Indonesia : Sulawesi + Raja Ampat – July 2017
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
He is a golden guy. Opo, my dive guide in the waters of Central Sulawesi, has become my hero. Because, sometimes, I am a drag...
Beneath the surface
July 3, 2017. I surface quietly, after the three-minute safety stop at 5 meters. I mechanically control my ascent speed on thedive computer on my left wrist, then I meet the eye of my guide Opo behind his mask, which goes back to the same pace, facing me.
He was the one who welcomed me the day before at the nice little diving resort Tompotika, after my eventful journey to reach the village of Kampanar, on the eastern peninsula of Central Sulawesi.
At 49 years old, he is an experienced Indonesian dive guide. Originally from Manado, he knows very well the most famous spots of Sulawesi. He has accompanied scientific expeditions, notably to the Banggai Islands, and has also worked for a long time at the Murex resort in Bangkawhere I've been before. During our discussions, during my stay in Kampanar, we discover common knowledge... The diving world is very small!
That day, Opo made me discover the magnificent site of Batu Tekek, off Kampanar. A reef full of life, where colorful soft corals and gorgonians abound. He is a patient, attentive and benevolent guide. He took the time to show me the areas of the reef that were the most suitable for ambiance pictures.
The visibility is not extraordinary (I was warned, in this season, in this region of Central Sulawesi, the water is very loaded with particles and plankton). But I still managed to make some nice pictures underwater.
Once on the surface, we remove our equipment, move it to boatman And let's get back on the Tompotika boat. And there, when I want to check my dive parameters, I discover that my computer is not on my wrist anymore... 😱
The boat is not very big and we are not numerous, there is just another couple of divers, Nadia and Akim, another guide and the boatman. Everyone helps me to search, in the middle of fins and stabs (stabilizing vests) stored. We quickly realized that what is not on board is necessarily at the bottom of the water...
Ball on board
Opo is sincerely sorry for me. "We'll come back and dive here, we'll try to find him." he promises me. I put on a good face in front of the others, but I feel sorry for my negligence. It is inevitably on the way back to the surface that I lost it, I remember very well having consulted it during the ascent and the safety stop.
As I always do the same gestures, mechanically, when I take off my equipment in the water once on the surface, I did not see that it had slipped off my wrist at that moment. I was not vigilant. You have to watch out for the force of habit, for overconfidence... In short, I have only myself to blame.
Well, it's not a tragedy either, it's just a material loss. It can be replaced. But this kind of material is not exactly cheap. It makes you grumble.
Opo kindly suggested that we try our luck in the same time, on the second dive of the day. But this time, the conditions are against us: reduced luminosity with a sky that has turned grey, poor visibility underwater and a current that pushes us against the reef, making it impossible to explore the area where the computer must have fallen... Too bad.
"We'll come back at a better time." Opo promises me again. He's really nice. I don't ask for much and I don't want to be a pushover.
By the end of the day, I've resigned myself to this loss and don't see the point in ruining my mood over it. Opo lends me a computer from the center for the next few days.
The hero of the day
July 6, 2017. Three days later, I am the only diving guest at Tompotika. The others have left and the new ones haven't arrived yet. The weather is great, it's today or never: we go back to dive at Batu Tekek!
The other guide and Opo's son accompany us under water. The plan: to immerse ourselves where we surfaced the other day, to go down, to scan the bottom with our four pairs of eyes. "If we don't find anything, I'll look a little further on my own, Opo tells me. You'll just have to stay together as you continue diving along the reef."
The dive is even more beautiful than the other day! At the beginning, I started by inspecting the bottom at about 30 meters, methodically, making U-shapes, but without much conviction. After a while, I saw Opo waving at us: he went to explore the bottom a little further and told us to stay together, following the reef.
A few minutes later, we went back up to 20 meters, near the drop-off, when it reappeared. He pretends nothing, his arms folded against his chest, his hands hidden, but his eyes shine behind his mask. And he doesn't resist for long the pleasure of showing me his find!
Too strong. ????
I'm screaming into my regulator (for non-divers: it's the mouthpiece you have in your mouth to breathe). Unbelievable! He found my computer! It had been lying there, the screen against the sand, the bracelet intact and closed, for three days, at a depth of 31.9 meters.
Opo is the hero of the day. During our surface interval, on the beautiful white sand beach of Ondoliang, I make him tell his exploit in front of the iPhone:
I'm a little ashamed, he didn't have to go to that trouble, but he did anyway. I am sincerely grateful to him. And on that day, I think that the name given to foreigners in Indonesia (bule(to pronounce... ball and chain) sounds really good to refer to my little person ! 😂
I thank Opo endlessly and we chain the photos souvenir, before attacking coconuts and grilled fish with fishermen of the corner. For them, the bule The ball and chain is a nice distraction and an exotic tourist subject to photograph on the phone. I pose with the group, then each of them...
Even without the pretext of the sunken computer, it was worth pushing all the way here to enjoy this beautiful beach.
A good lesson
You have to learn from your mistakes. In my case, it still took two lessons... 😬 Yes, I admit, the same incident had happened to me before, under similar circumstances, a year ago, in Egypt. My old diving computer had also ended up sunken, at the bottom of the Red Sea. There, we couldn't get it back. It had been a good pretext to offer me a brand new one...
Lesson learned this time: I will never again take off my stab like a backpack!
In fact, twice, the same causes produced the same effects: a too thin wrist and a too big strap badly tightened on the neoprene suit. As a result, when the straps of the stab are passed, the bracelet can get caught and slip off my wrist without me noticing.
My first computer was secured with a strap. That wasn't enough. It must have come loose too. I'm going to install a Velcro system on the inside of the second one, to prevent it from slipping. Ironically, there's a "universal computer holder" on my suit, at wrist level, designed for exactly that purpose - but I lost the part to be attached to the computer strap, supposed to cling to the fluffy piece of fabric underneath, so I'll have to do it myself...
Finally, on Opo's wise advice, I changed my habits to unclip on the surface. I now open the clip of the left shoulder strap with my right hand, to completely free my left shoulder and thus remove my vest without contortion, which avoids any unfortunate hooking with the computer strap...
Thanks again Opo! Terima kasih banyak!