Brave Hearts Dive Deep

Reality Whistles a Different Tune Underwater.

It’s that time of year again where a new adventure is waiting at a familiar place – Sodwana Bay! One of the most south coral reefs in the world. In case you were wondering, even more south than the Great Barrier Reef. It is among these deserted beached and high forest dunes that my soul rest.

I arrived with the rain at Coral Divers, which really doesn’t matter if you’re diving. Some of my old favourite humans who worked here has moved onto new adventures, some of the golden oldies are still here. I felt quite special when they wrote my name down for the best dives even before dive planning started. Some new smiling faces has already crept into my heart. The one thing about this place that gets me every time is the warmth of its people.

I mentioned a revamp in a previous post which they’ve now completed while managing to maintain the rough charm. Spoilers below.

I loved everything about my room. The guineafowls outside my room, the outside shower, the trees, the white linen and most importantly the aircon.

I thanked the Lord Almighty that Jeff was our skipper after seeing the high swells and the disgruntled sea. No one knows this ocean like Jeff. On calm seas the surf launches are exciting experiences with all the divers pulling the boat into the shallow water and jump on ones the engines starts. In a rough see you hold on for dear life. I guess that is an experience withing itself. Jeff’s mastery was once again proven when all the other boats hung back in the ocean waiting for the swell to calm, while he skillfully navigated his way through the big water to shore.

My first dive was a 34m at Roonies. Roonies lies just north of Bikini. It is only the second time I’ve dived Roonies and I dived 2m deeper than previously. On our safety stop a school of Moorish Idols circled me and they were magnificent!

My second dive was Wayne’s World at the two mile reef. It was my first time diving this reef. According to the locals this reef was named after a local skipper, Wayne Schick. It was a beautiful dive. Thistle Coral, a big Potato Bass, crown of thorn Starfish, and all the usual colourful suspects one has come to expect from a Sodwana coral reef dive. At one point we were completely surrounded by a school Bluestreek Fusiliers. It felt like there were millions of them and I was happily swallowed whole by this beautiful school of fish. I was in awe and this was by far the highlight of my dive. Despite the strong current I was also quite pleased to see how much my bottom time has increased over the last few years.

My third dive was Pothole at the five mile reef, another one I’ve never dived before. Having dived nine miles and seven miles a couple of times I had high expectations for this one and it didn’t disappoint. We were lucky enough to spot five large blacktip sharks on the dive.

My next dive was North of Wayne’s World which is a slightly deeper dive. It was a visibility gamble, but the gamble paid off. I kind of momentarily lost my group when I got lost in though watching three big (very amusing) clown trigger fish swim and play around. My buddy, an English bloke visiting South Africa, found me shortly after. Back on the boat, post a long satisfying dive (the dive was not terminated due to me momentarily losing my way), the banter started. My buddy lovingly pointed out, in his beautiful British accent, that I was never truly lost. He knew exactly where I was. Bless him. After this every dive master started their dive brief, grinning, asking me not to follow another dive group. The highlights of this dive was a humongous turtle resting in one of the overlays. We also saw some lobsters and two small rays.

My second last dive took me back to Ribbon on five mile. I was finally able to dive with the lovely Canadians I’ve met just earlier that week. We were lucky enough to see dolphins on the boat ride to the dive site. Although visibility was not great, resulting in the less experienced divers in the group literally swimming on top of each other, it was still a lovely dive. My British buddy and I managed to keep some distance between ourselves and the bundle while keeping them in the eye. The highlight was a larger than life Honeycomb Eel. I’ve seen big eels before, but that one was a gigantic! We also saw two exquisitely graceful Ribbon Eels. This reef is actually named after the elegant ribbon eels that calls this reef home. We started at little Ribbon and made our way to big Ribbon.

I contemplated canceling my last dive due to the crappy visibility, but I’m glad that I saw it through. Destination: Pick n Pay (the reef, not the grocery store) on two mile. The visibility was shockingly bad, but the dive master signaled that we swim a loop and if it doesn’t get better we go back up again. We were a small group of experienced divers. Soon enough we hit clear water. This dive was all about the detail. We saw so many Nudibranch, Ghost Shrimps, beautiful hard and soft coral, Blennies, and so much more profile than I expected. The highlight was by far the Peacock Mantis Shrimp or “Boxing” Shrimp as we call it. These guys can hurt you real bad if you are not careful. They cannot be hold captive in aquariums because their potent punch breaks the glass. Quite a few divers swam passed this guy, and to each their own. Personally I like to slow things down and take it all in or you might just miss something as spectacular as a Boxing Shrimp. It is not the first time I saw one of these, but they always succeed in capturing my attentions. The same rings true for the many different Nudis we saw. We were hoping for a Scorpion Fish, but I will have to come back for that camouflage king on my next visit. My first ever proper dive ever I almost put my hand down on one of those sneaky beautiful devils to steady myself. I almost peed in my wetsuit when I realised that it was alive and that I almost died. All in all I ended my last dive on a high note.

Sodwana Bay, Coral Divers

After the dive we walked to buy “pineapple ice-creams” as per tradition. I use the term very loosely because its literally a pineapple that you eat the same way you would an ice-cream.

My last night was met with a thunderstorm and hailstorm of note. I drank it all in, because it reminds me of my childhood home. All to soon I would be heading back to beautiful Cape Town with its soft rain that you scarcely hear. For one night at least my soul was at peace with the raw Africa thunder that still drums to the beat of my heart.

The next morning I arrived at my car with a Lindt Chocolate ball in my windscreen. Who ever put it there, thank you for making my vacation a little bit sweeter. Thanks to Pura Soda for keeping me hydrated during my surface intervals.

XOXO

A Scuba Addict

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