Always an Adventure

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Wow, that’s the first word that comes to mind. Yesterday (This was written about a week or 2 back) started early with a lionfish hunt with Kerwin, a young man from Toucari, a rescue diver Eaon has been training. He was on our first lionfish hunt and is a great shot so we thought it would be fun to go out for a dive or 2 while we could and get some protein from the sea. Our first dive was at Douglas Bay Deep, one of my favorite dive sites since it is always teeming with colorful life and has easy access to deep, clear and usually calm waters. Just as we started our descent I saw a huge spotted eagle ray, turned on the GoPro and started filming as soon as I alerted the boys that this epic creature was just below us! I darted for the bottom, my eyes wide as excitement filled me to the brim and bubbled over in audible giggles. I couldn’t believe my luck. As the guys got started picking off lionfish with their pole spears the ray made its way back over to me! Of course I followed it a bit, not wanting to stray too far from Rich & Kerwin, but got plenty of this giant on film, even a bit of it eating. I filmed the guys doing there thing, then decided to swim above to see the dive site as I never had before and get a better idea of it’s vast layout. Finally we made our way up and to the surface than back to the beach. There was definitely more of a swell than usual and a little current but nothing we couldn’t handle. It’s just that we are spoiled here with such calm waters in the bay much of the time that these conditions though ‘sub par’ for what we are used to, they are still incredible compared to many other dive locations. The conditions didn’t inhibit a quick free-dive for lobsters either once the dive was over!

always-an-adventure-2My dive experiences range from cold weather/low viz/ strong current or surge/high swell etc to warm water, crystal clear/100+ ft viz/pool calm water thanks to dive experiences all over the world. I’ve had my fair share of adverse conditions to deal with and adapt to, so there was nothing out of the ordinary making a few changes to the dive plan as we were underwater, to make sure we ‘listened’ to what the ocean was telling us. Luckily Richard has quickly come to understand my hand signals under water, even the more advanced or improvisational gestures!Β  It’s part of the magic of diving with someone you know so well out of the water, communication is key above and below the surface of the ocean. Kerwin also a quick learner and when it comes to the water, he is adaptable and ready to take on challenges.

After our first dive we dropped the fish off in the fridge and had a little snack break before picking up and going on dive 2 for the day. We debated between a few sites and decided that Tube Reef / Back Side of Toucari sounded like a great spot to catch our lions, and possibly see a turtle or something large out in the deep. We swam out to back side feeling fine, but we quickly realized there was a current on the surface once we got past the shelter of the bay. We changed our dive plan, spoke about dropping down to try and get under the current, then swim against it if we could to start the dive, letting it bring us back into the bay as the dive went along. Well once we got down we realized the current was just too strong, there was no fighting against it without killing our air supply. So I got both their attention and showed them what we were going to do. With my hands pointed to all of us, then signal for hover and made a drifting movement with one hand over my other hand signifying the unmoving bottom. I made it clear that we would go around the bay by then making one hand the peninsula separating Toucari bay & Douglas bay, get out of the water once we were in the shelter of the bay, then walk back to our car in Toucari. The plan was set and both the guys gave me an OK sign with their hands and we continued on an epic drift! We got as close as we could to the wall so we could navigate around the peninsula without going into open water, keeping ourselves close to the land so if necessary we could swim in and get out of the water. It resulted in a fast paced and far reaching dive, enjoying the reef even in the less than ideal viz. We had the opportunity to take in several dive sites on one dive.

Taking one bay’s current into the other is totally doable, which is something I knew from personal experience.You see, I had done this drift dive before, although there was a car waiting for me when I popped up in Douglas Bay. I also knew the topography of the area of the Douglas Bay that we would be surfacing on. There is lots of rocky shoreline and it’s not a far drift or swim to get to Tan Tan or Douglas Bay Beach where there are plenty of people, passing cars etc if assistance is needed. We also were equipped with surface marker buoys, whistles and other signal devices, as all safe divers should. Although the drift dive from bay to bay was unexpected it was also a fantastic adventure, and we still had a successful hunt even with the current! There are some great shots of teamwork throughout both these dives in a video mash up of the two I was able to put together. Once we surfaced in Douglas Bay we began to swim toward Tan Tan. trying to get as close to the road before we got out of the water. Kerwin opted to get out of the water before us and take the rocky beach over to the road side, while we let the much softer surface current and tide take us further into the bay where we were able to get out on the rocks at the first opening to the road above. Perfect spot! We got out with our catch, took our kits off and waited for Kerwin while making the decision that Rich would go get the car and Kerwin and I would stay and watch the gear.

Kerwin came around the corner from behind a tree and we were reunited ready for the next part of this wet and wild day. Rich took off his booties and started the walk to Toucari while Kerwin and I hung out in the shallow water with our catch talking about the day, dives, and what we were going to cook up for dinner! The grey sky turned darker as it began to pour, there was so much rain we couldn’t see more than halfway across the bay, but thankfully the two of us were in wetsuits and fairly comfortable hanging out waiting for Rich.Β  I thought about Rich in a rash guard and shorts with no shoes, looking like an island boy, trekking through the hills from one village, through a few others to end up in what will one day in the not too far future be our actual home. I asked Kerwin how long it usually takes him to walk from where we were to Toucari and just a few minutes after he responded ‘about twenty’ we hear the honk of a car, it was Rich, just about 25 minutes after he left! We brought the gear up to the road, broke down our kits and loaded up the car, all of us excited to get dry and warm.

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There was no better way to end a great dive day than enjoying your catch with a BBQ of lionfish, flounder and lobster with homemade creamy mashed potatoes, and a grilled vegetable chop salad from heaven in the company of good people. The rain continued to pour down as we cleaned and prepped the fish, started the grill and tried to stay dry while cooking outside! It was a pretty amazing day in the water, above and under the sea!Can’t wait for you to dive with us, Enjoy the video ON OUR YOUTUBE – don’t forget to subscribe

 

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