week 3 with Opwall
25.07.2013 - 01.08.2013
So, week 2 on Hoga began superbly with a staff fun dive on ridge 1 early the first morning, where my camera began doing something funny that it’s never done before (I’d just been speaking about viruses on the computers in the computer room the evening before and thought that maybe the SD card had picked up something funny), and in my efforts to work out what was going on, I paid no attention to what depth I was at and over-profiled by a half metre! This happened in the first five minutes of the dive, and so I spent the dive pissed off that my camera wasn’t working and that I’d over-profiled and would be in trouble cos of that and not really enjoying the beauty of the ridge at all until towards the end of the dive.. As it turned out, the camera was fine, but the one of the buttons in the housing needed fixing – it was sticking in the pressed in position which, with the added water pressure, prevented the camera from working. It has since been fixed (Thanks Jon C) and it now looks like one of the others is going, but I don’t know yet if it’s one that will prevent the camera from working or not – I’d like to not have to fix it til I get back to France…
My punishment for over-profiling (by 50 cm) was that my fun-diving rights were taken away for the week, and I was put on coffee bitch duty (with one of the others who wasn’t sure exactly what she’d done to deserve it) at the DCHQ – this meant it was our duty to make sure that there were always clean cups and spoons and an ample supply of water, coffee, tea etc for the week. I wasn’t impressed – I can’t actually remember the last time someone punished me for something.. It was a bit like being back at school or being a child again. But rules are rules, and out here they’re there for a reason.. If I ever come back I’ll know how to put an alarm on my dive computer to warn me when I’m getting close!
In the end, it wasn’t a bad week to be banned from fun diving as it was the busiest week in the history of Hoga, with about 220 or so people on the island. I can’t remember how many thousand tanks were filled nor how many boats went out, but it was busy and there wasn’t a whole heap of time for fun diving. I also joined the relatively large group of divers with outer ear infections that week, and so the fewer dives the better, to allow that to clear up. So you could say it all worked out for the best..
The ear infection cleared itself up pretty easily – I caught it early as so many people had or had had one, I was aware of the symptoms. The prime suspect for these ear infections is the mandi water that we use to wash with. Most of the divers dive regularly in tropical waters without getting ear infections, so the mandi water is the only big difference in their daily lives. As the mandi water containers get refilled fairly regularly, but are never emptied, there is no doubt a very interesting microcosm exists at the bottom of the containers. The trick is not to disturb the bottom waters, and not to get any water into your ears, and to rinse them well with filtered water if you do.. Unfortunately, without a bit of research, this will never be more than just a theory, but it’s the theory that the medic believed.
We also lost out on a half day’s worth of diving because of a swarm of blue bottles that were washed in.
During week 2, I was on a school’s open water referral course – this was kids who were supposed to have done all their theory and confined water work back in England, and had only their open water work left to do. Fortunately our group were pretty good and had remembered most of what they were supposed to do, and they pretty much sailed thro’ the four open-water dives. At the end of the week I ended up leading some CRE (Coral Reef Ecology) snorkels for the school kids who couldn’t hack the OW dives. This was quite interesting as I hadn’t done the CRE course myself, so I ended up showing them the stuff I knew more than the stuff I was supposed to show them (as I wasn’t so good at Identifying it!). I have to say, this was one of the most rewarding things I did during the 4 weeks that I worked with Opwall as these kids had never seen a tropical coral reef before, and they were so amazed by it and couldn’t believe that brain coral is called brain coral cos it actually resembles a brain etc.. Their enthusiasm made me see the reef thro’ their eyes – as if I’d never seen one before. Sometimes I forget how beautiful everything is.
During this week we also had a half day out of the water due to an emergency evacuation of one of the school kids who had inhaled some seawater during an OW skill and appeared to be developing pulmonary edema. She was evacuated by boat and plane to the hospital in Makassar, with one of the medics, one of the head dive staff and one of her teachers. At the end of the day she was fine, but no doubt thanks to the efforts of the two medics on Hoga and to her instructor who got her out of the water and to the clinic asap. We were kept out of the water while the medics were busy with her as they couldn’t have dealt with another problem (or rather, didn’t need another one!). I think this may also have been the week where some people for stung by the bluebottles, but all my weeks have merged into one at this point, so I don’t really remember..
I do remember that the party night theme was International Stereotypes, and the science group did really really well – the dive staff kind of sucked that week.. We did a beach clean-up on de-gas day, where we went to a beach that had been cleaned two weeks previously and did it again. But we weren’t cleaning the entire beach. Instead we had sections 5 m wide and as long as the beach was from the sea to the top. In these sections we collected all the rubbish, categorised it into 5 categories, and counted how many bits of rubbish were in each category. To the edges of the 5 m section were two 1 m sections, thebuffer zones. We collected all the rubbish in these secions too, but we didn’t categorise or count it. When we got back to base, we weighed all the bags. The data is being collated and will be sent to the Indonesian government at the end of the season to show how much rubbish accumulates on the beach in a 2 week period. Obviously the same sections are being cleaned each time. There was an incredible amount of rubbish on the beach, all of it washed up by the tide as nobody lives near the particular beach. It was difficult however, for me to clean just within those limits and to leave stuff that was just outside them – but that’s how the survey works.
And so, as my memory sucks, I’m going to stop there and publish this so at least ye’ve something to read, even if it’s not very exciting at all..