Sunday, April 5, 2009

Scuba Diving

A recent wreck dive in the lagoon.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I recently joined the crew of the Pacific Marlin when they went on one of their routine patrols of the BIOT. The mission is fairly simple - mainly a customs check of the few visiting boats in the area and cleanup of some of the islands. Free time was spent snorkeling, reading, and eating (lots). This was my first time away from Diego Garcia in 6 months, so the change was welcome.

Île Poule is one of the smallest in the Salomons, so we were able to pick up all of the sea trash on the beach - mostly flip flops and water bottles.

On Île Poule, Salomon Islands. As it turns out, the mandatory swim test was a good idea - swimming the last 400 meters against the tide with all of the gear was a little hairy.

Post cleanup: Lt Andy Mowat, RN, LT Ben Crowley, USN
Île Sud-Est, Egmont Islands, with the landing party. There was once a coconut plantation, and its ruins can still be seen. Very creepy when exploring alone though.
Chow time. The food served on the ship is deserving of the excellent reputation, but the volume seen here is equally impressive: steak, eggs, sausage, bacon, beans, chips, and a fresh baked dinner roll. I think I blacked out before the apple crisp was served for desert.

Enjoying a few cold ones with the Master and Chief Engineer at end of another great day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coconut Plantation

When the boss is away, Branch Health Clinic Officers play. These are pictures from a recent trip out to the plantation that was in operation some time before Diego Garcia became a Naval Support Facility. Many of the buildings in the area have been reduced to little more than their foundations, while others are still in pretty good shape and have been barely touched since they were last used.

On the front steps of the Plantation Managers house

Nothing special here, I just thought the tree was interesting

A cocoanut crab, eating his namesake

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fish Story

As long as I can remember, it has been my profound desire to catch a fish that if mounted, would take up the entire wall and serve as the ultimate trump card to rival any fishing tale. I imagine the kind of Zane Grey fish that takes a hour to wrangle and leaves the victor begging for mercy. That's right, I don't want to catch a fish, I want to angle one. Believe me, I have tried on my fair share of occasions, but the net result has never been much more than a sea bass or grouper. Since coming to Diego Garcia the results have been a little more noteworthy, but even the hearty tug of a Wahoo loses its luster once you've hauled in a few.

So what is a Naval Officer to do? Enter Dave Adams: saltwater fishing expert and credit to our wardroom. This guy has tackle with enough test to suspend a compact car and reels that actually have the same transmissions found in a Big Rig. On top of that, he is my friend, and as we left the lagoon I knew with absolute certainty that this was not a fishing trip, but a hunting expedition...

So here I am, shortly after "fish on" was called. Whatever is on the other end of the line is still diving and the reel is hemorrhaging line, but so far so good - all I am worried about is how we are going to keep 80 lbs. of tuna sashimi cold at the cookout. In retrospect, a pair of gloves and a larger harness might have been a good idea.

After 30 minutes of scrambling and a sore arm, the 7 foot coral shark gave the Filipino crew yet another battle. Now before anyone cries PETA, the surrounding waters are a strictly enforced nature preserve, so we let the monster go. Better luck next time?

Members of the "expedition" proudly pose with...another Wahoo. From left: Liz, Ben, Ryan, Andrew, and Dave (The Great).