I woke to a tropical downpour and silence in the little wooden house we are all sharing – grabbed my camera, pulled its raincoat on and tip toed out the door. Half way down the beach the rain stopped and I sat waiting for the shore birds to do something – catch a fish, fly over a shark fin, go for a swim – anything. That’s the game, and in the early morning with the light still soft and the air cool it is beautiful.
Our planned dive in the mangrove channel this evening was washed away as we arrived and discovered that the clean water that flows on an incoming tide had not yet made it into the channels and visibility was down to 1 metre. Plan B moved forward and we snorkeled in the lagoon, which was pumping with a current of clean water. The lagoon is full of limestone islands that have been carved by the sea over the years into gigantic mushrooms and nicknamed champignon, mushroom.
Dan finally got the opportunity to try out the latest technology in HD video and introduced to Aldabra the lilo technique. Cracking the silver floater out of the box he blew it up with a scuba tank and put the 30kg camera (and underwater housing) on the lilo. We proceeded to come up with novel ways of fine-tuning the rig, which involved life jackets in a number of strategic places both under the housing and around Dan. We let him merrily sail away to float amidst the mangrove trees and around the champignons full of confidence he would have no trouble gliding with the current and filming, all the while keeping the lens free of water droplets. A cry for help a few shots later meant things weren’t going so smoothly. Flying with the current and almost impaling myself on a mangrove root on the way down I met up with Dan several hundred metres down current and spent the next hour finning, swimming, walking and sinking him around a champignon. I think even the passing black tip reef sharks had a chuckle at the sight of Dan with his rig being steered by me – as I walked along the bottom breathing through my snorkel, much like the swimming elephants off India. I am sure the footage is superb, but next time I must remember to take my ankle weights off.