Divemaster day 12 – The big five-oh

After a breakfast of cornflakes and orange juice, which made a nice change from banana/jam jaffle and tea, I strolled along the beach to Coconut bay where Kadek and Robert (who’d slept on the boat) picked me up. We nipped round the corner to get the Singaporean group… who were still on Singaporean time! After the standard twenty minutes, we had everyone on board and set off for our first dive site of the day.

Thankfully the sea was feeling much nicer about us today, and was relatively calm. The sun shone and we got to SD very quickly. The “SD” name for the dive site comes from the initials of the Indonesian for “elementary school” as there’s one on the coast nearby.

The other point of note is that this would be my 50th dive. And, no, I didn’t do it naked.

This one’s a drift dive, though the current wasn’t too strong. Visibility was around the 15m mark, so again my main task was to ensure everyone stayed fairly close together so we didn’t lose track of anyone. Tricky with one person intent on spending five minutes taking pictures of everything (which is understandable as it’s a great dive with lots to see) and another who made a mistake I’ve been guilty of in the past.

See, the “shelves” you get on wall dives aren’t always level. Your mind is telling you that by following one, you’re staying at the same depth. Not always so. Which is why I had to nip down to below thirty metres to point at someone’s depth gauge and get them to swim back up (slowly) and rejoin the group. Not a problem, and it is why I’m there. Kadek leads the dives as she’s familiar with the area, but it’s hard to keep an eye on everyone when you’re at the front.

Biggest surprise of the dive was seeing a turtle swimming away from us. They’re not too common round here.

I came in useful again towards the end of the dive with one person running out of air earlier than the rest of the group. We can’t send people up on their own willy-nilly, so I ended my dive slightly early with him to ensure he surfaced and got to the boat safely.

Not too long afterwards, the rest of the group boarded and we headed into one of the bays with nice calm water to swap our equipment over. It was too early for lunch, so we milled and chatted as we whiled away our surface interval.

Toyapakeh was our second dive site, and a great one it was. Starting at around 20m and working our way gradually shallower there was such a variety of life it was amazing. One of the most stunning scorpion fish I’ve ever seen; beautiful yellow and blue eels that were easy to “tease” out of their eel-holes; some gorgeous varieties of coral; defensive clownfish…

One thing that’s changed over my last dozen or so dives is how I watch what I’m seeing. At first, it’s all you can do not to just gape at everything and be swamped by the variety and colour of all the life down there. After a while, spotting new species is trickier so instead I’ve found my attention drifting more onto details, behaviour and so on.

For instance, those cute clownfish from Finding Nemo – if you see a full-grown one face-on, they’ve got a pretty evil face with a jaggy mouth. More like a colourful piranha than a cuddly toy.

It’s also interesting to watch how some fish behave in groups, or solo or in pairs. Some are fighting, some patrol together (like the aforementioned clownfish), some sit back and let other fish clean them. No matter what you watch on TV or read in books, you simply can’t beat being down there and just seeing this stuff right in front of you.

We managed just two minutes shy of the hour on this dive and reluctantly re-boarded the boat where we had lunch. Annoyingly it was tuna sandwiches and chips, so I just had chips. Ah well. I’d had a big dinner and a decent breakfast (and more than my fair share of Oreos) so I wasn’t left hungry.

The trip back to the mainland was uneventful and comfortable. I just lay back and covered myself with a waterproof jacket to ward off the spray.

Back at the dive shop, we exchanged details and made sure everyone had all the dive figures. I even got my first tip – thank you, folks! That’s dinner covered for the next two nights at least!

I already know I’m back at Nusa Penida again tomorrow. I hope the wind doesn’t pick up.

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