Huahine diving

Maitai Lapita dress code – “A minimum dress code is required at the restaurant and we ask you not to appear shirtless.”

Monday 5/26.

Heading out from Fare and towards our first diveWe had arranged the day before to go out with Pacific Blue Adventure diving.  They were a small dive shop in downtown Fare (having said that, I’m not sure Fare is even big enough to have a downtown).  Michel was the captain and he took us out on our dives.  Normally Jenni, who works with Michel, would have lead the dives but she was suffering from a head cold and wisely opted to stay with the boat while the rest of us were under water.

A little bit of nervousness which vanished once we were in the undersea worldI remember when I took my dive training classes, our instructor would emphasize safety and tell us stories of horrible things that had gone wrong when divers did not take all sensible precautions.  We were told that if a diving situation didn’t seem right or if there was a failure of equipment you should just scrub the dive.  It’s not worth risking your life!!

Dot & Dash Butterfly fish and Pyramid ButterflyfishBut it’s hard when you get down to a beautiful place like French Polynesia after months of diving dreams… it’s hard to say “No, you haven’t followed all of the correct protocols – I won’t go diving with you.”

Divers feeding the Titan Triggerfish, Black Triggerfish, and Pyramid ButterflyfishMichel’s dive shop was a dingy messy hole in the wall at the end of a long industrial style building by the sea.  We got our gear there and boarded his boat, a medium sized boat with room for 10 divers, although on this trip Sandy and I were the only passengers.

Michel began putting our gear together, I told him that Sandy should do her own for practice, so he explained what he was doing as he hurried through the process of strapping straps and connecting hoses, a cigarette dangling from his lips as he turned the tank on to check the air.

Maybe an Island Goatfish?He got our weights out and put them in the pockets of our BCDs.  I asked about weight belts and he said they weren’t needed because the weights were in our pockets.  A Triggerfish of some sort (not in my book)In case there is any confusion, I’d like to emphasize that I don’t mean integrated weight pockets with bright orange tabs sticking out so you can grab them and dump your weights in an emergency.  Noooooooo… any weight dumping here would involve reaching into the pocket and grabbing the individual weights and pulling them back out.

So this is the point where we should back out, right?  The boat hadn’t even left the dock.  For the record let me tell you that both Michel and Jenni were incredibly nice. They were very patient with Sandy who is still new to diving with only seven dives under her belt and some anxious memories from the dives she had done before.  Maybe a Spotted Unicornfish?And at the end of the first dive, when Sandy’s loosely buckled dive computer slipped off her wrist and began it’s slow meandering descent to the 45 foot bottom, Orange-lined Triggerfish (although the diagonal lines don't look that orange to me!)Michel didn’t hesitate to dive back down from the surface and retrieve it. And afterwards Sandy got lessons on how to properly secure a dive computer.

So of course we went out.  And we had a wonderful time.  Sandy had a little angst at the beginning of her dive but soon adjusted and was diving like a pro.  Actually, a slight revision. Sandy just reminded me at the beginning of the first dive she was a little stressed floating on the surface and wanted a minute to calm down before we began the descent.  Peacock GrouperPerhaps Michel’s not quite as patient as I remembered because he just told Sandy “let’s go” and started down.  Yellowtail Coris - Intermediate PhaseBut in the end all was good. Oh… Except for Sandy’s buoyancy problems at the end of the dive as her tank became lighter and Michel had to slip another weight into her pocket to keep her from floating up to the surface.  But other than these little mishaps everything went great and Sandy ended her first post-certification dive a much more confident and happy diver!

Titan Triggerfish

And we saw some great stuff on this dive. Probably the most memorable for me was the beautiful Titan triggerfish of which we saw several.  FrenchPoly_20140526_1011_55_700

FrenchPoly_20140526_1125_66_700After an hour break on shore we set out for our second dive.  Now that sandy was feeling more confident we had to throw a new challenge at her. This time we’d be swimming with sharks.  We motored south(?) about 20 minutes or so to a spot that would have made a great shore dive. We anchored less than a hundred yards off shore. Christmas Tree WormsThe water here was 30 feet deep and our dive maxed out a little over 50 feet. And we saw sharks!  I counted 10 black tip sharks by the end of our dive. Blacktip reef sharkWhen we surfaced Sandy’s first comment was “they’re so small”, apparently these 4 foot reef sharks did not measure up to her imaginations of great whites snatching divers out of the water column and taking them to depths far deeper than our recreational certifications allow.

Flame Angelfish and Pacific Half-and-Half ChromisWe motored back to shore, snacking on minature 3 inch bananas and talking about the dives. They were wonderful dives although when Sandy and I were talking later we both agreed that we saw a greater variety of fish snorkeling the reef just off our hotel beach. Celebratory beer after a successful dive!Not to say anything bad about the diving but more a testament to how incredibly good the snorkeling was for us.

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