I was leaving home for Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) when I received a text from Paul at 5.30pm. His message was “need a brain, left passport at home, in cab now should be there on time”. Off to a great start I thought, then at 6.15pm another text. “Sorry going to be late from Phil, heading back home to collect our passports.”
We left TMFT around 7.15pm with everyone onboard with passports and we headed off to start what was an amazing weekend of wreck diving in Malaysia. The schedule was 7 wrecks is 3 days with 10 dives. We ended up diving 8 wrecks with 10 dives.
I was conducting PADI Junior Advanced Open Water with Rex. I did PADI Junior Open Water with Rex last month. He is a great little diver. When his dad Craig told him about the all wreck weekend, he desperately asked his dad to go and he even missed a major rugby match to come diving. I like his way of thinking. Paul and Suzanne were diving together using their JJ and rEvo CCR’s. Phil was guiding Jeremy, Peter, JP, Robert and Richard. Georgie was guiding Sarah, Erica, Judith, Anita and Don. Lucky Don. We did swap this around about, so I could guide some of the ladies too.
The first two dives were at the Sipadan and Sawadee Wrecks. There are 3 wrecks in total at this site just off the coast of Tioman. The Sipadan was a Malaysian Navy gun boat. The Sawadee wrecks are 2 Thai fishing boats. They are all close to each other and you can dive all three in one dive.
The first two dives were excellent and nobody on the boat, besides the guides, had dived any of the three wrecks, so much excitement and discussion after each dive was the norm. Both wrecks are covered in small fish, but not as many as last time, I can only guess this is due to the arrival of a school of 6-10 young Giant Travelly. It was cool to watch these GT’s race through the schools of small fish in a feeding frenzy. A school of baitfish has also made these wrecks home.
All three wrecks were just about visable from each of the other wrecks, so we decided that one group would dive one and the other dive the other and vice versa on the second dive.
Rex completed his deep and wreck dives and is a confident diver, we had to hover above the wrecks due to his age of 12 restricts his depth to 21m. The others had no such problem, I watched Phil and his group squeeze into a small door to get into the wheelhouse.
We headed off to dive Dog Pound and Scorpion wrecks next. The 3 hour journey included lunch and a snooze. Zzzzzz
Dog Pound wreck turned to be ok even in the limited viz we experienced. Last time I dived the Dog Pound the viz was 20 metres, but today it was about 5 metres. The wreck is littered with fish attractants set up by local fisherman and they sure do work. The wreck has a school of barracuda, bat fish and 5 big puffer fish. Here were also 5-6 huge golden snapper that has yet to be caught by the fisherman. The best sighting at the wreck was the 5 bamboo sharks all sitting together on top of the wreck.
The fish attractants have lines going to the wreck where palm leaves are tied all the way along the line. This creates somewhere for the small fish to live and hence brings the big fish along. The line itself is worth a dive, the fish life living on the rope is amazing, some of the fish are so well camouflaged it difficult to see them until they move. Overall not a bad dive.
When we arrived at Scorpion wreck there was no mooring line, the fisherman normally have a line on this wreck. So I had to tie a line to the wreck. The first time I jumped in, I landed on the sand surrounded by a school of barracuda and no wreck. Back up for a second shot. Second time round I found the wreck and tied off.
The Scorpion wreck was full of small nurse and bamboo sharks. I must have seen at least 20 in all, there were five nurse sharks in one small hole in the wreck. We did a 45 minute dive investigating all the small cracks looking for sharks. Along the way we saw some weird small creatures walking along the sand, something you would see in Manado, Indonesia.
The steam boat dinner was awesome, but unfortunately not many people appreciated it as much as I did and few people were still seasick and did not eat, so there was a lot of food left. I needed big Andy to help finish it off. Later we will head for Kuantan and Veralla wrecks.
I jumped in with the rope around 7am as soon as the bubbles cleared, I could see the Kuantan wreck. Awesome viz, after securing the line to the bridge, quickly I might add because the line was caught around the Seaborne and was quickly being pulled to the surface. I managed to get a decent knot and headed up and found the thin line we use to decend and ascend, wrapped around the props along with the left over of a fish trap line we must have hit last night. I spent 15 minutes bouncing up and down under the boat freeing our line and cutting the fish trap line away. Man, I was spent already.
We did two incredible dives on Kuantan Wreck with at least 30 metres viz. The viz dropped a little on the second dive but it was still amazing. White tips sharks, huge rays, hairy frog fish, schooling barracuda, schooling trevally, thousands of rabbit fish, some were huge up to 30-50 centimetres long. Thousands and thousands of small fish covered the wreck. There is still oil coming out of the wreck and big sticky ribbons and smaller blobs are seen floating around the wreck. One diver managed to run into a big piece and spent 30 minutes cleaning it off his buoyancy control device (BCD) and submersible pressure gauge (SPG) with cooking oil, yep cooking oil cleans up engine oil.
On route to Varella wreck everyone was sharing photos with each other, lots of frog fish, sting rays photos and some nice shots of the fish covered wreck.
We arrived at Varella wreck and I was all ready to jump in to tie off to the wreck. We were close to where the wreck is and the boat boy said jump. So I did, then I felt an unusual pull on the line and I heard a “no” when I hit the water. So I aborted my decent and swam towards the boat and hung onto the dive platform until the boat stopped. I got out, dropped all my gear and went to the wheelhouse to learn what the miscommunication was. The captain had said “no need for Gary to jump”, but the boat boy heard “jump”, said “jump”, so I jumped. As it turns out there was already a mooring line on the wreck. Much laughter followed.
We did two dives at Veralla wreck and everyone really enjoyed the structure and the wrecks size, although mostly broken up, it has some great highlights. The best of the dive is the two twin 30 caliber machine guns. These guns are sitting on top of intact boxes and the storage room below is full of crates of ammo. I pointed this out to all my divers. It took a little bit of sign language to explain, “these boxes hold ammunition for the gun above.”
There is this puffer fish at one of the guns and it was there last time I was there and during that trip Suzanne named it “The Keeper of the Gun”. This puffer is kinda protective of his gun and I got a bit too close. I have never been threatened by a puffer before today. This puffer really likes this gun, so it makes you wonder if there is connection somehow. It is clearly his gun!
We headed off around 6 pm and at 7.30pm we anchored in the middle of nowhere to have a BBQ dinner, again MV Seaborne style. Awesome BBQ. We did not finish everything and keep some for a BBQ lunch on Sunday. Happy days!
Sunday morning we did two short but awesome dives on the the Maritime Fidelity wreck, one of my top 5 wrecks. This wreck is close to Singapore, so the viz is never great but I still love it. There is so much to see, not fish, but cranes, winches, cargo holds, engine rooms and other cool blokey stuff. Paul and Suzanne managed to get into the engine and the tool shed. I stayed on the outside with my guys. Poor Rex had to sit out the diving on Sunday due to the depth of 30 metres.
When I jumped in at 7am to tie off, I was happy to see the captain dropped me right at the stern of the wreck and I had a quick look around whilst securing the line. Grouper and schooling barracuda everywhere. The viz was according to me about 5 metres with no current. I told everyone when I surfaced the viz was 5 metres, after they returned they said my viz calibration was off, it was more like 3 metres. So many jokes followed that they decided that they needed to divide everything I say, by 2 or more. I explained I am a fisherman and we exaggerate. The second dive was and without telling a fib, 10 metres viz. You could see so much more of the wreck, more blokey stuff. What an awesome way to finish an awesome long weekend of diving.
We had another BBQ for lunch with last night left overs and sat back and enjoyed the hours left to cruise back home to Singapore.
I am happy to say that no one else does such a wreck schedule. In summary we dived:
- 1 dive on the RM Sipadan
- 1 dive on the Sawadee wrecks (2 in total)
- 1 dive on the Rompin wreck/Dog Pound wreck
- 1 dive on the Scorpion wreck
- 2 dives on the Kuantun wreck
- 2 dives on the Verella wreck
- 2 dives on the Maritime Fidelity
If you are interested on information of each wreck, click on the links above.
Glenda’s Tip – Do take sea sick tablets before you get on the boat. Unfortunately if you starting feeling sick on the boat, the sea sick tablets won’t be able to help you.
Cheers – Gary
Photos by Gary Savins and Suzanne Roat