in the dark blue sea. I dived The Edge with Christine on her first dive in the ocean, and the visibility was an awesome 20+ metres to begin with. As we swam inside the reef, the visibility in the top 10m of water became appalling, you could see about one metre. 10m and below the visibility remained 20m+ - it was awesome to see such a phenomenon, caused by the silt being suspended in the fresh river water floating on top of the salt water.

I got to see a lizard fish on the hunt just at the mooring of Stingray. I had just descended with Liam and was watching the cleaner wrasse clean his leg. I hadn't yet pointed this out to Liam as it was the first minute of his first dive, and he may not have been so impressed at being cleaned. Suddenly there was a commotion beside his leg, caused by a lizard fish launching itself up from the bottom to catch the cleaner wrasse, which I then watched it enjoy thoroughly for breakfast!

Mere and I still haven't dived Bordello together, though I did have to use and abuse her for a rescue course. Or more precisely, Paul did.... As always, the rescue course was a lot of fun, even though Paul did answer back... Large swells and big tides made for some interesting surface currents requiring lots of hard work on Paul's part, and much dunking of poor Mere. She had to have three days off work afterwards!! Well done Paul!

Three more open water courses have been completed at Hideaway in the last week, keeping me pretty busy. Huge swells made for some really interesting conditions, making fin pivoting and hovering a real challenge – luckily nothing says you have to stay in exactly the same place! So well done to Tim, Lorna and Nathan, you rose to the challenge and dealt with the conditions incredibly well.

I finally managed a day out the water today, though was tempted to join Esala and his certified divers for a pleasure dive as conditions looked so inviting this morning. I opted for dry land and was most disappointed to hear tales of two manta rays joining them on Bordello! It is rare to see mantas off the Coral Coast, but there are many feeding and cleaning stations throughout the Fiji islands, and the mantas have to get there somehow. These are some of my favourite underwater creatures and always make my dive when I see them. They are gentle giants, and can measure well over two metres from wing tip to wing tip. They feed on plankton and it is a wonder to me that such large animals can survive on such small ones.

And finally a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Jo and Phil, two of my discover scuba diving students. On the safety stop at Nemos, Phil produced a sign from his pocket asking Jo to marry him! It was so exciting, and she did say yes, well I think that's what the gigantic clash of regulators and all the bubbles was about! Phil had been planning it for weeks, made even more impressive by the fact that Jo didn't really want to try diving in the sea... Best wishes to you both from all the team at Diveaway.

Take care, blogging again soon – promise!