Never underestimate a grey day. Magical things can, and often do, happen on the most overcast and uninspiring of days. Scuba divers know this well, as do us Brits.
Early this morning we scampered down to Topdive’s Vaitape site excited for a dive or two to test out some of our new equipment and to get our fins wet for the first time since arriving. A fortnight of rather biblical, tropical thunderstorms has meant a dry week for us (by which I mean no diving, we still got very wet!) so we were absolutely desperate to get into the ocean.
After loading up the boat our wetsuits were already soaked through with rain and our hair stylishly plastered to our faces. We set out on a choppy sea, heading away from the island to find clearer water. Upon arriving at our site and starting to set up our equipment I soon felt an unmistakable hint of sea sickness. A non-scuba diver might well look at this group of loonies, bobbing about in a small boat on a choppy sea, windswept and soaked to the bone, readying to jump into the uninviting steely void heaving beneath them and question what on earth they were doing; and at this point in time, with my stomach churning, I have to admit I was questioning it myself a little too. Staggering to the back of the boat, green around the gills, graceful as a drunk seagull, I stepped out of the grey, drizzly day and into the blue.
As soon as you descend into the ocean on a day like this two things happen, your sea sickness vanishes and so does the miserable weather. The underwater world, though a little less bright than usual, is still a gorgeous and inviting place to be; it is almost a shock to arrive back at the surface and be greeted by such a colourless scene an hour later. During our two dives we were treated to multiple Blacktips, my first Lemon Shark, courting (successfully from what we could see!) Spotted Eagle Rays and a big chunky Barracuda as well as beautiful corals, fish, crustaceans and lots more.
Most excitingly of all between our two dives we spotted our first manta ray here in French Polynesia and Graham and I were allowed to jump in briefly in to take a closer look. A small (by manta standards) ray at around 2m wide, the Y-shaped markings on its back told us it was a Reef Manta. Project on!
We returned to shore feeling thoroughly satisfied, sea sickness long forgotten, and were greeting by the first glimpse of sunshine in the sky that we’ve seen all week.
Thanks for reading.