Wow, what a weekend of surprises.
The MV Giamani was full with 17 divers as we departed from Batam, Indonesia, for the weekend with a plan of 6 dives around Mapur. The first thing I have to mention is that Pierre-Yves Cousteau the youngest son of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the famed adventurer, was onboard. I was excited and scared at the same time. If you can’t find Pierre-Yves Cousteau in the group photo, he is wearing the green shirt.
With Pierre onboard, I was worried that the diving would not be good enough for him. But luckily he is a bit like me. He just loves diving regardless of whether it is good or average. In fact on Saturday, he finished a dive, changed tanks and jumped back in again, only to be seen an hour later. He enjoyed the diving and I was happy and relieved.
I had asked my two French PADI Divemasters, Francios and Elodie to be onboard this weekend. They guided the rest of the divers. Simon the Boat Manager also took Pierre and a few others for the extra dive. Emma and Harry, both experienced divers, dived in a buddy team. We had a big group of friends onboard too – Nina, Roman, William, Marcel, Kun, Andrew, Jon, Natalya, Elena and Pierre. Regulars Sarah and Nicholas also joined in the fun weekend. And I was teaching a PADI Open Water Diver Course to Andrew and Elena.
We dived “Chubbs Rock” (Pualu Redang) which is north of Mapur and the viz was ok at about 10 metres. My group of two PADI Open Water Diver students, Andrew and Elena saw a school of 20 bump head parrot fish. Whilst we were following the school of bump heads, a small school of large trevally were circling around us. It was just awesome. The last time I saw that many bump heads was at Dallas Reef near Layang Layang, Malaysia (near the now disputed Spratly Islands) back in May 2010.
We completed two dives on either side of Pulau Sentut, also north of Mapur. It was also good with 6-8 metre viz, no large fish but thousands of small ones and the hard coral is just mind blowing. Some of the coral is covering rocks, the size of vans.
Scattered sea fans and a few turtles made for two great dives. The rest of the day we spent diving Buddha Rock, which is a dive site at Mapur Island. It is named Buddha Rock because the rock on Mapur looks like the shape of a sleeping Buddha.
Buddha Rock was excellent with good viz to 10m. It is a huge site covered in fish and huge hard coral. Table coral at Buddha Rock is at least 3-4 metres wide.
There is not any coral damage at all, due to the small amount of divers that visit these sites. The only coral damage I saw was being done by hungry turtles. The brain coral was scattered everywhere too.
Sarah (a regular customer) was onboard and was meant to complete her PADI Advanced Open Water Course on one of the cancelled Seaborne trips. But being a good sport and an avid diver she has booked two trips back to back on the MV Giamani. I planned to finish her course over these two trips. We started her course with a night dive at Buddha Rock.
Prior to our dive, we went through the knowledge reviews, hand signals and light signals to use underwater. We jumped in and completed an awesome 63 minute night dive. We did a surface swim towards the island and once we could see the bottom, we descended and weaved our way back and forth back to the boat. We saw a number of crabs including a decorator crab, numerous sleepy fish and shrimps. Again the coral was just amazing.
Sunday morning we headed to the top of Bintan and completed one very surprising dive. I was not expecting much. But when the boat stopped to drop off the divers, I could see the bottom and the water was clear.
This dive at Bintan was the highlight for alot of people. The viz was around 15-20 metres and again loads and load of coral, some blue spotted rays, puffer fish, and a huge grouper (that has somehow managed to avoid all the local fisherman’s traps and baits) was viewed.
Although a small site, we managed to find this incredible coral structure, that went from the bottom at 10m to about 4 metre at the top.
There were hundreds of clown fish, sergeant fish, butterfly fish, a bat fish and just about every small fish you could think of. Wow! What a way to finish the weekend. I will be back there next week.
It was a first class weekend of diving with great company and one of the funniest Saturday night’s onboard for a while. Ask me and I will tell you all about it. It was a real pleasure to have a Cousteau on the boat too.
Congratulations to our new PADI Open Water Divers, Andrew and Elena!
Glenda’s Tip – Expect the Unexpected.