The Animal Diver
Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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I hobbled around for a while with Craig yesterday helping him look for a job. Luckily, he was successful quite quickly and landed himself a post in a general/hardware store, starting tomorrow.
I got a call from Jeff the Boat last night. He told me how he had been studying the tides and we were on for this morning - 7:45am. Great!
So bright as a button, he was sitting outside the lodge right on time as I walked outside. A silver four wheel drive with a little trailer and boat on the back. I ran over all excited and hopped in. He asked me what the hell I'd done to my foot as we headed up to 'Dive HQ'. I told him.
The guys in the shop were really helpful and kitted me out with some good gear. A well organised professional setup, just like Paihia Dive. This whole dive thing is quality.
As Craig was starting his new job today, I'd managed to get Dean onboard instead who was quite keen to score a free boat ride. We took the long drive over and out of the hills before we got to the launch, got suited up and headed out to sea in this little seven foot 75HP 'Jeff machine'. The sea was as flat as the road we had just travelled on and it was a beautifully calm day. Jeff is a typical laid back Kiwi with an even more laid back attitude who generally makes up his own rules. I already knew I was in for a different dive and I just wish that I could've got a picture of Dean's face when Jeff asked him if he'd ever driven a boat before. Course he hadn't and Jeff went on to explain that the current will probably drift either us or the boat out, so when we surface we may need picking up. He very quickly pointed out how to lower and raise the anchor, a quick burst of the throttle here or there, bit of rudder control, steering wheel is here but keep your eye on the compass while watching out for other boats, oh and there's the depth gauge and for god's sake make sure you don't run us over, but if you do the radio's on the top here. Well all that was bad enough especially with 'the accent barrier' to confuse things further. I really really do wish I'd have got a picture of his face.
So in I went backwards off the side of this little boat (which I hadn't done before) followed closely by Jeff. After a couple of adjustments, we okay'd ourselves and descended. This is where it went pear-shaped.
The second we hit the sea bed he was off - kicking and writhing around in a frenzy grabbing anything and everything, stuffing it violently in to his catch bag and kicking up a mass of sand from the sea bed reducing the 'vis' from about twelve metres down to two. I just hovered, watching, stunned. After a few minutes I managed to find him and calm him down. He pointed out the types I needed to handle and the method in which to do it (as we had agreed) then he was off again, kicking up dirt frantically like some big, brute bully kid in the playground. After bagging a few myself, I made my way through the cloud of 'Jeff dust' that he had kicked up and discovered he had gone. Nowhere to be found. Well that was just great. So what do I do now? All I could do was all I knew. I had to surface. So I did. I turned around and the boat was miles away. I'd got Dean and a boat, but no Jeff. I was too far away from the boat to see the expression on Dean's face but it must have been a picture. He shrugged his shoulders and lifted up his hands. I lifted up my hands and tutted in reply and started to make my way back to the boat. I was giving it a few minutes before going under and having another look. A bit closer to the boat, I looked back and Jeff surfaced in the distance. He started making his way back. A good example of why you should agree on a dive plan beforehand. I'd been taught to stay within sight of your dive buddy in case of any assistance or emergencies, whereas Jeff bought some dive gear a few years back and goes down kamikaze style a couple of times a week to get some scallops. There was no harm done. We laughed heartily about it on the way back after we had sifted through the scallops. Luckily for the other travellers back at the lodge, Dean is a vegan so I came away with forty scallies and they were in for a real treat.
When I got back to Dive HQ I explained that I'd only used part of the first tank due to the circumstances and enquired as to whether there was anything they could do (i.e, another dive to get my monies worth out of the gear). They know Jeff quite well as they supply him with air fills each week in return for the use of his pool for training (which is actually at Hairy's outside in the beer garden!) and laughed when I told them the story.
Well I think I mentioned earlier that they were good guys. Well it's true. I'm on an 'all-dayer' tomorrow down the coast a little at the 'Aldermen Islands', one of the top three or four dive spots in NZ apparently. They said they would chuck in all the gear for free, all I need to do is cover the boat cost and we're cooking. Roll on tomorrow!
To end the day nicely, we spent this evening with a little luxury. I cooked up the forty scallops for us all at the lodge quite simply with a little butter, garlic and white wine and everyone got stuck in. A couple of the girls nipped out and got some rustic crusty bread with a nice bottle of red and it made a really pleasant evening. The longest part was shucking and preparing the scallies. After a lot of shocked faces, giggles and photographs, a few of the Japanese guests quickly became involved in the whole preparation phase. They had a great time! Iwas quite intrigued. We had a lot of laughs in that kitchen and it was a real shame that they couldn't speak much English or rather I couldn't speak much Japanese cos' they were wonderful, wonderful people. I had already befriended 'Toshi' over the last few days and had helped him a little with his English. He couldn't get enough of the scallies!
After cooking the last few, I sat down and joined everyone at the table to finish off. We were all sat round munching away and I couldn't help thinking how weird it was that we'd came to be eating them. It was only this morning that I'd caught them with the diving nutter, and knew that they were undisputedly fresh. It's quite a satisfying feeling sitting contentedly after dinner knowing that hours earlier, you 'caught' it. Especially as they're devious little buggers on the sea bed. They bury themselves just under the sand so you can't see them. All you can see is a slight outline of their shape, and their eyes shoot in under the sand just as you approach them. If you time it right and aim right, a swift scoop underneath with a strong thumb on top usually means you've got em'.
At the end of the night, three of the Japanese came running in excitedly shouting 'Scott, Scott..' proudly presenting me with a freshly cooked quiche - 'You cook for us, and we cook for you!' They said it all at the same time like it was a recital. Their smiles were beaming like cartoon ones and I was touched. Truly touched. They really are wonderful people. What's more, they were even more delighted when I accepted, and gave me the customary 'nod'.
I would love somebody to explain to me why the world can't get on when it is so simple and takes little to no effort to do so. I can safely say I won't be forgetting this evening, ever.