So, I was now employed in the Maldives. I didn’t have a uniform or a wage or even a work visa, but I had free diving. Pretty much the same thing. Almost!
The divers I was to look after were the same two we were diving with yesterday. It’s not so much that they needed a guide or babysitter, but more an experienced person to monitor air, depth, deploy the surface marker buoy and point out stuff during the dive.
The first site was the little visited ‘Beyru Kandu’ or ‘Caves’ as they are now calling it. At the north side of the atoll it’s an hour steam away and untouched by pollution or fishing. With the briefing describing all these caves and overhangs it promised to be an amazing site. It wasn’t…
Uninspiring, too deep to visit any of the caves and devoid of any pelagic or macro life the two highlights of the dive for my divers were a spotted moray in the reef that was all too photogenic and loved the camera and a shoal of tuna that must have been 3 or 4 bus loads passing by above and behind all the other divers. They were content watching a big octopus deeper down and were inattentive to my banging on the tank to get their attention. Their loss – Ha!
Katherine was snorkelling on the top of the reef. Equally disappointing, at least she didn’t pay for the excursion unlike the other two on the boat. The highlight was a few fusiliers, a barracuda and seeing the divers ascend meaning we’d leave soon.El Capitain (he’s not Spanish, just liked that we called him that) and Katherine got on really well from the first day on the boat. Thus, he started to show her how to drive the boat. It was at the same time that Dirk decided to be superman, hanging off the back of the boat in the wake of the engine. With no pressure on her whatsoever, she steered us true and brought us back to Rasdhoo. I kept my eyes open for dolphins, mantas and the like when I saw a Mobular Ray leap from the water. I was told that they do it inside the lagoon but to actually see on doing it was fab.Being Friday, a holy day in a Muslim country, there was no second morning dive and the afternoon dive was a little later than usual. But, that gave us plenty of time to chill out, let our bodies get rid of the excess nitrogen gas in the tissues (and have an ice cream lunch). Before ya know it, a few Friends episodes have passed and I’m back at the dive centre (oh the horror), analysing nitrox tanks, setting computers to the analysed percentage of oxygen and briefing the dive – we were off to do Rasdhoo Channel. Scuba Rex went snorkelling again and looked after a girl who’s about to go to India (poor thing). She clung on to Katherine for dear life when the black tip sharks passed them. Kat pointed out all kinds of things to her and managed to get a lovely shot of some cuttlefish. I was down in Davie Jones Locker and was watching not just the usual three sharks (I love how blacktips, whitetips and grey reef have already became so blazé regular) but also Silver Tip Reef Sharks. Bigger than all the others, they put much less effort in to their swimming and look more torpedo and deadly than the others. They stayed down a bit deeper, so we only had them for a while before searching the slopes for more octopus, big groupers, massive anemones and clownfish families and a couple of big morays. We should have done both dives here, being spoilt for things to engage us and pass the time away.We had found out that the dive centre ran night fishing trips, and at considerably less price than our own guesthouse. Earlier at lunch time we cancelled the trip with them and said we were going out night diving (oops!!). The sun was setting and the crew were preparing spools of line, hooks, bait and positioning us around the boat to cover a nice big area on the sea bed. With the sun giving a spectacular display we were all set and waiting to cast out.It was a slow start. Nobody telling us what to do, just being given the line and hoping that we were doing the right thing. Of course that meant we were all copying each other and slowly pretending we were experts in it. The captain moved me from the bow to over the railing on the port side – which proved more claustrophobic and not at all comfortable (notice how I’m getting in excuses early).Captain helped both myself and Katherine out a lot (thanks to all Katherine’s previous flirting… hussy!). He added more weight to the line so that the current wouldn’t take the bait away and he snagged the first ones for us both and all we had to do was haul up the catch.
Around the boat the crew had found their few people that were in need of help and everyone was in their element having photos, enjoying the peace and quiet and generally relaxing. With a few hours under the belt and the bucket full of a selection of fish we headed home. Tallying up the scores Katherine did significantly better than anyone else on the boat. Favouritism!
Katherine and I left them to take the catch to the restaurant for dinner, while we headed back to our cosy lil’ café for ours and milkshakes. What a fab day! We were on cloud 9 and didn’t realise how tired we were until back at the inn where we passed out. Packing could wait until the morning.
Friday 18th March 2016