Always the problem solver, Don proposed a solution to our dilemma. His idea to maximize our final dive was that I would dive with a full tank while he used the half filled one. Then, whenever we moved from site to site he would go off his tank and swimming above and behind me in trail, he would breathe off my buddy regulator. It sounds easy and it actually is, but it does take a little practice to do it smoothly.
So that’s what we did on our very last dive which we decided to make in a spot that we had never been to before, and that was down and around the two pyramidal shaped rocks at Claveria Bay’s western point. These rocks are iconic; when seen in photos they ARE Claveria.
|Iconic rocks of Claveria Bay by NealKelvin|
Boatman Willie and his son took us out to the Claveria rocks, careful to drop us off on the western side to keep the boat out of the declared sanctuary area. Don went in fully geared and then I dropped in where he assisted me into my own scuba gear on the surface. Once we were both checked out and good to go gear-wise off we went. Or did we?
While still in the boat Don suggested we stay on the surface and make our way over to the rocks before submerging. So, as soon as he gave me the okay on my equipment and I did the same for him, I turned over on my back, and looking over my shoulder began to use my flippers to power over to the larger outer rock. I noticed a powerful current fighting me hard but I mostly overcame it by kicking harder and faster.
|Sea squirts on the bottom of an overhang of rock|
The rest of the dive came off exactly as planned. For the first 20 minutes after submerging at the base of the pyramidal rocks Don held onto the top of my tank by gripping the manifold connection while we moved to each new site with the two of us breathing from my tank. On occasion I held my console turned up so he could read it and know when our tanks held about equal air.
|See the scorpion fish? Its center left head down.|
I doubt if we ever dive Claveria’s sanctuary again, at least not on the bay side of the pyramid rocks. There are some fish over there but nothing remarkable, and what I didn’t like about the area on that side of the rocks is that the seafloor there is uniformly mucky and silty.
In the embedded video entitled “our last day of diving” the first segment provides a look at the geologic features right around the base of the pyramidal rocks. Fish or no fish, diving next to soaring sheer sided rocks that tower many tens of feet above is thrilling and that’s what is going on in the first 45 seconds.
The area directly around the base of the pyramids is actually somewhat noteworthy and worth a dive or two. On our way into the bay we swam between the pyramid shaped rocks and a smaller rock barely jutting from the water. It wasn’t exactly thrilling but the view of water and perpendicular stone enclosing us on two sides was interesting nonetheless.
Once we made it through the rocks and officially passed into the bay, we turned right angling sharply to the bottom where we found a shallow cave, more like a deep overhang really. In the video above Don uses his spotlight to light up the inside for my video taking and a lot of fish are seen swimming in schools around us. The only thing that detracts from it is the thick silty muck in there. I did my best to keep from stirring it up but once it happens there’s nothing to be done except to go.
Exploring the sanctuary area we came across a few large coral lump formations which we checked out but really nothing struck us as all that exciting. Again, the mostly silty mucky nature of the area detracts from the experience; so, a half hour into the dive when Don gave me the go ahead to head back to the other side of the pyramid rocks I was eager to get on with it.
With all that going on I lost track of my situation, paying more attention to what I was photographing than what was on my dive console. Finally, I took a casual glance at the computer and was surprised to see that I had drifted down to 65 feet. The depth itself didn’t bother me so much as the information that I had only a few minutes left at that current depth, mostly due to the tissue loading that I had already been subjected to during our earlier dive of the day.
‘Whoa! How did I get down here?’ I asked myself as I pushed off and began to slowly ascend. While doing so I looked up and saw Don beckoning me concernedly to come back up but of course I was already ahead of him.
|Amazing scorpion fish. See it?|
Well, I still have a few outstanding photos I want to post so I'll put them below. Enjoy!
|Does this look like the face of a fish?|
|Large coral lump perched overhanging a gorgonian|