The deep jade sea was like glass as our banca, the Emily, parted the water between us and our first dive. A warm sun kissed my skin, and I stretched out on the bow to enjoy the view and an hour of anticipation.
Gerd used to play in a reggae band in the 70s. He's yet to play me anything they put together; but white German men playing reggae? That I have to hear. Or maybe not? The boat is painted in Jamaican colours, just like the shop. It's certainly eye-catching compared to the standard white and blue bancas. He just needs some engine mounts and a sound system on there...to beat the noise and vibrations which set your teeth on edge at times.
The crew are as much fun as Gerd. Dennis is the captain and resident cook. I've nicknamed him Masterchef. He cooks the best food I've had in this country. That's not saying much, I know...but his pumpkin curry is something special. He giggles when I tell him that if he was a girl I'd have to marry him. He's a bit of a character, and speaks good enough English to take the piss every five minutes. I like him a lot. He's made himself some custom fins from fibreglass and tyre inner tubes. I first saw these in action when he swam under the boat, with a scuba tank under one arm. No need for proper kit, then? I'll be posting a video soon...it has to be seen to be believed. The other member of the crew is William, or Billy Boy, who doesn't speak as much English but shares unspoken laughs with me. Like raising his eyebrows and grinning when we have a shapely white woman on board (not frequently). Two cheeky Irish girls made him come over all shy recently. Very amusing for me and Dennis...especially when they were chasing him round the boat.
A local guy built the Emily, and Gerd's had a few problems with it. Lazy Filipino carpenters, apparently. Dennis told me that the toilet cubicle at the stern of the boat actually fell into the sea a couple of weeks before I arrived. Not very amusing for the woman who was taking a piss at the time, minding her own business one minute (literally) and performing her ablutions for an audience on neighbouring dive boats the next. I think I'd have died laughing; I'd even have paid for schadenfreude of that quality. No physical pain was suffered by the poor woman, luckily.
Artur is the shop's divemaster. He's a fairly quiet lad, but also very amusing when you get to know him. I'd be diving with him in the next few days. All in all a very good combination of characters, and I just knew I was going to have a good time with this lot.