Thailand Aggressor Captain’s Log 10-17 Feb 2018
*Air Temp. 30c
*Water Temp. 28c
* Visibility 25m
Cruise Director: Glenn
Deck hand: Rong
Deck Hand: Bank
GUESTS: Doug, Tami, Bruce, Johrita, Dan, Jan, Tom, Keith, Jack, Mike, Rob, Dean, Annette, Jackie, Noel, and Gayle
Sunday – Zodiac, Boulder city, shark fin reef, Anitas Reef x2
Monday- Elephant Head Rock, Deep Six, West of Eden, Princess Bay x 2.
Tuesday- Three Trees, Christmas point, Koh Bon x 3
Wednesday– Koh Bon Ridge, Koh Tachai pinnacle, koh tachai pinnacle/reef,
Thursday : Richelieu rock x4
Friday – Koh Bon x2
Guests arrive to Thaplamu Pier and board the Thailand Aggressor via dinghy by 5:00pm. With the crews help, our divers set up their gear and head to the main lounge for the weekly overview followed by a 5 course family style Thai dinner.
After a calm crossing on Saturday night we woke up to a beautiful sunny day in the Similan Islands. Our First site for the check dive was Zodiac. We dropped in to clear blue water with 30m visibility for a nice gentle dive with no current to start the trip. The highlights were a Napoleon Wrasse, Garden eels and a Magnificent Ceratosoma nudibranch. After breakfast we headed off to Boulder city and Shark Fin reef these sites showcase the large granite boulder sites that the Similan Islands are famous for, the huge rocks covered in large gorgonian sea fans make for impressive topography. We saw a huge group of hunting Long Nose Emperor fish and beautiful red anemone with it’s host- the Clarke’s clown fish and schooling yellow Fusiliers from the surface to the bottom. At Sharkfin Reef we swam in and around the boulders with almost zero current making this a nice easy dive and we spotted several different nudibranchs and flatworm, whitespotted boxfishes and even a juvenile octopus was spotted by some. For our fourth dive we headed back up to Island 5 to check out Anita’s Reef there was a very mild current going against us in the start of the dive but we still made it down to ‘Hin Muan Deaw’ or ‘One Roll Rock’ so known as you could spend your whole roll of film just on this one Bommie, well lucky for us that we don’t use film anymore as we would have used it all before getting to the bommie- we were treated to groups of Headshield slugs crawling across the sandy desert with Kuhl’s stingrays nearby and Flounders too, we had a spin around the beautiful bommie that is covered in sea fans and Glass Fish; then made our way back to the west side of the island with just enough bottom time to check out the Pygmy Pipehorse that lives under the overhang. The Night dive was also at Anita’s Reef where several Lobsters were spotted and many shrimps and crabs of course, and a gigantic man-sized Moray Eel. All in all, a beautiful, easy, first day of diving for our lovely guests.
The day started at Elephant Head Rock which is probably the most iconic dive site in the Similan archipelago. It has the most incredible topography with huge granite boulders bigger than buildings and houses all toppled together forming swim-throughs and passages which never fail to impress our guests. Here we saw a massive Great Barracuda, Ankers whip coral Shrimp, Ribbon Eel and schooling Oriental Sweetlips. The waves had started to pick up due to high wind so we headed down to the West side of Island 7 for shelter. Next, we had a beautiful dive at Deep Six that was much enjoyed by all, a nice easy dive with mixed topography of reef in the shallows where we saw Nudibranchs and octopus and a spearing mantis shrimp then the dive goes back into boulders and swim-throughs with beautiful sea fans and yellow fusiliers in the clear blue water- a great recipe for a stunning dive. We stayed at Island 7 for our next dive at West of Eden; and Eden is a great name indeed, it is gorgeous down there with sea fan covered boulder channels, soft corals lining the walls, turtles swimming overhead, nudibranchs like the Psychedelic Batwing slug on many of the baby blue coloured sponges, Giant Moray Eel swimming through the channel, and of course the resident Frogfish and Spearing Mantis shrimps always in their homes ready to welcome us again. We then headed down to Island 4, or Princess Bay as it is also known as, for the fourth dive and also for the guests to check out where they would be going for their night dive. We all enjoyed a great relaxed dive seeing much activity on the reef at this dusky hour, with a lot of action as all the fishes were out for their last bite to eat. The night dive was also here in Princess Bay where we saw Lobsters, Morays, Shrimps, Crabs and all the usual nocturnal creatures.
Having a peaceful night sleep up on Island 8 we were ready to start our days activity up in the North of the archipelago and concentrated our first two dives on Island 9. First we jumped in on Three Trees which is a beautiful sloping reef that bottoms out at about 20m to sandy slope heading out to a few boulders that are covered in exquisite soft corals, sea fans and a gigantic barrel sponge. Here we saw Kuhl’s Stingrays, Gobies, Swallowtail Headshield Slugs, a big school of Chevron barracuda and a Great Barracuda too. Next up was Christmas Point, by now our guests are used to seeing the boulder topography we have here in the Similans but the rocks here are undulating and warped like nowhere else around the Islands- this is from erosion when all this area was above sea level many, many thousands of years ago. Everyone was highly impressed by the scale and beauty of these rock formations and all guests surfaced with smiles on their faces. We headed out of the Similan Islands and up to Koh Bon, still part of the Similan National Park but very different rock formation, here the stone is sedimented limestone which makes for a dramatic edgy landscape. Here we spent the rest of the day diving firstly on the West Ridge, then in the Bay and we were treated to Maldivian Sponge Snails, Giant Trevallies, Rainbow Runners, Bearded Scorpionfish, and beautiful Nudibranchs. During the awesome night dive, we had free swimming Giant Moray Eels, Lionfish using our lights to hunt, Nudibranchs, and a great show from a reef Octopus.
We slept at Koh Bon and gave the West Ridge another shot, enjoying the beautiful wall and looking in all the nooks and crannies for Banded Shrimp, Nudibranchs, Maldivian Sponge snails, and on the reef we saw Octopus and Scorpionfish and swarms of Glassfish. We then moved north up to Koh Tachai for the next three dives of the day. The spectacular Pinnacle is always a crowd pleaser and certainly did not disappoint today, the landscape and colours of the soft corals and huge sea fans are truly magnificent then add 300+ Barracuda schooling overhead, Ornate Dermatobranchus Nudibranchs and beautiful Glorious Flatworms not to mention all the other action there is to see. For the 3rd dive some of the group wanted to dive the Reef and some went back to the Pinnacle, both had great dives in both locations seeing Octopus, Barracudas, Ghost Shrimp
We Spent the whole day and all four dives at the world-famous Richelieu Rock, this spot is often rated in the top 10 dive sites in the world and is easily the number 1 site in Thailand. The biodiversity here is off the scale, everywhere you look there are too many different species to count. The corals are in the best conditions with beautiful purple and white soft coral covering almost every inch of rock, sea fans all over the place and fields of anemones. Our guests were lucky to have pristine conditions, easily 30+m visibility on all four dives and little current, we got to see every part of the site throughout the day and all the guests were astounded by the sheer beauty and concentration of this most magnificent spot. It’s hard to know where to look here as there is so much going on, there are Giant Trevally and Long nose Emperorfish hunting the swarms of Glassfish, juvenile Barracudas hiding in the Glassfish for protection, Lionfish in mass groups of 9 or so, Scorpionfishes from a few inches long to a foot long, Jan’s Cleaner Pipefish in the cracks along with Moray Eels of every kind, and Shrimps of every kind and literally thousands of Snappers and special little finds like Ornate Ghostpipefish and Thorny Seahorse.
We returned to Koh Bon for our last two dives of the cruise, where we spent two beautiful dives one on the West Ridge and the second dive on the North Ridge, the hard corals in the deeper area between 15-25m are stunning and attract a cacophony of life; like Banded Sea Crates, Trevallies, hundreds of Fusiliers, Scorpionfishes, Morays, Giant Pufferfish to name but a few. A great way to end a wonderful trip of beautiful diving. We then cruised back towards Taplamu pier arriving in time for our traditional last evening BBQ.
We wake up at 7am and guests are served their usual made to order hot breakfast as crew loads up the luggage. By 8:00am we head to the pier by dinghy where our transfers are waiting to take everyone to their next destination. A huge thank you to our Aggressor divers for another amazing week on board. ‘Khop Khun Krap’ and See you next time!