Smiling happy people is what was on board the MV Seaborne after the first day’s diving at Tioman, Malaysia during the Hari Raya long weekend. The viz had improved and it was nice to be back in the water after a weekend off.
I had to skip the previous weekend due to hurting my back bending down to pick up my dog’s leash. It was just like in the movies, when the actor bends over and then stops and says “my back”. I did just that and then fell on the grass outside McDonalds at Siglap. A few people walked past as Karen was helping me and I was wondering what they thought I was doing. The pain eased enough for me to slowly walk to the doctors and get painkillers. I spent the next two days watching TV high on pain killers. Thankfully, according to the doctor, it was nothing serious just a pulled muscle.
Anyway, enough about me, back to diving. I was conducting SDI Open Water Scuba Diver with Denis and mother and son team Jacqui and Greg. Unfortunately Denis stopped diving due to an ear problem. Jacqui and Greg did extremely well. Once Jacqui was over her initial nerves, she really enjoyed herself. She kept pointing out fish and after the dive would ask me what they were.
Andy was guiding, Dennis, Natacha, Dean and Jessica. Armand (my PADI Divemaster Trainee) was guiding Suzanne, (rEvo Roat) Oliver, Aline, Anne and Angela. Tony and Philip were diving together. We swapped this around a bit during the weekend because Anne and Angela wanted shorter 40 minutes dives. Lazy Buggers!
Saturday we dived Bahara rock, Rengis, Labas, Tiger Reef and back to Rengis for the night dive.
Everyone saw the black tip and turtle at Rengis.
Everyone also saw at least 20 blue spotted rays in the swim throughs at Labas.
And according to Andy there were so many, that he had to give a few a friendly gentle pokes with his pointer to make them move away so everyone could swim over them safely.
Five minutes into my dive at Rengis I noticed that Greg was back on the surface and could not come back down, so we all went up and Greg told me he had lost his weight belt. The current had pushed us past were he lost it and the boat had already moved to the other end of Rengis and moored at the destinated exit point. The current stopped once we reached the other side of the island and we had a very long surface swim to the boat. I could not give any more weights to Greg, because I had already given my two weights to Denis. So I pulled out my Nautilus Lifeline and called the MV Seaborne. Ah Gun replied and I asked him to come get my group. I saw the boys drop the mooring line and travel the 200 plus metres to collect us. I was kinda impressed with my solution to use the Nautilus Lifeline, instead of swimming all that way. The Nautilus Lifeline is definitely a great tool to have, emergency or not. We went back to the dive site and I found the lost weight belt.
My dive at Labas with Jacqui and Greg was most excellent, we did a maximum of 12 metres and 45 minutes before Greg was getting low on air. There were clown fish everywhere at Labas and so many small fish – it was incredible. I found this nice hard coral with fish all around it and took a shot from underneath with a sunburst above. Hope it worked.
Greg and Jacqui were pointing at all the fish and were very impressed with this huge trigger fish. Me on the other hand, not so impressed and did a quick right turn to avoid it. I later explained the Trigger Fish Trauma (TFT) to Greg and Jackie.
Tiger Reef was completely out of this world, it is the best dive I have done in a long time. The viz was good, the fishlife abundant and the coral colorful. Free swimming white eyed eels and big fat puffer fish everywhere. There must have been a 100 or more Blue Dragon Nudi’s. We spent a good 10 minutes watching a school of about 8 trevally annoying this bait ball. They appeared not to be eating any of the baitfish, just swimming towards them and just tormenting them. I found myself smiling and laughing at the show and thinking I SO LOVE my job.
With three dives done for my Open Water Students, we sat back and relaxed whilst Armand took the 4 night divers for a long dive at Rengis.
We all waited for them as the boys prepared the steam boat for dinner. Big Andy and I did all the cooking and we managed to eat just about everything.
The steam boat is delicious. It is only featured on the MV Seaborne during long weekends.
We left Tioman around midnight and headed north towards Kuantan wreck. I woke up about 4am because the boat slowed down and was manovering a lot. I got up to see what the trouble was, it turned out that we had managed to find ourselves in the middle of a lot of fish trap bouys. There must have been 20-30 in one area and not so easy to see in the dark. We managed to get out and thankfully no rope wrapped around the props, nothing worse than a 4am dive under the boat cutting ropes off props, Armand would not have been impressed with that!
We arrived at Kuantan wreck early and I jumped in with the rope at 6.50am to tie off. The captain dropped me right on the bow of the wreck and I had a short swim to a tie off point, which happened to be right where all the oil is coming out of the wreck. Maybe not such a smart place to tie off, anyway it was done. I received a few “tongue in cheek” comments about where I tied off, a lot of “I have oil on my gloves”. Anyway, everyone saw to fun side of my error and had a good laugh, can’t blame me it was 6.50am.
We did two incredible dives at the wreck with good viz and no current, there was a bit of surface current and damn jelly fish at 5m, so I spent the safety stop pushing the little buggers away with my freshly oiled gloved hand.
Angela spotted two black tips and at one point I could not see the wreck because of all the fish. Hermit crabs, morays, rabbit fish, school of barracuda, small school of trevally and thousands and thousands of fusiliers. After the first dive a big sea snake surfaced right behind the boat, it was about 2 meters long and well fed by the looks of its belly. Kinda like a big Andy sea snake.
Suzanne got some fantastic photos of a hairy frog fish, it was away from the wreck on the sand with it’s angler lure out. There were 2-3 other fish also waiting with the frog fish hoping it would lure in some easy prey. It walked back to the wreck the whole time followed by the fish and Suzanne snapping away.
I was sitting at the back of the boat in between the two dives when a devil ray jumped out of the water right behind the boat, not a big ray but it looked very cool flying through the air for a second or two.
I just love Kuantan wreck, it has so much fish life and it is an easy dive.
The top is at 14 metres and the bottom at 22 metres.
You always see big fish and now there are small fish. I hope the frog fish population increases.
Congratulations to Greg and Jacqui for completing SDI Open Water Scuba Diver. They did their fourth certification dive at the Kuantan wreck, not many students get to dive an amazing wreck on dive number four.
During the three hour cruise to Veralla wreck we were entertained by sailfish herding their prey and the occasional ariel display before slapping down on its prey. We also had dolphins riding the wake.
We completed two great dives at Veralla, the fish life’s nothing like Kuantan, but still ok. There were two large humpheads, two cuttlefish and a lot of abandoned fish trips. I think the humpheads are only there because they are too big to fit in the fish traps. This is a very popular place for the Malaysian fisherman by the looks of all the fish traps. Last April at the same wreck, Andy put two wine bottles he found, into the barrels of two guns. I found them on the ground nearby and put them back again. Wonder where they will be next time I’m there?
During all four wrecks dives we had flat calm seas and no current at all, we jumped in and did a free decent to Veralla. However at Kuantan there was a little surface current, so we used the line to get down, but once on the wreck there was no current. Incredible weather!
We had dived Veralla wreck along with another live-on-board that departs from Endau, Malaysia. The dive site was a bit crowed, so I opted for “less diver’s venue “this morning. This is why I like the MV Seaborne, it only holds 14 divers plus 3 guides. Besides Veralla, we hardly saw the other divers, including the 14 from our boat.
We left Veralla destined for Pulau Aur with the BBQ on the way, we arrived around 4am took a moaring line in between Aur and Dayang and kept sleeping. I woke everyone up at 7am for the first dive at Lang. I decided to dive Lang and not Rayners Rock, due to the high number of divers expected to be there.
The viz at Lang and Pinnacle Two (our second dive) was 20-30 metres. It has been a while since I have experienced this type of viz. Both dive sites were loaded with fish, a turtle was spotted along with schooling barracuda and trevally. Definitely the best I have seen Aur in a long time.
Greg had been struggling with his air consumption all weekend and on average was at 100 bar around 23 minutes and we were either ending dives early or I sent him up with another group at around 35 minutes. At Pinnacle Two he was at 100 bar at 14 minutes and I took him up to 5 metres at the 25 minute mark with 50 bar. After our safety stop, I showed him I still had 150 bar waved “bye bye” and went back down to join the group and enjoy the awesome viz.
This was Armand’s last weekend of diving. He has to head back to France on Sunday 26th August, 2012. He has been an absolute pleasure to have around, he has been working as an intern for 3 months. Karen and I will miss him and so will Halle Berry (my dog).
It has been great having Armand helping me out and I have really enjoyed diving with him. He just loves diving and is the youngest PADI divemaster I have certified. He is only 19, but looks about 14. Last week he went to cover for me at the ANZA Dive Club meeting because I had to do a last minute pool session. The club members that did not know him, asked for ID as he ordered a beer. It turned out to be a “fun night with the ladies” as Armand puts it. I later received a message from Suzanne and she said it was a “fun night with Armand and several cougars”.
I certified Armand as a PADI Divemaster over the weekend. I will miss you a lot Armand, it has been a lot of fun having you around.
Glenda’s Tip – You don’t need to be a chipmunk when diving and hold all the air in your cheeks. Long, slow, deep breaths are the best. Try counting to 4 with an inhalation and then exhale counting to 8. You can increase the time to inhale and exhale as you become more experienced. Try to relax and only move your feet when finning in a horizontal position. This will conserve energy and help improve your air consumption too.
Cheers – Gary.
Thanks to Gary and Suzanne for the use of your photos. Also GS-Diving is now looking for another intern, please email email@example.com if you know anyone who may be interested.
Additional Facebook photos may also be found here – 17 to 20 August 2012, MV Seaborne, SDI Open Water & Wreck Diving