Saturday, December 19, 2009

All in a days diving

I went diving on Saturday. The diving was great, but that is not what I am here to tell you about.

We meet at the (relatively) swanky Airways hotel at an ungodly quarter to seven on Saturday morning. At least I did, the other divers were all varying degrees of late and rolled up over the next half hour. Good job we got up early eh! Anyway eventually we were all ready for the off.

One of the divers had a motorbike, very unusual for Port Moresby where they are anything but a favoured form of transportation. Anyway he said he was going to meet us at the boat and duly set off, flying through the car park like he was being chased by a mad bull on Red Bull. Shortly after this we finally all piled into the minibus and off we set for Bootless Bay about 20 minutes away (usually).

Just outside the main town and on the road we were taking is the somewhat notorious settlement known as Six Mile. Plenty of places here are known by the number of miles they rest from the centre of town, hence there are residential areas at two mile and four mile, the airport is at 7 mile and a small town come settlement at 6 mile (there is a new Buk Bilong Pikinini library there two).

As we left the confines of 6 mile we found one reason that bikes are not a favoured means of getting about, our bikie friend was at the side of the road with a puncture. There was much talk of raskols putting things in the road to puncture tyres so that they could relieve drivers of their 'surplus' Kina. Happily no raskols appeared. The guy had taken the precaution of travelling as far as he could on the flat tyre just in case.

Protocol and common sense say that you don't leave someone alone at the roadside so we all hung about for 10 minutes until one of his wantoks turned up in a Ute and took away the newly inoperative bike. (For you Poms a Ute is a small pickup truck and bikies are bikers).

Off we set again, 5 minutes up the road was a police roadblock masquerading under the somewhat euphemistic name of a 'road safety check'. These are very common at present with Christmas just around the corner. Our driver had left his licence in the other van so a finger wagging and a K20 fine were in order (christmas is coming and those celebratory comestibles don't buy themselves you know). After a bit of form filling and of course a bit of paying up, we were on our way yet again.

Nothing stopped us this time and in 10 minutes were on the dive boat and underway.

Two or three minutes offshore everything suddenly when quite as the morning's third hiatus got into gear; the boat's engine spluttered to a disappointing and disquieting stop. We drifted in silence staring alternatively at each other and at our resent point of departure just a short drift away (maybe).

We were still within easy sight of the wharf and with the first dive site 30 minutes or so in front of us. As we drifted in the current 'in front' gradually became 'behind' and the crew thought it prudent to throw out the anchor. The boss went below to the engine room and after a few minutes of restrained clanking, emerged and restarted the engine. Someone had switched to the second fuel tank but left the shut-off valve on the new tank living up to its name, which is to say Shut! Progress under such circumstances was always going to be limited we were sagely and entirely believably advised.

So, three incidents under our belts and its not yet 9. Off we go … for a day of incident free diving at the outer reef (basically the northern extension of the Great Barrier Reef).

One the way home there was a loud splash as the owner and boss of the organisation fell overboard! More calamities? No. They were running a 'Rescue Divers' course that day and this man overboard drill was just a practice part of that course.