Enjoy reading Julius’ recount of his first experience onboard the MV White Manta:
On Friday, the 30th of May, a total of 18 divers including myself met our PADI Dive Instructor Gary, PADI Dive Master Andy and Head Teacher (who is also a PADI Dive Instructor) Ms Juett at Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal at around 5pm.
Soon after meeting up, we boarded the MV White Manta.
The MV White Manta was huge!
As soon as we boarded, all the divers were shown to their rooms, and of course, I had the best room of all which was called the saloon. After being shown to our rooms and settling down, the divers on board the live on board (LOB) were given a briefing by Chris. He is the Cruise Director of the MV White Manta. After his hour long briefing we were then free to relax and have fun as we headed towards the Anambas Islands, via Nongsa Indonesia for customs clearance.
The next day, it was time to go diving! PADI Dive Instructor Gary led Angelica, Chloe, Gerald, Miguel, Marcus and Favian, Gary’s Mexican PADI Dive Master Trainee (DMT). Miguel and Marcus were also doing their PADI Advanced Diver Course.
I, myself, being a PADI DMT too, led another dive group which consisted of Jo-ann, David, Manuel, Xavier, Krystal, Natasha and PADI Dive Instructor Ms Juett.
PADI Dive Master “Big Andy” led another group of GS-Diving customers consisting of 3 dutch guys; Jerome, Dries and Dries’ son, Jan. Jan was holding a PADI Open Water certification so together they dived to his maximum depth of 18 metres. He is 20 years old. While Ovi dived with Christian and Christoph.
I was really excited. It was the first time that I led a dive group. For our first dive, we dived at Tokong Malangbiru. We were sent out via the zodiacs, and back-rolled into the vast sea. After making sure everyone was fine and accounted for, we descended beneath the surface. The visibility was amazing and we could see at least 30m away.
It was rather shallow at first, with our depth only at 10m, however there was a relatively strong current. I tried leading the group into the current at first but the current proved too strong and would have cost us unnecessary excessive air consumption.
Therefore I decided that we should let the current just take us slowly towards our LOB.
During the dive, we spotted multiple nudibranch, batfish, huge hump head wrasse’s and a wide variety of beautiful coral. After 42 minutes of amazing diving, we headed up to 5 metres to do our 3 minute safety stop before ascending to the surface.
Luckily my Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) was deployed with minimal fuss. I was relieved.
Our second dive was also at Tokong Malangbiru, though this time we dived a different part of the rocky island. Once again we were sent out via the zodiacs dropped down to roughly 18 to 20 meters after back-rolling into the water.
There was a relatively mild current during the dive but it didn’t affect us much.
During this dive, we saw many clown fish, batfish, sea urchins, a couple wrasse’s and a humongous grouper. David and I also had a little fin exchange during the dive due to some complications. Visibility was once again superb! The dive time was around 35 minutes when I made sure everyone had around a 100 bar left in their tanks.
Two minutes later, I saw Xavier swimming towards me signalling to me he was down to 50 bar! I think he likes guzzling his air. In any case, we slowly and calmly ascended to 5 metres to do our safety stop where I deployed my SMB before ending the dive.
After everyone was safely on the LOB, we headed off for a dive site at Katoka Rock. We did a live drop entry into the water, from the back of the main boat and quickly descended beneath the surface. The dive site was more or less like Tekong Malangbiru. The visibility was just as good and there was a huge range of corals too.
Xavier managed to spot a moray eel during the dive and Ms Juett and I spotted a couple nudi’s.
During our surface interval after the third dive, we were served ice-cream! The ice-cream was awesome but there wasn’t enough to satisfy one of our divers, Marcus. After having had some ice-cream, the divers were free to lay back and rest.
While headed back to Tekong Malangbiru (for our fourth dive), I went out hunting for divers who were with GS-Diving and asking whether they wanted to do a night dive. The response was great as most were interested in night diving. Before we were to get ready, there was a little change in groups, where I led Krystal, Natasha, Gerald, Chloe, Xavier, Angelica and Gary led Miguel, Marcus, David and Favian.
The night dive was rather easy going. Throughout the dive, we were looking closely at the coral, looking out for intriguing finds and my favourite nudibranch. Throughout the dive, we stuck to around 6 to 7 metres. It was really fun, flashing our torches around, though some divers still shone their lights directly at other divers’ faces after being told not to multiple times. When we reached the surface and we waited for the zodiac to pick us up. We could see tons of these worm like organisms just jumping at the surface. Yucks! After the night dive, we settled down, had dinner and went about doing our own things for the rest of the evening.
On Sunday morning, we arrived at my personal favourite dive site of the weekend, the Igara Wreck. Most of the divers were really excited about diving the wreck as it is a rather famous wreck after all. More information on this rusty wreck can be found – here.
Upon reaching there, we were told that the currents were extremely strong and that the dive would have to wait. After an hour or two of waiting, only Gary, Favian and I dived the Igara Wreck as the currents were still very strong and deemed unsafe for the other divers that came along with our trip. Having said that, the dive was great!
It was rather difficult getting down to the wreck due to the crazy current but we still managed, remembering Gary’s words – “Hold the line!” We mainly explored the bow of the wreck, easy accessible rooms and a few narrow pathways. During the dive, Gary picked up a piece of iron ore and put it in the pocket of Favian’s buoyancy control device (BCD). After a few chuckles watching him sink with this piece of seemingly innocent rock, ended making an amazing souvenir. After a bit more exploring, we headed back to the mooring line and slowly ascended back to the surface.
Overall it was a great trip! After the final dive, we started to sail back home. During that time, everyone was busy cleaning up gear, packing up their bags and Gary had a good time collecting his ridiculous beer fines. Basically should a diver drop a weight belt or ask a silly question, they are “fined”. Many of the divers from my school also bought some White Manta t-shirts.
Miguel and Marcus also completed most of their PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course during this trip as well so congrats to them.
Upon arriving at the exit at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, most divers were greeted by the smiles of the family and friends which concluded our amazing trip to Anambas.
Written by Julius Leung
Photos by Gary Savins
View additional photos from this trip to the Anambas Archipelago, Indonesia – here