This episode, Derek flies in and comes undone at Stoney Cove then heads for a superb islands safari on Superior
"India Charlie you are cleared to land two eight." DJ (that's me) was returning from a 'fly-in' in Alderney and had been faced with poor visibility throughout the Cessna flight. It was good to see Runway 28 at Leicester clear and whilst parking up an excited assistant approached and asked, "Do you Scuba dive too as we've received a call from Melton Divers that you are booked to go to Big and Little Brothers. We really didn't know what they meant!" After a brief explanation, they understood that they are islands in the Red Sea and generally the focal point of a week's Liveaboard Safari.
Terry had, in DJs absence, booked with Emperor Divers what was going to be the adventure of a lifetime - a week on Superior. However, there was work to do as DJ was simply not good enough, even after 50 dives, to tackle the conditions around the islands. It meant some intensive training at Stoney Cove, 7mm suits and cold water conditions. Janice promised help and so with beating heart DJ endeavoured to master navigation underwater. Really quite laughable as he had achieved the IMC rating in the air!
Dive 54/55/56/57 covered all the basics but so very cold. Timed fin kicks, swimming in a rectangular mode, picking my way through points that had been memorised and down to 30 metres where colours were chosen and timed! But so COLD! A panic attack took hold and we fail dismally. Dive 58 Fail. Surfaced without safety stop and scared! Rightly Janice reads the riot act to me, and the old guy weeps! DO NOT DIVE IF YOU ARE STRESSED AND TIRED! After a few days this dive was repeated and was perfect! Janice signs me off so I can join them on Superior...
It's WARM! Superior was moored some way out away from the jetty where all the enthusiastic voyagers had gathered awaiting the Rib. The sleek shape of Superior against the setting sun, its white contrasting with the blue of the water filled DJ with such anticipation of the dives to come. We board and are taken aback by this superb boat. Spotlessly clean everything shines and the crew proudly show the new arrivals their home for the next week.
Used as we are to day boats and the need to get diving space on a normally limited dive deck, we are amazed to find that all Emperor had told us was really under-rated as the deck was huge - there was even ample space for DJ to put on his wet suit (I need space!). Then the surprise; it appeared that DJ had been recognised for age(!) and was shown to his OWN cabin! Imagine that; your own cabin on Superior! Now to evening and the chatter of a full dining room with a welcome buffet by the catering crew, a slight vibration as the diesel motors burst into life and we are away.
Tomorrow is an early start so the peace of the cabin is welcome. It's 6am. Engines on and there is the reef. This is, according to the pre-dive brief, going to be a drift dive off the Rib. That's DJ's first! And with a degree of anticipation tries to look confident as he enters the Rib. It's a bit rough, the swell a bit concerning and it appears there's quite a current, and this the first on Nitrox!
Bob Eagle and Terry with Janice what can go wrong? Fins on! Air on! (sorry Nitrox) ONE TWO THREE, and over backwards. PEACE. Weight seems OK, equalise (oh very good) and down we go to the reef wall. That's a Napoleon wrasse, signal to Terry OK. Now an expert in navigation (really?) we have dropped on the east side and drift south east. Terry did say view the blue to see if there are any white tip reef sharks, not today but trigger fish who I make "friends" with later on in the week. We drift upwards to what I was told later was "anemone city" where our safety stop started. Bob and Terry close by, no problem. Must convert that computer to Nitrox(!). Nitrox OK - seems not to use so much and up we go; fins off and a haul into the boat. The experts seem to descend then jump, must try that next time. Back to Superior and a superb lunch. We are now on the way to Little Brothers and relaxing on the absolutely superb upper deck. This is luxury that would meet every standard. Bliss! Little Brothers here we come...