Dive #99, #100: Manly Bommie and The Chapel, Sydney

 Dive 1Dive 2  Dive 1Dive 2
Place:Manly BommieThe Chapel Buddy:Eithne
Weather:Fine Type:Boat (Sea Life V)
Max. depth (m):14.614.6 Visibility (m):1010
Time down:14:1716:23 Dive time (mins):5647
Average depth (m):11.612.5 Water temp. (C):21.019.0

Notes: Fourth of a 10-pack of double dives with Pro-Dive shared between myself and Eithne.

Price: See dives #93, #94.

Diving: Pro Dive have a pretty consistent daily schedule. They do a double-dive in the morning and one in the afternoon, picking up divers for each at both Rose Bay and Manly. In the morning, they leave from Manly with the first batch of divers and a quota of full tanks. Then they pick up the remaining divers at Rose bay and go out for the first double. On the way back, they stop at Rose bay first so the morning divers get off and the first group of afternoon divers get on. Over to Manly then and the remaining morning divers are exchanged for afternoon divers and the empty tanks are exchanged for full ones, before heading out for the afternoon.

This was an afternoon dive for Simon, Ciara, Eithne and I. We got on as usual at Rose Bay. Brad, Eric and a few other regulars were on board. Tony from Coogee got on too with a group of four doing the advanced course. At Manly, the exchange of divers and tanks took place and another Pro Dive instructor called Evo came on board. He was one of these sandy Australians, looking like he’d washed up on a beach at some point. His torso was covered in tattoos of underwater scenes like some sub-aquatic Hell’s Angel with a penchant for hammerheads.

The first site was Manly Bommie. Brad remembered my feedback from last week so we had no choice but to navigate ourselves as a quartet. He drew us a helpful map so everything was quite clear until we got underwater where nothing seemed to match up to its cartographic representation. We shrugged and followed a gully west for a while and then a wonky path southwest, then east and finally north, attempting a route reminiscent of a square; compasses are fantastic devices for this sort of endeavour. Still, the confidence was shaky at best and worry was just starting to creep up when we happened on the gully again. Hurrah. Back towards the anchor then and after one wrong and a quick loop around, we arrived triumphantly at the anchor chain. After 55 minutes, we were last back on board, but no one seemed too upset.

During the surface interval, one of the guys on the advanced course was ill and they gave him oxygen, apparently as a precaution. Still they took it pretty seriously and he was left off to a waiting ambulance at Watson’s bay. He didn’t look to be in great shape. Then the police arrived in their own boat and after a brief exchange with the Pro Dive skipper, we left for the second dive.

The second dive was at a site called the Chapel, around the corner from Watson’s bay. We self-navigated again, with Simon leading a nice star-shaped exploratory pattern centred on the anchor chain. The most significant aspect of this dive was that it was my hundredth, a big deal by all accounts. Some people like to do their hundredth naked but not me. I’ve been practicing my scissors kick and I didn’t fancy winking the brown eye to all and sundry every fin stroke. That’s in addition to the acute penile abrasion that would likely occur and the cold-water shrinkage that would hurt my pride even more. So instead I was clad as normal, hiding my sculpted figure from fish and fellow diver alike.

On the way back, Evo gave out about the drying of dust caps with the remaining air from the tank. He claimed it micronizes the salt risking damage to the first stage, and furthermore, the practise can cause sub-cutaneous embolisms. A bit of research here and here and it turns out he’s right, but only in theory I suspect: the practise is so widespread that the risks, while apparently real, must be tiny. I’d say biggest risk is getting a clout from the guy sitting next to you for the noise.

Equipment: Rented tank. Own everything else. 24 lb weight, 18 in BCD and 6 in weight belt.

Camera notes: I shot some pictures in RAW mode for the first time ever, and had a go at tweaking them in a 30-day trial of Lightroom. Results in the gallery.

Accumulated time underwater: 2 days, 16 hours and 59 minutes

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