Diving NE corner of Beaufort Island, Hong Kong.

With a forecast of heavy rain and squally thunderstorms following on from a week of heavy rain, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from Saturday’s dive. In fact the Underwater Club had cancelled their Sunday dive because of the weather and apparently Mandarin Divers abandoned their plans too.  So were we keener, tougher, or just less smart? Whichever it was, we were also considerably luckier, as there was no rain, no thunder, no squalls, just a very pleasant day with 2 metre vis which was much better than we all expected.

Just for a change, I decided to dive twins. I had a twin tank wing which I picked up remarkably cheaply from someone who’d won it in a raffle. It looked in good nick, but when I tried to fit it to my backplate, I found the holes didn’t line up with the bolts on my twin tank adapter. There were 2 pairs of 3 holes at top and bottom, so I did the best I could but it wasn’t attached all that smoothly. Also I need to replace the inflator hose  and I will have to service the kidney dump valve because it was sticking closed. But apart from that, well it was cheap!

I fixed the tanks and regulators, and warned Marcus L. that my sinuses were playing up. We agreed I’d lead the descent down the anchor line so I could stop if I was in pain. Then he’d take over and lead the rest of the dive as practice before he starts a Dive Leader course. The anchor was in 12-13 metres, but we came off at about 7 metres and headed inshore because I couldn’t get any deeper than that. Gradually my sinuses improved and we were able to head down the steep slope to 15 metres. Not  a lot to see, but certainly much better than I’d been expecting. Quite a lot of schools of apogon, rabbitfish and damsels, plus a nice goatfish. Quite a lot of urchins too, one of whose spines is now securely lodged in my knee.

Marcus got us back to the boat where we came across Catheryn doing a rescue assessment with Andreas as instructor and Rita as a rather noisy victim. The de-kitting didn’t go too well, so Andreas wanted them to redo it. As Rita jumped back in her weight belt came adrift and plummeted to the depths. I shouted for Marcus to fetch a weight belt and, once I’d managed to impress on him the urgency, he gave me my own weight belt. Unfortunately it only had 2 lbs on it so I scrounged a 3 lb weight and gave it to Catheryn to lower down as a shot with a dSMB fixed to the top. David and Joerg were next in so they did a circular search from the hastily improvised shot, and within 5 minutes they’d found the weight belt and brought it back to the boat. A successful demonstration of the skills learnt on the search and recovery course.

Meanwhile the Kiss boys, Brian and Andy, had finished a deep (for Hong Kong) dive using trimix. They’d encountered vis of less than 0.5 metre and Andy was taking a bit of persuading that he really wanted to do a second dive. In LS’s absence, Mike and Marcus S. took the prize for worst navigation when they surfaced with a long swim back.

Then a speedboat appeared out of nowhere and tried screaming between us and the shore. The ABC boatmen responded immediately and started blowing the horn and waving the speedboat off. The speedboat crew didn’t seem to be aware that they should keep well clear or travel at slow speed. Sadly this is pretty typical of boats in Hong Kong waters, in fact we had the same problem with a squadron of jetskis, 2 weeks earlier. The ABC boatmen phoned in a report about this speedboat although whether anything will happen as a result is uncertain.

For the second dive Marcus and I decided on the same arrangement as on our first dive, I’d lead the descent to make sure my sinuses were OK, then he’d take over at the bottom. This time I had less trouble and we made it to the bottom of the anchor line before heading off deeper. We got down to 17.5 metres where it seemed a lot darker, but we hit some patches of really good soft coral and some nice whips. There was a particularly big scorpion fish, plus the smallest moray I’ve ever seen. This was turning out to be a much better dive than the first one. We got back up to 9 metres and Marcus sent up a dSMB. I then checked my dSMB was still in place as I’d replaced the bungee earlier in the week. It was now held by only one of the two bungee cords, so I decided I might was well deploy it rather than risk dropping it as I got back on the boat. So I put a puff of air into it to make it easier to control, then felt for my spool, only to find that it had mysteriously disappeared leaving just the double ender behind. Since I’d not bothered to carry my reel on this dive, I was left with no choice but to finish the safety stop and ascent with a dSMB looped over my arm. Marcus who hadn’t realised the problem thought I was mad. I did try and signal to him what was going on, but I was laughing so much that my mask kept filling up with water.

Most people were impressed with the soft coral that was down below 15 metres and we had some surprisingly good dives with quite a lot to see.  Back on board, beers and champagne were opened. It seems we were celebrating a number of things:

  1. Catheryn passing her Dive Leader practical assignments
  2. Brian and Andy doing a 50 metre dive, which we believe is the deepest  by the Club in Hong Kong
  3. Brian’s last dive with SCDC in Hong Kong before his departure next month after 29 years (although perhaps “celebrating” is the wrong word in this context!)

Oh and we should also mention Mike making it out on the boat which is always a bit of a rarity.

All in all a good day out.

About Neil Hambleton

I am a British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) Advanced Diver and an Open Water Instructor. I have been diving since 1992, after joining South China Diving Club (SCDC), which is a Hong Kong-based branch of the BSAC. Having moved to New Zealand, I am now a member of BSAC New Zealand.
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