Valued tips from dive partners
I've been fortunate to dive with some very good divers over the years and I am always grateful for the opportunity and try to learn something from them.
This week I was privileged to go out with three good men, Bryan, Nick and Haysley. This proved a great trip.
Each of these men know their stuff, and it is neat to be around people like them.
With a good weather forecast, we headed out for crayfish.
The plan was to leave early morning, catch some crayfish and be home mid-afternoon or thereabouts. For the most part, everything went according to plan.
Having done a lot of my water activities in small tin boats, I always enjoy the chance to go out on something where you can walk around, or in this case, make a cup of coffee.
We could also close the cabin door and be in pleasant, quiet surroundings, while we had a good old catch-up. I felt like nothing could be better.
We headed out to our chosen spot, and Bryan and Nick started getting their gear ready by assembling their dive bottles along with their BCDs and regulators.
I snapped off a few shots in my attempts to become better at taking photos, and after they had finished I thought I should follow their lead and assemble my gear.
As often happens on fishing, diving or hunting trips, someone always leaves something behind.
It is often the bolt out of their rifle or their ammunition, or bait and berley or, in this case, some Wally left his BCD (buoyancy control device) behind.
Now this is quite an important piece of equipment for a diver because, as the name suggests, you need this to safely control your buoyancy in the depths or even on the surface after you finish your dive.
On this occasion the Wally was me. I had packed all my gear, or so I thought, a few weeks ago before an expected dive was cancelled. When this trip came up I had made the assumption everything was still packed.
You know the lesson here - never assume anything. Check and double check.
A new plan was hatched after my embarrassing moment. I would use the BCD from one of the others between their dives, giving them recovery time.
So I was really just making sure everyone had a rest.
We ventured into Cook Strait to look for a possible dive site, and the weather turned out beautiful, with calm seas and little wind. Perfect diving conditions.
We got what we were after and made our way back home, stopping on the way to have a bit of lunch.
Nick had been hunting a few weeks back and had brought along a very nice-looking venison backstrap.
This is the whole muscle along either side of an animal's spine, often called porterhouse or sirloin on beef, and is usually already cut into steaks when you buy it from a butcher or supermarket.
Expecting nothing less, Haysley whipped out the barbecue, and the whole piece was seasoned and soon sizzling in oil and butter. It had to be healthy because it was wild meat - and the oil has good fats, so I'm told.
We had a feast fit for a king. When you are sitting in the Sounds in great weather with great company, you do feel like a king.
I have been asked a few times by new divers what the secret is to catching crayfish when diving.
While I am no expert (most guys I dive with are better at catching them), I will gladly share what I know and hopefully help someone to get their fist cray.
Possibly one of the hardest things is finding the crays in the first place. New divers have preconceived ideas of what they look like under water and often swim right past without seeing them.
If you get the opportunity, ask an experienced diver to show you one before they grab it, so you can get a picture of what you're looking for.
I have seen many crays missed because the diver is a little intimidated by the sight of a crayfish in its domain, and to be fair they can look menacing - especially big bucks.
For me, the most consistent way to get a hold of them has been to reach for their tail.
Whether you come up from underneath or down from above, use the same principle.
As soon as you startle them they use their tail to go shooting backwards, which is why you often come up with just a feeler.
By going for the tail you have a much higher success rate because, even if they scoot backwards, you can still get a firm grip on their horns.
The biggest thing is to just be confident and do it like you mean it.
Apart from learning what sort of terrain to find them in, you should now have enough to enjoy some success.
I hope you enjoy Christmas with your families and get the opportunity to fish, dive or hunt over the break.
Whatever you do, do it safely and think of others.
The Marlborough Express