Diving independently from Tinker - another goal achieved......Sun 27th Jan

Paul Downie
Mon 28 Jan 2008 19:41
We haul the small Coltri Dive Compressor up on deck using a 3-part-block attached to a halyard. Rosie was able to pull this up on its own, a weight of 40 kilos, with me guiding the unit through the forward hatch. I then filled our tanks to 200 bar, which takes about 20-25 mins per tank. The compressor is quite noisy so we have to make sure we are not too close to our neighbours. All our dive gear is loaded into Tinker and we head out to the dive buoy at the 'Pillars of Hercules' (sandstone pillar formation) to the starboard side of the entrance to English Harbour a quarter of a mile away.

The weather has settled now fairly calm with light winds and we did a Tinker snorkel reccy yesterday.
We tie up to the buoy. Tinker is a very small space to kit up in! Rosie kits up first, fins on, I help her on with her BCD and tank, mask on and demand valve mouthpiece in place, I push her overboard and she rolls in - when she surfaces she gives the OK and then adjusts her gear for more comfort. I then pass my BCD and tank down to Rosie in the sea and roll into the water with my fins and mask on - Rosie then helps me to kitup in the water.

Checks complete, we descend into an underwater wonderland of rock, coral and colourful fishlife. There is a slight current and the soft coral fronds, sea whip and sea rod wave back-and-forth. We see a Lizardfish still on the sandy bottom and Yellow Snappers swim with us...there are Blue Tang in groups and bi-colour Damselfish. We fin over Barrel Sponges around which small colourful fish dart.
Then Rosie writes on her slate 'Octopus' and points under a low rocky ledge, but I couldn't see it - I look under and see a large Grouper with olive-brown wide stripes over a light background ......then suddenly I see the Octopus as it moves out from under the rock, amazing, I see it change colour to blend with its background, or is it wary of me (its mood)? It then propels itself along, tentacles to the rear and a bulbous head to the front using its bladder to propel itself along, wow, what a sight to see and I catch it all on video.
I then go back to video the large Nassau Grouper 2.5 ft in length with its large head, thick lips and soulful eyes.
We also see Red Squirrelfish with huge dark eyes, Trumpetfish, a Rock Beauty, lots of Wrasse in a multitude of colours and likewise Parrotfish of all sizes from small juveniles to large Rainbow and Spotlight Parrotfish 1.5 to 2 feet long, Four-eyed Butterfly Fish, Sargeant Majors in schools above us and Yellow and Spotted Goatfish on the sea floor.
We have a Reef Fish of the Caribbean ID book and enjoy identifying what we see after our snorkel and dive trips.
This is a fairly shallow dive of 10.3 meters - 45 mins pass and we make our way back to the buoy-line, Tinker afloat above us, and slowly and somewhat reluctantly ascend from the underwater world of weightlessness.

Now to get back on Tinker - Rosie helps me off with the weighty BCD and tank, I then wriggle up on to the bow-end of Tinker which is low on the water, pull myself aboard, Rosie then pushes whilst I lift my tank and BCD aboard. Then I help Rosie out of her kit and pull it onboard, while she wriggles up on Tinker.
The Canaries are too bureaucratic to allow independent diving, but in the Caribbean it is accepted and catered for.....I am so Happy at last.
Back onboard Barada we offload the gear from Tinker, rinse the gear and ourselves, and then settle down with a coffee to watch the 9 mins of video-footage, which one day we hope to share with you all.

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