Oct 23, 2012

Seven Skies Wreck, 19-21 Oct 2012

Saturday morning, Seven Skies wreck, thirty-four meters below the surface, clear blue waters, a ripping current and an ocean teeming with pelagic marine life: rainbow runners, barracudas, jacks, trevallies and tunas, all enjoying a frenzied attack upon a dense ball of bait fish who school close to the wreck in a vain attempt to protect themselves from the constant attacks of the torpedo like hunters of the sea. What a fantastic way to start the weekend!

For the penultimate time this season the team at MV White Manta had the pleasure of hosting an eager group of expectant divers onboard the most comfortable and luxurious liveaboard sailing from Singapore. This weekend was dedicated to the pursuit of diving two of the best wrecks in the local area, the Seven Skies and the Igara along with a couple of dives at Pulau Damar, a small uninhabited rock/island that boasts an extremely beautiful and healthy hard coral reef.

Having met at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on Friday evening, followed by a check in with the Indonesian immigration authorities at Nongsa Point everybody settled in for the overnight sail to the location of the sunken super-tanker, the Seven Skies, which rests in 60m of often current rich water. It is always interesting to see how divers’ preparation differ for the mornings activities. After assembling the dive equipment, listening to the first nights boat briefing and enjoying a sumptuous dinner some divers will retire early to bed for a good nights’ sleep. Others will enjoy the delights of a good book, or a massage is popular. Those undertaking a PADI course may take the opportunity to do a little bit of study. Many others enjoy relaxing in the air conditioned saloon to watch a good movie. Regardless, everyone was having a good time, some perhaps too good!

However the night was spent, the stability of the steel hulled White Manta always ensures that everyone gets plenty of sleep, rest and recuperation before the wake up bell rings, bright and early, to get everyone out of bed and ready to dive! The first two dives at the Seven Skies set the tone for most of the weekend with some strong currents washing across the submerged wreck. Chris welcomed back one of regular Divemasters: Big Andy, MIA all season. They secured our descent line. Upon their ascent they made it clear that we could expect some spectacular conditions, but that we should expect a pretty strong current and quite a few jellyfish! Whilst the strength of the current can make the initial descent a little tricky it often attracts some great pelagic action and this was certainly the case this weekend. The second dive in particular was simply fantastic, extremely clear water, schooling fish, all set against the background of the huge superstructure of the Seven Skies, being here it can feel like a scene from the Blue Planet, only better, because you are in amongst the action!

Moving on from the Seven Skies we made our way to Pulau Damar, a small rocky outcrop which hosts a truly fantastic, vibrant and colourful coral reef. To the North of the Island there are a set of pinnacles that make for an interesting starting point for the dive, this would be the location for our third dive of the day, after the depth and punishing currents we experienced on our first two dives, everyone was happy to find that the current around Damar was slight, allowing for a relaxing and laid back reef dive. Giant moray eels, yellow back fusiliers, anemone fish of all descriptions, crinoid feather stars and a multitude of various pufferfish were happy to pose for those marine photographers amongst us. Another DM making a return to the White Manta after a prolonged absence: Laura Gordon also spotted a large marble ray resting on the sand (her absence highlighted as she mis-identified the ray as a mobula ray!). Damar was also the location of Saturday evenings’ night dive, and whilst a few divers sat out the last dive of the day in favour of a glass of wine or an ice cold beer, those who did brave the dark waters were rewarded with sightings of spot-back crabs, marbled shrimp, masked porcupine fish, scorpion fish, the alien-like Godfrey’s sea cucumber and a parting glance of some big eyed reef squid.

Sunday morning, just as the sun began its slow ascent over the South China Sea, MV White Manta arrived at the second wreck of the trip, another large super-tanker, The Igara wreck. I had the dubious privilege of accompanying Chris on the mission to ‘tie-on’ this morning. To put it bluntly, the current was raging – probably the strongest we have experienced so far this Singapore season! With some poor visibility and a fierce current it was clear that these conditions were suitable for experienced divers only. Those who decided to take on the challenge were able to enjoy a good test of their underwater abilities! Thankfully once the battle to descend was won, there were plenty of hiding places within the wreck which provide a good shelter from the current, it seemed like some of the local marine life were also happy to take a break from the extreme water movement with the inquisitive resident Batfish especially happy to shelter alongside our divers! As we made our ascent along the line, although the current was still pretty strong, it was clearly diminishing in strength. Thus, after another fabulous breakfast, almost all of our divers decided to take the plunge and explore the delights of this magnificent wreck. Again the Batfish were there to welcome us to their home, along with dense schools of yellow back fusiliers, curious white eyed moray eels, territorial damsel fish protecting their home patch and even a very shy broadclub cuttlefish towards the bow of the wreck!

Sailing back to Singapore we were able to reflect on another superb weekend’s diving onboard MV White Manta, good company, great food and superb diving makes it a pleasure to be onboard. We also witnessed a possible new wreck dive next season. This might be known as the Smit Lynx.

All of the staff and crew onboard would like to extend our sincere thanks for all of you who joined us, we had a fantastic weekend and hope you did too. We would like to send out special congratulations to Manisa, Monchaya and Willie who completed their Advanced Open Water course in some tricky conditions; all three of you were excellent students, so thank you!

We look forward to seeing you onboard the White Manta in the near future and can’t wait to share some more diving adventures with you all!