Liveaboard Komodo Cruise

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of Indonesia  , West Nusa Tenggara,
Sunday, July 24, 2011

The daily routine on the live aboard didn't deviate too much. Each morning we woke to a beautiful sunrise and depending on location we either dove first thing or started the morning with a delicious meal cooked by Nassir. Nassir couldn’t have been older than 20 years with his teenage Jonas Brothers haircut and his huge smile. He is a very inquisitive young man who was always looking over my shoulder while I wrote or sorted photos. He later became so intrigued in our card game called Legretto that he became the winner of the next game. His card skills are as good as his cooking. He prepared the most delicious Indonesian food I’ve had since my arrival and he constantly surprised us with a fresh baked cake in the afternoons: banana, chocolate, apple pie and bread pudding. Breakfast ranged from banana or pineapple pancakes to eggs and fruit. My favorites were the shrimp tempura, the barbequed Travelly and or chicken and naturally every meal was accompanied with not just rice but also potatoes. It is safe to say we will NOT go hungry on this boat.

The days were filled with lounging on the deck or playing cards in between our 2-3 daily dives. The boat was split up into two groups for diving; the more advanced group, Martin and Joan and Burcu and Umut go with Jeremy while Carolyn, Callum and I join Lauren. 

I have to mention that prior to each dive Jeremy makes a sad attempt at drawing a map of the site. Actually they are not so horrible, they definitely provide us with a visual of the reef/wall/slope/sand, which direction the current will take us, how deep we will go, and where to exit, but because he makes such a big deal about his poor drawing skills we make a big hoopla each time we gather. First day we dove Medang in East Simbawa where we saw lots of Blue Sea Stars, Clown Fish, a Ribbon Eel and a White and Blue Nudi Branch. The next dive was at Satonda, filled with tons of fish and coral, more nudi branch (black and red), a spotted lion fish and a black spotted puffer.

The second night was equally rough but because I drank one too many coffees, I found myself unable to fall asleep; therefore, completing the second of the three Steig Larsson books. Ultimately I finished the third by the end of the last day as well.

The second day of diving we were in the water by 7:23AM at Bubble Reef/Sangaeng Island. This dive may have surpassed my introduction to diving at the Great Barrier Reef in 1990. Let’s say this was better than any drug trip, that I’ve nicknamed it my Alice in Wonderland dive. We did a negative entry which means, rolling backwards off of the boat and plunging immediately down as quickly as possible; usually required when starting deep. We were down for just under an hour at a maximum of 32 meters. The back drop for the five Giant Moray Eels, Mantis Shrimp, a garden of Sea Cucumbers, bright pink Anemone, Camouflage Lizard Fish, an oversized Clam and phosphorous was a combination of fluffy sponge, sea fans, and bright coral even more vibrant than normal because this dive site is situated on black lava rock from the volcano above. Even more bizarre are the bubbles rising from the ground, often spuing warm water.

The only negative was the darn wetsuit. I trusted that the owner of Gili Divers had packed both the full wetsuit as well as the half suit I knew fit me from the test dive off the island. Unfortunately he did not, and this full suit I’ve been wearing is causing a welt by my underarm. We needed to find a solution for the remainder of the trip because I am too uncomfortable.

Sure enough for our next dive, Burcu had a brand new sleeveless wetsuit she offered, combined with Lauren’s full sleeve jacket, I was much more comfortable for the next dive.

The next dive was called High Voltage located at Banta Island. We were warned about the strong current on this dive, hence the name High Voltage. We started out as a group just fine, letting the current drift us pretty quickly. It is an odd sensation to be pulled so fast along the coral wall, just surrendering and letting yourself drift. Until the current started to shift to an up down pull. That was when things started to go array. At first I felt myself being pulled into the blue which once you get beyond 2 meters from the coral it is hard to return. Surprising myself I managed to recuperate and gain control just as I saw Lauren below me shooting up communicating with Carolyn who unfortunately sprung up to surface above me. At that point I still had Callum in view below me, but once I no longer saw him, I started to panic and knew that I needed to abort and go to surface as well. I found myself hyperventilating and all I could see now were an excess of bubbles. They were my bubbles. I was more concerned with going to surface to fast without any safety stop but I guess in an emergency situation there is no safety stop. All in all it was a scary moment but telling to see how I respond in an emergency situation.

Meanwhile I was ready to continue diving. We had only been down for a total of 14 minutes so why not try again. Nervous but eager to try again, we requested that the dingy drop us at the starting point again. Unfortunately, the English/Indonesian loss in translation got us instead to the safe coral terrace (Banta Slope) where Jeremy’s group had already arrived to. Not a total loss, it was fun to dive alongside Jeremy who is familiar with the terrain and was able to point out Pigmy Seahorse. On this calm dive, we also saw Blue Ribbon Eel, huge Scorpion Fish, Lion Fish, a ginormous Black Sea Cucumber and more stunning sea fans, corals and sponge. All and all a great day.

Tonight we were parked in a completely calm bay in Rinca; the wind was non-existent and perfect for sleeping on deck. The boats straw blinds were drawn leaving a view of the stars and the sound of the monkeys which was absolute bliss.
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