Wicked Diving Takes 10 guests to some of the most remote locations in the world during our 3 week expedition from Singapore to the Komodo National Park on our hand-built schooner.
Wicked Diving Takes 10 guests to some of the most remote locations in the world during our 3 week expedition from Singapore to the Komodo National Park on our hand-built schooner. Http://wickeddiving.com
Wicked DivingSingapore To Komodo Expedition May-June 2011 Wickeddiving.com
In May of 2011, Wicked Diving launched the first of our Expeditions. Departing Singapore and taking just over 3 weeks to reach the Komodo National Park – our 10 guests and staff encountered some of the most amazing places in Asia. In this era of instant contact and communication – it is life-affirming to find unexplored places and rewarding experiences untouched by technology. Here is their story…
After a couple of crazy days packing up the shop and equipment room we managed to cram everything into 2 taxis (we’ll forever more be experts at Tetris!) Waved off by the Wicked crew, Ricky, Amanda and Scott were off to Phuket and the pier at Chalong. The Jaya was out of dry dock and back in the water and she met us as at the pier in time to offload everything at midday – great tanning potential! Rosy faced we got everything onto the boat then headed off to the shops to stock up on dry food for the next month.
Paul met us back at the Jaya with all sorts of cool goodies for the trip –looking forward to trying out our new GPS spot finder so we can track the trip down to Komodo – it even came with an awesome neon orange emergency bandana which is so stylish we’ll be modelling it for the entirety of the trip.Dinner on the boat and our last night in port…
Morning of the 21st up bright and early for filling up with fuel, water and ice; got all the paperwork sorted, stocked up on fresh food for the first section of the trip. Last minute shopping trip to Tesco Lotus, McDonalds eaten (last taste of the west!), goodies (and bandanas!) tested. Good to go! Checked out of Thailand and for a while we were living in the land of the Jaya – out of Thailand, not yet in Malaysia, and considering the consequences of sneaking back into Thailand as pirates! We decided against pirate activities so soon into the trip, instead focusing our energies on finalising everything. Early evening it was time to go – cue excited dancing round the boat to ‘Leaving on a jet plane’ (it was the closest suitable song we could think of!) and a celebratory beer – our first port of call: Langkawi, 18 hours away…bring me that horizon, yo ho yo ho ;)
Ahmed, Hari and P’Nok drove through the night, and we woke up for sunrise over KohLipe and the Tarutao National Park – beautiful! Nice to be on an empty boat, no wake-up calls needed this morning! Cups of tea, music, ocean breeze, good start to a good day!Then….Welcome To Langkawi, Malaysia!
The Journey Begins…Batam, Indonesia(Located just a few kilometers from Singapore) The next 3 weeks will find everyone getting to know each other a little bit better! Here is the group photo of the guests and staff. From Left to Right in the top row:Sam, Sonia, Ricky, Katy, Lia, Nina, Jacque, Scott, Amanda, Kristian and Erik
Batam, IndonesiaA few dives for everyone in Nongsa Point Marina today, thought that since we were waiting and there was water all around, we may as well explore. Very glad that we did! Not fantastic visibility by any means, but tigertail seahorses, juvenile filefishes, nudibranchs on steroids – very cool macro diving! Still a few issues with the harbourmaster, won’t be able to leave tonight, so time for movie night on the boat, cross fingers we’ll be able to head east soon!
Batam, IndonesiaAmanda’s off into central Batam to find batteries and the others set off to explore a divesite next to a little island just outside the marina. Awesome macro diving, pipefish, stonefish, anglerfish – really cool to be seeing so many species we’ve never seen before. Another dive in the marina that afternoon, Kristian spotted a hairy frogfish, Nina and Jacque found the tiniest little harlequin sweetlips bobbing around – Batam marina is surprisingly chock-full of life!Got the all-clear from port this afternoon, so we’re ready to roll and set forth for Borneo!!
Batam to PulauPejentanTravel day! Time to find your sea-legs, people, we’ve got a long time on the boat! There’s something very peaceful about being on the boat on open ocean, chilling in our favourite spots on the Jaya, some people in hammocks, sun goddesses tanning on the sundeck, sleepyheads out cold in the deck chairs. A few of us sat up front to keep an eye out for any cetaceans passing us by, and we must’ve been good because we saw so many dolphins! Ahmad was incredibly patient with us and our shouts of ‘Lumbalumba! (Indonesian for ‘dolphins’) and would do a big circle whenever we saw them, and the dolphins would come and play in the wake off the boat. The water was so still we could see our reflections as we hung over the bow to watch the dolphins breaking the still surface.
PulauPejantanWoke up the next morning to considerably flatter seas, and the stunning views of PulauPejantan, a tiny island pretty much in the middle of nowhere! Ok, in the ocean between Sumatra and Kalimantan, but still, with no other land in sight, felt like we were playing at Robinson Crusoe! We dived the southern side of island, gorgeous reef, loads of different nudibranchs (black spotted berthella, flabellinaexoptata, Spanish dancer red and black, huge pterolidiaianthina, phyllodesmiumbririum). All different species of fish we hadn’t seen, so many new kinds of angel fish and damsels, and feather sea stars swimming al over, something we rarely see in the Similans. We snorkelled a few places along the island to scout out a second spot to dive, and found a plateau-ing pinnacle off the south, jumped in with some big bumphead parrotfish, incredibly diverse soft corals and so many fish. Very cool dives.
Diving the Equator Waved goodbye to our little paradise island and headed towards Kalimantan. Edging closer and closer to the Equator, it may be an invisible line but we were all really excited, not too many times in your life you cross the Equator on a pirate ship!We decided to go swimming, then change of plan and we went diving instead, too cool! We descended skydive fashion all holding hands in a circle, then grouped together for a photoshoot with our pirate flag and an Indonesian flag – Wicked representing on the Equator! No fish around, but blue blue blue like you’ve never seen before, crystal clear visibility, so much fun.
PulauSerutu Passing the island of Karimata, to the SW of Kalimantan, and we stopped off at the smaller island of PulauSeretu for a morning dive. Similar to our experience of diving the Surin Islands, very chilled out reef diving, with big sandy slopes, found a huge Jenkins ray, tiny baby blue spotted stingrays, loads of neon blue commensal shrimps that will clean your hands if you stay still long enough! Time to batten down the hatches afterwards as another storm rolled in, all cosy warm upstairs, heading through some big waves, time to play scrabble! Board games aborted as the rolling got too strong, and words jumbled up, so we invented sledging games on cushions across the deck – who needs new fangled gadgets to have fun!
PualauSerutu to Camp Leakey Another rocky night from the storms, then a crazily fun but stormy travel day across to Kalimantan, more dolphins along the horizon and a whale too! Lots of fun ‘get to know you’ games, going round in a circle telling the others facts about ourselves, making up one-word stories, then a UNO marathon! Our turn to make lunch and give P’Nok a break, so vegetable pasta for lunch. The waves calmed a little bit, land is in sight, Kalimantan on the horizon and the sun’s coming out, woo! Sunset along the coast of Kalimantan – photo time for everyone before dinner, hen a briefing on the next few days – our local guide Ari came across to the boat to explain the itinerary for the trip into Tanjang Putting to see the orang-utans. Early start tomorrow, pack a clean t-shirt, mozzie spray, cameras and we’re good to go!
TinjangPuting National ParkEveryone was up and about bright and early ready for the trip into the jungle, and we got everyone in the mood by playing the soundtrack to ‘Jungle Book’. I wanna be like you-oo-oo… Pick up at 0900 with a small blue and white boat and we met Jo, our guide for the trip. Left the main Kumai River and drove up into TanjangPuting National Park. One side of the river is the area where most of the logging and forest clearing for palm oil plantations, so not so many orang-utans, but the other side is national park, so that’s where we’re looking! Eyes peeled for wild orang-utans! We spotted way more than we thought we would, loads of them hanging off the trees close to the river, we started to get pretty good at spotting them.
We woke up with the sunrise and the sound of the gibbons calling to each other in the trees, awesome sound! Banana pancakes for breakfast, then back off the boat and in to watch the feeding before a trek through forest. Pretty marshy, which made for a soggy walk, but good fun, plenty to see, tarantula nests, trees with crazy roots, and lots of different monkeys and apes as we got closer to Camp Leakey.
The camp was established in 1971 by Dr BiruteGaldikas as a scientific field station and an orang-utan rehabilitation centre. Over 200 ex-captive orang-utans have been released here, and they often return to be fed by the park officials. They don’t return for the food because they lack the foraging skills, but because there isn’t enough tropical rainforest to sustain them, there’s huge amounts of illegal logging being carried out in Borneo, and the orang-utans habitat is slowly being wiped out. The wild orang-utans keep their distance, but the rehabilitated ones will come closer and are so cheeky! They’ll sidle up to you and put a friendly hand on your thigh, and before you know it they’re after whatever’s in your dry bag! Fantastic creatures, so friendly and human-like, we could’ve stayed all day watching them!
Kumai, Kalimantan A land-based day in Kumai, we topped up with diesel and water, all caught up on some laundry time, many scrabble contests, and a trip in to explore the town. We left Kumai with the sunset and headed south for some exploration around the islands along the way to Bali.
Another ocean travel day, and today we decided we would be pirates! Ahmad stopped the boat in the middle of the sea and we all jumped in for a swim, then dressed up in pirate outfits for Lia to take photos of us silhouetted along the boat, swords in hands, jumping off the bow and getting tied to the rigging. Brilliant fun, and a great way to cool down in the water and work off some energy!
PulauMasalemboa couple of very small islands to the south of Kalimantan. Stunning scenery as we approached land, and we were met by a load of small fishing boats. Our plan was to dive around the island, but then the fishing boats came closer, and we saw that sadly their fish catch of the day was a load of baby hammerheads, some rays, and a guitar shark
PulauMasalembo Asking for directions we thought perhaps they could point the way – they went one step better and pulled out their hand held GPS to give us the co-ordinates! Ricky and Scott went to check it out, but bad vis and currents made finding the pinnacle difficult, so we made 2 dives on the island’s gorgeous reefs. Beach visit in between the dives, the kids on the island had only ever seen white people once before, and they were well up for playing Frisbee with us.
PulauKangean Getting closer to Bali! Stopped off today at PulauKangean, for two dives, one along a pristine coral reef just off the south of the island, and the other a bit further offshore on a wall, juvenile fish everywhere and beautiful corals
PulauTundu Island hopping our way along the coast, we stopped next at PulauTundu for another dive – awesome! We all loved this divesite so much we decided to stay for another day and dive it again in the morning! So many fish it was like diving in an aquarium, we found pygmy seahorses, all kinds of funky nudibranchs and a few turtles, very good dive.
PulauTundu – Day 2! Spent the night moored up off PulauTundu, and made 2 more dives today, one at the same site as yesterday to explore the divesite deeper along the drop-off, then the second along the island of Raas. More stunning diving, we can’t get used to the abundance of marine life and pristine corals! Headed towards Bali that afternoon…
Bali …woke up to stunning panorama, volcanoes & so much green! Welcome to the north coast of Bali! The Liberty Wreck, off the coast of Tulamben, is so close to the beach that it’s possible to do most dives as shore dives. Unless you’ve got your own pirate ship that can moor up off the site and dinghy you in to drop on top of the wreck! Descending into and through a swirling shoal of jacks onto the top of the wreck, it’s like entering a different world
Liberty Wreck - BaliSwim-throughs and overhangs created by sections of the ship, and the whole thing is home to an immense variety of marine flora and fauna - electric clams, giant barracuda, banded pipefish, juvenile batfish and so much more. We did 2 dives on the wreck (and could have stayed for many more!) then moved to a dive site aptly named Drop-Off. Just along from the wreck, it’s a deep wall drop-off, then the sand shallows up into a bit more of a muck dive. We stayed shallow to explore the macros - cone shells feeding on pipefish, leafy scorpionfish, octopus, and more vibrant blue ribbon eels than we could count! Sad to leave, but cheered by the thought of what was to come, we made our way towards Lombok that evening.
TulukNara, Lombok Many people tend to turn up their nose at dive sites near to piers, thinking they might be boring. What do they know?! Having seen so many cool things in Batam on our last pier dive, expectations were high, and Tuluk Nara didn’t let us down! So cool, in fact, that we stayed for 2 dives Ornate ghost pipefish everywhere, juvenile banded pipefish, frogfish and nudibranchs galore, including some cool janolus and flabellina species.
GiliTrawangan Just off the coast of Lombok, where we picked up our final two guests, Karin & Thomas, and headed onto the island for a night out in Gili T. Karaoke on the boat on the way, (the Journey song ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ has been well overplayed on this trip!) and after we’d found our land legs (Jacque managed to fall over 1 step after leaving the dinghy!), we headed to a nearby Mexican restaurant for a slap-up meal, and then a bit of a dance party afterwards. Late night pizzas back on the Jaya, and we were ready for bed!
A tired boat today, so a morning of relaxation, then a supplies run to stock up on goodies and catch up on the internet. That afternoon we dived Meno’s Wall, loads of turtles, a cool drift dive, and spent a few hours swimming in the current from the boat before leaving to make our way further East towards the island Moyo.
PulauMoyoBit of a choppy night across the strait, but gorgeous scenery to wake up to more than made up for it! First dive of the day at Haji’s Wall, off Moyo, where Shannon found us some Denise pygmy seahorses, lovely sloping coral reef with napoleon wrasse and schools of snapper all over. Carrying our way along the coast to Satonda, we made our last dive at Satonda Bay, a fantastically chilled dive site that had all kinds of treasures, more pygmy seahorses, neon nudibranchs, robust ghost pipefish, and to top it all off, Sam’s first manta ray!
Jubilant surface swim back to the boat for some pad thai then nap time! Dinghyed across to Satonda later that afternoon, made our way to land over the wonkiest little pier you’ve ever seen, and up to a mini viewpoint for photo time. One of the neighbouring volcanoes erupted a few hundred years ago and caused a tsunami that over spilled into the valley on Satonda and created a lake, that has no water input from the ocean. Gradually over the years the rainwater’s desalinised the lake, making it layers of salt and fresh water, and there’s a few cool organisms and fish that can survive in both types of water that live there. Time for a swim?! OK!Another beautiful sunset as we rounded the corner of Satonda and cruised towards the volcanic island of Sangeang just in time to see the bat migration on the way, hundreds and hundreds of bats flying above the boat, very cool!
Bubble Reef - PulauSangeangImagine cruising along the coast, volcanic topography, small wisps of smoke above the tops of the crater. Oh wait, no need to imagine it, we’re there! We left Satonda and are edging closer to the island of Sangeang – an active volcano. First dive of the day, a site called Bubble Reef, named for the volcanic gas bubbles escaping through the sand. Black sand makes the corals look even more vibrant, and there’s fish and nudibranchs galore, but we spent more time enthralled by the bubbles and the hot sand than we did with the marine life! Awesome dive, so different from anything else we’ve ever dived.
Pulau BantaAlong to Banta island for a wall dive at Hi-Voltage, stunning coral reef and drop-offs, then a pinnacle dive at GPS Point, with a couple of immense napoleon wrasse.
Komodo National ParkThen, the bit of the trip we’ve all been waiting for – Komodo! The National Park was established in 1980, and designated a World Heritage Site in 1986 by UNESCO, at first to protect the Komodo Dragons (a species of huge monitor lizard endemic to the area) but later expanded to include and protect the marine life. The marine area is 67% of the park, so plenty of dive sites for us to explore!
Komodo National Park – GiliLawaDaratPhoto opportunity time to dinghy round the boat and get some snaps of the Jaya in the park, and Katy, Jacque and Amanda went exploring one of the little caves off the beach, tiny bats and fun paddling! First dive in the park, a mellow night dive at GiliLawaDarat, scorpion fish, all kinds of crustaceans, and a cloud-free starry sky to greet us as we swam back to the boat.
Shannon and Ricky went to pay the National Park fees this morning, and the Captain advised us to keep a look out for movement in the water, as sometimes you saw turtles and maybe mantas around. A minute later there’s shouting, mantas by the boat! Masks, snorkels, fins and cameras, and we spent the next hour or so snorkelling with shedloads of mantas! Counted 12 at one point! Mostly reef, but a couple of oceanic mantas, with the ridge at the base of the tail. Some were totally black ones, like little stealth bombers! Fantastic way to spend an hour, and an awesome welcome to Komodo!
We’d planned on diving Batu Mundi, but there was a very strong current, Shannon Ricky and Amanda jumped in to check the site out and experienced some extreme snorkelling! Aborted the idea of diving Batu Mundi and headed to BatuBalong instead. The divesite name means hollow rock, there’s a little arch above the water at the end of the island. It’s a beautiful dive site, so much to see, macro everywhere, cool nembrothanudibranchs with bright red gills, and turtles all over, hawksbill and loggerhead.
Across to a slightly shallower reef a few kilometres long for the next dive. Drift diving time at KarangMakassa! A huge loggerhead swam with Amanda and Ricky for a while, we saw 2 mantas, sharks, a big feathertail ray, even bigger marble ray. Lots to keep us occupied along a very fast drift dive, we travelled nearly 2km in an hour! Beach time for sunset that evening, Hari took across to the beach on Siaba, more photo opportunities as we re-enacted ‘Lost’ scenes and posed along the beach,
Three more brilliant dives today. First up, Tatawa Kecil, made a dive along the side of the island, flat coral gardens, boulders, overhangs, big schools of red and midnight snapper, and little Bagabanti pygmy seahorses! The current was good for Batu Mundi next, wetsuit time, 27 degrees, it was cold!! Diving the ‘split’, we jumped in, found a place to shelter from the current, and sat waiting for action! White tip and grey reef sharks cruised in, a big loggerhead turtle, and we were circled by schools of surgeonfish, fusiliers, blue fin trevallies, with giant trevallies coming in to feed.
We dived Bididari Bay this morning, good wake-up dive, nudis, Indian ocean walkers, blue spotted rays. Castle Rock, one of the renowned Komodo divesites, was next, grey reef sharks, trevallies, fish swirling, lots of fish action! The northern divesites can be subject to a lot of current, so we went through briefings on how to dive with these types of currents, negative entries, and different safety procedures for the dives before we jumped in. Stunning sites, overwhelming with the amount to look at sometimes! Moored back up at GiliLawaDarat and went for a night dive, lots and lots of phosphorescence tonight, no need for torches, diving by moonlight back to the boat, nice
If it’s that good, dive it twice! Castle Rock again, with more sharks! Trevallies everywhere, hunting with moray eels to catch the best fish. Crystal Bumi afterwards, a nearly-submerged pinnacle, with a smaller second pinnacle off to the side. A couple of sharks, then a beautiful eagle ray hung around and played for a while, swooping over our heads and then sitting in the current. We cruised round to the lee side to sit and do our safety stop, and a couple of dolphins swam past & hung out for a minute or so!!! SO awesome, not every day you get to dive with dolphins!A site called the Cauldron was up next, very cool dive! Gorgeous soft coral down the southern side of the basin, but a strong current as the water funnelled through, bit of a rollercoaster, so much fun! Last dive of the trip, a night dive at Wainilu. There’s the potential here for mandarin fish, so we popped red filters on the torches just in case! No dragonets, but lots of pipefish, shrimps, lobsters and nudibranchs, and again a crazy amount of bioluminescence!
Up early to head to Rinca Island to look for dragons! There’s sometimes dragons hanging around the rangers’ station on the island, but we were also going to do a 2 hour trek to look for animals in the jungle, and we were lucky enough to see a few dragons in the wild (SO camouflaged!), and a massive water buffalo, we were quietly creeping up to hide behind trees to take photos! Group photos at spectacular viewpoints, and a leisurely wander back to the pier, and Hari was waiting with the dinghy to take us back to the Jaya. Lunchtime, packing everything up and making sure nothing’s been forgotten, then a final briefing, big thanks to the crew for all their hard work, and a final group photo – the group’s expanded since we started, but all still friends
This expedition would not be possible without the support of all the staff of Wicked Diving, our friends for helping us get through it and of course – each guest for making all this possible – to you we are eternally grateful.