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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *09 September 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 27 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Ferdy
Cruise Director: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Acep
Chef Assistant: Intan
Dive master: Hery
Dive master: Denny
Dive master: Jemy
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Jasman
Su: Manta Play, Manta Clean, Ketuts Rock, Jetty Pasir
Mo: Barracuda Point, Barracuda Point, Gorgonians Wall
Tu: Bagans, Bagans, Lunas Kapal, Devil Slope
We: Fusiliers, Big Fish Country, Small Fish Country, Lagoon
Th: The Channel, Gorgonzola, Mid Reef, Pantai Kampung
Fr: Jetty Resort, Jetty Resort
GUESTS: Matthias, Malcolm, Sven, Steffi, Max, Tim, Kenny, Angie, Ed, Amit, Paul, Michelly, Ale
Saturday September 9th
At the expected time, the crew was on the wait to welcome our guests aboard the vessel. Noci and Angie, our stewardess, offered all a welcome drink and we proceeded with the introduction to the staterooms. With everyone acquainted to their rooms, it was time for our first meal together, a buffet-served lunch. Afterwards a briefing about the boat, mentioning its history, areas, facilities and safety plan, was done.
The sunny afternoon offered time for our divers to set up their equipment with the help of Jemy, Hery and Denny, the divemasters, and enjoy the breeze on the sun deck as we started sailing towards Sangalaki, our first destination in the archipelago of Derawan. Sunset happened behind us and was followed by our next meal, a menu-served dinner served slightly earlier.
Once everyone was finished with their dessert, another briefing, this time regarding the diving logistics and a code of conduct underwater, was given and, respecting the fact that our guests had a long journey from home until East Borneo, this was our last activity of the day. Afterwards some guests stayed around chatting about their diving experiences while most retired to their staterooms for rest. Tomorrow we started diving!
Sunday September 10th
As the day started and some rainy clouds appeared in the horizon, we arrived around the island of Sangalaki, our first destination. Our first dive was the check dive, an opportunity for the guests to check their equipment, adjust their buoyancy and fine tune communication. The conditions were ideal for it, since the current was mild and the visiblity in between 10-15 meters/33-50 feet. The dive site name was Manta Play and it was our first opportunity to spot some of the marine life seen among the hard coral garden and sandy patches that surround the island, including Broadclub Cuttlefish, Giant Moray, Leaf Scorpionfish and a few different species of Anemonefish.
With our divers back on board, it was time for a full breakfast, ordered during the light one that happened before the early morning dive. After some rest and with a mild rain upon us, we started gearing up for the second dive, done in Manta Clean. It was the first opportunity for most of our divers to see Reef Manta Rays, which are seen often hovering around the island. That was not all, though, as some other subjects like Rockmover Wrasse, Green Turtle and a few nudibranchs were also seen.
When the last group returned, the bell rang for lunch, which was also our first Indonesian meal! As the meal was finished, a bright sun showed up in the sky and gave the perfect opportunity for our guests to enjoy a longer rest on the upper deck. Third dive of the day followed and it was done in one of the most impressive coral garden of the archipelago, Ketuts Rock, a mixture of both hard and soft coral species distributed along a sandy bottom. Schooling fish stood out during this dive, like Humphead and Midnight Snappers, surgeonfish, unicornfish and different species of fusiliers. Towards the end of the dive, luckily, a few other divers also got to the a Reef Manta Ray!
With the sun still in the sky, mosts guests enjoyed the pleasant breeze upstairs during the sunset before we started gearing up for the night dive. It was done in the sandy slope named Jetty Pasir and, as it is usually the case during the night, the divemasters were focused on pointing out critters and smaller subjects for our divers. Some o the findings included: Blue-spotted Stingray, Painted Spiny Lobster, juvenile cuttlefish and a few Spotfin Lionfish.
With the divers coming back to join the ones who skipped the night dive, we gathered in the salon for another dinner. Once dessert was finished a presentation about Manta Rays was shared, providing information regarding the species and also mentioning some behavioral traits. This was our last activity for the night and afterwards most guests still stayed around chatting or working on their cameras. Tonight we sleep around Sangalaki.
Monday September 11th
Another cloudy morning outside as we arrived around the atoll of Kakaban, our destination for the day. Today we visited one of Derawans most celebrated dive site, Barracuda Point, where we did two dives, one early in the morning and another in the afternoon. The first one was an opportunity for our divers to get a taste of the site, marked by a deep water plateau where fish action develops. The currents were mild and the visibility was around 30 meters/100 feet and some highlights included Grey and Whitetip (including a immature) Reef Shark, schooling fusiliers and surgeonfish, Hawksbill and Green Turtle and a few others reef creatures, like the Giant Moray.
The second dive, though, reserved most of the action, since the currents were relatively stronger and our groups drifted along the plateau among the same species of sharks (but in higher numbers), Dogtooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel and two huge schools of Big-Eye Jacks and Chevron Barracudas, not to mention a small group of Pick-handle Barracudas. This dive also finished along a wall where plenty of soft coral and sponges offer housing to smaller fish like anthias, damsel, parrot, butterly and angelfish. Not to mention the dense, colorful hard coral garden in shallow waters where sweetlips, jacks and drummers are found. A great dive!
Today we had a different activity when we would normally do the second dive of the day. Our guests had the opportunity to go on a supervised visit to the worlds largest jellyfish lake in the world, where Golden, Moon and Cassiopeia (upside-down) species are found. The rain was definitely not enough to bring the energy down and a lot of smily faces were seen after the snorkeling, especially from our photographers!
With some sun in the sky, the cloudy sunset provided a beautiful picture in the sky and most guests, as yesterday, enjoyed it on the sun deck. With the dusk came the time to gear up for the night dive, done along Gorgonians Wall. Among overhangs inhabit by colorful sponges, the divemasters pointed out some critters, including: Hydroid Crab, Crocodile Flathead and Marbled Shrimp.
As our divers returned from the dive and had shower, it was time for dinner. What followed the meal was a presentation about Whale Sharks, which we are hoping to swim with tomorrow, as we head closer to Borneos mainland, around the region of Talisayan. Afterwards most guests stayed around working on their cameras or chatting while others opted to rest.
Tuesday September 12th
We woke up already on the waters that surround Talisayan, where we dove under fishing platforms known as bagans. These floating houses are frequently visited by Whale Sharks, which approach the nets attracted by the smell of the tiny fish caught during the night. Both our morning dives were done here and in both cases our divers got to see two immature male whale sharks. Nevertheless, what stood out was the second one, when both of them stayed around for more than an hour not only attracted by the platform but also by the groups bubbles, eventually swimming above their heads. All this with uncommon visibility of around 20 meters/66 feet, which provided excellent opportunity for photography and video.
With everyone back on board, the sun high in the sky and plenty of smily faces, we gathered in the salon for lunch, which was followed by a longer rest as we sailed towards the seamount named Malalungan, our stop before on the way back to the archipelago. The afternoon dive was done in Lunas Kapal, a great spot to observe macro subjects among both hard and soft coral formations. The eagle-eyed divemasters pointed out to our divers, in between others: nudibranchs from different species, flatworms, Mushroom Coral Pipefish, Bubble Coral Shrimp and also a few, including pregnant ones, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorses!
Nothing more pleasant to end this sunny day than a colorful sunset on the horizon (not even the clouds at the ocean line could spoil it). With the darkness came the time to start gearing up for the night dive, done in Devil Slope. Among the subjects seen were nudibranchs, Ornate Ghost Pipefish and the seldom seen, rare Satomi Pygmy Seahorse. What a great dive to end such a beautiful day!
As our guests returned from the day and had shower, the bell rang for dinner. The meal was followed by another presentation about marine life, this night done by the divemaster Hery: Pygmy Seahorses! After most guests decided to retire to their staterooms for rest. Tomorrow we sail towards the atoll of Maratua, our destination for the following two days.
Wednesday September 13th
As the day rose among a cloudy sky, we arrived at the western side of Maratua, the atoll we will spend our next two days. The absence of sun throughout most of the day didnt affect the spirits of our guests as we excitedly started gearing up for the first dive, in Fusiliers. With a mild current pushing towards the south and visibility in between 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, the groups swam along a steep slope covered in hard coral and sponges observing congregations of surgeon, trigger, butterfly and damselfish, with the eventual Bumphead Parrotfish passing by. The highlight of this dive, though, was the opportunity that all divers had to spend time with a considerable school of Chevron Barracudas, including witnessing as they formed their signature tornado, a protective technique adopted by the specie.
Our following dives happened on the eastern side of the island and the first of them was in Big Fish Country, a straight wall where divers eventually spot pelagics like Spotted Eagle-Ray, Brown-Marbled Grouper and Dogtooth Tuna, which was the case today. Along the wall, also smaller fish being chased by jacks and mackerel stood out, considering that the visibility was about 25-30 meters/82-100 feet. As the dive progressed, the groups, with the lead of the divemasters, entered a channel (which is a site itself) searching for any of the schooling fish known to live there. The results were promising, as, even though by different divers, schooling Big-Eye Jacks, Pick-handle and Chevron Barracudas were seen. A warm-up for tomorrow!
Back on board and having had a longer rest after lunch, our guests started preparing for one of the most pleasant dives overall so far. With a mild current and visibility of 30+ meters/100+ feet, the visit to Small Fish Country was nothing short of fantastic. Crocodile Flathead, Reef Stonefish, Broadclub Cuttlefish, Giant Moray and our first Denise Pygmy Seahorse and Zebra Shark were seen. All this without mentioning the considerable amount of both Green and Hawksbill Turtle seen in shallow waters among dense branching hard coral formations. What a dive!
The sunset happened among a still cloudy sky and our guests were on the sun deck enjoying the view of the lagoon were we anchored the boat for the night. The night dive happened on the location and the ones who joined got to see, thanks to the divemasters, Bobtail Squid, Marbled Shrimp and Giant Mantis, in between others.
With all of our guests back on board and having showered, we gathered in the salon for dinner. Before the meal was over we celebrated Matthias 35th birthday and also congratulated Kenny for his 500th dive! All this was followed by a presentation about barracudas, mentioning the species most commonly seen aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor and some myths related to these animals. Afterwards most guests retired to their staterooms for rest. Tonight we sleep in Maratua.
Thursday September 14th
We woke up on the sheltered waters of Maratuas lagoon and started preparing for our dive in one of the atolls most celebrated dive site, The Channel. This dive was fabulous! With a gentle current and visibility around 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, the groups could fully enjoy the abundant life that plays at this location, including schooling Red and Black Snappers, Diagonal-banded and Oriental Sweetlips, Pick-handle Barracudas and Big-Eye Jacks. Not to mention the appearance of a Banded Sea Snake, Reef Octopus and a few Bumphead Parrotfish. What stands out, though, is the gigantic school of Chevron Barracudas that inhabit the region, which all divers could comfortably enjoy!
Back aboard and with a fine, continuous rain present since the morning, we started heading north, where we did our second dive of the day, in Gorgonzola. The highlight of this wall dive is its shallow plateau, where the hard coral cover is quite abundant and dense and plenty of small reef fish can be seen. Butterfly, parrot, damselfish, wrasses and anthias bring the color and some camouflage masters were pointed out by the divemasters, like Tasseled Scorpionfish, Crocodile Flathead and Boxer Crab.
We spend the cloudy afternoon on the western side of the island, where we did our third dive, in Mid Reef, a steep slope covered in hard coral, rocks and sponges where some pelagic life can be casually seen. Swimming along the landscape, some of the marine life seen and photographed included Dogtooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, Spotted Eagle Ray and a considerable amount of Green Turtles, including a few massive ones! Visibility was, different from the previous dive, around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet.
As most guests spent the end of the day on the sun deck, including some that opted to have a relaxing massage, others started gearing up for the night dive, which happened right after dusk. The site chosen for this dive was Pantai Kampung (Village Beach, in Indonesian) and the divemasters pointed out a few critters, including Crocodile Flathead, flounders and another Boxer Crab.
As our night divers returned and had showered, dinner then was served. After the meal an explanation regarding our last day of diving was given and followed by a presentation about sea turtles, mentioning the species existing in the planet, some of their characteristcs and others traits of these lovely animals. By this time we were already on our way to Derawan Island, where well dive tomorrow.
Friday September 15th
Having arrived during the night around Derawan, we started preparing for our two muck dives of the trip, done around the resorts jetty, where critters and macro subjects are plentiful. Thanks to our divemasters, some of the exquisite findings included: Broadclub Cuttlefish, Reef Stonefish, Mantis Shrimp, a few species of nudibranchs, Ribbon Eel, a yellow color variation of the Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Crocodile Flathead and a few massive Green Turtles. A lovely way to finish the trip!
As the guests returned from the second dive, the crew took care of the equipment rinsing and hanging. After lunch a video made during the week with underwater highlights and moments on the boat was shown. The divemaster Jemy then opened the boutique and what followed was an afternoon of rest before our farewell party. The last was a great opportunity for the crew to spend some time with our guests and also to congratulate the ones who reached a milestone during the trip.
Our lovely couple Angie and Kenny reached 500 dives, while Sven and Tim completed the Enriched Air Nitrox courses. Congratulations!
As the sun set and we sailed towards Tarakan, the ball rang one more for the chefs signature dinner. The meal was followed by a detailed explanation on the check-out procedures and, finally, a slideshow with the pictures taken by our guests during the week, already an opportunity to share some memories of our time together. It was the last activity of the night and most guests decided to rest or pack afterwards.
Saturday September 16th
At the scheduled time the crew was waiting for our guests along the sun deck in order to bid their farewells. We wish them all a safe trip back home and hope to see them back aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor in one of our other destinations. Happy bubbles guys!!!