We make 2 trips to Ball’s Pyramid - the worlds largest rock stack just 18nm south of Lord Howe. Our first venture out is on Lukim Yu a beautiful days sail (motor as there was no wind), a 3 hour trip each way in dead calm, dead flat conditions.
The Pyramid looms menacingly out of the water as soon as you slip pass Mt Gower, it instantly reminds me of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings with its dark grey peaks and sheer sides. If anything it becomes more imposing as we get closer.
Dave’s quest to catch a decent fish continues both there and back, unfortunately we only catch a an undersized kingfish and a large mutton bird, that protests greatly as we cover its head with a towel and remove the hook, not a good day in sport for the bird. Dave eventually concedes that the constant dive bombing of his lures by the birds is more stressful than not catching a fish and he reluctantly reels both lines in.
Poor Dave, having been told that Lord Howe was some of the best fishing grounds in the world he is beyond disappointed that he has had no luck catching anything other than garfish of the back of the boat.
We pull into the shadow of Balls and drop anchor in 15m of crystal clear aquamarine blue, I mean blue blue water to chill out and have lunch. We are immediately joined by a few Galapagos sharks also hungry for a feed. We don’t disappoint them and proceed to chop up all of Dave’s garfish bait (well it wasn’t dong him any good any way) and toss small chunks into the water with great results. We all but hand feed these beautiful creatures and get some amazing footage on the underwater Go Pro. Unsure of our holding we decide not to do a dive here but to come back with Pro Dive Lord Howe and do some scheduled dives once Tiff and Dave have left.
A week later we have an early morning pickup as ‘Pinnacle’ the dive boat pulls aside us at 6am. We’d dropped our dive gear to the shop the previous afternoon and had arranged to loan 2 x 5mm wetsuits, our 3mm wetsuits that we wore on our previous double dives with Pro Dive were just not cutting the mustard, Jamie’s lips turned a weird purple colour, a sure indication that he was somewhere beyond cold. I hadn’t been able to feel either my feet or hands for any of the second dive either, but being somewhat browner in colour than Jamie, it was harder to tell visually when I was cold.
We had a relatively pleasant 45min ride out to Balls Pyramid on Pinnacle, ably driven by Aaron the dive shop owner we arrived and then did a full loop around the pinnacle to afford different photography perspectives to the photography group that was onboard with us for this double dive.
First stop was “Wheatsheaf” a fist shaped rock that looks as if it is thrusting itself proudly out of the water, it has a fringing reef at its base that has a variable depth of 25 to 35m. It is well known for the black coral found and the base.
We reverse entry roll into the water as a group - there are 8 of us in total and descend the line to about 25m. As we descend we are surrounded by large groups of pelagic fish. Pelagic fish are those that tend to live in deeper waters, swim in groups and are most often the eating types of fish. In this instance we see large groups of Kingfish, Mackerel and Perch. The photography group stay together, leaving Jamie and I to explore at our own pace, being careful to stay out of the strong current that sweeps around one end of the reef. The water clarity is good, and the 5mm wetsuits are doing the job, we are cool but not cold. Go Pros in hand we film sharks, scorpion fish, I find a nudibranch (just the one) and a great diversity of hard and soft corals. 45 minutes later we surface and clamber our way back onto the boat.
After a short surface interval we roll back in and spend a very enjoyable 45 minutes exploring 2 bommies (a bommie is like a large mound of coral that sticks up out of the ocean floor). This dive we are lucky enough to spot the elusive Ballina Angelfish, only seen here at this location along with more beautiful corals and fishes.
All in all an awesome morning of diving.
Jamie and I always joke that SCUBA diving is not a glamor sport. Never is this more true when you are precariously climbing a ladder onto a rolling boat with numb feet and hands (yes they were still a little cold), with a heavy tank and weighted jacket. Occasionally, you round out this glamorous picture with a snotty nose (experience has taught me to check this early before anyone else can notice). Two members of the group have, however, had what is called a mask squeeze. Too often people believe that a mask needs to be tight in order to keep the water out! Not so, a gentle mask pressure is all that is required the external water pressure keeps it in place. I tend to exhale constantly out of my mask as I find it very comfortable that way. If you don’t equalise your mask (as well as your ears), then the increasing pressure as you descend causes mask squeeze this causes your nose (sinuses) to bleed so that when you get back on to the boat and take your mask off you have a face full of blood (see glamour sport reference earlier)!!
Despite all this I love being underwater. I was a water baby as a kid, Mum was always trying to keep me out of the pool and then earned the nickname ‘Oceangirl’ during the years I was training to be a SCUBA Instructor and ultimately a Staff Instructor. I always know when I am truely happy and at peace when I find my self singing. This happens constantly when I am underwater.
Bye for now......
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