Fabled Islands 5
April 11, 2009
After steaming all night and through the morning, we arrived at our next destination, the Amirante Islands, around noon. This group of islands and atolls belong to the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. They differ significantly from the Inner group in that they are of volcanic origin as opposed to the granitic origin of all the other large islands we have visited so far. The granitic islands are remnants of Gondwanaland as it fractured and its fragments migrated, leaving behind the well-known Madagascar, and India (which eventually plowed into the Asian landmass (but that is another story)
We anchored (actually the ship didnâ€™t anchor, but used autopilot to hold position) between Dâ€™Arros Island and St. Joseph Atoll.
Dâ€™Arros is on the eastern edge of the Amirante Bank, with ocean depths of 500 meters (1640 feet) just 1.5 km off the eastern reef edge, then dropping quickly to over 1000 meters (3280 feet). The entire Amirante Bank is shallow (thatâ€™s why itâ€™s a â€œbankâ€) with depths of only 25 to 70 meters (82-230 feet).
First on the agenda, the team leaders, including a local Seychellois, named â€œGuyâ€ (pronounced â€œGheeâ€), proceeded to the island to contact the caretaker/manager to get permission to land the Zodiacs, as the island is currently privately owned with a very reclusive owner. If the owner is present, no one may land, and if the owner is absent, then it is at the whim of the manager. Guy happens to know the manager, so permission was granted in fairly short order.
Most of the people then proceeded to shore with strict admonitions to keep to the beach and not to wander or explore inland beyond the palm trees at beachâ€™s edge. Like I said, the owner is a recluse.
I, on the other hand, joined the scuba group and headed for the dive site. The ocean was very calm, so ingress and egress were very simple. I paired up with my dive buddy, Jan, and we all rolled into the ocean.
As we descended to 25 feet, Jan came over to signal that something was wrong. It looked like an air leak from the regulator where it attached to the air tank. I turned to get the attention of the divemasters, but Robert was already on it; he had seen it from a distance.
So, the two returned to the zodiac and I paired up with Merijeanne, continuing with our other divemaster, Lisa. After cruising a bit, Jan & Robert returned and we continued on our way.
Unfortunately, the replacement o-ring (or perhaps some other part of the regulator connection) blew again, this time even worse. That was the end of Janâ€™s dive for the day, as there was no way to tell the underlying problem and it was unwise to risk a catastrophic failure underwater.
Our dive continued uninterrupted after that. Saw some nice gorgonians and other corals trying to make a comeback.
Back to the ship, a hot shower, and dinner with new friends.
Another excellent dayâ€¦