Saturday, November 26, 2011

MSY Damai

I have to say that this was the easiest arrival to a dive boat we've ever had! The plan was for the Damai to sail up the east coast of Bali from Benoa Harbour and have the tenders come right to Scuba Seraya and pick us up and it worked to perfection! After our 2 morning dives on 08NOV, we just bundled each of our dive gear set-ups into a neat package and left them right at the edge of the dive area; the tenders motored in from the big boat and loaded dive bags & camera boxes along with dive gear and took them off to the boat! We stepped into the tenders and disembarked right onto the boat...dive gear already situated in our individual dive stations! We didn't have to break down camera set-ups; we just carried camera/housings right onto the boat like we were returning from a dive....can't get any better than that!

We set sail for Satonda but currents were running against us in the Lombok Strait so we ended up doing our first 2 dives the next morning at Moyo Island with a dusk dive at Satonda...then we headed for Bima. We covered 2200 nautical miles in 14 nights from Bali to Ambon, diving muck slopes, pinnacles, walls, exploratory sites and even 4 dives off of Komba Island which is an ACTIVE volcano! Imagine waking up one morning and looking out your cabin door to a volcano erupting 1/4 mile away! We enjoyed its rumbles, belches and burps all day long! We could see the ash trailing down the mountain slope which got greyer and greyer as the day went on but it was spectacularly impressive as dusk set in! A bunch of us opted to skip the night dive and just watch the volcano from the upper deck....erupting with showers of red sparks, ash and lava flowing down the slope about every 30 minutes. The image I'm including is courtesy of Linda because she pulled her camera out of the housing to catch the spectacle! How many of you can say you've been diving next to an erupting volcano?

We were lucky enough to be able to spend 2 nights in South Komodo in Horseshoe Bay, home of Cannibal Rock and many other signature dive sites there. The water was unusually warm (79 degrees instead of being in the 60's....brr) so we had some awesome dives there....I was able to find again and again the tiny ladybug amphipods that are ONLY seen there at Cannibal Rock, along with sea apples that had the amphipods on them and were profusely feeding. I wish we'd had more time to spend in the South/North Komodo region and we all hated to leave there, but we had a lot of territory still to cover! We were even able to get close to the beach to see the Komodo dragons walking along the shore!

Another signature dive was Gunung Api which means volcano (or fire mountain) in Indonesian. It's famous for its immense population of sea snakes, green ones that we'd never seen before and the "usual" banded sea snakes. We dove with dozens of them over 3 dives that day.....I have to say, they were very curious and came right up to our masks and camera ports and it was a bit unsettling at times, but it's another signature Indonesian dive site and we all managed at least two dives with the snakes!

Our crossing across the Banda Sea was absolutely fabulous with dives at atolls, walls and islands along the way. We had flat calm seas, light breezes and sunny days...and knew we were very fortunate because they are heading into the rainy/windy season and it could have been very uncomfortable for us. Our final dives were at Ambon before we disembarked and again, had a tender transfer with our gear to Maluku Divers cool is that?

Our 4 night stay in Ambon will be in the next post update!

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