Early start. After I got in from the cybercafe (late as I had to sort out the stolen debit card mess), I had an SMS telling me to be at the shop at 6:30am. Argh.
As ever, I woke before my alarm and got dressed. No chance of breakfast this morning – the staff were still snoring when I snuck out. The walk to the dive shop is about ten minutes and I made it there shortly before the bus arrived.
We waited five more minutes for the first of our divers – a couple from Holland – and then set off to collect the rest of the group from their hotel somewhere outside the city.
The destination today was Manta Point on Nusa Penida, so we congregated at the boat near Nusa Dua and loaded up. There was quite a party this time – the aforementioned Dutch couple, a Frenchman living in China, an American couple with two kids and a Kiwi woman with her two youngsters in tow.
The children and the Kiwi lady were all snorkeling, and the rest diving. And it’d be my job to guide both their dives. As I said, the first one would be Manta Point, and that’s not the easiest due to high current and low visibility.
On the way, the two American children were ill and I can’t blame them. The sea was the calmest I’ve ever seen it approaching and around Manta Point, but still it’s quite choppy. I busied myself with setting up equipment and lying on my back to offset the queasies.
At the site, the dive briefing was given (by me, natch) and we plunged in. And then we hit problems. Well, this is the thirteenth day of my Divemaster…
My BCD wouldn’t inflate using the low pressure hose. I’d swapped into this one as one of the guests had been issued it. Thing is, I know I’m fine on the surface and that I can control my buoyancy without it. At worst I could inflate it manually if need’s be. Fine for me, not good for a paying customer. The downside was that it was an extra-small, so she ended up with my medium one.
Then we struggled to get her to sink. I think this was partly due to her BCD now being too large and difficult to get the air out of – she couldn’t get it to deflate completely. Also, we didn’t seem to have enough weights on board to ensure all our divers could become negatively buoyant.
And finally, our French diver had to pull out when he couldn’t equalise after the first metre. He had half-expected this as he has an injury from a recent jet-skiing accident and his doctor had told him it would likely be another couple of weeks before he could safely dive. To his credit, he did the correct thing – tried it, didn’t push it at all and gave up at the first hint his doctor was right. He said he’d have regretted not trying as he’s heard how good the diving is here.
So with one unsinkable person, who was also not too chuffed, and one with bad ears back on the boat, we regrouped and descended. The major downside of the messing about swapping weights and so on was that everyone had used a bit of air. Thankfully there’s not much swimming involved at Manta Point – just get to the rock and float around hoping the manta appear!
Which they didn’t. We stayed down for around thirty minutes before the first diver hit 50 bar and We had to start our ascent. Then… Mr Sod and his law put in an appearance. Just as we were ending our safety stop at 5m, a manta ray swam around 5m beneath us.
The previous two dives here have been swarming with the things. Today of all day – my first one in charge of a dive – and the darn things play hard to get. Hey ho. As I said on the boat, you can’t guarantee anything with wildlife – and at least we did see one.
We headed up to Coconut Bay (where I’d been dropped off for my hotel the other night) for lunch and our seasick munchkins were off the boat first. The young girl who’d been the most ill was sat on a rock all wrapped in a towel feeling sorry for herself. I went up and asked her if she was feeling a little better. She said, “Yes, thanks – and I’m really sorry for being so much trouble.”
I could have hugged her. She’d had a dreadful journey over and all she was bothered about was putting people out. Thankfully as our lunch break progressed, she got a lot more lively and by the time the divers an snorkellers set off for Lembongan Bay she was on her feet and starting to eat. Her mum’s excuse – “we’re from the mountains!” No such excuse for being so well mannered, though. That’s just good parenting.
Her mum was the lady who’d had the BCD issues and she opted to stay on the beach for the second dive and look after her two nippers. In fairness, not a bad place to be stuck for an hour or so as an alternative. A few people around to chat to, great water to snorkel in and the sun was just right.
The rest of us tootled off a few minutes’ boat ride away so a much simpler site. Again, I gave the briefing and down the three of us went – all sinking this time! Lembongan Bay is a long and spread out area of coral. The water’s anything from two to twenty metres deep – the hardest thing is to find the deeper areas so that you’re diving rather than snorkeling with a tank on your back! It’s also a huge expanse of really cool stuff. If you’ve dived in the area before, there’s nothing really unique to it. It just has a lot of everything and it’s beautiful.
Because of the shallow depth, we managed an easy fifty minutes out and partway back. To try and name everything we saw I’d need an encyclopaedia and about two weeks. The main thing, I’m glad to say, was that we had three happy divers after this underwater swim. I just felt sorry for Patrice as he’d joined us on the boat and didn’t even snorkel in case he got water in his ears.
All aboard, we doubled back to pick up our castaways and set off for the mainland. I’m glad to say that nobody felt ill on the way back, partly as the sea was as calm as I’ve ever seen it around here.
So, back to the dive shop for bills to be paid (and haggled over) and my tasks for the next three days to be laid out. Erna’s managed to sort it so I have three dives a day for the next three days. This takes me well into the realms I need for certification. It does mean another night away, this time up at Tulamben. No complaints there, as I like the diving off the wreck and drop-off.
Another early morning tomorrow, though, and don’t expect an update till I get back. I think the internet will be expensive or non-existent up there.
As I sat down to dinner at the usual Gong Corner, I was surprised to have Maria walk up to me. She’d just arrived back in Kuta after a trip all the way over to Flores and back by boat. By her own admission she’d not showered in four days! But it sounds like a great trek. I’ll have to add it to my “maybe next year” list. She wandered off looking for accommodation, but my place is full. Still, I offered her the use of the shower and the offer of the spare bed if she wants it. As I said, I’m away tomorrow night so she’ll have the place to herself for long enough.
Oh, and apologies for the lack of photos recently. I have been taking my camera, but always left it on the boat. If I’m in charge of people, I’d rather my attention was on them and not my camera. I’m hoping the Singaporean group will send me some of the better ones from their dives with us.