“Raja Ampat Aggressor” Captains log *07 August 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 27 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Ferdy
Cruise Director: Urik
Assistant CD: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
Chef Assistant: Intan
Dive master: Jemy
Dive master: Denny
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Tu: Manta Play, Manta Clean, Ketuts Rock, Jetty Tanjung
We: Barracuda Point, Gorgonian Wall, Barracuda Point
Th: Lunas Kapal, Devil Slope, Heaven Reef
Fr: Fusiliers, Small Fish Country, The Channel, Lagoon
Sa: Big Fish Country, Jack Point, Gorgonzola, Gorgonzola
GUESTS: Eli, Christopher, Dino, Paul, Janet, Edita, Ugnius, Frederic, Annick, Alex, Lyn, Andrew, Sue, Vane, George
Monday August 7th
As our guests approached the vessel, the crew was waiting to welcome them aboard. Noci and Angie, the stewardess, offered an welcomed drink and we proceeded with the introduction of the staterooms. With all acquainted to their accommodation we gathered in the salon for lunch, our first meal together, prepared by Jemly, the chef, and Intan, chef assistant.
When the dessert was finished Urik, the cruise director, proceeded with an introductory briefing about the boat, presenting its areas, rules and daily routines. Afterwards the afternoon was given for rest and preparation of dive equipment, which was done with the help of Denny and Hery, the divemasters.
Among a bright blue sky and some massive clouds the sun set as our guests took their first pictures. With the dusk came dinner and the meal was followed by another briefing, now regarding the diving logistics from our vessel. This was also an opportunity for the crew to formally introduce themselves, mentioning names and position on board.
Respecting the fact that most of our guests had a long journey before arrival, time for rest came earlier and most retired to their staterooms. By this time we were already on our way to Sangalaki, our first destination in the archipelago of Derawan.
Tuesday August 8th
It was still dark when we arrived around the island of Sangalaki. As the sun rose among a cloudy sky, the norm for the day, our guests had a light buffet breakfast. Afterwards was time for the first dive, done in Manta Play, a gentle sloping reef with mostly hard coral and a few sandy patches. With a very mild current and visibility around 20 meters/66 feet, our divers had the opportunity to swim among the smaller, colorful reef fish like angel, butterfly, surgeon and triggerfish, in between others. Some of our divers also had the opportunity to see a Leopard (also known as Zebra) Shark resting in the sandy bottom!
Back aboard was time for full breakfast ordered earlier, followed by some rest. The second dive was in Manta Clean, where a massive coral head catches the attention of divers and hosts a considerable quantity of anthias, wrasses and squirrelfish. With conditions similar to the previous dive, it was another pleasant opportunity to enjoy the flat coral garden, this time hosting a mixture between hard and soft, and its colors reflecting in the sand. Some divers also had the opportunity to see the first Reef Manta Ray of the day!
As the groups returned from the dive, the buffet served lunch, our first Indonesian meal, was served. It was followed by a longer resting time and most of our guests opted to have it enjoying the ocean breeze in the sun deck. The afternoon dive was done along a very dense, colorful and diverse coral garden named Ketuts Rock, where bommies of encrusted coral stand out. This time, even though the groups still enjoyed the same visibility, the currents were slightly stronger, which allowed all to drift along the gentle slope. This time both Manta Rays and Leopard Shark were seen, besides Broadclub Cuttlefish, Wire and Bubble Coral Shrimp, to mention a few subjects our photographers could catch thanks to the help of the divemasters.
An afternoon snack was waiting for our divers as they returned and prepared themselves to enjoy the late afternoon. Today the sunset was not visible among the clouds, even though the weather was still fresh and pleasant. The night dive, done in Jetty Panjang (Long Jetty, in Indonesian), followed dusk and, as it is usual the case, it was an opportunity to look for critters and macro subjects. Some of the findings included: Hydroid and Box Crab, (juvenile) Broadclub Cuttlefish and Marbled Shrimp, in between others.
With divers back aboard and having had dinner, the menu dinner was served. As our guests finished dessert, a presentation about Manta Rays, mentioning characteristics, reproduction and behavior of the species, was shared. This was our last activity for the evening and, even though a few guests stayed around chatting, most retired to their staterooms to rest. Tomorrow we dive in Kakaban.
Wednesday August 9th
Early in the morning, already in the northern part of Kakaban, the skies brought us some rain and during the whole day we had showers. Our first dive site is one of Derawans most famous, Barracuda Point, a deep plateau where pelagic life and schooling fish can be seen. With the current pushing (and incredible visibility of 25-30 meters/82-100 feet) our divers drifted along the landscape watching the blue as a few Whitetip and Grey Reef Sharks were seen cruising among schooling fusiliers, surgeon, unicorn and triggerfish. As the plateau descends into a wall, a considerable school of Chevron Barracudas and Big-Eye Jacks stood out during the dive, which finished calmly along a wall where anthias, wrasses, snappers and angelfish thrive. Below a table of coral, two juvenile Whitetip Reef Sharks were also spotted at the end of the safety stops!
Today, continuing with our activities, we didnt do the second morning dive. Instead, our guests went on a small tour to the biggest jellyfish lagoon in the world, where Golden, Moon and Cassiopea (upside-down) jellyfish swim. All had the opportunity to carefully snorkel among the animals and take pictures.
After lunch was finished and rest was given we started gearing up for the third dive of the day, a slow cruise along Gorgonian Wall and its colorful sponges and soft coral that grow along overhangs. Along the formations nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, Spider Crab and a hungry Hawksbill Turtle were seen. Besides that, another juvenile Whitetip Reef Shark was also pointed out by our divemasters; a female. The dive finished among a vivid hard coral garden that shelters plenty of plankton-eating smaller reef fish.
Another difference of our schedule in Kakaban is the absence of night dive, since our fourth dive happened just before dusk, as we hope to spot unusual pelagic animals during this time of the day. It was also another opportunity to visit Barracuda Point and this time some of the marine life seen included: Grey and Whitetip Reef Shark (including a pregnant from the last specimen), Spanish Mackerel, Eagle Ray and schooling Big-Eye Jacks!
With smily faces back on board besides the cloudy sky, guests had time for shower before an earlier dinner was served. Once the meal was finished a few guests stayed around enjoying the earlier night while others opted to rest. By this time we were on our way to Talisayan, closer to Borneo mainland.
Thursday August 10th
We woke up already in Talisayan, where, after a few hours of survey, we attested there were no fishing platforms (known as bagans in Indonesia) in the region at this moment, hence, we didnt dive below them. Instead, we started heading back towards the Derawan archipelago, stopping on a sea mount where we spend the day diving on also where our divers could see some of the most dense and preserved coral formations on Indonesian Borneo.
Our first dive of the day was done in Lunas Kapal, name coming from the sunken wooden boat present at the starting point. As our divers drifted along the sloping reef, it was an opportunity to look for macro subjects to be photographed among gorgonians, soft and hard corals, sponges and rocks. Some of the findings by the divemasters included Mushroom Coral and Ornate Ghost Pipefish, nudibranchs from several species, including some exquisite variations of the Phyllidia genus, Bubble Coral Shrimp and Crocodile Flathead. The current on this dive was gentle and visibility in between 10-15 meters/33-50 feet.
In between dives most guests eused the opportunity to swim around the boat, enjoying the pleasant day of flat sea and sunny, bright blue sky. A Marlin was also seen jumped out of the water from the vessel. Finally we started gearing up for the following dive, done in Devil Slope, a site with similar topography as the previous and also plenty of macro life to be seen, including Popcorn and Mantis Shrimp, Porcelain Crab, Tasseled Scorpionfish, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, and our first Pygmy Seahorse, a Bargibanti specimen. On top of that, some of our divers got to see a Mobula Ray curiously cruising along! For this dive the currents were pushing more, as the groups drifted along the slope.
On the horizon a beautiful sunset blessed closed a beautiful day from the beginning. With the darkness came the time to start gearing up for the night dive, in Heaven Reef. Some of the critters seen included: (juvenile) Broadclub Cuttlefish, Pygmy Squid, Tasseled Scorpionfish and flatworms.
Back aboard the vessel from the last dive, we gathered in the salon for dinner. What followed was a presentation about Pygmy Seahorses done by the divemaster Hery, mentioning the species present in Indonesia and some of their characteristics. This was our last activity for the day and, as has been the case since day one, most guests stayed around chatting. By this time we were already on our way to the atoll of Maratua.
Friday August 11th
The day started cloudy with a few clouds and a gentle rain that would fade along the day to give space to the sun, as we arrived in at the western side of Maratua. First dive happened in Fusiliers, a wall that extends into a deep plateau where our divers drifted along looking for pelagic life. Some of the animals seen included Grey and Blacktip Reef Shark, Eagle Ray, Pick-handle Barracudas as different species of schooling fish, like fusiliers (of course!), trigger, surgeon and unicornfish. On top of that, towards the end of the drift a considerable school of Chevron Barracudas close the dive with awe!
Our following two dives happened on the eastern side of the atoll, first along the wall named Small Fish Country, one that hosts in some parts dense concentrations of hard coral and sponges where smaller reef fish like anthias, wrasses, Sargeant Major, parrot, butterfly and anglefish thrive. This site also tends to be visited by a lot of turtles, mostly Green with a few friendly Hawksbill munching along the reef. On top of that, another Eagle Ray was seen cruising along in deeper water as the groups drifted on a gentle current enjoying around 30 meters/100 feet of visibility.
Our last day dive was done in another of the marquee sites of Derawan, The Channel. At the start of the drift, done along a wall, the groups could already see a few Dogtooth Tunas, Brown-Marbled Groupers and Spanish Mackerel among smaller fish. At the entrance of the channel, a large school of Big-Eye Jacks swirling was quite a sight, followed by a smaller group of Pick-handle Barracudas and Black Snappers as the groups kept going. As all put some effort to cross all the the way back to the entrance, the astonishing school of Chevron Barracudas appeared and amazed the fortunate who could see it!
Sunset happened behind the landscape of Maratua and colored the sky with dark tones of red and orange. By this time the vessel was already anchored on the lagoon where the night dive happened. Some of the critters our divemasters pointed out included: Giant Mantis, Decorator Crab and Long-armed Octopus.
With all back aboard we got together for another delicious dinner. Dessert was followed by a presentation shared by Urik on characteristics, reproduction, migration and behavior of sharks, as well as some of the threats to their existence. Finally, some guests stayed around for another drink while a few retired to their rooms. Tonight we sleep in Maratua, where well dive tomorrow as well.
Saturday August 12th
Another day that started with rain and turned out to be a sunny relaxing rose as our guests started gearing up for the first dive, done in the wall named Big Fish Country, west of Maratua. The conditions for the whole day were quite gentle, with mild currents and visibility in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet. Besides the landscapeof the site itself, which merits highlight due to the abundance of huge barrel sponges and a few dense hard coral formations, some of the marine life seen included Dogtooth Tuna, Marbled Ray and a Great Barracuda, besides the occasional Blue-fin and Orange-spotted Jacks cruising along.
Our following dive happened slightly further north, in Jack Point, where the landscape is composed of wall exchanged with slopes and a few ridges extending out of the main reef. The hard coral on the top, especially acropora species, host plenty of smaller fish and serve as sleeping location for a considerable number of Green Turtles. But the last are not the only species, as a few Hawksbill were also seen swimming around. Our divemasters also did their part finding some critters, like Crocodile Flathead, and also our first specimen of Denise Pygmy Seahorse!
After the longer rest of the day and again further north from the previous site, we dove in Gorgonzola, spending most time on the top of a wall where the coral life is more plentiful, diverse and colorful. Schooling drummers, fusiliers and butterflyfish dictated the movement on the blue while along the reef anthias, damselfish and wrasses did their part. A few colorful blennies and gobies were also subject of some macro photography. All this with plenty of sunlight in shallow waters.
As the sun set on the ocean, was time to start preparing for the night dive, a repeat of the shallow reef of Gorgonzola. Critters, as usual, were what the divemasters were looking for and some of the ones seen were: Marbled Shrimp, Twin-spot Lionfish, Tasseled Scorpionfish and Sponge Crab.
With all groups back aboard, the bell rang for dinner. With the meal finished Urik explained the schedule for the following day, our last one of diving, and a presentation about Sea Turtles followed, indicating the species present on the world and some of their characteristics. Quite a few guests stayed around after it. Tomorrow we dive in the island of Derawan.
Sunday August 13th
During the night we had already arrived around the small island of Derawan, where we did our last two dives. Those dives were different than the previous during the trip, as we spend our time looking for critters and macro subjects that thrive among sponges, hard coral but also rubble covered in sediments. As for the smaller life, some of the highlights included Ribbon Eel, Hairy Shrimp, Reef Stonefish, Crocodile Flathead, Common and Red Lionfish, a few species of nudibranchs, like the Blue Dragon, in between others. One of the dives also offered the opportunity for the guests to have a last encounter with the considerable amount of Green Turtles living in the archipelago, including some huge ones. Both dives were done around two jettys.
With everyone back on board was time for the crew to take care of rinsing the dive equipment of our divers as the last enjoyed lunch. After the meal Urik shared the video he prepared during the trip with underwater highlights and some footage out of the water. The afternoon then came for rest and work on photos.
What followed was our farewell party, where the whole crew had the opportunity to thank our guests for the kind visit, playing a little bit of Indonesian music to all. Before group photos, tt was also the time to distribute our awards and milestones.
Christopher reached his 100th aboard the vessel and we congratulated him with an applause!
As for the brave divers who joined all available dives during the cruise, we rewarded the Aggressor Iron Diver awards. The group was formed by Eli, Dino, Vane and George. Congratulations!
As the sunset come among the cloudy sky as we were already on our way back to Tarakan, the bell rang for our last dinner, a signature dish prepared by the chef and his assistant. After it Urik detailed the check-out procedure and followed with a slideshow done with the pictures taken by our divers during the week. This was our last activity of the night and most people from this fun group stayed around for at least a bit chatting.
Monday August 14th
At the scheduled time the crew was waiting for our guests on the sun deck in order to bid their farewells and wish all a safe journey back home. Thank you all for you visit and we sincerely hope to see you again aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Happy bubbles!