Central Province - June 26 to July 5, 2016
Welcome Aboard! It’s like a dive instructor “Bring a Friend” trip! Such an experienced bunch ... looks like we’ll be heading to some fantastic spots for this trip. We start the safety briefing without any usual delay herding the cats - all these guys know where to be. Dinner and a drink are followed by gear setup with help from the staff. Everyone was done early and off to bed for an overnight transit to the Russell Islands.
Day 1: Our check-out dive is on the Military Hardware at White Beach. This will also be our night dive site, now that it’s been cleared of crocs. Our next site, where we had planned a beach BBQ and a shore dive is relocated as we all watched the crocs basking in the shallows ... not this time! But it did allow us to get a shot at Rainbow Reef early, especially with this being such an able group. Pete saw a Manta from the boat while we were all underneath at Koemurun looking at the Eagle Rays and Pygmy Sea Horse. Our night dive was a macro paradise with Nudis, a Baby Cuttlefish hiding, Moon Snake Moray, Flatworms, Octopus to name a few. Keith’s camera malfunction was frustrating, but didn’t detract from the critter festival put on in the shallows. And with Barry having an almost 90 minute dives, it must be a win. Dinner and a Reef Life presentation for those who could keep their eyes open.
Day 2: An early drop on Anzac brought a curious Grey Whaler and Eagle Ray at the peninsula. Beki got stuffed in the lone Barrel Sponge for a photo shoot and the cruise up to the Nek was greeted with Leopard Wrasse and Flashers. Bat Cave after breakfast - keep your reg in is hard to uphold when 3 Pygmys are on the same frond. Buddy the Batfish was a no show at Mane ... but we got 2 more buddy’s in the bay - as Engineer Rob and First Mate Joe did another dive towards their Open Water licence. Another entertaining round of True Facts followed the night dive for anyone still up.
Day 3: "The early bird gets the worm" and the earlydiver gets the amazing lighting! Dawn at Blue Wall for a wake up splash but both Lisa and Beki are not up for the challenge (it’s OK ... Pete and Keith didn’t dive either). Damien took a moment from being skipper to come and join us underwater instead. The timing for the lighting at Mirror and Leru was spot on giving the best effect for the photographers. A “stern word” to Beki out the mouth of Leru saw her buoyancy improve dramatically, and air consumption with it and earned a “told you so” from Tim - just need someone impartial sometimes. And a new Jawfish hanging out on a ledge was an added entertainment. Giant Barracuda almost all day, and our first meeting with some baby sharks too.
Day 4: First stop at the Wreck of the Ann with a pair of Clingfish putting on a mating display. Then it was a big current day begins with Rainbow Reef and a few other points along the way. Fish Soup at the Fish Market! Turtles and baby Grey Whaler Sharks were schooling. Bernie might have needed a new dive buddy when it seemed Barry was going to swim off with curious mama Shark ... who looked ready to pop given her girth! Another fantastic day and ready for more in the Floridas.
Day 5: We hooked in at Baby Cakes for a fish ballet before an explore at Ed’s Wall. An Electric Clam our first reward and more COTS (Crown of Thorn Starfish) to remove. Devils Highway definitely one to remember - should be renamed Devils Washing Machine. Dropped in on top a Manta Ray which swam up through the group and turned back. It probably knew of the currents ahead that were going to scatter our group. Hooking and moving, hooking and moving, all the way across to the surface, trying not to get washed away, or lose your mask, in balls of fish swimming backwards.Tim had to collect Beki, who was losing air from her occy free flowing in the wind. Keith was being attacked by his camera. Lisa managed to regroup and continue in the shallows. What a ride!
Closing the pool that night after a macro look at Maravaghi with new dive students Joe and Rob making their debut with us. Good job guys! And now you know why we do it.
Day 6: Last day diving ... sad to come to an end with such a great group - feels like it just started yesterday. Another Manta greeted us at the point heading towards our last dive at the Sea Plane Wreck. We stopped off at Tulaghi for a historic tour of the island and lunch with Kiwi Bob of fresh caught Kingfish. Then home to Honiara, sharing stories and photos.
Thanks guys for such an amazing trip. Hope to do it again sometime!
Sea you on the beach, Mossy & Lacey