Monday, December 6, 2010

05/12/10 Silhouette Trip

All the preparations had been made a few days before, so the group of volunteers and staff were looking forward to some good weather, a couple of exciting dives and several hours of fun and relaxation aboard the boat on one of our days off.

We arrived early to find the boat far exceeded everyone’s’ expectations. It was a tall ship with luxurious facilities, including air conditioned cabins, warm showers, cushioned seating, (a novelty compared to the hard benches we are used to on base), sun lounges for everyone, and a gourmet chef to prepare our food.

The Big Blue Divers staff on board made us very welcome and took care of our every need including kitting up our dive equipment.

We set off from Victroria making ourselves comfortable on deck while being served breakfast, and admired the view of Mahe in the morning sun,heading towards Silhouette. Conditions could not have been better for sailing, diving, and sunbathing.

We reached the island in good time and started kitting up for our first dive at Grand Barbe, entering the water just before 10am. Rather than our usual backward roll, we lined up and took giant strides from the gang plank (a first for some of us) to find ourselves in water with about 30m visibility.

We were told to look out for the beautiful corals, bumphead parrotfish, humphead wrasse, sharks, rays, turtle, and all the usual reef fish, and were not disappointed. Everyone came back on board beaming and exhilarated from the experience.

We were then served a light snack, had time to swap stories of what we had all seen before arriving at our next dive site, Mondon Rocks. We followed the same routine to enter and found the visibility about 10m – 20m, and the current a little stronger than the previous dive. The seabed was huge granite rocks rising out of the sea, covered in amazing corals, with plenty of places for marine life to hide.

One group managed to see a couple of large nurse sharks (4m) resting under a rock overhang, and one of the volunteers was almost mistaken for a mate by a large amorous male hawksbill turtle. She looked behind her just in time to see him as surprised as she was and that the partnership was never to be. The dive was as amazing as the previous one, and no one really wanted to get back on board.

We were served a delicious lunch and after, a few of us went closer to the shore to do some snorkelling, while others snoozed in the sun. As the boat continued on its course around Silhouette and then headed off towards Mahe, we had a few drinks from the bar, and watched the sun setting before docking back in Victoria.

Staff and volunteers agreed that it was one of the best days so far, and we would all like to do it again sometime, so if you get the chance, don’t let it pass you by.