3 Routes
Highlights of the Area

Only a week ago I took out on a chartered boat a group of would-be divers, two had already received the basics in both pool and open water, one had been diving before (a natural!) and made me confident he'd be comfortable in the water, the last one (since two "chickened out" at the last moment) was a total beginner. O.K. I give a briefing on the dive site (Trio Island in Sai Kung -Hong Kong -SAR), describe the bottom, tell all about the coral garden, the anemones and the (very aggressive) clownfishes, detail the procedures etc.

Time comes to enter the water, I set my watch, give the O.K. signal to my tender on the boat and instruct the divers to follow the shotline to the bottom (poor viz) estimated at 15/18 meters. Most of the party follows instructions and sinks holding onto the shotline, feet first descent, two miss totally the line and are swept into the current. I reach the bottom and pair up the two I had with me (one O.W. candidate+ 1 beginner)telling then to stick together and await my return (God how useful a slate can be at times!) then fin my way up again to track the missing pair: I catch sight of their bubbles on the surface and head down again to re-join them. No way! Fast current and divers on the bottom finning in the wrong direction. I give up: they're O.K., they're a buddy pair, they'll surface when they realize they have the wrong heading.

Down again I go to re-join my other pair: they're O.K., check gauges, decide direction and.....off we go. Except that the O.W. takes unexpectedly the lead and fins off like a rocket towards the coral garden. The beginner can't keep the pace and I'm compelled to stay with him to calm him down (viz 1/2 meter). When I began losing sight of the "self-appointed leader" I position the beginner on the bottom and race ahead to catch up. This done and having given the IMPERIOUS command "up you go, do your safety stop!" I made another YO-YO to the surface to check that the other couple had realized their mistake and were heading back to the boat. O.K.: three people under control again. Where's the fourth now (the absolute beginner)? Remove fins, clamber up to the sun deck to catch sight of the bubbles and back down scrambling to the dive platform with one fin on and the other under my arm. Into the water and heading for the last spotted bubbles. Another descent in poor viz with only the bubbles guiding me as I approached the bottom: there he is. Calm as a cat on a sunny day, breathing easily and still kneeling on the bottom in the exact position I'd left him. I approach from the front (not to scare him) and signal O.K.? to which he replies O.K. with a faint hint to "fine". Doing good. We surface together, after doing a mid-water safety stop and swim for the boat.

Mask around my neck I turn to him (Jaimie) and ask: "How'd you know I'd come back for you?"
He grins, places his mask around his collar in the same fashion he'd seen me do it and quietly answers:"You're my divemaster, I KNEW you'd never leave me down there!"

That was a disaster dive trip on a very beautiful dive site but we all enjoyed the positive aspects of it: buddy separation, procedures, navigation. Comfort in the water.
When I mentioned there'd been several shark sightings (and at least three reported attacks) in that area, the party was so taken with "did you see?", "what was that?" and updating their logbooks that I skipped the subject.
Andy Palmas

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