Wednesday, February 04, 2004

ok, been a good afternoon. i usually knock off at 4:00, but i took a late lunch and finished at 3:00. went for a surf. the north easter is blowing and the only place to go that is sheltered from the wind is usually very small, but today the swell is coming from the east, so the set waves are a huge 3 foot, ok, not very exciting but enough to catch me out just about every time. like, i wait and wait and wait, i catch a smaller wave, then paddle out and the set waves come and i get punished. wait for twice as long, give up and catch a smaller wave, paddle out and the set waves are about 4 foot, get punished. the waves are dredging sand. a school of fish are caught in there as well and either something is scaring them or i've surprised them, i don't care, i just freak!!! aaaaaaahhhhh! the little shits are jumping out of the water crashing into me, if i paddle with my right arm they are constantly hitting it, if i just paddle with my left, they just hit my body and my legs. is something chasing them?? are they just stupid?? both?? shit!!!!

ok, the story i was going to tell. a weekend (a long weekend, like 3 days) working on the diveboat. when my friend (now boss) described the job to me she said it was a deckhand/tart. the job involves, among other things, being the deckhand and sleazing with the customers. ok, i'm still a junior tart but the other deckies have me in training.

a weekend in the life of a deckhand/tart on a diveboat. (or as one of the other deckies describes us, greasers. we put the sunblock on the customers :-) ) wax on, wax off

friday afternoon:
get onboard by about 7:00pm. we get on from a very crappy boatramp, which is just a road down to some rocks which slope gently in the water. we load all our bags, booze, and scuba gear for the weekend into the duck and go out to the boat and load it up. we spend the next hour and a half vacuuming, washing windows, cleaning walls, getting nibblies ready and generally getting everything set for the customers to come on.
at about 8:30 we head to a mooring closer to where the customers are, then send in the boss and the duck to pick them and their gear up from the wharf, spend the next 2 hours unloading the duck of scuba gear, bags, booze and customers. trying not to fall in or damage ourselves. in between waiting for the duck to come back with another load we generally annoy the hell out of the customers, and play a game which we call "pegging". it's pretty simple really. you get a heap of bright coloured clothes pegs and try and put them on people's clothes without them seeing. pretty childish really but it's worth a laugh. soon enough the customers catch on and try and peg us back and we get them to try and get each other as well. (i have no idea why it is called a duck. picture a zodiac, only it's all aluminium)

when everyone is onboard we head either back to our mooring or to somewhere sheltered from the wind for the night. last weekend was pretty good, as we motored back we had some dolphins surfing in the bow wave. due to the bio-luminesence in the water they looked to be glowing green in the black water. very cool.
back at the mooring we give everyone the safetly spiel and general directions of what's happening for the rest of the weekend, and have a few quiet drinkies. (followed by a few loud drinkies depending on the party enthusiasm of the customers, this weekend was fairly quiet. in bed by 1:00am)

wake up with a hangover and drag myself out of bed at around 7:00, we go down to the galley, set the tables for breakfast, boil the jug and get everything ready. at 8:00 the boss fires up the main, noisy generator, we turn up the stereo and the customers (a few of them are also hungover) start appearing out of their cabins and the day begins.
after breakfast we clear up as the boat starts motoring out, and we see where the best diving will be for the day. we are in luck, the seas are relatively calm and the wind is non-existent. we have 20 degree (celcius) water and about 30 metre visibiltiy at least. after all the customers finish their dive and are out of the water and i've finished filling their tanks for the second dive i jump in myself. i find a tiny "upside-down pipefish", although i didn't know what it was at the time, had to ask one of the bosses. she didn't understand so i gave her directions and she found it herself.
fill more scuba tanks, help customers and cameras out of the water, then get lunch happening. the cook has everything under control, tacos, hmmmmm. we just have to set the tables and serve the food. then wash up and clean up. time for a siesta while we move to another location.
then it's the same again as in the morning, get divers in, count them back out. (very important, count them back out. otherwise we'll end up with a bad reputation like queensland for leaving divers behind. bad juju). we have to count them 3 times, just to be certain we don't leave anyone behind. fortunately we haven't done it yet although a couple of other operators in the area have slipped up once or twice. fortunately the divers were rescued by another operator!
then after dinner some enthusiastic souls get in for the night dive. they are all fairly impressed with themselves afterwards, i fill some tanks, help with the washing up, have a few drinks and install another hangover.

woops, another hangover. doh! vodka is bad. we played this game called "crew behaving badly". basically we all get shots of vodka, a slice of orange, and coat one side of the orange with sugar, the other side with percolator coffee. eat the orange and drink the vodka, or drink the vodka and eat the orange, on the third time around we drink half the vodka, eat the orange, then drink the rest.
normal routine, get brekkie ready, wake up the customers this time with our sunday morning music on the stereo, tchaikovsky's something or other, well one piece anyway then we go back to whatever else we can find.
brekkie, fill some left over tanks, then get them in the water, get them out, (count not once nor twice, but thou shalt count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached...... sorry) fill tanks and beat them back in so I can dive on a wreck that is here. we find a conga eel that friends of mine have seen while diving here for over 15 years, a mosaic moray eel as well. my buddy gets some great pictures of it. schools of fish everywhere and the water is so clear you can see this huge school of pomfreds (little red fish) like a huge curtain of fish, flashing as they all turn together, especially as I shine my torch on them. we can see the full length of the wreck, which is over 30 metres.
doing my safety stop at 5 metres in the clear blue water, there are curtains of bubbles rising on all sides from the divers below. a magic experience. i don't want to get out. everyone else dives on their dive tables (well really they use dive computers) but I am restrained by the "cooking tables". when the cook has to get out to get the food ready, or i have to be out to start filling tanks, that's when we get out.
back on the boat and start filling tanks again and getting ready for lunch.
we've moved again and after finishing all the chores it's siesta time. then I get to go for a dive as long as i'm back in time to help for dinner (woops, a little late hehehehe). i spend most of the dive just laying on the bottom, watching fish digging in the sand for food, "one spot chromas" chasing intruders away and generally fish going everywhere. lots of silver coloured fish of all types, bream, southern goatfish, blue morwong and luderick all feeding in the sand. rays settling in the sand for the night, one little bream annoying a ray that's trying to be inconspicious. he pecks at the sand right next to a little stingaree, for some food, then when the ray starts behaving unsettled he circles round until it settles down, then annoys it again. after about 10 minutes the status quo hasn't changed (except for my giggling) so i go to find something else to amuse myself with. due to my excellent navigation i manage to lose the boat. it turns out i swam straight past it (again doh!).
after dinner we send off our intrepid night divers while we wash up, serve dessert when they get back and watch a slide presentation by one of the top underwater photographers in australia.
good thing this is a long weekend, because i've installed another hangover and don't feel like "real work" tomorrow
normal routine, brekkie, clean up and get divers into the water. this is a pretty good group. they are all in the water around the same time. i've seen it when divers are still getting into the water when other divers are getting out. it makes it difficult when you have to fill their tanks and move to a new location for another dive etc... before lunch. but there's no point complaining or hassling them to get ready faster. hurrying them up just makes them forget stuff or stuff up and go slower in the long run. after lunch it's time to offload everyone, strip the beds, tidy up and go home and pass out!

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