Friday, March 04, 2011

Honduras - Days 5-6

Wednesday, March 2

Here is an instructive map of the immediate Coco View area from a dive perspective. Sorry about the lack of pictures on this post. Brad has a lot of pictures and video, but, the dive pictures are hard to deal with (too many to sort through on this tiny machine) and I've not been in the water too much to use my camera.

I'm a bit gun-shy. I've been violently ill to my stomach two days in a row and I don't want to make it three. That said, I'm not known for knowing when to say when. I'm here to dive, and dive I will. In my favour: new anti-nausea meds on loan from Brad, calm seas, the brashness of (near)youth, the desperation of (near)age, and a very light breakfast (just in case).

Betrayal! They are taking our boat on the longest ride of any of the dives I'll do while here--23 minutes. Doesn't sound like much, but the trip that laid me out on 'V-Day' was barely 8. I work hard to distract myself and am rewarded with a event free, dare I say pleasant, ride.

Alehandra and I take care of the last few skills that I need to display for her and then she takes me on a guided dive of the area. I thought that having a guide would be unnecessary, but it makes a huge difference to a novice. The level of distraction under the water is phenomenal. There is so much life on these reefs that inexperienced eyes don't stand a chance of picking out any particular detail. With Alehandra's help, I get to see a black seahorse about 4-inches long and a couple grisly looking toad-fish. The dive-masters and instructors are great about finding and showing us the hard to find and rare elements on these dives but to be honest, everywhere I look it is spectacular.

We are scheduled to do another dive in the afternoon. My mask has been bothering me. It is pressing up against my nose and making it really sore. It is a big problem because to equalize the pressure in your head as you dive, you pinch your nose and gently blow. This process is repeated frequently as you change depth. You do not want a sore nose. I get a new rental mask from the dive shop.

There are many, many fish on this dive. We pass through several schools of them. It's like watching a ship in Star-Trek enter warp speed, only with fish :) Although it fit well in the shop, the pressures of the deep reveal that my new mask leaks... badly. I have to clear my mask every minute or two of the 40 minute dive.

Brad and I do the “drop off” dive on the way back to Cocoview. This is when the boat returns most of the way and you get off in one of several nearby reef walls and swim back. I accept his offer to switch masks. His is a perfect fit for me and doesn't leak a drop. My mask still leaks on him, but at a manageable level and he offers to extend the arrangement for my benefit. He has been an essential asset on this trip. I'll have to keep him around for future endeavours. I doubt that I would have overcome the barriers to diving that I've experienced without his patient help.

We keep Cocoview wall on our right as we explore around the 15m depth. We see several of the deadly lion-fish that are becoming too common in the area. They are an invasive species here, with no natural predators. Dive-masters are trained to safely kill and dispose of them. I do not get to witness any of these events.

More cards and pool in the evening.

Thursday, March 3

I'm finally feeling great and looking forward to the dives. Things are falling into a real rhythm. I go for a
run around the island, play some basket ball, eat light and dive.

1st morning dive was at a location called Mary's Place. There is a 1-3m wide trench dropping from 10m down to 25m. The entrance is right around 18m. It was beautiful (and a little unnerving) to be surrounded on 3 sides with only a narrow saw-tooth gap above you letting in enough light to read your gauges and see the wildlife. Our boat did a trench yesterday, as well, but I wasn't certified until lunch time, so I wasn't allowed to go in. Very happy to have the opportunity this time round. On the way back we do the drop-off dive along Newman's wall.

After lunch, you guessed it, more diving. I'm really enjoying myself now. Sad that the first couple of days were tough, but that makes these dives all the sweeter. The afternoon is a shallow dive over a golden carpeted reef. With the sunlight streaming in from above, it is ethereal in it's beauty. Along the wall, where the reef drops off into the deep, we explore some nooks and crannies. Our dive-master points out the tail of an eel, sleeping on a recessed shelf of coral. A bit further on, I find another. It is even larger (perhaps 2m), it's spear point of a head laid in peaceful repose. Our dive-master is nervous to get too close, having had some very close encounters in the past.