First day full tilt diving on the Bilikiki. Similar routine as other boats. Get up eat, dive, snack, dive, lunch, dive, snack dive, dinner, dive if you want to night dive, do our log books and blog if not, sleep…
Diving is a bit different. There are 20 divers on board. Only one dive master leads each dive. Three ‘tinnie’ boat loads enter the water at intervals. The dive master enters from the first tinnie. Everyone does their own dive more or less. We have to pay attention to the dive briefing or we could head off in the wrong direction and cause a bit of a ruckus. The divers all progress at different speeds so we are spread out all along the reef, there is very little interfering of each others’ dives. Debbie and I are in our own space. We dive the depth we want and the speed we want. The first two dives have a limit on time, 60 minutes. At 59 we head to the blue and one of the tinnies picks us up and ferries us back to the mother ship. Pretty good system so far. The last two dives are as long as we want or our air lasts. We dive 70 minutes and I am coming up with huge air. 70 minutes and I still have ½ a tank????? The dive is shallow but hey I think I finally got this breathing thing down.
We do find a few interesting things, some different fish, a few nudi’s, a gigantic puffer fish and some really small endemic crabs that live in abandoned Christmas Tree holes.
Four dives today and it wasn’t really taxing. All we really have to do is dive, the rest is done for us but there are 9 days to go and I’m sure we’ll be tired.
A few days later.
Diverse group on board. A few Americans, a few Germans, an Austrian, an Argentinian, and a couple of Canucks. They are all good people. Debbie and I have 500 dives and again we are on a live a board with 19 others and I think there maybe 3 people have fewer dives than us. A couple of these folks have 5000 plus dives. The ratio of men to women is 12 to 8. Quite an even group compared to what we have been use to. When we started diving, 20 years ago, it was Debbie and all the guys, the last few years it has be Murray and all the ladies.
Almost every dive we do is with current. Not crazy current but strong enough to cause heavy breathing and shorter dives. When we can, we dive with the current and are picked up downstream by the ‘tinnies’. Tinnies are small aluminum dive boats that shuttle us from the mother ship, the Bilikiki, at the start of each dive site and pick us up to bring us home.
Food is pretty good. Not real fancy and but more than edible. Usually on a live a board if the meals are plated, we are served far too much and a lot of it goes to waste. On the Bilikiki it is served buffet style so I can control the intake and hopefully not put on weight.
Intrigue on the Solomon Express. I think it is a set up. A person crying out for attention. My first thoughts were this woman is an airhead but since then I have adjusted that idea to she is just plain stupid. After my last encounter with her I will not even acknowledge her presence. This woman is a novice diver and she cannot or more likely will not follow instructions. After having to sit out a day of diving for 24 hours because she went into deco. She claimed she was never told anything about decompression limits in her Advanced Open Water course. She has been instructed to stay with the diver master. A few minutes into every dive she conveniently looses her buddy and swims off on her own. Yesterday, Debbie and I were swimming in the same direction as her. She was ahead and stopped to take a video of a couple of clown fish. I waited and when Debbie and I were going to move I tapped her and motioned to follow. We swam through a very tight swim through and on the other side she had not followed. I swam back and caught her swimming off father away from the boat, alone. I motioned for her to buddy up and follow me. She scowled at me and swam away. I swam back to join Debbie and was royally pissed. I will not even speak to her now.
The intrigue started this morning, upon going to the ‘charging’ room she discovered the glass on her phone had been smashed. Presumably by accident. No one will admit to it. My cynical nature says it was her fault in an effort to make people feel sorry for her. As of this moment it is still a mystery but I have absolute no compassion for stupid people and she falls into that category. PS As of the end of the trip I do not think there was a resolution beyond the glass on the phone is broken.
I have had diarrhea twice this since we left home in April. Both times in places where the food should be non-toxic. The first time was the day we are leaving the Volivoli, an extremely high-class resort. The food was good but there was definitely something that disagreed with me. I actually didn’t feel that bad. Just stopped eating and went about getting to the next island to dive.
Last night on a long rolly transfer from the Marovo Lagoon to the Russel Island group. I started to feel quite sick. This is an expensive boat set up for gringos with weak stomachs. Three or four people have already been sick and taken a day off of diving and now it is my turn. This time however I am down for the count. It is 5.30pm and I have not been out of bed and eaten absolutely nothing. I am so sick. Don’t think I am about to expire but I am weak and useless. It is a costly time to get ill. Missed an entire day of diving and don’t know if tomorrow is on the agenda or not.
I am fine the next morning and a diving I will go. Other than a bit weak I am fine.
The day after I return Debbie bites the dust. Pretty much the same disease. Others have also fallen prey. Could be the food but it seems more likely this time it is some sort of flu bug. In the end we all survive and are diving by the last day.
Debbie reached dive number 500 yesterday. Good day of diving and worthy of the milestone. There was one dive we did twice. It is a really shallow hard coral garden with tons of fish. Easy diving and hardly used any air. Found quite a few of the small guys we like. Debbie also encountered a couple of sharks on the hunt for a big silver fish. First mister silver came around the corner swimming at speed. He blew by Debbie, two sharks in hot pursuit followed. Debbie saved the poor fellows life. The sharks saw this big black thing making bubbles and retreated right away, leaving big silver to live for a while longer. (Note from the proofer – I now think it was a bumphead grouper.)