Its April the 1st, and I’m sitting on the beach reflecting on the day that’s just past. This is no April fool, but it has been a great Monday.
The first thing that I reflect upon, being that I am originally from the UK, is that on this April 1st there is widespread snow at home. Temperatures are sub-zero and all of my friends are asking ‘when is winter going to end?’. In Carriacou, by contrast, the day had clear blue skies and a calm turquoise blue sea. The temperature was a good 28 degrees centigrade and there was a cooling breeze blowing in from the North. A typical day on this tiny Caribbean Island, and pretty damn perfect (if you ask me).
Although it was a public holiday today, we opened the dive shop as usual at 8am and started to prepare for today’s dives. We had a booking from a small group of first year veterinary students from St George’s University in Grenada. The group was a mixture of fairly experienced Advanced Open Water divers and a couple of newly certified’s with only 4 dives to their names. So this Monday morning started like many other Monday mornings….
With the boat loaded with tanks, equipment and divers we headed out. Did I mention that the sea was calm and blue? It was a short trip out of Hillsborough to one of my favourite dive sites – ‘Whirlpool’. Now I didn’t name the dive site, else I would never have called it ‘Whirlpool’, but its one of my favourites because its like 4 dives in 1, and consistently very good. As we moored up I gave the briefing and let our little group in for what we had planned….
The dive commenced with a gentle decent onto the coral garden and then dropping down the wall to 18 meters (60ft). The wall was alive with marine life, lobsters, shrimps, schools of chub and chromis, creole wrasse and trumpet fish. The soft coral swayed slowly in the current. Its a pretty wall, vibrant with colours and protected from the strong northerly currents by Mabouya island. The fish love it, which means the divers love it.
After a few minutes, from out of the blue, a gloomy shape starts to form. At first just a dark flirtation, before it draws in more substance and structure. As we get closer the shape morphs into one of the wrecks that lie off our shores. The wreck here is the John D Wacka, a small tugboat which was deliberately sunk a an artificial reef in 1998. It was badly beaten up by Hurricane Lennie in 1999 and now lies at 24m (75ft). Its a great nursery for Sargeant Majors, small mouth grunts and tomtates, and is a wonderful experience for the newly certified divers (as we hover above it at 18m).
We leave the wreck and head back to the wall, making our way swiftly to a shallower depth. We continue to marvel in nature’s structures as we look at tall and broad hard coral towers, mini cities to a myriad of marine creatures. Ahead there is a small sandy channel which I lead the group into. I turn to see the look of amazement in the divers faces as we move into a large patch of volcanic bubbles. These bubbles are what gives ‘whirlpool’ its name and change this dive from a nice one, to a great one! The bubbles are a vent from the nearby Kick-em Jenny volcano, and give us the impression of diving through a champagne glass. The sulphur rich bubbles attract Jacks and Mackerels which swim around us in a frenetic pattern, darting this way and that around us.
With air getting low, we made the turn and started to head back towards the boat. The return was quite a simple affair, keeping close to the huge boulders which make up the ‘Boulder Garden’ and skirting the sand channels. We saw a lobster colony with perhaps 8 or 9 small lobsters crowding under a single rocky crag, trunk fish and a huge porcupine fish (staring at us as though in shocked bewilderment). As we crested the final rise before hitting the mooring we witnessed the most beautiful sight of the morning. Ahead, no more than 2m away, was a fully grown spotted eagle ray, gliding effortlessly down the channel. It saw us approach and instead of fleeing into the blue it completed a hard banking maneuver to the left and wheeled around to pass us again. Checking out the curious group with the bubbles.
Excitedly we returned to the boat with many ‘wow’s’ and ‘did you see’s?’ and a group of very enthralled divers. Seeing the sights of the dive, but more importantly seeing the faces of the divers at the end is what makes this job the best one in the world and reminds me that I love my Monday mornings in this office!
If you’re interested in diving with us, or would like to learn to dive, come and check out our diving options at http://www.deeferdiving.com/carriacoudiving.html