Friday, April 29, 2011

To search, perchance to find...

Well, I promised to tell of our day - Jamie having a day off and the weather forecast being good, we seized the day, and we took Jamie's boat out of West End -- and had a good look for my weight-belt... which I found!!! This comes under the heading of totally unlikely miricles. I had meanwhile stacked more weights on the other belt - it's at about 13Kg now and that is just too little when an aqualung is empty and too much to free-dive comfortably. If I wore an old suit, I'd sink like... a weightbelt, without a diver. So still a need for a few more weights and another belt, as aqualungs are really for crayfishing as far as I am concerned.

It was a bit of an iffy day, and Jamie's one motor was misfiring a bit so we did not head out to Frankland rock (I was grateful - the current streams at about 3 knots and it's not too big and it is several miles offshore.)

Instead we dived off Cape Frankland off a big rock in the middle of the bay. I went one way and as usual Jamie the other. I was trying to go the same way, but my underwater sense of direction is rubbish and Jamie was already down by the time I got in. The first part - around 15-17 metres was actually too power-scoured and sans cracks, but when I got around to the other side - 10 metres or so, it was much better. I spotted a huge cray under a boulder. Getting in was a bit tight, (no room to move your hands back from in front of your head, but I thought fine (quite normal for free-diving)... until, 2 hands on cray... and I knocked my mouthpiece out trying to wriggle it out. I had to reverse out, because I couldn't get my arms back. and get it again, which was a good excercise in controlling panic. Still, it worked (look I had full lung full of air, and 2 minutes really to do it in) and I learned what could and couldn't be done with an aqualung and BC. Jamie frequently takes his off to go into cracks but NO THANKS. Anyway - a bit spooked I swam around the rock - not going back into that hole.
And there was another small crack... and from OUTSIDE the rock I could reach his tail all curled up to jam him there. I straightened that out, wriggled him around and got him to a wider area, and out. (Sounds easy. It's not). Holding the cray (3.2Kg) with both hands I swam back to the boat. Jamie was also coming in with a bag - 2 males and 3 females (slightly smaller), to my one, but he'd finished his air, was cold and I still had 140 in my tank. So I went back to the area I had just come from (having swum a big useless 12-3 o'clock anticlocwise circle the first time, over blank ground, and found another big male under the first rock I came to. I could get my hands in from the side and get both horns, but... I couldn't BUDGE him, not a micron. No Leverage, and they're strong. Anyway, I realised I simply would NEVER get him out, let go and swam to look under the next rock. And he must have thought I was coming back or was stronger than I am... because he was moving there and I was able to grab him while out.

I swam him back to the boat and had 3.08kg cray to go with first and as I was low on air, quit.

On the way back we free dived in about 4.5 metres for the greenlip abalone. With the near empty tank I was floating with the weight I had - on the bottom with wetsuit compression I had to swim hard to get up.

I don't own a pot big enough for a 3Kg crayfish (let alone a couple) (and Jamie very kindly donated his catch to an upcoming event we're planning)so I had to go up to Jamie's place and cook them. I think it was 11.30 pm when I finally got to bed...

Still, a very good day.

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