So little girl you want to dive with whales?
Contributed by Ric Mingramm
Back in the dim past when I was allowed to dive at my leisure and we didn't have kids, the other half actually used to get wet quite often. Being the generous provider that I am I was nearly always able to swing our holidays to a place that was close to or driving distance to the water.
Some divers would dive in a bucket of oatmeal if it was the only wet stuff available, while others, the gossamer breath of a wind or ripple on the surface and their legs turn to jelly and gear is packed away. Our household basically encompasses both extremes.
Having spent 10 years of purgatory in Melbourne courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy (I enjoy Melbourne now) I was lured back to my childhood territory of Coffs Harbour - a place in all my years living there I had never SCUBA dived.
My better half grudgingly agreed to come and dive Split Solitary. The wind was howling and a slight swell was running and she was getting wobbly but some sweet talking and explaining that you didn't feel the swell at 10 m got us over that hurdle.
Prior to entering the water the Dive Master gave the obligatory safety and environment briefing: " Keep this side of the gutter and you should be OK, there are great coral outcrops, some resident grouper and plenty of fish life, if you wander across the ditch be aware we have seen a few bronze whalers here over the last few days. They are quite timid and probably will shy away".
My wife's eyes looked like poached eggs - How was I going to get out of this one? She smiled and said "fantastic, I've always wanted to dive with whales". Lucky no one else was in ear shot, listening or they were all too stunned to comment. I swallowed smiled and said "yeah we could be lucky". We finished the dive, quite uneventfully - saw some grouper, rays, stone fish and a Moray but no 'whales'.
On the return and debrief someone said they had seen a Grey Nurse shark but hadn't seen any bronze whalers? Her eyes showed puzzlement, then fear, then hate and her mouth contorted in that way that say's I'm going to kill you when we are away from public view!.
She often recalls that Ric takes me to all the best places ~ shark infested dive spots, rips and places 'infested' with venomous sea creatures.
My advice is buy an underwater species guide early and give it to your partner then claim total ignorance saying I thought you had a species guide, I didn't know I don't have a species guide.
I still get a giggle about it and twitchy when I recall the clout I got around the ears later.