Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *18 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
Tu: Manta Play, Manta Clean, Ketuts Rock, Pantai Sangalaki
We: Barracuda Point, Gorgonian Wall, Kakaban Jetty
Th: Bagan, Bagan, Lunas Kapal, Devil Slope
Fr: Jack Point, Small Fish Country, The Channel, Lagoon
Sa: The Channel, Gorgonzola, Mid Reef, Jetty Kampung
GUESTS: Gabi, Mike, Dave, Nicole, Mischa, Carlos, Carolyn, Julie
Monday September 18th
At our usual time our guests arrived on board and were greeted by an enthusiastic crew. With a welcome drink on their hands, they were introduced to respective staterooms and after getting acquainted to it, we gathered in the salon for our first meal together, prepared by the chef Sutrisno and his assistant Intan. After it, a briefed about the boat, mentioning its characteristics, detailed its areas and indicating some rules were shared with our guests.
During the afternoon, with the help of Jemy, Hery and Denny, the divemasters, our divers set up their equipment and had time to rest. Sunset came to close a bright sunny day and with the night came time for an early dinner. As everyone finished dessert, another briefing was done, this time indicating the diving logistics from our vessel in order to have the guests prepared for tomorrow. It was also an opportunity for the crew to formally introduce themselves, which always generated a nice round of applause!
Respecting the long journey most of our guests had to go through in order to arrive to Borneo, this was our last activity for the day and afterwards most retired to their staterooms for rest. By this time we were already on our way towards Sangalaki, our first destination in the archipelago of Derawan.
Tuesday September 19th
With the sun already in the sky on a windy morning, we arrived around the small island of Sangalaki. After having had a light buffer-served breakfast early in the morning, our divers started gearing up for the check dive, done in Manta Play, a, like all other sites today, gentle slope where the hard and soft coral reef mixes with sandy patches creating a beautiful impression for the ones who visit them. It was an opportunity for everyone to adjust their buoyancy and start getting back into the rhythm of diving. The marine life pointed out by the divemasters included Broadclub Cuttlefish, Popcorn Shrimp, Crocodile Flathead and a inquisitive Spotted Eagle Ray.
As the last group returned back on board, the bell rang for us to gather in the salon and have a full breakfast, ordered earlier. After the meal our guests had time for a short rest before the preparation for the second dive started. The site chosen was Manta Clean, where two considerable rock formations where Reef Manta Rays tend to visit in order to get cleaned. This time our divers got lucky and all could spend time with at least one of this majestic creatures as, unbothered, they hovered around the reef waiting for other fishes to remove parasites and scar tissue from their bodies. As with the previous dive, the visibility was about 10 meters/33 feet and the currents were gentle.
When the last diver was back aboard, time came for the buffer-served lunch, today one of our Indonesian meals! It was followed by a longer period of rest, that most guests decided to have on the sun deck, still enjoying the breezy wind the kept blowing along the afternoon. The bell then rang for the third dive, in one of the archipelagos denser coral garden, Ketuts Rock. The currents this time were stronger so our groups just drifted among hard coral bommies, fields of soft coral and ended up along a staghorn coral garden in shallow waters. The marine life seen included another pair of Reef Manta Rays, a massive Green Turtles and schooling fusiliers, Red-tooth Triggerfish, butterfly and surgeonfish.
Noci and Angie, our stewardess, were waiting for our guests with a snack and some hot chocolate as they came back. What followed was some time to relax and enjoy the sunset, while having the opportunity to see mating Green Turtles at the surface, a common site around Sangalaki. For the ones who decided to join it, the bell rang for the night dive, done along the sandy slope named Pantai Sangalaki. Here, among rubble, hard coral and rocky formation, the divemasters dedicated their efforts into looking for critters and macro subjects, finding the likes of Hermit and Decorator Crab, Fimbriated Moray and also the silhouette of a Zebra Shark!
As our night divers returned aboard and had shower, dinner was served. Once the dessert was finished, it wour last activity for the day and most retired to their staterooms for rest. By this time we were already on our way to the island of Kakaban.
Wednesday September 20th
We woke up on the northern side of Kakaban to a bright sunrise as the wind still persisted from the previous day. Our first dive was done in one of the archipelago most illustrious site: Barracuda Point. The currents were a factor to be considered and the divemasters guided our divers along this deep plateau and most had the opportunity to see some of the pelagic life that regularly visit the reef: Grey, Blacktip, Whitetip (including a pregnant female) Reef Shark, schooling Big-Eye Jacks, Chevron and Pick-handle Barracudas and different species of fusiliers, as well as a Green Turtle.
During the time that we usually do our second dive, we instead visited Kakabans saltwater jellyfish lake, where species like the Golden, Moon and Upside-down Jellyfish can be seen. With the sun bright in the sky, most of the jellies were around the surfaced, which offered plenty of photograph opportunity to our snorkelers and led to smily faces as we returned from the visit.
Our third dive happened along the Gorgonian Wall, a site where the landscape itself is already a highlights. Considerable concentrations of gorgonians and sponges hang from rocky formations and overhangs, creating an atmosphere where smaller fish like damsel, anthias, butterfly, surgeon and others thrive. What stood out, though, was the end of the dive, finished among a dense, colorful hard coral garden with plenty of life, including schooling drummers, fusiliers and others. The currents where gentle and the visibility was around 20 meters/66 feet, which coupled with the sunshine, offered a stunning view.
As the sun set and our guests got to enjoy it together with the ocean breeze blowing from the south, we started gearing up for the night dive, done along Kakaban Jetty. The divemasters put their effort into finding critters and macro subjects like Marbled Shrimp, Decorator Crab, Crocodile Flathead and also a few Reef Squids, that, attracted by the flashlights, gave quite a show.
When everyone had showered, the bell rang for dinner and as the dessert was finished, it was time for a presentation about Whale Sharks, mentioning characteristics of these that are the biggest fish in the ocean, to be shared. It was the last stop before most guests opted to rest. By this time we were on our way to Talisayan, close to Borneo mainland.
Thursday September 21st
Along the night we arrived in the waters around Talisayan, where fishing platforms, known as bagans, are found. These platforms are frequently visited by, among other fish, whale sharks, which are attracted by the smell of the catch and considered by the fishermen a sign of good luck. We did our first two dives of the day under one of those and had the opportunity to contemplate, during different times, three of these gentle giants swimming around us, which was quite an impressive experience and left our divers amazed!
Already on our way back to the archipelago of Derawan, we first made a stop on the atoll of Malalungan, where we did two of the most diverse macro dives of the trip. The first site was Lunas Kapal, a finger reef that descends into a gentle slope where hard and soft coral serve as home to a variety of critters. Among the findings provided by the divemasters were our first pygmy seahorses, a Bargibanti specimen and the seldom seen Satomi! It was not all, as different species of nudibranchs, Bubble Coral Shrimp, Crocodile Flathead and Tasseled Scorpionfish were some of the other highlights.
Among the calm waters today, as some of our guests enjoyed a relaxing Balinese massage done by Noci and Angie, the sun set. With it the divers started gearing up for the night dive, done in the inner slope of the atoll, named Devil Slope. Looking for critters among rocks and hard coral, a few spotted included, among others, three Satomi Pygmy Seahorses and also a Lembeh Sea Dragon!
With everyone back aboard we gathered in the salon for dinner. What followed the meal was a presentation shared by a special guest, the divemaster Hery. The subject was Pygmy Seahorses, as he mentioned the species known in the world and detailed the ones most commonly seen in Indonesia. It was our last activity and after a few guests stayed around working on their cameras and chatting. During the night we resume the journey to the archipelago, stopping in Maratua, our destination for the next two days.
Friday September 22nd
With another starting day and the recurrent morning wind, we made our first stop in the eastern side of Maratua, the place where we spend the day. Our first dive was along the wall of Jack Point, a pleasant drift with a mild current and visibility of around 25-30 meters/82-100 feet. Among the hard coral, sponges and gorgonians, our guests got their first taste of the relatively active dives Maratua has to offer, with plenty of smaller fish like damsel, anthias, wrasses, parrot, butterfly and angelfish hover on top of coral head and the occasional batfish swimming among surgeon and unicornfish.
Our following dive happened in Small Fish Country and this time, with a stronger current, our divers drifted along a similar landscape but the action was more intense. Another thing that stood out was the opportunity to see, swimming gently in deeper waters, five Spotted Eagle-Ray enjoying the colder currents down there. Towards the end of the dive, plenty of Green (and also a few Hawksbill) Turtles were seen as well as a solitary Great Barracuda. One of the groups also had the opportunity to see a school of Big-Eye Jacks towards the very end of their safety stop. A fantastic dive!
With the afternoon, the waters became calmer and the wind settled down as we started preparing for one of Maratuas most famous dive sites: The Channel. Scheduling the dive to be done during the flooding tide, when clear water enters this sandy channel and brings nutrients to a relatively small area, our divers used their reef hooks to position themselves and enjoy the action. Grey Reef Shark, Eagle Ray, Dogtooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, schooling Midnight and Black Snappers, Big-Eye Jacks and Pick-handle Barracudas were all there to be seen. What stands out here, though, is the immense school of Chevron Barracudas, which all our divers could see!
As we entered the atolls lagoon to spend the night, the sun set among a cloudy sky and our night divers started gearing up to dive on the lagoon itself. Due to the skilled eyes of the divemasters, some critters were found, including the tiny, hard to spot, Hairy Shrimp, Giant Mantis, Blue-spotted Stingray and also a giant sea slug which brought along its carapace some sands and rocks as camouflage.
When all our guests were on board, the dinner was served. The dessert was followed by a presentation about Manta Rays, mentioning the species named in the world, some of their characteristics, behavior and also threats to their existence due to overfishing. This was our last activity together and afterwards most guests stayed around chatting for a bit.
Saturday September 23rd
As the day started, we started making our way out of the lagoon waters for our second visit to The Channel, something the guests themselves asked for. This time the dive happened during the high tide and the currents started mild and picked-up considerably during the dive, as the divemaster adapted the plan and helped all our divers to adjust comfortably to it. Even though the highlights were similar than to the dive yesterday, this time our divers got to spend even longer with the schooling Big-Eye Jacks and Chevron Barracudas, which were literally hovering on top of their heads at some point. It all resulted in plenty of smily faces back on board!
After the dive we started making our way towards the north of Maratua, where we have done, according to some of the guests, one of our most pleasant dives so far, in Gorgonzola, highlighted by its shallow hard coral garden, home to plenty of smaller fish and especially beautiful today due to the light and condition. The drift happened with a very gentle current and the visibility of around 30 meters/100 feet brought a beautiful blue to the equation, a dream for our photographers, which, in between other subjects, had the opportunity to picture not only the reef itself, but a few Green Turtles swimming among it.
During the afternoon we arrived on the western side of the atoll, where we did our third dive in Mid Reef, a wall that descends into a deep water slope. Even though the pelagic life normally seen here was not around, our drift in the shallow reef was another pleasant one, especially because of the almost unbelievable quantity of Green and Hawksbill Turtles seen swimming around or sleeping and eating closer to the reef. Enough to lose count!
The night dive happened on the sandy slope in front of one of Maratuas village jetty, on a site named Jetty Kampung. With the help of the divemasters, some of the critters spotted included: NIGHT DIVE.
As the last group returned and had shower, the bell rang for dinner. This time the presentation that followed the meal, which happened after the schedule for our last day of diving was given, was about Sea Turtles, so abundantly seen today. Once it was over, most guests stayed around chatting and laughing while a few decided to rest straight away. By this time we were already on our way to Derawan, our last diving stop of the trip.
Sunday September 24th
Since our arrival to Derawan during the night, we woke up around the island as the sun tried to make its way among the clouds. Today we had two different dives, considered muck diving, where the divemasters and also our guests spend their time looking for critters among coral formation, white sand and rubble. Some of the highlights seen included: Reeftop Pipefish, Crocodile Flathead, a few different species of nudibranchs and flatworms, Reef Stonefish, Tasseled Scorpionfish and also the seldom seen Blue-ringed Octopus! Not to mention the massive Green Turtles resting along the rocks, especially during the second dive.
As the last group returned from the second dive, the crew started taking care of rinsing their equipment and hanging it. During this we had lunch and afterwards a video with footage of the week, including marine life and moments on the boat, was shown. The divemaster Jemy then opened our boutique and all could purchase souvenirs to bring back home.
During the afternoon we had our farewell party, a moment for the crew to play some music to the guests and thank all for their visit. It was also an opportunity to distribution of awards and recognition of milestones.
Dave completed his 500th dive during the cruise, cheers! Gabi, Mike, Carlos and Julie, on the other hand, were our Aggressor Iron Divers, completing all dives available! Finally, Carolyn completed her SSI Enriched Air Nitrox Diver course on board and received an applause!
Sunset came as we sailed towards Tarakan and after it we had dinner. The meal was followed by an explanation on check-out procedures and for last we watched a slideshow with some of the pictures taken by our divers during the week. It was the last activity and a few stayed around chating afterwards.
Monday September 25th
At the scheduled time the crew was waiting for our guests to help them with luggage and bid farewells. It was a pleasure to have you all on board and we hope to see you again on the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Have a safe journey back home!