After a big breakfast, it is time for diving Fiji style. Unfortunately it looks like we will have rain all week, but that does not stop the diving. It is always better with full sun for illumination purposes, but unless there is a storm or the surface is so choppy that it is impossible to get everyone off or back on the boat, we can still dive. The sound of the rain on the water is actually quite nice from below the surface.
Everything takes a little longer the first day as we are getting situated on the dive boat. It is also when we check out our equipment or get used to rented equipment, so the dive master will generally pick easier dives. Before the first dive, I noticed that one of my fin straps was torn-something to watch out for. Underwater I realized by back up computer, that I had just serviced and gotten a new battery for, was set in metric. My extra fin strap and computer manual were two of the things that got left at home due to weight concerns.
I had forgotten how beautiful Fiji diving is. The fish and coral or plentiful with just a few patches of dead coral where the typhoon went through. Purple and orange are certainly the theme colors and there was every variety of angelfish you can think of. We started at Nuku (sand) reef with an hour dive; it was easy diving to settle in. Near the end I felt my fin go loose and reached down and grabbed it before I lost it. The strap had ripped through completely.
Two of my dive buddies have replacement straps back at the room, but that won’t help me right now. Zaide took colorful tie wraps from Jane and secured the fin. In the process we realized that the other one was in the same shape and secured that one too. Z also went down with me and helped put the fins on and off on the second dive so we could treat them delicately. We had a great second dive with a sea turtle, a shark, and giant clam. The sides of these giant clams reminded me of stacked Lays potato chips.
After the first dive, we were taken to what we have dubbed “Pee Pee Beach”. There is no head (toilet) on the boat so the water off of Pee Pee Beach became our bathroom. While the staff changed our cylinders on the boat, we took advantage of “the facilities” and enjoyed cookies and coffee or hot tea on the beach. Just wish there were chairs and maybe a tent or umbrella. We returned to the Beach for lunch after our second dive. Unfortunately, it was raining. It was the first time in my life I ever stood in the rain eating my lunch.
We take an hour surface interval between dives to “off gas”. After our second surface interval and lunch at the Beach, we went out for our third and final dive of the day. With the exception of Randall, who is being certified and doing his first open water dives, the rest of us are pretty experienced divers. In fact, all of us have at least Master Diver status. In reference to my comments, the significance of that is that we are able to stay under longer on a single tank. The more you dive, the more control you gain over your breathing and hence your air consumption. Most of our dives were an hour long. A new diver is lucky to get in 20-30 minutes on a tank. We were coming up after roughly an hour; I often still had 1/3 or more of my tank full of air. You come up when you, your buddy, or the first member of your group (if all surfacing together) reaches a air pressure point where you have about 15-20% of the air still left in your tank (500-700 psi). We also take a 3 to 5 minute “safety stop” between 15 and 20 feet below the surface. The safety stop is a precautionary measure to prevent decompression sickness done on the final assent. It is mandatory for deep dives.
I jumped in for my third dive. Z was again willing to help me with those “repaired” fin straps. Unfortunately, what worked for the second dive, didn’t work for the third. The fin straps broke when we tried to put them on. Without the spare gear, I had to go back to the boat and wait this one out. I stayed with the boat captain, enjoyed the scenery, and watched for bubbles (which is how the captain tells where the divers are).
Back at the resort, I hunted down spare fin straps for tomorrow’s diving and worked on my log book, recording the names of the dive sites and what I had seen. The log book is also a good place to record things like air consumption, water conditions, and the amount of weight used. The logs are useful as a resource for future dives and as a record of progress.
The cabins at Sau Bay are designed to collect the sea breeze. Air conditioning is optional and comes at a fee. It is a little warm to hang around in the cottages during the afternoon so most of us hang out in the Lounge where the breeze is at a premium. I am usually worn out after a day of diving, but hiking and kayaking are also available. There are some wonderful hammocks too.
The resort actually features 3 kinds of accommodations. The original structure, now modified and closest to the lounge, has a large porch and two connecting rooms that can be separated. Each features its own bathroom. Next to that structure (with foliage in-between rooms to give some measure of privacy) are three cottages with twins or beds that can be put together for a couple. Each has its own porch, dressing area, bar area, and full bathroom. There is also an outdoor shower with a secondary entrance. I am staying in one of these cabins and love the outdoor shower!
One of the owners is from South Africa and the third accommodate type is reminiscent of the luxury safari tents of that region. Susan is staying in the large tent and she gave me an afternoon tour. It has a huge bathroom and sunken tub, sleeping area, and living area. It also has a fabulous porch. Unlike the other accommodations, the tent can not be air conditioned but sits up higher to collect even more breeze. It is reached by a staircase near the spa.
I look forward to tomorrow’s diving with fin straps and an upcoming tour of a neighboring island. Greetings from Fiji.