Well I'm back in OZ, after 12 days of 'rubber-necking' around the South Island of NZ.
The weather was on/off with conditions, but when it mattered most, it was perfect.
The Holiday was arranged at short notice after the person we were supposed to vist for a few days in Christchurch, decided to visit Sydney, but at 90 years of age, they can be forgiven for forgetting.
Still, Wife, child and I managed to see quite a bit in the very low-key 'Off-Peak' season - but thats the way I like it.
Visiting Picton via Kiakoura - I popped into Dive Picton to prepare for the following day's dive. The weather was still a bit wet, but Dive Picton still decided to go with it, unlike other groups. I wish to thank Brent of Dive Picton for lending me use of his Wetsuit and for organising the Nitrox tanks
Beautiful young Hanna had organised the trip well and was very patient with all my fuss.
The following morning I was up early and wandered the town of Picton a bit before the break of dawn until I ventured back to Dive Picton where Ben (the Guide) was with the Naiad Boat - a nice rigid inflatable that usually fits the bill of what I like in a typical dive boat.
Ben and I were to use Nitrox 32% upon the 1st Dive and 36/32% upon the 2nd Dive respectively. This was a real 10-15 minute bonus of exploring the Lermontov Wreck, where-as Hanna (DM) and the other two Divers - Mick (Picton) and Merco (Switzerland) were Air, which mean't they were waving goodbye to us.
There are a lot of advantages with Nitrox to Air in regards to 30 metre dives, those with the added advantages of using Rebreathers to Conventional OC in regards to deeper dives, might agree. There should be more Nitrox available in NZ.
My photos of inside the Lermontov were a lot to be desired (definately no Mesley) while I juggled Camera, Light, Computer (my own Reg set, due to past infection from Hire Reg mouthpeice) and trying to be considerate of Mick, Merco & Hanna behind Ben and I, in regards to silting up. I know Mick and Merco were polite, but with Split-Fins on, I can't help but think I kicked up a bit of silt. Luckily the Lermontov produces heavy particles rather than fine granule size.
The Lermontov Wreck was just AWESOME and I was quite blown away by what I was able to see upon the Dives, far more than I ever expected. Ben was a great Guide that communicated himself extremely well and seemed to know every nook n' cranny as if had walked the ship before its sinking. I could tell he wanted to show us as much as possible (luckily with Nitrox - he could
). The Lermontov impressed upon me the fact that it is really x10 dive sites in one and my favourite part was gliding past/up/down a wall of finely detailed floorboards. Most of my photos were duds due to backscatter, but here's a few.
Viz was 5m outside to 10metres inside (checked it with torch)
Overall, despite my poor photography - I did manage to hear a running commentary by Ben through my double Hoodie.
The Lermontov put on a good show as the day of Diving itself proved to be clear sky, sunshine, glassy-millpond sea, 12 degrees (I actually found it quite comfortable except when jumping in for the 2nd Dive) and some pretty cool viz for what was needed.
Lunch was exceptional and even Ben's radioactive looking cake seemed to waylay any need for me to feel seasick (it tasted better than it looked).
I was in very good company.
I wish to thank Ben, Hanna and Brent from Dive Picton who really did make it happen for me. Mick and Merco for joining in.
The Lermontov IS
the best dive experience I've had to date (and thats coming from someone who doesn't have the Lust for Rust and gives 'Wreck Dumping' a real workover).
Will I get back for more
To be honest, I very much doubt so. I think that was my last taste of New Zealand (anywhere for that matter). I now have to buy a house somewhere in a suburban shithole and join the 'everyone else' in doing a daily grind to pay off the Home-Loan with only $3 to spare for recreation at the end of the week. My life is over so to speak but my in-laws and parents are happy that we will be joining the mass-suffering like them. So I must say "Farewell" like I did at Cape Farewell - where we had to turn back from reaching the lookout due to the approaching rain. I'll ease the suffering upon my self a bit by not selling the dive gear until after a year.
Thankyou Lermontov, thankyou SDNZ and thankyou New Zealand.
Jason (Drip/Vampire Squid) Cook
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