With 17 divers loaded, we headed from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Nongsa Marina, Indonesia to clear immigration into Indonesia.
Glenn and Wendel were helping out as dive guides. Onboard we had – Dean, Gena, Judith, David, Manish, Devyani, Marcus, Maggie, Zhuo Han, Yoi Kong, Joshua, Melvin, Paulyn and Being Yap
This weekend we were diving around Riau islands on the MV Seaborne, a live on board boat. After immigration we were cruising between Bintan and Batam sitting on the top deck of the boat and the moon had this ring around it. It looked pretty cool. We tried to get a photo, but nothing could capture it.
We arrived at Navy Point around 4am. Engines off, anchor out, we all continued to sleep until 7am. I made a coffee went upstairs to check the conditions. It was a nice day, the sun was shining, not a cloud around, but the water looked liked my coffee. I could see about 5 metres of the anchor line. I looked over to the island and noticed the water was a little less brown and you could see a bit better.
Needless to say the viz on the first dive was like Hantu on a good day, 5 metres at best. There were clown fish everywhere, parrot fish, thousands of small damsel fish and a brown fish with a white spot near the tail fin … still trying to indentify what it was. All this was at 5-8 metres, deeper than that there was less fish, but the plate coral was huge and stretched on forever.
It was an eventful first dive, with one lost fin, lost weight belt and some divers not having enough weights to decend.
We headed further south to Petong … fingers crossed for better viz. We arrived at Petong only to see coffee coloured water again. This was the first time in all the years I have been diving around Petong that the water was not clear blue water. It looked like it was going to be like this all weekend…oh well, you can’t have awesome conditions every time.
We dived Sea Fan Alley and the viz was a little better than the first dive, maybe 6-8 metres in some parts, but the water was very green, a green slimy colour. We spent most of the time at 20 metres where all the sea fans were, plenty of photos were taken. Blue spotted rays were seen, along with a cuttlefish and a flat worm as big as your hand and a few smaller ones.
We then headed up to 5 metres and did a 10 minutes safety stop. The suspended particles at 5 metres were thicker than at depth, but there was so much to see, lots of tomato clown fish, false clown fish, parrot fish of every colour and hundreds of small fish. We dived for 66 minutes in total, first time for me in a long time finishing with 50 bar.
Lunch was being cooked as we surfaced and we anchored off Little Petong ready for the next dive after lunch.
On a separate note, I have finally retired my old atom 2 dive computer and have upgraded to the Liquivison Kaon. This computer may not be pretty, but it functions well and the numbers are bright and easy to see. Multiple colours for different readings make it easy to keep track of your NDL and other important info.
It can operate for recreational diving with nitrox or technical diving with 3 gases (except trimix). All you need to do is change the setting from “rec” to “tec”. Excellent bit of kit and I am enjoying using it especially with the large bright numbers, good for fading eyesight. I know a few people that could use this dive computer for the same reason. You know who you are.
The next dive was at Mini Petong, like all the other dive sites there was no current. It was so relaxing and enjoyable just cruising around this small island. We did another 65 minute dive, but could have easily stayed for another 20 minutes. The max depth was around 12 metres and I had to drag people out of the water with 100 bar.
Mini Petong is amazing with lots of colorful hard and soft coral, so many fish you couldn’t see the reef sometimes. There were at least 10 flat worms, a few sweet lips and countless rabbit fish, there was one spade fish and a few bat fish too.
At one point there was a patch of sand between the main reef and another formations, out a bit deeper and this formation housed a lot of fish. I was looking at the sand knowing it was meant to look white, but it was this odd green/yellow colour due to the strange colour of the water. The viz was ok at 6-8 metres, any less and it would not have been as nice. Although this was the worst I have seen this area, it was still ok and everyone enjoyed the dive.
We headed over to a site I dived for the first time in February 2012 that I had named Soft Coral Round About. It turned out to be ok, but not the best of the weekend. But we did see schooling trevally, scorpion fish and lots of soft coral and sea fans. We came to one part of the dive where the current was strong and we could not get around the corner, so we had to turn around. At this point there was so much soft coral and sea fans and you could not see the sand. All the fish seemed to gather in this one spot too.
The night dive was at Fish Trap Reef. Let me start by saying that I try to avoid night dives due the fact I tend to fall asleep with boredom and this can lead to drowning. But everyone wanted to do a night dive so I had no choice and could not palm my divers off to another group.
I was extremely surprised with what we saw. The first 20 minutes we hugged the reef and there we saw cuttle fish, crocodile fish and countless crabs. My two divers drifted out to the sand where more weird stuff was seen, and some puffer fish and towards the end Judith found a pipe fish that was about 40cm long. It just sat there as we took pictures and poked around it a bit.
After the night dive we waited 20 minutes to be collected. I was trying to figure out why the seaborne cold not see us, so I inflated my SMB and lit it up with my torch, still no sign of the Seaborne heading in our direction. “What the hell, they can’t be that stupid,” I thought. Finally the boat headed in our direction and collected us. As the boat passed Captain Ah Gun, said they were looking for a camera lost by Maggie. Oh. I felt apologetic. Note to self, get a bungie spring cord my new camera or borrow Karen’s for my next trip.
During my briefing on Friday night I said we are going to Indonesia, it’s not Manado, it’s just south of Batam. Having said that we saw similar stuff during the night dive that I saw in Manado in January 2012. Of course it was not as cool as Manado, but it was still awesome.
Sunday morning we dived Mini Petong and Parrot Fish Point. Both were pretty good, with of course parrot fish and a lot of rays, tomato clown fish and a school of pomfrits.
All in all an ok weekend. The sites were just fantastic with so much to see, it’s just unfortunate and disappointing that the viz was bad viz weekend.
Lets just say it was one of those weekends were the company made up for the viz.
Photos by Gary using his new Powershot D20 camera. It had its maiden dive this weekend.
Additional photos may be viewed on our Facebook page here – 1 to 3 June, 2012 – MV Seaborne, recreational diving