Saturday night was a chilled night at camp with only myself, Tess and Nicola. We decided to head to one of the beaches on the west side of the island to watch the sunset and have a couple of sundowners. We were blessed with and incredible sunset. We spent the night on a mattress watching Ice Age and eating fruit salad.
On Sunday I decided to go exploring the island a bit. We saw a beautiful bay from the boat on one of our double tank dives, so this is where I decided to make a mission to. The only problem is that there are no paths and I didn’t exactly know how far it was. I ended up taking 3 hours to get to the beach, with my legs full of scratches, but it was totally worth it. I would go as far as saying it is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and nobody goes there. It only took me an hour and a half to walk back once I knew where I was going.
The week was full of diving and surveying, with a lot of double tankers. I’ve got to know some of the sites really well and can find sharks on almost every dive at St. Pierre. We also got to survey a new site called Booby, which is a small island with just a bit of granite sticking out with a few trees and bushes. The island was probably named after the Bird but it really does look like a giant breast. It took us almost an hour to get there with the boat fully loaded with tanks and people. When we got there and almost done kitting up we saw a pod of dolphins right next to the boat. If we didn’t have our kit on Calum would have let us snorkel with them. Hopefully we’ll get another chance. I actually didn’t get to explore the reef much after doing my survey as Steve (my buddy at the time) had chewed his air quickly because of the rough conditions. The other saw 2 sharks and bumpheads. On second survey was a shallow survey in less than 5 meters. With the sea being quite rough it was impossible to lay a belt and we abandoned our dive after 9 mins. The others followed soon after us. Steve managed to fall off the boat because of the rough seas. I had such bad pain in my elbows, probably the onset of decompression sickness or an air embolism.
With so many double tankers there is times of the day when we have a lot of time to chill. Some of us decided to snorkel just in front of camp. We ended up swimming about 2 kms to one of our dive sites called Caiman Point and saw 6 turtles and 3 whitetip sharks along the way. We had to hike back to camp because there was no way we would be able to swim all the way back against the current.
Bridget, one of the five weekers had just got the go-ahead to start doing inverts surveys and was paired up with me for her first survey. We did a shallow dive so the surge was quite bad and the line went over quite a hectic patch of reef. Bridget was not having a great time with the SMB and kept lassoing me with the line. She also ended up getting washed into an urchin and was so hardcore about it. She just pulled the spines out of her knee and finished her survey. One hard-core chick!
We got told there we no snakes or scorpions on the island but only few weeks ago one of the staff saw a snake. This week we saw the first scorpion, a lizard had caught it and was busy trying to swallow it. On our dive to Booby, Carly was busy pulling out her tape underwater when a scorpion came out and stung her, then floated off. Luckily it wasn’t that bad and caused just a bit of swelling.
It was off to Mahe for the weekend to do our Rescue Diver course. We initially got quoted 3180 rupee for the course which includes 2 nights accommodation and then 280 for a return ferry to Mahe. But it ended up costing us a lot more because the rate Dan used for converting Euro to Rupee was wrong. The course ended up costing us 5108 rupee. A spanner also got thrown in the works when the ferry company refused to give us local rates and we ended up paying 1380 rupee for a return ticket.
The course was worth it. We got put up at an apartment that was beautiful. It even had a washing machine, a microwave and wifi (small luxuries). Tony the DM that headed up our course at the underwater centre was an excellent trainer. We did most of our skills on the Saturday which included the various tows, in-water mouth to mouth and pocket mask rescue breathing, surfacing with an unconscious diver and the infamous panicked diver rescue. For the panicked diver we each had a go at subduing the DMs who were the panicked divers. We had to get behind them and inflate their BC while they were in a complete state of panic. They would thrash around wildly, attempting to climb on top of you while knocking out your regulator and pulling off your mask. I had to take on Tony who at that point had managed to half drown a few divers in earlier attempts. I got really close and almost had his inflator when he spun around a proceeded to attempt to drown me. I came off with a grazed forehead, bruises and cuts all over my body and almost throwing up from all the salt water I had inhaled.
I was paired up with Vero who even though she was a tiny girl, managed to carry my dead weight up onto the beach.
I had also decided to leave my wetsuit behind because it was still wet on Friday. This ended up being a very bad call as the water was full of stinging plankton. I ended up looking like I had chicken pox again.
On Sunday we wrote the theory exam. I smashed it with a score of 98%. We then finished off our missing diver skills and played out a few rescue scenarios, before we were rewarded with our PADI Rescue Diver certification. The ferry trip back to Praslin was very quiet with all of us completely exhausted from an intensive but amazing weekend.