Phi Siren in Indonesia
Phi Siren In Indonesia
For our 10-night cruise to Komodo National Park we welcomed our divers from the U.S.A, Spain, Germany, Norway, Ireland, Poland and Sweden, who all got comfortably settled on board as we sailed a short distance to the mouth of Bima Bay to anchor for the night, talk about dive procedures, enjoy a nice meal together and begin to get to know one another. The anchor was raised at 3 am to sail to Sangeang Island for our day of diving the black sand at Bonto Reef, Techno Reef, and Estuary. Once again this black sandy bottom diving area proved to be a great way to get the divers sorted with their buoyancy and for the crew to practice the decompression dive drill and the emergency recall device. Many, many species of Nudis were seen and when we looked up some of the more rare finds in the id books, we found several to be ‘undescribed’. The shrimp species were too numerous to name and there were many octopus and plenty of colourful reef fish. At Techno we found the Hippocampus Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorses at both 18m and 26m for a total count of 8! It was a great encounter for the photographers as well as the newer divers that have never seen these tiny sea creatures before. A lazy, relaxing afternoon was had by the guests as we motored towards our night dive location on Gilli Banta Island at Circus where divers were treated to pygmy cuttlefish, cuttlefish, and a large assortment of different crabs and lobsters as well as the Lionfish that were out hunting for the evening. During dinner we made a slow calm crossing to spend our night in a bay off Komodo Island in the National Park.
Day two of diving we experienced the calm and serene morning dive at Coral Garden, with a couple of the guests doing an 80 minute dive. There was plenty to see as a white tip reef shark patrolled the area. Leaf fish, fusiliers and thousands of other small colorful reef fish were also just waking up for the day. After breakfast we headed to the famous Castle Rock / Crystal Rock area of Gilli Lawa Laut to prepare for our 2nd and 3rd dives; just a light current was present but the divers were still treated to schools of Fusiliers, Surgeon Fishes, Jacks, Snappers, White Tip Reef Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, Giant Trevallies, Big Eye Mackerels, and a couple of Napolean Wrasse. Day three of diving we were still anchored in Komodo Bay and started the day at Golden Passage, following up with Flamingo Reef and then moving on to Makassar Reef. The morning dive provided a glimpse of the sometimes elusive Black Tip Reef Sharks and we enjoyed watching some large Chevron Barracuda. Flamingo showed the divers some beautiful pink soft corals, a beautiful hard coral reef and many small reef fishes. A slow lunch time cruise on calm azure waters in Current City lulled many into an afternoon nap before the third dive of the day. The guests were glad to see the appearance of 2 Manta Rays, and 3 Eagle Rays at Makassar Reef, along with White Tip Reef Sharks, Green Turtles, and schooling reef fish. The Mandarin Fish and Picturesque Dragonettes were in full attendance for the night dive at Wainiloo and the photographers took advantage of the shallow, long evening dive.
Day four in the morning we took the guests to meet the infamous Komodo Dragons before we finished up North Komodo on this first part of the trip with a dive at Batu Bolong where the visibility was astounding, the reef was looking great, and 6 turtles entertained the divers for the entire dive. On the outside of the wall in the current a HUGE School of Spanish Mackerel swam by lazily. After lunch we dived at Tatawa Kecil, before the journey into the gateway of South Komodo. The ripping current of Komodo National Park met us here for a rollercoaster ride! Plenty of ‘current’ tales were shared on the boat by the guests. Although a short dive everyone enjoyed it. Some even said the fish were confused by the unpredictable and strong currents. The sunset dive at Secret Garden surprised us with warm 25C degree water. Visibility was only about 2 meters but we managed to see some large rays, lion fish, scorpion fish and yellow sea slugs.
Diving day number 5 found us waking up in a bay on Phillar Island. Ungke went out in the Dinghy to mark Tigara Dara with a surface buoy , visibilty was only about 15m but there were many shrimps, crabs, and sharks to see. During breakfast we headed off to Horseshoe Bay between Rinca and Nusa Kode, alight wind with very calm seas and lots of sun made for a smooth, relaxing journey. The next two dives we did were at the famous Cannibal Rock with the highlights being the Bamboo Shark, the Giant Frogfish and Solar Nudi’s mating. Only 5 guests joined in on the night dive with Ungke at Torpedo Alley to see the Juvenline Torpedo Rays and Bobbit Worms.
After overnighting in Horsehoe Bay diving day 6 started at The Boulders. The super highlight of the dive was a NUCLEAR size Cuttlefish who was very accommodating to all the divers and photographers. Also several different nudi’s and a couple of Blue Ribbon Eels were seen. Dive two at Rhino Rocks was loaded with different varieties of Hingebeak and Cleaner Shrimps, Commensal Colman Shrimps, Porcelain Zebra Crabs hiding in the Fire Urchins, and Rays – Blue Spotted, Marbled, and Mobula’s. We finished up our diving at Nusa Kode on The Yellow Wall of Texas where the Nudis were amazing! Late in the afternoon we headed back to Komodo to overnight Loh Serah and the Phinisi Wreck night dive in preparations for Manta Alley the following morning.
The morning was super calm and sunny as we left Loh Serah at 6am and headed to Manta Alley. A smooth ride and diving day number 7 began with the first Manta Dive at 7:30am. After a sighting of only one large Oceanic Manta, the groups moved around the reef together, then split up. Stories were exchanged during breakfast with one of the smaller groups (3 divers) getting to meet at least 12 Manta’s during the dive. As we boarded the dinghy’s to head back to the Phi Siren, several Manta’s appeared at the surface, and one bunch of divers (and the guides) jumped back into the water for a quick snorkel with about 4 or 5 Manta’s. The weather was perfect, and the seas were unexpectedly calm so the group did dives 2 and 3 for the day at Manta Alley with more manta sightings during each dive. In the afternoon we made our way back towards North Komodo on the continued calm sea, and under a sunny sky so it was a lazy afternoon for all – napping, and getting tan on the sun deck and lounges on the forward part of the boat. We arrived at Pantai Merah (or Pink Beach) at about 7 pm just in time for dinner, and 5 guests entered the water for a true night dive at 8:15pm. Without a doubt the highlight of the night dive was the Blue Ring Octopus!!!
Returning to Batu Bolong, where the water temp was back up to a tropical 27C with excellent viz, we saw Hawksbills Turtles, scorpion fish, leaf fish, trevallies, and schooling reef fish. One guest came back on the boat saying “Lets do it again, again, again, again…….” – somewhat like a very young excited child. It’s always fun to witness the excitement and enthusiasm of the guests on board, but there were more dive sites to visit on this Komodo safari! The afternoon dive at Tatawa Besar had a nice strong current which swept us down the reef past Cuttlefish, Sharks, Fields of Staghorn Coral with Hawksbill Turtles feeding – this reef is always one of the favorites for the guests! As the afternoon grew late, we changed plans for our overnight with some black clouds in the distance showing a possible threat of rain. We changed the plan and decided to overnight at Sebayor Kecil which is also where the guests participated in the last night dive for the trip. Stargazers made an appearance as well as the Octopus which are apparently engaged in their mating season.
The last diving day, we looked over at the passage where Shotgun is located, the ride through the crack was brisk but not unmanageable and the guests called it a mini roller coaster. White tip reef sharks, huge marble rays, and the usual hunting Jacks and Trevallies were there to be seen, and we finished the dive over the pink soft corals at Flamingo. A beautiful way to start the day for sure! The second and last dive of the trip we did at Castle Rock where White Tip Reef Sharks and Grey Reef Sharks were circling at the Eastern Point of the Plateau and schools of fish were everywhere. The guests loved the dive as the finish to a great trip, with the water temperature again at 27C. After returning to the ship, the crew kicked it into high gear rinsing and straightening out the rental and guest’s equipment. The sails were raised and the guests took a few trips around the Phi Siren for an excellent photo opportunity – the sun high in the blue sky lighting the ship well, with the deep blue sea contrasting the white of the ship. Lunch was served and everyone chose their afternoon activity – packing for the trip home, tanning on the sun deck, sipping some Bintangs, editing their underwater photos, or just relaxing with a book, or a movie in the salon while the crew finished tidying up the boat, and pointed her back towards Bima Harbor. The final night bar-b-que was awesome. New friends had been made during the 10 night trip, e-mail addresses exchanged, and stories of the dive the past 9 days were traded again. As the guests departed the boat on the final morning enroute to their hotels or the airport – final goodbyes were said and safe travels were wished to them from the crew.