On the second dive, we were instructed to perform a basic free descent upon entering the water, instead of following the mooring line down. The waves were too choppy due to the winds which I learned about yesterday
6 of us in 3 pairs commenced sinking slowly, but one of the girls had a bit of a moment. I looked up and saw her panicked and flailing all limbs, desperate to surface from 5m below.
The dive leader followed her up, her dive partner hesitating momentarily, and then doing the same. They all swam back to the anchored boat. The other 3 were either below me or looking downwards, oblivious to what had happened. I had to go and get their attention. We had drifted quite a while away from the boat in the strong current. We were now without a dive leader, straying from our boat, and invisible to the skipper.
It would be stupid to carry on. So I signalled to the rest, and we resurfaced, inflated the BCD, checked everyone was ok, and signalled for help. Swimming back proved futile. We locked arms and were picked up, all 4 of us calm. We restarted the entire dive.
A rather large sea turtle teasingly swam past me. My partner and I gave chase briefly, then let it go off and do whatever sea turtles do.
The crash on the way to Cape York and the subsequent wait in Cairns that prompted me getting my diving ticket was a blessing in disguise. Witnessing exotic species of marine life and observing their behaviour is therapeutically enlightening. Creatures that seem uncoordinated on land, or comical as we helplessly anthropomorphise them carry themselves with such effortless poise and grace down here in their element.
Schools of uniformly organised fish, the odd stingray, shark or turtle, all appear to perform the motions birds do to fly, but in slow motion. The blue of the surrounding water and the seafloor below add to the illusion of flight in blue sky with land below. Given that respiration and buoyancy control are taken care of, the diver relaxes and partakes in ‘flight’ in this foreign yet familiar environment.
I got back on the boat, and within minutes thoroughly emptied the contents of my stomach overboard. I fed the fish for free. I hadn’t felt anywhere near good since stepping off the pier in the morning, and didn’t say a word to anyone on the boat for the rest of the trip.
We saw a humpback whale and her calf frolicking 100m away from us on the way back. What a glorious sight, watching them breach, and lazily splash about. Distant evolutionary cousins of ours, these mammals are!
Once back, I went through 3 cans of tuna and a can of beans sitting on the pavement in the carpark beside my bike. It looked exactly as sad as you think.
I left Exmouth this morning, and 760 km later am at a riverside, camped in my bivvy bag. I’ve hung off the side of the bike today also, counter steering into the wind, quickly glancing at the trees and grass to make a note of gusts or changes in its speed. These winds pick up in the early afternoon, and stick around until late in the evening. I’ve dealt with windy riding before, but not for a entire day!
I’ll be in Perth tomorrow, 553 kms away. Early start. I will ride straight to the bike shop where a new front tyre is waiting for a fitting. Bike’s also due for a service after I unceremoniously cracked the 10k mark on the odometer.