Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Selborne, Place of Sloth!

Ughhh! It is almost time to depart and return to the rat race. We have been staying at Kirsten and Carl's place on Selborne Golf estate just outside Pennington on the Natal south coast for a few days and to say that it has been idyllic would be an understatement. The view if I turn my head looks like this

My day consists of waking up at the leisurely hour of 6:00, making coffee for Caron and heading out to Sea Fever for the 08:00 dive and just to make sure that I'm not doing too much, I only dive once a day. I arrive back at about 11:00 just in time to wake Caron from her mid-morning nap, sort out the photos from the dive before a light lunch. We both laze about reading and catching up on work (you just can't get away from it) until about 15:00 when we sloth down to the spa for our massage. Returning we continue reading and make supper and go to bed at about 21:30 ready for yet another day. It's a tough life here in africa hey!

I think the most irritating feature of being down here is that I (and caron) are having to put up with using GPRS to connect to the internet. It has become such a part of our lives that we just can't do without it and not only is it dog slow but it is very intermittent. Very, very annoying and I'm busy looking at using GPRS for a systems' communications so this experience has not filled me with confidence should I say. Sometimes I have to send the same email three of four times before the damn thing will depart.

I've really been enjoying the diving, calm seas, little or no current or surge. So, so visibility but definitely good enough to work with. As can be seen from the photographs below, I still haven't quite moved on from shooting relatively stationary underwater life. Photographing constantly moving fish is nigh impossible and digital doesn't help - you're just framed the friggin' thing beautifully, squeezed the shutter. The flash goes off but when you preview it, the frame is empty or there is another fish staring at you half in and half out the frame. Very frustrating. It makes taking photographs on the land feel decidedly easy.

Two Nudibranchs caught in the act, well almost!

A Feather Duster Worm or Giant Fanworm. That all worms looked this good.

A Raggy Scorpionfish, how is that for pisceaen attitude!

A Honeycomb Moray eel showing off his fine set of dentures.

You can just see that my camera has developed a fault and there an entire row of ccd's that have gone on the blink so every photograph now has a nice line through it. I will have to find out if I can get it fixed or whether I will have to interpolate across the remaining pixels to 'fix' it.

I tried to take a picture of a jelly fish about a metre under the surface which is a particular challenge because above about 3 or 4m below the surface one tends to become positively buoyant which, while normally a good thing, for diving is definitely undesirable. Also at about a metre, the action of the waves is quite pronounced so trying to keep the same distance from the jelly fish, at the same depth and getting the camera to focus on a translucent object was only marginally successful. It is a fortunate thing indeed that one only appreciates what went into taking the beautiful photographs in books and documentaries after one has tried to take them oneself. If one knew how difficult it actually was, one wouldn't even bother trying.

I am feeling very pleased with myself because I am down to a 2kg weight belt and using a 10l steel tank and have not had any problems with buoyancy even at 1m under the surface and I haven't had to come up before the whole group or those left in the group all come up. Eventually I want to get to a stage where I don't need to ever put air into my bc in order to adjust my buoyancy, I should just be able to control it by breathing. Still a way to go but I think I'm getting there.

I was involved in a minor underwater panic, minor for me that is, pretty major for the person involved. It was right at the end of the dive at about 15m and I had 70bar left and all but one other person and the dive master had already completed their dives. The other diver suddenly swam like a man possessed towards the dive master and grabbed his spare octo which would only happen if he had been careless and not kept a sharp eye on his pressure gauge. The rule is, once you hit 50bar you head for the surface to avoid little incidents like this. Anyway everyone ascended calmly to the surface before the dive master came back down to meet me at the 5m deco stop. Amazing how fast one can swim when survival mode kicks in!

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