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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

When Julie comes around

Well once we got past the road race going on at the bottom of our road, we immediately hit a cycle race that was going on. All the way to the East End. With a police escort. And no overtaking was allowed. Ever driven anywhere at 10 mph for a long time? It's like watching paint dry. Anyway, frustrations aside, we joined our good fiends at Tortuga Divers once again and set sail for high adventures and tales of derring-do. With a 5-6 knots NE wind, it was relatively calm today which gave us a nice excuse to head Northward.

Nat's back!
Captain Nige motored us over to Julie's Wall for the first dive which if you haven't done it before is a particularly nice wall dive which backs onto Babylon. If your air management is particularly good, you can easily do Julie's Wall and several laps round the Babylon pinnacle and be back in time for tea.

You've got some really nice cuts and over hangs on the wall at this site if you head East with some great sponge formations and vibrant colours which really "pop" under strobe light. There were also some very large shoals of triggerfish, grunts, fusiliers and sweetlips cruising the top of the wall which made for some nice silhouette shots. We also had our faithful pet snapper follow us as usual as it wouldn't be a dive otherwise.

Unfortunately we had to dive with the lowest common denominator, so by the time we came up from depth and back at the boat we still had half a tank left which was a shame as we could have easily got an extra 30 minutes in, but hey, when paying tourists are on the boat, you got make do. Still a very nice dive though.

If you head West along the wall (away from Babylon) there is supposed to be a very nice overhang wall as described in the brief by Captain Nige, which maybe we'll get around to visiting the next trip out as I'd really like to see what photo opportunities are available there.

After a quick motor back round to the East side, we moored up at Cinderellas Castle with is a nice shallow little site with some nice twisty little swim throughs and pinnacles to get yourself lost in. Be sure to have a good look under some of the shelfs as you may miss some nice stuff like lobsters and turtles. Just be prepared for a tight squeeze to get some of the shots.

A nice big turtle as relayed to us by Captain Nige.
Given that the top of the Castle is relatively shallow, be ready to take a beating from the surge and the visibility to drop, however the rewards are worth it if you can up close and personal. Right under the boat there were some fine examples of juvenile tritonia hamnerorum at only a couple of millimetres big, clinging on for dear life.

There were also some fine examples of rough head blennies scattered all around the coral heads, albeit very tricky to shoot with an ultra macro lens in the conditions, but worth the effort.

Also keep an eye out for some nice shoals of yellow goatfish, cruising barracuda, gliding lionfish and plenty of lazy red hinds, which should be more than enough to keep you entertained for a good 70-80 minutes. If you're really lucky, you'll find some nurse sharks here as well. A lovely little dive site for a second dive that's close to home base.