We departed Friday night, a little bit late from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT ), due to the fact that Krystal left her passport at home. Luckily she lives nearby and it was delivered quickly by an understanding parent.
This weekend GS-Diving had sixteen customers, three instructors and one teacher on a Live on Board (LOB) called The Ark. We planned to do two dives at Seven Skies Wreck, two dives at nearby Damar Island and two at Igara Wreck.
First we headed to Nongsa Marina, Indonesia to clear Indonesian customs and we were greeted with a beautiful sunset. It must be the season for sunsets.
We arrived at Seven Skies Wreck around 9am and completed 2 dives with 30 metre viz. The recreational divers saw schooling jacks, hunting giant trevally, some medium barracuda and schools of snapper. All of this I didn’t really see, as I was inside the wreck with my TDI Trimix students.
I was conducting TDI Trimix this weekend with Kelvin and Simon. I took my Technical Diving Students inside the wreck at 45m and then again to 55m on the second dive. We did a few skills. I just love showing people around inside Seven Skies, well that is until someone silts up the room. We are still arguing who that was and for sure it was not me. I will leave that to Kelvin and Simon to work out.
I also had GS-Diving PADI Instructor Phil on board who was conducting PADI Advanced Open Water and PADI Rescue Diver with seven students from an international school. The seas at Seven Skies were not ideal, but Phil being true to form, managed to get through the deep and wreck dives with the guys. He also put the PADI Rescue Divers through some exhausting skills whilst we were diving at Damar for the third and fourth dives of the day.
On the third dive of the day, I did some more skills with Simon and Kelvin. They included the no-mask out of air swim for 15 metres followed by changing to a spare mask. Then they helped their buddy back to the same place that we had started at, then we did a toxed diver ascent with finally a 30 metre tow on the surface. We also did a 20 minute simulated deco ascent under a SMB.
I had just completed these skills and once the Trimix boys were onboard, I decided, as agreed with Phil, to become a panic diver, splashing around with fins up in the air. Julius and Shalum jumped in to save me as part of their PADI Resuce Course. One of the boys approached me quite close when I was upside down, I quickly grabbed him and pulled him underwater followed by his buddy. Both of them struggled for a few minutes, but managed to rescue me. I don’t think they realised how heavy I was, wearing twin tanks and two stage bottles. They all agreed it was fun!
Also onboard, TDI Instructor Davy Koh was helping me conduct TDI Intro to Tech and TDI Advanced Nitrox with Bin and Dropper. I had completed the pool session with them at their school pool earlier in the week.
They were impressed when I told them that Davy had been my TDI Instructor for many tech courses. I really enjoyed photobombing their photo too.
The PADI Advanced Open Water Divers also enjoyed themselves diving the wrecks. Although the currents were a bit strong, on their navigation dive they were supposed to complete a square, but this took some time to complete correctly. The first attempts were kind of more like triangles.
I also spotted Davy terrifying his students with very theatrical out of air signals, which made me laugh quite alot.
Phil did the night dive and well, as you know I don’t particularly enjoy them, so I didn’t enquire as to what he and his group saw. Sorry.
Sunday we did two dives at Igara Wreck in fair to average visibility, but the entire wreck was covered in millions of fish of every variety. I had the pleasure of making my TDI Trimix Students complete their no-mask ascent which turned out to be quite challenging in the strong currents we had, but they both did quite well.
Phil and his students visited the wheel house at the Igara Wreck and saw the nurse shark. Although someone got too excited and silted up the room, so everyone exited by the roof opening, as had been discussed prior to the dive.
On the way home I completed EFR with the PADI Rescue Divers. Thanks to Phil for being bandaged up.
Teacher Juett, a non diver for this weekend, also enjoyed watching the practical demonstrations, as did recreational diver Sara.
This weekend was a special weekend in so many ways. One of the many objectives was to put my late dive buddy Tobias’ urn containing some of his ashes inside Seven Skies Wreck (we had also scattered some in Singapore waters with his family after his wake). Seven Skies was one of his favourite wrecks. Tobias died of a sudden heart attack at work, last month. He left behind his wife, Joan. She was on board to witness what we do and to say goodbye.
Tobias had an amazing passion for diving and he joined me on most of my trips from Singapore on the LOB’s and many overseas trips too. He just loved diving especially deep wrecks, but he never shied away from a casual shallow reef dive on his Evolution CCR.
For those that never met or don’t know Tobias, he has had a amazing dive career as a PADI Instructor in the UK and was also Monty Hall’s safety diver. He unfortunately lost the use of his right arm in a motorcycle accident. One day, over a beer (we had many), I asked him “Why did you not remove your arm?”…..his response was…. “I needed something to put my dive computers and compass on.” “Fair enough,” I said.
My most memorable trip with Tobias was to the HMS Repulse and Prince Of Wales Wrecks onboard The Ark. The trip was planned on the Mata Ikan but she had some troubles and I managed to switch my group to The Ark, managed by my friend Dave Yui. Tobias was diving at least twice a month prior to this trip and we completed some deep dives to 60 metres on the Repulse. Unfortunately Tobias “got bent” in his only good arm. I guess this happened due to the stress that arm was under. Anyway, it was not too serious and he was lying on a bean bag in the saloon breathing 100% oxygen. He then proceeded to do what he had done on every dive trip and he promptly fell asleep. Scott Clegg was onboard and he is always quick with a good one liner, he said Tobias was “on the num num”. So we started to call Tobias – Toby Num Num. And Toby, because he hated it. Tobias told me never to tell his wife Joan about this.
Three of his work buddies from Standard Chartered Bank were tasked with the job of placing his urn in the work shop inside Seven Skies Wreck. This is no easy task at a depth a 55m. I chose this location because there are only a hand full of people that can dive that deep and Tobias was one.
Matt was responsible for planning, with the utmost detail, the two dives to complete the mission. Stuart was the only guy in the group of three that was certified to dive this deep. Matt and Chris waited for him at 45m on both dives. Tobias is now in place on a sturdy shelf with an amazing view of the work shop. RIP mate we all miss you. I promise to visit every time I can.
Congratulations to our newly certified underwater champions :
PADI Advanced Open Water Divers: Nelson and Favian
PADI Rescue Divers : Julius, Shao, Cheryln, Natacha and Krystal
TDI Intro to Tech and TDI Advanced Nitrox Divers : Bin and Dropper
TDI Trimix Divers : Kelvin and Simon
#1 Don’t forget your Passport.
#2 Good buoyancy control with careful frog kicks will avoid silting up a room in a wreck.
Thanks to Davy Koh for the use of your underwater photos. And to Kelvin for your sunset photo at Nongsa Marina, Indonesia.