Kracking Komodo

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Kracking Komodo!

coral crab KomodoIt’s Thursday, Nic and I are on the Indo Siren showing our new C.D trainee the yacht, its safety features and the beginnings of the paperwork needed for each charter. Meanwhile Edu went to the airport to pick up our 13 divers, 4 from Spain, 1 from the UK and the rest Aussies. HOWEVER… he only came back with 12! Our Brit decided to be ‘fashionably’ late and miss the plane. Friday kicked off with 2 dives on Unusual Suspects followed by one on Tanjung Nudi (our Brit decided to show up during dive three – Welcome to the Indo Siren Christopher!!!) the dives brought with them a host of frogfish, a thorny seahorse, some pipefish and masses of Nudibranchs. We left Bima Bay at 3:30pm and headed out to Sangeang for the night dive on Bontoh Reef, before sailing through the night to get to the safety of Batu Moncu, our anchorage.

sweetlips komodoOur day of diving started with a stunning little dive called Coral Garden, the sunlight’s rays streaming thru the water illuminating the reef and bringing the fish to life. The rest of the day brought us some drift diving around the Gili Lawas. Golden Passage, then the Shotgun followed by Flamenco Reef. Most of the guests thankful that the muck diving being over for now. They all thoroughly enjoyed being able to see the corals and marine life thanks to the visibility brought by Komodo’s clear waters. Day four of the trip introduced the guests to the currents of Komodo. We hit both Crystal and Castle Rock’s with fish and sharks galore, from dogtooth tuna to the schools of thousands of fusiliers. Next up was Batu Bolong, one of my favourites. Especially as we had a rising tide and got to dive the ‘sheltered’ North side. Here we had an abundance of marine life including 4 hawksbill turtles enjoying a late lunch on the corals in between all the anthias, damsels and morays. The night dive was at Wainilu in preparation for the Dragon walk in the morning. Today was definitely not your typical Monday, we started with the Dragon Walk on Rinca. Passing a small manta on our way into the channel towards the dock, once on land we noticed warning signs stating crocodiles have been seen in the area, though we think nothing of it. The walk was pleasant and we saw a couple of Komodo dragons, the monkeys and a few water buffalo. As we board the Indo Siren to start our journey south to Nusa Kode, Yadi (our host) sees a large crocodile in the water while he is setting up the table for breakfast and points it out for everyone to see. But that will not deter us from diving! Dive one was at Boulders, two at Cannibal Rock and we had a split group for the night dive. Some preferring the Bintang dive, some fancying Cannibal again while I took 3 divers to Torpedo Alley to try our luck and find the Bobbit Worm (which we were lucky enough to find!!)

Komodo Dragon - indonesiaStill in Nusa Kode, we wake to see a family of wild boar on the beach along with some monkeys but the Komodo dragons that were there yesterday seem to have wandered off. We start the day with the stunning ‘Yellow Wall of Texas’ with its numerous vibrant soft corals being illuminated by the mornings first rays of light that break through the clouds. Next up we did a double header on Manta Alley, the water a balmy 23C and some pretty strong surge we were fortunate on both occasions to see the mantas. Our second dive brought us a close encounter with a trio of black mantas feeding and checking us out whilst on our safety stop, one of them a juvenile at barely 1m wide. Our final dive of the day saw us travel northwards to Pink Beach, many of our guests stating it was their best night dive of the trip so far! Next up was a morning dive on Pink Beach then a short journey across current city to the Island of Padar. Here we dived Tiga Dara then Secret Garden followed by a walk up to the top of one of the Islands for a stunning sunset and breath taking panoramic views of the bay, the Indo Siren and surrounding islands enjoyed a little more by those with a Bintang in hand, five guests however opted out of the Bintang on the walk in favour of a night dive at Evening Star.

indo sirenOne word…. WOW! Tatawa Besar this morning; A healthy current, stunning visibility, fish plentiful, the corals vibrant and topped off with a few hawksbill turtles – like I said “WOW!” Next up Batu Bolong, this time we dived the south side due to a falling current, there were nudibranchs, turtles, a white tip reef shark and a proposal! YES you read right! Xavier, with a ring hidden in a Go Pro housing ‘popped the question’ underwater to Helena. Congratulations to you both and Happy Bubbles! Of course though, the diving day didn’t stop there. Dive three was a drift on Makassar Reef followed by a night dive on Sebayur Kecil.

Komodo National ParkOur penultimate day of diving included Crystal, Shotgun and Castle Rock all three living up to their reputations as the World’s best dive sites however everyone agreed that Castle Rock surpassed expectations. We had dogtooth tuna hunting amongst the giant trevallies and Spanish mackerel. White tip reef sharks cruising around effortlessly in the current. Throw in the schools of batfish, fusiliers, surgeon fish and longfin bannerfish and you might be able to imagine our experience. To top it all we were the only boat on the dive site too…. Pure luxury! To top the night off some off the guests went to a sunset walk on Gili Lawa Laut, others chose to stay on the liveaboard and watch the sun sink into the ocean. The day was not over there though, after our meal the focus was once again on the water as we were entertained by a pair of dolphins hunting the fish that were attracted to the light just beneath and around the boat.

Phyllodesmium Nudibranch - KomodoThe anchor was raised at 2am as we made our way to the volcanic island of Sangeang for our final two dives of the trip. The first, Hot Rocks with the bubbles coming up through the volcanic black sand, torrents of hot water streaming out of some of the yellow sulphur stained rocks. The dive site an absolute haven for nudibranchs. Next up was a tour around the Indo Siren with her sails up, the crew dotted around the boat posing for the guests shooting photos from the dinghies. The final dive was at Pohon Merah another great dive the contrast of the colourful corals and the black sand absolutely stunning. The last stop before our farewell party was at Kampung Bontoh where we visited the ‘unseen’ Indonesia. A small village on the Island of Sangeang, we witnessed the locals go about their daily routine of mending fishing gear, fixing the thatching for their roofs and hiding from the heat of the mid afternoon sun.

toga party - komodo Indo SirenThe farewell party – when Wally halfheartedly suggested a Toga Party I don’t think he expected us to actually pull it off. Every single guest eventually got involved, though some took a little more coaxing than others and the effort put in was well appreciated. Costumes that need special recognition are those of Julio (who looked like he was born to wear a toga), Dave (who we believe had never seen a toga in his life and ended up looking a little like a cross dressing Dalai Lama). Brad for creative thinking and finally Kai, who for some reason had his own picnic blanket with him on the boat!?! There were indeed a lot of laughs shared last night and some sore heads this morning! It’s been a great trip with a fantastic mix of people. We’ve shared some amazing sunsets, incredible dives and unforgettable moments. A massive thanks to everyone involved!!!

Photos by Kai Squires

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