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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *1 August 2019 *Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 25 C - 29 C
Fr: Manta Play, Manta Clean, Ketuts Rock
GUESTS: Fedya, Alexander, Alex T., Alex R., Oleja, Andrey, Yulia, Lena, Victor, Maria, Ivan, Andrei, Aleksei
Thursday August 1t
With a warm welcome from our crew, our guests arrived on board.. Noci and Luluk, the stewardesses, were waiting with a fresh towel and a welcomed drink and what followed was the introduction of the staterooms. Next in our schedule, after guests were settled in their accomodation, was our first meal together, prepared by Putu, the chef, and Andy, chef assistant.
When the dessert was finished Cassio, the cruise director, shared the welcome briefing, mentioning aspects of the boat, rules and daily routines. The afternoon was given for rest and preparation of dive equipment, which was done with the help of Jemy, Agus and Jerod, the divemasters, as well as Rahmat, the 3rd Engineer.
With the enchanting green forestation that stands on the borders of the river which we navigated before reaching the sea, our guests had the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunset as we sailed towards the island of Pulau Samama, our anchor point before heading to Sangalaki tomorrow morning for the first day of diving. When the night arrive it was time for dinner and the meal was followed by the general dive briefing. During it our excellent crew had the opportunity for formally introduce themselves.
Respecting the fact that most of our guests had a a days long of a journey before arrival, rest came earlier. Most guests opted to head straight to bed.
Friday August 2nd
Timed with the sunrise was our arrival at Sangalaki on a windy morning that turned into a day of calm seas. Manta Play was the dive site chosen for the check dive and, even though it was an opportunity for our divers to check their buoyancy and make sure the dive gear was ready to go and well adjust, we already had quite a few (even unexpected sights), starting with a beautiful black Reef Manta Ray seen hovering along a cleaning station. On top of that, a wonderful school of fusiliers also welcomed our divers to swim into it as we drifted along a gentle sandy slope that hosts some of the most impressive coral gardens of the whole archipelago. The currents were a factor to be account and visibility was at around 15 meters/50 feet, the case for the whole day.
Full breakfast followed the return of our divers on board. The second dive of the day was in Manta Clean, marked by an immense coral head where plenty of reef fish like anthias, fusiliers, angel and butterflyfish hover on top. It was another pleasant drift along beautiful coral garden of different species and also time for a few more lucky sights, since up to three Reef Manta Rays were seen cruising and feeding on the plankton-rich currents.
The third dive of the day happened after a post-lunch rest. And the dive site chosen was the abundant coral garden named Ketuts Rock. Besides the reef itself, which amazed some of our guests, some of the sightings included Broadclub Cuttlefish, Hawksbill and Green Turtle, schooling Humpback Snappers and also an Eagle Ray!
Afternoon snack was waiting for the groups before we had some rest and then headed to the island of Sangalaki to visit the local turtle nursery. A lovely experience to visit the ranger, swim along the beach and during the sunset release some of the hatchling into the sea!
Upon the return of our guests on board and after some time for showring, we rang the bell for dinner. After a briefing about the following day, most guests opted to stay around celebrating Andreys birthday, which was also commemorated by our crew, who brought a cake and sang happy birthday for our guest! By this time we were on our way to Pulau Samama, where the boat will stay overnight before we head for Kakaban.
Saturday August 3rd
The southwestern tip of Kakaban was our first destination of the day of this windy and wavy morning. The name of the dive site chosen was Barracuda Point where the pushing currents brought quite a few exciting sights close to this deep water plateau filled with hard coral formations (lettuce and tables, especially). With visibility of about 20 meters/66 feet, our divers could glimpse at Grey and Whitetip Reef Sharks, schooling Chevron Barracudas and Big-Eye Jacks, cruising Giant Trevally and Dogtooth Tuna and also a massive, not often seen school of Bonito Tuna, which was being followed (and possibly trapped) by a few Grey Reef and Dogtooths. Towards the second half of the dive, close to a beautiful wall, our divers could see plenty of anthias, damselfish, drummers and also a Hawksbill Turtle.
The following dive was replaced by the possibility of visiting Kakabans jellyfish lake,
claimed to be the biggest in the world of this kind. Swimming among three (possibly four) species of jellyfish: Golden, Moon and Upside-down, our guests could enjoy a break from the wavy weather on board for a while. Upon return we moved the vessel towards the northern side of Kakaban, not one of our usual diving locations, in order to have an afternoon free of choppy seas.
The third dive, then, happened on a site called Pretty Bush, a wall where the coral reef is the most abundant at mid-water level, in between 7-18 meters/23-60 feet. With gentle currents allowing our divers to enjoy a pleasant drift along visibility of about 15 meters/50 feet, some of the sightings seen included Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Shark, Hawksbill and Green Turtle, as well as schooling fusiliers and Redtooth Triggerfish, a few groups of batfish and also a couple of macro subjects, like Hermit Crabs and anemone shrimps.
Instead of a night dive, today we had the possibility to enjoy a sunset dive in order to catch the last bit of light in the sky and enjoy the shallow reefs of The Wall, a dive site in the southeastern tip of Kakaban. The currents were gentle and visibility in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, which allowed our groups to gently drift along the landscape while enjoying a few plentiful and vivid gorgonian formations where anthias, damsel, butterfly and angelfish live. Nevertheless, the highlight that stood out was the chance most guests had to see a relatively curious Thresher Shark cruising along in deep waters.
After our sunset divers returned on board and had shower, we gathered in the salon for dinner. After the tiramisú served for dessert, a briefing about the following day of diving was given. We called it a night afterwards and a few guests stayed around watching a movie while the majority decided to sleep. Next: two days of diving in Maratua!
Sunday August 4th
As we approached the western side of Maratua atoll, still surfing the morning waves that have been a norm for this cruise so far, the sun rose behind the atoll. With the sunrise our divers started gearing up for the first dive of the day, done in Fusiliers, where a steep slope runs into a deep water plateau and sandy channel and plenty of fish congregate. With the currents pushing and visibility in between 10-20 meters/33-66 feet, our groups enjoyed a pleasant drift contemplate the marine life thatd pass by, which included: Eagle Ray, Napoleon Wrasse, Bumphead Parrotfish, Grey Reef Shark, schooling Yellowtail and Chevron Barracudas and also a wide array of smaller congregating reef fish, like drummers and snappers. A lovely dive to start the day!
After dive number one we motored the vessel towards the northern tip of Maratua, where we had one of the most impressive dives of the trip so far in the fantastic hard coral garden of Gorgonzola. The conditions were ideal for the dive, as the sun rose bright in the sky and shone its light on the shallow reef, allowing our divers to have a pleasant drift in shallow waters gazing at abundant, dense and colorful coral formations that serve as home to plenty of smaller fish like anthias, damsel, butterfly, angel and parrotfish. Not to mention some of the coral heads that by their size make one wonder how long theyve been there. A great dive!
The third dive of the day, done after lunch, was in Big Fish Country and, even though the visibility was hovering at around 10 meters/33 feet with plenty of particles in the water, it was another great drift drive watching plenty of reef fish congregate. With gentle yet present currents, some of the sighting included: Eagle Ray, Grey Reef Shark, Barramundi, Giant
Trevally, schooling batfish, fusiliers, beams and Big-Eye Jack, besides a considerable number of both Green and Hawksbill Turtle. Towards the end, also, another shallow beautiful coral garden impressed most of our divers as they performed the safety stop.
Before sunset we motored the boat inside Maratuas lagoon where wed spend the night in a sheltered area. Once the vessel was tied, Fedya, Ivan and Aleksei, the three kids who joined for this trip, had the opportunity to jump from the vessel into the water and had plenty of fun doing so! Nevertheless, with dusk came time to start gearing up for the first night dive of the cruise, done in the Lagoon of the atoll. Some of the critters found by the divemasters included: Decorator Crab, Giant Mantis, Tasseled Scorpionfish and a few different species of nudibranchs, including a slug that goes by the name of Pleurobranchus.
Dinner followed when the last diver returned on board and finished showering. Tonight, we the dessert was finished, our guests were surprised with a performance by the Raja Ampat Aggressor Band, since our crew sang a couple of songs and, attending to the request, gave an extra song towards the end as some of our guests even stood up to dance. Fun times!
Tomorrow we resume our diving activities in Maratua.
Monday August 5th
Today we woke up earlier than usual to catch the end of the flooding tide washing one of Derawans premier dive sites: The Channel. The currents were definitely a factor to be handled by the guests, who got to enjoy visibility in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet while spending time in both channels corner. At the first, a few Dogtooth Tunas and Grey Reef Sharks were seen patrolling the reef searching possibly for a meal. At the second, a school of Midnight and Black Snappers, small group of Pickhandle Barracudas and also a considerable school of Chevron Barracudas were waiting for our divers as they arrived at the other end. A great way to start the day!
Once everybody was back on board, we motored the vessel out of the lagoon to start preparing for the second dive of the day: Leo Point, a gentle slope that runs into a deeper hard coral garden and is surrounded by walls. More of a relaxing dive, our divers could see animals like Broadclub Cuttlefish, Tasseled Scorpionfish, a few Green Turtles and plenty of Soldier and Squirrelfish hiding among the hard coral formations in deeper waters. Visibility was at around 10 meters/33 feet..
Third dive of the day was done in Small Fish Country. More than a hunder turtles I guess, I stopped counting, said one of our guests. Plenty of Green Turtles and a few Hawksbill could be seen while drifting along this wall. Besides that, smaller reef fish were also very abundant, including damselfish, anthias, parrot, butterfly and a few angelfish as well. On top of that, a beautiful hard coral garden, as has been the case on the previous dive, was there to be contemplated by our divers once they reached the final half of the dive.
The fourth dive happened earlier than usual, with the sun still bright in the sky and it was a repeat of the notorious The Channel. The marine life was similar to what was seen on the first dive, nevertheless, since our divers had been already on the site previously, handling the conditions of it was less of a challenge and all could enjoy this dive even more, which brought plenty of happy faces back on board!
With the return of the last group of divers along our cruise director, it was shower time, followed by dinner. After the meal, Cassio shared a presentation about Whale Sharks and described how would we dive under the fishing platforms present in the bay of Talisayan, our destination for tomorrow.
Tuesday August 6th
We woke up already in Talisayan, where we visit the fishing platforms known as bagans on the hopes of diving with Whale Sharks! During the morning our divers had the chance to be in the water with up to five Whale Sharks, including one rarely seen female.
Upon departing Talisayan we headed in the direction of Malalungan, where the third and night dive were done. Th first dive was done in Lunas Kapal, where, with visibility in between 5-10 meters/15-33 feet and mild currents, our divers spent most of their dive looking for critters. Some of the ones pointed out by the divemasters included: nudibranchs, flatworms, anemone shrimps, scorpionfish and also a Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse.
As some of our guests enjoyed the late afternoon to bathe in the ocean, two brave divers started preparing for the night dive in Devil Slope. During this dive some of the findings included Decorator and Spider Crab, juvenile Harlequin Sweetlips and also a couple of Blue- spotted Ribbontail Stingrays.
With the return of our divers we rang the bell for dinner. Once the meal was finished, most guests stayed around enjoying a drink and a chat before heading to bed. Tomorrow we dive in Derawan Island!
Wednesday August 7th
The two last dives of the cruise happened around the jetty of Derawans Dive Resort. They were mostly opportunities to search critters, including Ribbon Eel, Devil Scorpionfish, Reef Stonefish, nudibranchs and also a couple of Broadclub Cuttlefish. On top of that, some of our divers also had the chance to see a couple of massive Green Turtles!
Equipment rinsing was taken care of by our crew, while our guests had lunch. What followed was the showing of the video of the week prepared by Cassio. Afternoon was a time given for rest before the farewell party started!
When the bell rang the whole crew got together again to play some music to our guests and take group pictures! The farewell party is also an opportunity to recognize our one and only Iron Diver: Alex R. Congratulations!!!
Since the end of the last dive we were already motoring the vessel towards Tanjung Redeb, in Berau, our port city. Dinner tonight happened earlier than usual and afterwards we watched a slideshow together with some of the pictures taken by our guests. The last activity of the night was an explanation about disembarkation procedures. The majority of the guests afterwards stayed around celebrating a successful cruise by the nights end.
Thursday August 8th
The crew was waiting for our guests to bid their farewells at the scheduled time. We wish them all a safe trip back home and hope to see them again, as it was the case with our guests Andrey, Yulia and Victor. Happy bubbles to all!!!