Last March while diving on the Invisibles reef on Bonaire, I assisted a tec diver carrying a twin pack plus multiple side mounts back to his pickup. Apart from Hello, Thank you and Have A Good Day, we did not talk much, as he was in a hurry. Two days later I encountered the same diver at the same dive site again. This time we started chatting and I learnt that the reason he keeps diving at Invisibles is in search of the third reef. Those who are familiar with the Invisibles reef on Bonaire know that it is a double reef, basically two reefs running parallel to the shoreline with a beautiful sandy bottom between them.
I have been diving on the Invisibles for more than two decades, but I had never heard of a third reef until that day. Over the next several days I saw his truck a couple more times at the dive site again. I was somewhat skeptical.
But then I remembered the movie Searching for Sugar Man.
Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary made in 2012 about an US musician called Sixto Rodriguez who never received any recognition in his home country for a number of reasons which had nothing to do with the quality of his music, and he faded into total obscurity. However, in the 1970s in South Africa, he was bigger than Elvis. Bigger than Dylan. After he stopped releasing any new songs, it was widely rumoured that he had died, with flamboyant stories about fires on stages and equally dramatic scenarios. A couple of decades later, two Rodriguez obsessed fans in South Africa set out to learn the man's true fate, with surprising results. The remarkable, award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man tells the story. Sixto Rodriguez was eventually found alive and well, working as a construction worker in Detroit. Since the release of the movie, he finally received his well deserved recognition, and has become an international star selling millions of copies and finding fans all over the world.
So maybe, the third reef is not such a wild goose chase. Together with my dive buddy, we decided to search a bit too. To this day, it remains elusive. Yet, in the process of exploring, we have seen some wonderful things, scenes which we had not encountered previously on our frequent dives on the double reef. Huge stingrays, ocean sunfish mola-mola, some distant sharks, tarpons, dolphins, wahoo, and many more.
We might never find the third reef, but looking for it is a lot of fun. Besides, just because we haven’t found it, does not mean that it doesn’t exist.