Fifteen minutes into the open ocean from Oahu’s north shore the great Pacific rolled beneath a gray sky. The warm, moist air was smooth and smelled of salt and diesel fumes from the boat’s rumbling motor. The motor puttered to a hush as Nick secured the bowline to the mooring and the sound of light wind returned to our ears. Around and below us the ocean stretched forth, rich and solid. Within her, gray shapes passed below.
Shark! Coming in from the front. Divers get ready— Divers down.
Five eager tourists stuffed into neoprene suits pushed on the bar of the metal cage and submerged their faces in the icy water, ready to see the magnificent animal approaching from afar.
Dynamite fishing has been a problem in the Gili Islands and the evidence underwater is overwhelming. Huge sections of the reef turned to vast graveyards of shattered corals, virtually absent of life. Pocketed amongst these battle zones are rare oasis of corals that were missed by the bombing.
We took a taxi to Padang Bai, where we boarded a boat that brought us across the channel between Bali and Lombok over to the Gili Islands. Off the north west coast of Lombok lie three tiny dots of islands known for good diving, beautiful beaches and a wonderful atmosphere—the Gilis. Each of these islands is supposed to have its own ambiance, Gili Trawangan is the party island, Gili Meno is the locals island and Gili Air is the romantic quiet island. We had heard about the surf of Gili T so naturally that’s where Dave wanted to go.
The boat ride skirted the beautiful Bali coast, crossed the channel and pulled up along the equally beautiful coast of Lombok then over to Gili Air. As we pulled towards the white sands of Gili Air, a wave and a few surfers caught Dave’s eye.
“Honey look.” The swell was down so we weren’t expecting to find waves on Gili T.
“Should we get off here? Does the wave look like something you’d want to surf?”
It did, so we made the instantaneous decision to jump off the boat.
Days here are pretty packed and wet. Dive in the morning, dive in the afternoon, afternoon excursion in search of YOYs (young of years….the fishy way of saying baby fish), dive in the evening, attempting to set up the equipment for doing a live stream from the dive site to classrooms on Grand Cayman. The team is made up of researchers, graduate students, people from the Cayman Island Department of the Environment, and REEF Volunteers, and of course Brice and Christy’s kids. We all gather at Peter’s house and talk about the day, what everyone will do, has done, has seen, plans to do. Meals are communal and everyone forms a wonderful working family of sorts. The bond between the people who have come for years is evident and they welcome us newcomers, all of us sharing our enthusiasm of the project and love of diving and fishes.