A TRULY EXOTIC DIVE TRIP -MILNE BAY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Sorry no pictures but that was in the days of film, it was one of my first times using that camera and I didn't get any decent pictures at all on that trip. Actually, I thought I had great pictures until I got to Australia and had the film developed because I didn't want to wait until I got home to see what I had. Boy was I disappointed... :(
Although I had been diving for years and had done many dives in Florida, Hawaii and Mexico, I'll never forget my first truly exotic dive trip.
I went to Papua New Guinea with my dive club and boarded the dive boat Chertan in Alatau for a 10 day livaboard experience in Milne Bay. I'll never forget my first crinoids, soft corals and Rhinopeas. I hadn't known such things existed. We dove one reef that had never been dove before. In keeping with tradition, the skipper entered all the ladies names in a hat and pulled my name out. Therefore, there is now a reef in Papua New Guinea known as Susy's Reef.
Then there was the morning when we were awakened by the a large jolt. It seems that our boat was stuck on a reef. However, the entire crew put on scuba (even the staff we had not yet seen dive) and took crowbars down to pry us off (and a part of me was saddened for the reef thinking "can't we just wait for high tide?").
This must have been very entertaining to the local people who showed up in their dugouts to gawk and offer advice. I remember one gentleman who obviously didn't need fancy dive gear. He simply put on a pair of swim goggles and free dove down to watch the fun. I'm sure he helped too since he kept going back down to kibbitz for quite a while.
The dugouts were actually quite a bit of the livaboard experience that trip. Many people canoed up to our boat to sell their wares and I think we obtained most of our fresh fruit and vegetables from the people in the dugouts.
Towards the end of the trip we anchored off the village of Lawadi and spent three days at the site. I have never yet encountered a better place to dive. When jumped off the boat and went to your right you had world class muck diving (my first experience with muck diving and I had yet to learn that my film point and shoot camera wasn't up to the task).
However, to the left there was a great wall dive and caverns to be had. One dive I spent the entire time in a cavern with a turtle (of course I was out of film). It was an awesome experience and I swam around the turtle checking him out and he swam around me checking me out.
I returned to the boat and raved about "my" turtle to the point where my friend Walt asked me if I had gotten the turtles phone number. Anyway none of us wanted to leave after three days of diving the site.
Although the last day had us scheduled to hike to a waterfall in the afternoon, only two people did. The rest of us stayed behind to sneak in one more dive.
If I find that I'm allowed to revisit only one dive site in my life, that is the one I would choose.
Written by Susy Horowitz, Los Angeles, CA.