We did three dives a day and were scheduled to do one night dive. To get three dives in, we would wake up at 6:00 p.m. actually, Two Kilo who served as the purser I guess you would call him knocked on our doors in the morning to wake us up. We would stumbled up the stairs, have a cup of coffee or maybe a banana from the bunches on the back of the boat and then the bell would ring for our briefing. The briefing was usually 30 minutes after wake-up. Briefings took place on the forward deck, Esay would present a drawing of atoll we were diving on and tell us its name and what we could expect to see. Then we would gather our gear get on the Doni and head out to dive. Our first dive the second day was Lankan Beyru or Manta Point. Manta season was just ending so it wasn’t for sure that we would see Mantas, but we were lucky. Not only did we see White tip and Gray Reef Sharks, but Eagle Rays, a Starry Pufferfish, Dogtooth Tunas and hoards of Red Tooth Triggerfish, plus Butterfly Fish, Parrot fish and Mantas. Manta Point is a cleaning station where the Mantas go to have the cleaning fish work them over and we were lucky. Two huge Mantas came into the cleaning station at least three feet in width, they look a bit like something from outter space and one of them passed directly over me with three smaller fish catching a ride. We saw three in total and one passed directly over Fred’s head. Had she reached up her arm she could have touched it. They were so graceful and HUGE. They looked a little bit like stealth bombers with their triangular wings. It was very relaxing just to watch them.
You can either stay down for one hour or until your tank hits 5 bar of air. The 50 bar ensures you have enough air for a safety stop for five minutes at 5 meters. It took me almost all week to get my breathing under control so I was usually down for around 38 minutes. Our second dive was in Voodoo Channel or Embudhoo Kandu and the current was extremely strong, but it almost felt like you were flying in a canyon between the two river cliffs. I saw tons of Red Tooth Triggerfish, a school of Eagle Rays, a Starry Pufferfish, White tip and Gray Reef sharks and a school of Big-eyed Jacks. But I ending up having to clear my mask alot which is never fun when you are diving. So after the dive Esay took a lighter and melted the seal a bit for me, that was the end of my mask probelms. In between dives we would hang out on deck, identify fish, read or do whatever. Tom and Jenny were the sunworshipers. The Austrians stayed in the shade the French couple who had only been together for three months were often somewhere off by themselves. It was a good group and the crew was great also. Our first dive was at 7:00 a.m. then after we surfaced we usually had breakfast, which was fresh fruit, eggs if you wanted them, toast and sometimes a fresh baked bread sculpture which was delicious. Our two chef where nicknamed Little Chef and Big Chef, I know that Big Chef’s name was Chamel. The food was excellent. After breakfast we would work on our dive logs sunbathe or hang out and the second dive was usually around 11:00 a.m. After the second dive we would eat lunch and then the final dive was usually around three.
Our third dive was at Guraidhoo Kandu and my nose had started running. I had been so worried about getting a cold before my dive trip that I had double up on the vitamin C, took my vitamins got plenty of sleep, because there would be nothing worse than not being able to dive on a dive trip. On our third dive I was descending right above Esay and there were these big beautiful Big-nosed Unicorn Fish, or possibly Surgeon Fish that were playing in his scuba bubbles; they would shimmy their entire bodies through the bubbles, I could imagine them giggling or yelling out wheeeeeeeeee. Literally they would shake their body through the bubbles sort of like how a dog shakes water off himself after he has gotten wet. They looked a little bit annoyed at me when I came too close for their comfort and they had to relinquish their bubble baths, but then when I looked behind me, they were playing in my bubbles. It was like the character in Nemo in the fish tank “Woo hoo bubbles, bubbles!”
That night Jen, Tom, me Mohammad, Ali and Cheddi tried to play UNO, it seems that there was some descrepancy about the rules, I thought that if you couldn’t go you had to draw until you could go, Jen thought you could play a second card after playing a wild card and the Maldivians had this weird rule where if you had two or more of the same card you could play it all in one turn. Luckily I had brought a game so we read the rules and then decided how we were going to play. I didn’t win at all, but by the time I went to bed there was no denying that I was sick.