KM Raja Manta Trip Reports

Aug 11, 2015

WM National Day Long Weekend 07-10 August


The weekend of 07-09 August 2015 was a very special weekend for all Singaporeans as they proudly celebrated 50 years as an independent nation, from third world country to one of the most successful, developed nations in the world with an economy and GDP the envy of many more ‘established’ developed countries world wide.

 

 In order to celebrate such a momentous occasion White Manta diving embarked upon a long weekend of diving to destinations too distant for our regular weekend trips, and it was with true ‘pioneer’ spirit that we embarked from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on Friday afternoon, sailing towards distant islands to find the hidden treasures beneath the azure blue seas of the Indonesian Anambas islands and surrounds.

Settling in for the long sail through friday night, staff and guests were introduced to one another over a fabulous dinner, prepared as usual by our famous Thai chef Ting, of course more than one bottle of wine was opened to toast Singapore’s birthday as well as to ensure the best luck followed us on our diving adventures. Our guests for this weekend included many regular visitors so it did not take long for everyone to settle into the camaraderie and togetherness that only a live aboard trip can seem to engender in such a short space of time! Leaving Singapore the weather was less than perfect, with heavy rain and grey skies so we all hoped the conditions would improve for the following days diving!

Saturday morning and we began our adventure at a familiar dive site for our check out dive; Malangbiru. Overnight the weather had improved greatly, and whilst there was still some fairly bumpy surface conditions the small island of Malangbiru provides plenty of protection from the remaining waves, allowing us to dive under flat seas. Crystal clear blue water welcomed our divers into a coral reef wonderland, the health and vitality of the reef surrounding this island never fails to impress, and the presence of a number of grazing turtles, Octopus and cuttlefish just added to the beauty of a perfect first check out dive!

 

 After Malangbiru it was time to sail on and discover what would lie beneath at some even more remote diving spots to the South of the Anambas Islands. First stop, for an afternoon and night dive, was the stunning island of Bawah. A huge rock face at the North of the Island towers over the dive site, making a dramatic point of reference for the divers as they started their dive. The weather had improved again at this point so the bright Indonesian sun lit up the waters and provided plenty of light to display another stunning coral reef. On both dives at Bawah we were lucky enough to spot a couple of Black tip reef sharks, on the night dive one shark even decided to investigate a couple of our divers quite closely, swimming around the group for a few minutes before heading off into the dark to continue it’s nighttime hunt, another highlight was just around the corner where one of three juvenile Pinnate batfish was happy to display it’s gorgeous orange and black decoration to our divers!

 

Sunday morning we sailed towards the island of Ritang hoping to explore a dive site we had explored a couple of seasons ago named ‘White Rock’ on the North side of the island. However as we approached the island the weather took a turn for the worse with some heavy rain and strong winds making the North side waters rough and rolling, so we decided to give a reef to the south of the island a go, where the waters were sheltered and much less angry looking!!! It sees like the weather gods were doing us a favour! What a dive site! A steep coral slope descending to a sand bottom at around 30m seemed pleasant enough at the start of the dive, but then we found a large pinnacle just off the reef, where huge sea fans and massive black coral bushes provided shelter for many batfish, sweetlips, clown fish and snapper  and just to add to the scene a couple of Black tip reef sharks swam by! In the shallow waters at the end of the dive along the reef top turtles were again spotted amongst some stunning hard coral fields, full of life and seemingly untroubled by destructive fishing practices so evident in many of the nearby islands.

However the highlight of the day, and the trip would be the next dive at Ritang! A small exposed rock between the two islands that compose Ritang played host to a stunning reef. We were lucky enough to see quite a large number of Black Tips here, but the true potential of the area was revealed when one of our dive guides (take a bow Big Andy!) saw a huge Whale Shark glide by the dive site, and whilst the big fish unfortunately didn’t stick around for long it’s great to know these beautiful animals are in the area!

 

The rest of the day was spent making our way back towards Singapore, we stopped for another dive around Bawah where a nice shallow coral reef provided more turtle sightings and a sunset dive at Repong provided a few more glimpses of Black Tip reef sharks. Throughout the day we were also indebted to Marc Leushacke who was completing his recuse course. On numerous occasions he provided valuable assistance to our Instructor Mike and his buddy Susan who seemed to have multiple problems both underwater and on the surface, luckily Marc was there on each occasion and so completed a tough but rewarding course and even managed to save the lives of two other instructors onboard.. thanks again to Laura and Andy for being such tremendous actors and faking near death so convincingly! Congrats to you Marc, good job!

 

After the diving was done on Sunday it was time to celebrate Singapore’s Birthday, which also, happily, coincided with one of our favourite regular guest’s achieving the landmark of 150 dives!! Congratulations to Julia on reaching this milestone.. we can’t wait to accompany you on the next 150!

 And so, as with every trip, the last day of diving was upon us, two dives at the Igara wreck.. still untouched by the lurking salvage ships that have recently destroyed nearby wrecks such as the Seven Skies.. Let’s hope the Igara stays safe as it provides a fantastic wreck dive for Singaporean based divers. Conditions were pretty good for this national day weekend with mild current, plenty of fish and average visibility, most impressive were the school of massive pick handle barracuda menacing the vast schools of fusilier forming clouds of marine life over the stern of the sunken ship. Two of our divers were able to enjoy the wreck with a little less stress over No Deco limits this trip as they completed their Nitrox course while onboard, congratulations to Eddy Blokken and YZ (Ying Zhao) on achieving the certification and we hope you enjoy your future nitrox adventures!!

                              

 

And so the weekend was over, Thanks to all our guests who joined us for this special weekend, it was our pleasure and privilege to host you during Singapore’s national day, we hope you all had a fantastic time and look forward to seeing you all again soon! Thanks also to all our hard working dive leaders who once again gave up their weekend to help us provide safe and fun diving adventures.. we couldn’t do it without you!

 

Special Thanks to Julia Leong for allowing us to use some of her wonderful pictures from this trip!

 

                                                         

Trip: WMNAT 07 August 2015
Author: White Manta