We hit two spots on French Reef today. We started things off at Woody’s Ledge. The surface was calm, but the visibility wasn’t good. 25 to 30 feet at most. We got put in a group with a bunch of folks that hadn’t been under water in a while and needed to do a weight check before we got going. So we all jumped in the water and Alison (our dave master) started helping them do their neutral buoyancy checks. Charmaine popped her head up and yelled “a huge turtle!” and immediately descended to check it out. I decided to follow her instead of stay with the group. The group was going to be fine, but I needed to stay with my buddy.
The turtle was a huge leatherback. I think it’s the first one I’ve seen on a dive. It was really cool. After that we checked out some coral while I tried a few new things with the camera. I decided to use the camera’s “underwater” mode. In that mode it doesn’t use the flash at all, but I hadn’t figured that out yet. After messing with it for a while, we looked around to find our group. They had started off to the south.
We started chasing after them, but I couldn’t keep myself neutrally buoyant. My BCD was leaking. Each time I added air, it all spilled right back out. Lame. So my choice was to kick hard the whole time to keep myself off the bottom (yes, I still had way too much weight) and burn up air breathing hard, or put air into my BCD and spill it out that way. Both choices burned up air fast. I chose to just circle around below the boat and then go up very early. Of all the dives to have a problem, this was the right one. Visibility was terrible. Hopefully we didn’t miss too much. On the boat another dive master helped debug the issue with the BCD. It turns out that the dump valve was all the way open and needed to be turned a few times to close it. They do that sometimes when they’re cleaning out the BCDs at the shop. At least I could participate on the next dive.
Everyone else eventually made it back to the boat and we headed to another spot on French Reef called Christmas Tree Cave. It’s named after a swim-through that has a lot of christmas tree worms inside. Visibility was better, but still nothing amazing. It was a great dive. I went with 15 pounds, which was still more than enough. I’ll drop a pound or two tomorrow.
I still prefer Molasses Reef over French Reef, but we had a really good dive, maybe the best dive we’ve had at French Reef. There were a bunch of fish and the camera was ok. It was similar to how the old GoPro behaves when you use the red filter. So I’m still not impressed with what I’m getting out of it (I already had a GoPro with a red filter, I spent a bunch of money and was hoping to get something *better*). So tomorrow I’ll switch to full manual and see if that makes any kind of difference.