Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Back to the Office

Dive 4: The Office
This one's for Boydie!

Distance to Travel: 14km from Tofo Beach.

Approximately a 30 minute boat ride.

Depth: 19 - 24 meters

Max: 24 meters

Bottom Time: 28 minutes

Topography: This is a rock pinnacle, 10 km’s straight out to sea and comes up from a depth of over 90 meters. The reef is made up of a number of ledges and gullies, part of which includes an extremely rare Manta cleaning station. This is primarily a drift dive with the current running from North to South. The cleaning station is situated on the Northern point of the reef and divers will be treated to the sight of Mantas being cleaned by Cleaner Wrasse. Also seen on this reef are a number of resident Leopard Sharks, White Tip Sharks and Potato Bass. As this reef is 10 kms from shore, a vast array of game fish can be seen on most dives.

Degree of Difficulty: A more difficult dive, due to current, therefore we recommend that you have at least 20 open water sea dives.

Visibility: Ranges from 15m to 40m

General: An absolute must for Manta enthusiasts. Mantas may be seen on approximately 8 out of 10 dives, it is also the home of Leopard Sharks, White Tip Reef Sharks, Potato Bass, Giant Moray Eels, Turtles, Tropical Fishes and an abundance of game fish.

Luckily mains power apparently came back at 7:30pm last night, so Tofo Scuba have filled their oxygen tanks and we’re ready to go. I turn up at about quarter to seven, and notice the tanks for my dive are almost all Nitrox except Henry and myself. This means more experienced types diving, a good sign for the dive. Furthermore, it’s lead John and Nikki, the founder owners of the dive school. Very good sign! Also, a chap is coming along with us and videoing the dive, hence the shots I have for you. Now you get to see what diving is like! First, a cup of tea!

John worries me slightly during the briefing, talking about the sometimes strong currents experienced at this site we are heading to, The Office. However, it has cleaning stations for Manta Rays, and a variety of sharks have also been spotted there, including a Great White a couple of years ago. Fingers crossed!

It’s rough getting the boat into the water, and as the lead person on one side, I end up getting clobbered by a large wave, taking my sunglasses with it. They were only cheap ones from Boots, but I’d grown rather attached to them. Shame. It’s not a very comfortable drive out either, as the site is quite far - 19kms according to John. At the site, it would seem there isn’t much current, a very good sign.

We drop down, straight on to a spot with a Manta cleaning station.

Down down down

Looking up

On the bottom, we group up, find our buddies, and have a look around the surrounding area. A minute later, a large Manta Ray comes by, yay!!!

It sweeps past, then turns, and circles around us. It’s so beautiful to watch, they are so graceful in their movements. This is why people come to Mozambique to dive! I’m so pleased, with this being my last dive and last chance of seeing them. Now I can buy the Manta Ray t-shirt in the dive shop – I felt like I didn’t have the right to buy it without seeing the actual rays!

We carry on the dive, visiting some interesting gullies, and I see a decent-sized reef shark, perhaps a couple of metres long.

Small fish living in the anemone

Good looking moray

Reef chaos

Look ma..

The site isn’t great for reefs, but still is a nice dive, even without the highlight Manta. Finally it’s time for us to end the dive. Here in Tofo they always go up nice and slowly, as the nearest decompression chamber, should one have a problem, is in Durban!! No chance of getting there in an emergency. So slow ascents!

As we come back up, several Devil Rays circle below us, truly a beautiful site in the shimmering blue water.

Surely any of you reading this who have never dived are now inspired to do so? Talk to me if you need more persuasion! That said, I didn’t feel too good coming back, with the long ride South against the swell.

That’s me done here in Tofo, no more dives. Shame. Still, I’ve racked up 17 hours underwater now, with 23 dives. Frankly if money was no object I’d be underwater all the time, I love it!

Back at base, I get to charge my phone and laptop a bit finally, using the dive centre plugs. I call Junior Backpackers in Vilhankulo, who have space, so I decide I’ll skip out of town for New Year’s. Almost seems a shame given that it’s no issue to stay at Bamboozi, but I can’t have another night being eaten! After lunch, it’s time for my final ocean trip here…

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