Posted by: asolare | 03/07/2008

Eschatology ..

It is Sunday again and this morning we are to be found in Bible class at the Christian church on Makogai. While we probably would not have chosen to learn about Eschatology, being half an hour early for the church service this morning gave the rather fervent pastor the opportunity to teach us something new.

The local kids are well up to speed, unprompted they tell us that “Eschatos” is the Greek word for “Last”, that Eschatology is the study of (I hope I remember correctly) the “Last Phase” before Jesus returns, the World ends and we are led to heaven or hell as deserved. Fortunately, and before we are shown up completely, the service proper soon starts. Children and adults sing each hymn as if it were their last, the likelihood of which is reinforced by both Chief Watson and aforementioned fervent pastor at every break in song. It is not long before we have had our fill.

Motoring out of the bay to a dive site carefully selected by our Skipper, we find someone else already there! Not phased by this we nose up to within 20m of the reef face. Showing as a seabed-to-surface wall ahead of us on Asolare’s forward facing sonar, standing on the bow Tim and Suzi need no electronic aids to spot this hazard! The anchor is lowered and we drop back to a more comfortable 60m from the reef.

This is my 4th and final dive of the trip. Peter and Clare giant step into the water then swim to the anchor chain. Memories of our last dive still fresh, we are diving on the condition that if there is a current when we reach the seabed we will return immediately. On the surface there is a small current against us. Descending using the anchor-chain as a guide I muse the space around me, today the underwater scene extends away like the hills and sky above. This shouldn’t feel strange but it does, we must have 60-70m of visibility, it is amazing!

On the seabed and with no current to worry about we take a bearing and swim towards the reef. As we approach it towers above us and we spend a happy half hour swimming among now familiar clown fish, box fish, parrot fish and a whole host of new particularly huge fish that take no notice of us at all! We swim up down and though the various “bommie” (Australian word for pinnacle of coral) that make up the reef. Just before my pressure gauge reads 100bar indicating it is time to turn-around and make our way back. Peter indicates he has a problem.

I had noticed Peter was heading rather quickly to the surface. Now he is holding on to a piece of coral to stop himself rising further and is fiddling with his BCD. While I am new to diving I do know that a speedy non-stop trip to the surface here is not just a bad idea, being 14 hrs motoring and several reefs away from the nearest decompression chamber, it is downright dangerous! Fortunately just a couple of minutes pass, Peter regains control of his equipment and we continue with our dive.

I later find out that the main dump valve in his BCD had jammed so he was not able to release air from his BCD and maintain neutral buoyancy as pressure decreased in his tank, a situation made worse as we moved upwards exploring the reef. Having failed to un-jam it, he was forced to use one his 2 alternative dump-valves to release air. While Peter has the experience to recognise and deal with these problems, I quietly add this to the list of potential problems I am now aware of!

Safely back on the surface we recount the tale, the amazing physical structure of the reef, the near perfect visibility and sighting of Mola Mola or Ocean Sunfish. These, often giant, fish are one of the top 5 fish to see according to Tim. While he sadly was not diving with us, Tim had his day with an earlier dive to a bommie in the bay and later diving to see Giant Clam an amazing 3-4ft wide at the mouth!



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