After diving for 6 years, it is now time to retire my second wetsuit. This one had served me well with over 150 dives to its credit. It had started to perish in December, then fall apart in March and now in June, well nothing is left but a piece of stiff cardboard type material that protects you from nasty stings, but not much else. You can even see through the material. Luckily my vest was still in good working order and kept me relatively warm this weekend and my gloves are still holeless which also helped. Although I did surface a few times with blue lips.
Gary and I headed off to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, Singapore on Friday afternoon, after collecting two crew for the weekend from their shop at Clarke Quay in our trusty bucket. Our green diesel van is called a bucket because we put things in it.
We were one of the first through customs. It was nice to get a seat and relax. It was just the two of us this weekend and Gary even organised a room with an ensuite on our live on board (LOB) boat called The Ark, which was absolute heaven. A real treat.
Our overnight trip to Aur, Malaysia started well with a beautiful sunset and dinner onboard. But once we rounded the corner and headed up the coast to Aur we hit rough seas. It seemed like a long slow ride and I remember waking up a few times during the night thinking, “Wow! That was a big wave.” The rather large bruise on my arm is a testimony to the storm.
The vizability for the weekend was somewhat similar to that in March this year. Milky. It was also the first weekend after a full moon which also means currents. Whilst there were no real complaints from me, I was just happy to go diving and check out the fish and coral.
Gary was disappointed with the weather and poor viz and the unusually large trigger fish we encounted. I guess I was just happy to be on a boat and not in a classroom teaching. But of course, this is the third time now we have gone diving together during my term breaks, and a certain someone is threatening not to go with me again, as each of these three trips have had bad weather.
Dive 1 saw us at Telok Jawa. The highlight of this morning “dusk style” dive were the nanny guys (squirrel fish) which were still asleep when we passed them and made some great subjects for observation. We also saw racoon butterfly fish, batfish, some dog faced pufferfish, clown fish, false clown fish, golden rabbit fish and many christmas trees.
Christmas trees are worms which feed primarily by filtering the food from the water around it. Each spiral is actually composed of feather-like tentacles which allows any prey trapped in them to be transported straight towards the worm’s mouth. They also use the trees as gills. Any sudden movement or sounds near the worm and it retracts immediately into it’s tube.
Dive 2 was a Pulau Lang where we found that the corner of the island had the best fish life and even though it had strong currents pulling us left and right (usually within 5 minutes of eachother). It was the best. We stayed watching everything for at least 15 minutes before ascending near the rocks and finishing our dive in the calm of the sheltered bay. The highlights were the bridle bream, silver bream, parrot fish, angel fish and rainbow runners.
Dive 3 was at Crocodile Rock where there seemed to be many cleaning stations. I watched an indian double bar goatfish really enjoy his “bath” and his face was pure delight. I was disappointed to see bleached coral and some crown of thorns. But at least the clams still looked very healthy. There was a phantom batfish, a curious scribbly filefish and a beautiful angel fish too.
Dive 4 was at the Divers Lodge House Reef. It was a maze of ropes going in every direction into the milky water. We were not very adventurous and we followed the ropes. There were two massive trigger fish and Gary’s reaction told me that he was not happy and wanted to finish the dive quickly. He told me afterwards that he couldn’t believe that I was taking pictures of the evil creatures. His Trigger Fish Trauma (TFT) is still with him. Of course what he failed to notice was the immense span of water between the fish and I. I was using the zoom on the camera.
We skipped the night dive.
On Sunday we dived at Pinang with Trevor, who missed diving with his group due to mask problems. This site had slightly better viz than the day before. There were still big seas and strong currents. It was a tad difficult to get to the dive site, but we managed by swimming along the sand at 24m. Once there I was impressed. I found the cutest baby cuttlefish trying to look inconspicuous in its tiny home of yellow stag horn coral. There were many blue spotted rays and parrot fish too.
Our last dive of the trip was at Pinnacle 2. We headed out into the sand at 27m to check out the fish traps, then circled back. We didn’t need to save any fish which was refreshing.
Once back at the bolders we swam against the current and watched more cleaning stations, schools of rainbow runners, more parrot fish. There were also numerous clown fish and star fish.
Gary used his Kaon dive computer on this trip. It was the second time he had used this dive computer. It is very conservative when set to recreational mode. You can see the results against my Aladin Prime on this deep dive. Yes he deliberately let it go into deco, and as we ascended it didn’t clear its deco, which usually happens if you stay 14 m or shallower for 10 or more minutes.
So he spent his safety stop at 3m for 6 minutes while I stayed at 5 minutes for my 3 minutes. It was a fast safety stop drifting in the current until we came across the rope, which we then swam to. We stayed there for a bit longer and to catch our breath as swimming into a current to get to the rope was not the most pleasant and Gary was also towing his SMB (surface marker buoy) which made his swim even more unpleasant. We also needed to let his Kaon catch its breath too.
Gary will be trying his Kaon with a conservative tech setting on his next recreational trip, just to see how it compares.
One of the problems of diving Pinnacle 2 is that the site does not offer a relaxing place to ascend and do a sheltered safety stop. The top of the reef is 14m, so when it is time to leave, you are at the mercy of the currents. This was the first dive were we had to signal to eachother that we were at half a tank. All weekend we both surfaced with more than 100 bar each.
I had a great time despite the poor milky vizability and rough seas. Cheers – Karen
Photos by Karen and additional photos from this trip can be found on the GS-DIVING facebook page.
Additional photos may be viewed on our Facebook page here – 8 to 10 June, 2012 – The Ark, recreational diving