The Dive Deck on a liveaboard
The most crowded place on the GSS is the Dive Deck – here we store and put on / take off our dive equipment. Because there are 24 divers, we are divided into two groups and alternate between which group kits up first. Not that it makes any difference about when you go into the water because you are not going to be down any longer or shorter whichever group you go in.
We each have a position on the deck where our tank is strapped and under that position is a plastic crate within which we store masks and other loose equipment. West suits are hung up on one side so that they can dry out between dives. Fins are kept down on the diving platform. A fresh water tank is to one side into which your camera will be put after a dive. Masks are never put into the tank for fear of passing on infections to other divers.
Here also are stored the spare weights, nitrox testers, the repair kit, drinking water and also emergency oxygen. The all important ship’s bell can be seen hanging on the wall – this summons you to briefings, meals and also is used to announce “abandon ship” (hopefully never used for this purpose).
When you are putting on your gear (and taking it off), one of the boat deck team usually helps you with the straps and also (usually surreptitiously) checks that you have turned your air on before you leave the deck. They also help with fins just before you dive in.
When you have finished a dive and taken off and stowed your kit, the Gas Mixer connects up your tank in-situ to the boat’s compressors so that it is quickly ready for the next dive. On the GSS, 200 to 220 bar was the norm.
This is a cone shaped underwater pinnacle whose dimensions are such that in one dive, you can circle it a number of times at different depths.
So the plan is to descend to 30m off the back of the boat, reef on the left and then circle it three times at reducing depths so that after 1 hour we are at about 10m and 60bar pressure.
As is always the case, reality underwater is not quite the same shape as the map but the cone nature of the reef is clear.
Amongst the soft corals are lots of Broccoli of various
colours, lots of thin Lattice Coral
and hidden away on the side, lying quite innocently is a
a Dashed Cone – some cones are very poisonous and it can be fatal if you are stung, this one is not but it is best to leave them all alone just in case.
The fish are the usual suspects – pairs of Banner Fish
small shoals of snappers – note the decoy eye near its tail
a Titan Trigger Fish which thankfully is not guarding a nest
a large Emperor Angel Fish
and numerous hiding in the coral hoping they had not been seen
and out to sea are numerous Giant Sweetlips
All in all, this was a good dive. Others saw a Thresher Shark and some Reef Sharks but these were down below 40m - too deep for my gas mix.