Derek Oldham shares his escapades, and no, we didn't pay him!
Yes we were on the way to Little Brothers; the gentle throb of Superior's diesel motors had subsided and DJ could not resist the temptation of an inspection of the motor during the short trip. The attendant proudly showed off his pride where copper and brass sparkled in keeping with the rest of this magnificent boat. We had anchored and Little Brothers lay some 500 metres away loaded with all the invitations and anticipation that tomorrow could bring. Buffet supper and the inspection of the equipment AND the wrist computer converted to Nitrox!
Joining the others on the deck now that night had closed was the perfect opportunity to lie on the spotless deck, gaze at the stars and give DJ and Bob the chance to reflect. There was no doubt that, although the main purpose was to dive the "package" that Emperor was providing, what we got was, without exception, a lifetime experience. DJ wondered if Emperor as a company knew REALLY how good they were, possibly swept along in their endeavours to succeed, did THEY realise the contribution THEY were making to provide people with unforgettable events. Did THEY realise that excellent food, absolute attention to safety, cleanliness and total commitment of the crew contributed to this in ADDITION to the adventures of diving? Both DJ and Bob agreed and expressed their deep-seated satisfaction.
So dive 61. DJ had had long fruitful discussions with Bob Terry and Janice with an introduction to Nick. Conditions were rough and it was hoped that DJ could break the 45 minute "barrier" re kitting up - and now very 'professionally' suited up (that overcame his nerves!) he managed to get into the pitching RIB. Heading for the reef to slightly calmer conditions, the other more experienced divers had braved the rougher more distant conditions.
A quick check on the mask, air on (!) one two three and peace! That experience never ceased to amaze DJ. Yes, by now weight was OK, mask clear, regular SLOW breathing; OH we are getting there! Nick, my Buddy, signals OK and turns pointing to the Blue. My first hammerhead shark! AH! Reef sharks also! I had done my homework, yes Sphyrna lewini and Triaenodon obesus. Many cornet fish and very large parrot fish descending now to just 25 metres. With visibility now clear and the mask clear (!) very slowly the magnificent colours registered. We really are in 'black and white' on shore compared with this colour emphasised by the shadows, which are constantly moving in the currents. Blue spotted stingrays, Taeniura lymma disturbed burst into a sandy shower and flee from the bubbles of the divers, whilst the anemone fish guard their chosen plant with an aggressive attitude far beyond their capability.
Forty five minutes and the dive is coming to its end. This Nitrox IS better or is it that DJ is calmer? We meet the others and, knowing that although we left on the RIB, it was really a drift dive. The shape of Superior is above us. The spare cylinder and flag is comforting! Slowly we ascend, remember now it's five metres and a quite lengthy safety stop. Bob, Janice, Terry and Nick - all OK signals all around and it's 47 minutes (!) Oh the expertise of this old guy. Up we go, fins off, up the ladder and into those helping hands of the crew.
Lunch awaits; the second dive awaits. Little Brothers is living up to its expectations. Next month we visit Big Brothers, visit the lighthouse and reflect on the week so far and the fact that these memoirs will culminate in time for Christmas and for an 'old hand' diver to have enjoyed re-living some of a relatively youthful past! Thank you!