Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sodwana Bay Diving

Ah no, I don't think I can take any more of this. Thank goodness we *have* to go home today.

We did the early dive out to five mile reef and it was only an ok dive; the dives yesterday and the day before have been so outstanding that pretty much anything is going to be a let down.

Here we have a ribbon eel which I have never seen before. although you can only see about 20cm of him, he is about 1m long and the way that they can reverse into these crevices is just amazing. Apparently these are quite rare so it was great to get a nice picture of him.

This is know as a frog fish and this is a particularly large on. Ugly bugger isn't he! These feed by waiting until some unsuspecting fish swims just too close and then the frog fish quickly inhales some water and down the gullet the morsel goes. No effort required, no energetic swimming, no adrenalin pumping while running down the prey. Just a quiet inhale, now you see him, now you don't.

I had to put a clown fish in. They're hard to leave out and they're not afraid to take you one even though we would look like a whale to them.

Low tide in Sodwana Bay. We are happy to report that things have moved on and that the divers are no longer expected to push the boat to the water; the tractor does it now which is quite a welcome change.

I thought I should show what the actual sodwana bay beach actually looks like. In the foreground under the roof is the dive kit area where we wait between boat rides and where we kit up. A little higher in the wooden hut is the beach kitchen. We had slap chips and egg burgers (without the patty) which weren't half decent. Even the filter coffee from the cafe was actually quite good.
Well, that was it! Another very successful diving trip. Just the long trip back to joburg. We decided to let the GPS choose the route home and after several seemingly dodgy decisions it foudn a great route home - right though the middle of a game reserve which I didn't even know was there.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sodwana Bay Diving

Living in 'sef efrika' it can be quite easy to let the problems that we really do have get the better of one. I know many people that have retreated into the blame game, not that I am averse to putting blame where it is due but there are limits and one really doesn't need to go on ad nauseum. There is a favourite saying when one just doesn't know what to say. By way of example seeing someone putting a sign up next to a pothole to say "watch out for the pothole" instead of just fixing the pothole would result in the refrain "ag, only in africa". Up until today I had only heard it in a negative sense, well that changed today! Today on the boat ride back we were with a group of people who were full of life talking about yesterday having had a fantastic dive in the morning, a wedding at midday and watching a cheetah kill in a game park at sundown while the sipped their drinks; "only in africa" can one do this.

Back to more mundane things like photographs! How is this for cool, the only thing I would change if I could about this photograph would be the name of the photographer who took it!

We found this rather large turtle hiding under a ledge, fortunately he didn't attack like last time.

This is me! Just after I cut my finger open on some coral while turning around in the channel. Blood underwater looks completely black and it sort of oozes out.

If I knew that I just had to cut myself in order to see sharks I would do it more often. Great sightings of white tipped reef sharks. They were really close at times i.e. no more than a couple of metres away checking my bleeding appendage out carefully. Calculating how easily it would come off the rest of my body probably.

Yet another pair of absolutely awesome dives, the reefs here definitely seem to be in much better condition than when I last dived here. More fish, bigger fish and just generally an increase in aquatic life was fantastic to see.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sodwana Bay Diving

Diving is getting easier and easier, or so it seems and I keep on getting this feeling that I've forgotten something. It would be really awkward to get out to the dive site with no fins!

First dive was awesome and set the tone for the weekend. I couldn't find my camera so I was diving cameraless which I quite enjoyed so all the underwater photo's were taken by barry.

Dropping down to the reef we literally came down on a potato bass which, as you can see is a pretty big fish if you look at the size of the divers. And for those wondering if it is the perspective of the camera lens; no it isn't. These fish really are that big!

Next up, a beautiful honeycomb moray eel. There were actually a whole bunch of great sightings but some I didn't get good photo's of and, in any case, there would be too many photo's and it would end up boring people.

Next up is an emperor angelfish. I often tell people that diving is like birdwatching but underwater and with much more vivid colours.

It is not everyday that one dives and gets to see manta rays. Bary took a fantastic video of them swimming around us but it is over 50Mb in size so I can't publish it. Watching the way they effortlessly glide through the water makes one feel like a complete klutz underwater.

Last but not least, a paperfish which again, is pretty rare or at least it used to be.

What a fantastic days diving. Warm water, cool weather, almost no current nor surge and great visibility. It couldn't get any better than this.

Getting back to the lodge, we had a bit of a rest before we went down to the bar to have a quiet drink and to fill in the log books. We were just about to sit down when we hear a "Barry!" and then a "Roland!" which is disconcerting so far away from our normal stamping grounds. Turns out some people we work with at one of the banks also dive and just happen to be down as well. So the quiet drink and cigar turned out quite differently in the end.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sodwana Bay Diving

The weekend didn't start off so auspiciously. I have a great rule of thumb for diving that says that after completing another 25 dives I can buy another piece of dive equipment which has worked out to be a great rule. Having completed 100 dives while in Mauritius, I came back "in the market" for a new regulator, first stage and octo. I found the one I wanted but they didn't have stock but, they said, they'd order it and it would *definitely* be here in time for the weekend. To cut a long story short; it wasn't so I decided to take an alternative but I didn't look too closely at it in the shop. Getting home I found that not only was it not the one I actually wanted but it wasn't even the same make. Quickly phoned them and they agreed that they'd given me the wrong one and that I should bring it back and get the one I actually wanted after the weekend. I have still to do this of course but it is looking hopeful.

The drive down in my fortuner was uneventful if very long. It is only 650km to sodwana give or take a few kilometres depending on ones' route but it took us about 10-11 hours altogether thanks to the roadworks and bad roads. It is great that they are fixing the roads up but I would that it was while I wasn't wanting to use them.

Arrived at Sodwana Bay Lodge and checked in. The rooms now have air conditioning - what luxury! Went down to the restaurant to find that they have exactly one vegetarian dish so gourmet dining isn't on the cards.