Dive 283: Sail Rock, Koh Samui (Thailand)

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Dive time: 00:47:00
Max depth: 26.5 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 8 metres
Buddy: Mark
Surface interval: 01:01:00

This was a very similar dive to the first, because the rock is pretty small.  Olivia and Lynn had a much easier time this dive.

I had the GoPro for this dive, so I just wrapped the strap around my left hand for the duration of the dive.  It wasn’t too bad diving with it, although I did find that my buoyancy suffered a little as I was concentrating on looking around for things to film!

We saw a big giant grouper surrounded by lots of tiny fish, more bull sharks, a stone fish and lots of anemone fish.

Dive 282: Sail Rock, Koh Tao (Thailand)

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Dive time: 00:48:00
Max depth: 22.9 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 8 metres
Buddy: Mark

This was a dive organised at the last minute with 7 others from the group for Christine and Anthony’s wedding.  We had our own private bow rider speedboat to head out to Sail Rock, which is just off Koh Tao.  Awesome!

We jumped into the water and free descended next to the rock.  Olivia had some issues getting down, as did Lynn, so Mark and I were fluffing around the bottom for a while.

This was my first dive with Mark, and our first dive with the GoPro!  Mark had the camera on his forehead at first, despite being warned by the dive master that he’d had a few divers lose them from the top of their heads but we thought we’d try it anyway and I’d keep an eye on it.  Lo and behold, about 5 minutes into the dive I looked over to Mark and the camera had disappeared from his forehead and I found it dangling off to the side of his head!  Phew!  I ended up putting it in my BCD pocket for most of the dive but towards the end, Mark dug it out and dived with it in his hand.

Down deep in the murky haze, we managed to make out the silhouettes of a few beefy looking bull sharks.  Rather scary considering their reputation in Australia!  Despite the average visibility, there was still quite a lot to see – lots of fusiliers, angel fish, sweet lips, butterfly fish, big eyes, barracuda, snapper, parrot fish, a blue grouper looking fish, and lots of other reef fish.  Went up through a little chimney type swimthrough too.

There was a little bit of current now and then, but mostly an easy dive.

Similan Islands diving

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After many years of hearing that the Similan Islands in Thailand were a must-dive destination from my diving friends, I finally managed to make my way there this month.  It was pretty late in the season, which was beneficial in getting a half-empty (or is that half-full?) liveaboard boat and a cabin all to myself, however the weather was starting to turn slightly foul, with cloudy skies most of the time and lashing rain on occasion.  The glimpses of blue sky were very welcome.

Similan island white sandy beach

The diving was quite easy, although there was often a bit of current at the sites to keep things interesting.  The visibility ranged from 20-40 metres and the water temperature hovered around 29C, which made for easy and comfortable diving.

I love seeing big stuff and colourful reefs, and the sites here were not disappointing.  The coral growth on the reefs was looking pretty healthy, apparently making a good recovery after the tsunami of 2004.  The reefs attracted loads of colourful reef fish, which in turn attracted some bigger fish such as trevally and tuna.  On one particularly memorable dive we saw a majestic manta ray that slowly checked us out, before turning around to swim past us again, then swimming off into the blue.

Liveaboard diving is a continual cycle of diving, eating, sleeping/reading, diving, eating, more sleeping and reading.  The diving can get a bit tiring at the end of the day, but it’s definitely worthwhile.  We even checked out one of the white, sandy beaches of one of the islands, which had the whitest powdery sand I’ve ever seen.  It felt like I was standing on a large strip of flour!

White sandy beach at Similan Islands

Thai fishing boats

Dive 281: Richelieu Rock, Andaman Sea (Thailand)

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Dive time: 00:48:00
Max depth: 28.0 metres
Temperature: 30 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 02:49:00

A nice way to end the dive trip with a relaxing dive around Richelieu Rock. There is just so much to see in terms of hard and soft corals, and then fish of various sizes and colours.

As soon as we descended to around 26 metres, I saw a little moray eel freeswimming around with a coral grouper following it around as if it were hanging around for scraps. Then under a ledge I saw two white-eyed moray eels poking out of the same hole checking me out. So cute!

I also saw quite a few little yellow cube boxfish as well as some dark, white-spotted boxfish, pufferfish, a large porcupinefish hiding in a hole, massive schools of fusiliers, a scorpionfish, a few little shrimps hiding in the cracks, a pineapple fish, colourful damselfish.

Annoyingly, the dive guide James managed to piss me off one last time before we finished the trip. He’d signal for a safety stop so we’d swim out into the blue but I like to ascend slowly from whatever depth to 5 metres. He seemed to want me to rush the whole time, even from finishing the safety stop to hitting the surface he’d pop up straight away whereas I liked to take my time. As soon as the safety stop finished he was up on the surface, peering down at me and telling me to hurry up and get to the surface. Annoying.

Dive 280: Richelieu Rock, Andaman Sea (Thailand)

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Dive time: 00:54:00
Max depth: 27.1 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 13:48:00

A fantastic dive site with so much to see. There are so many beautiful soft corals and fish life on the top of the rocks and loads of other schooling fishlife swimming around the rocks.

We started the dive swimming off behind one of the big rocks and dropping down to about 25 metres where we saw a yellow tigertail seahorse. We then slowly made our way back to the top of the reef and back to the boat poking our heads around and looking for cool stuff.

Sophie saw an octopus out and crawling over the reef, changing colour and texture as it went along – fascinating stuff.

I also saw a few of the cute little yellow cube boxfish, lionfish, barracuda up near the surface, a couple of little freeswimming moray eels, a blue and white harlequin shrimp, two cleaner pipefish swimming together, tiger egg cowries on a far, lots of coral grouper and parrotfish, ring angelfish, emperor angelfish, lots of anemonefish including a tomato anemonefish, and an adult bent stick pipefish.

Dive 279: South East Rocks, Koh Torinla (Thailand)

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Dive time: 00:49:00
Max depth: 20.4 metres
Temperature: 30 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 04:00:00

A nice relaxing dive on the site, which is basically a whole lot of big granite boulders starting at about 10 metres sloping down to around 25 metres.

I saw loads of fusiliers, a very cute baby bent stick pipefish, a Schultz pipefish, quite a few hunting flutemouths, a couple of spider crabs sitting on a sea fan, partner gobies with their little shrimp companions, a pretty flatworm, phantom bannerfish, lionfish, a couple of decent sized moray eels including one that looked like it was about to have a square off with a grouper, garden eels poking out of the sand, cute little yellow cub boxfish, pufferfish, a big porcupinefish hiding under a rock, 5-line snapper, oriental sweetlips, a few dogtooth tuna, lots of black and white striped cleaner shrimp and a few batfish.

 

Dive 278: Turtle Ledge, Koh Surintai (Thailand)

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Dive time: 00:45:00
Max depth: 24.1 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 02:54:00

A fairly nice dive despite a some marathon swimming against a mild current. I don’t like diving for the bloody exercise!

We jumped in and descended onto some big boulders. There was a bit of current swirling around the boulders but usually just a few big fin kicks would get you back behind a big boulder to hide from it.

A third of the way through the dive, the DM James swims off into the blue. He mentioned before we jumped in that if the current was OK then he would do this and we were to follow him, which we did, but he quickly swam out of sight and we could only spot him from his bubbles. We finally caught up to him at a massive boulder that was the size of a small house (perhaps a single room cottage sized house) but we swam around it and then drifted back with the current back to the reef.

He later told us back on the boat that we should’ve kept up with him so that we would have enough bottom time to hang out there to look for big fish and rays but since we swam so slowly then we didn’t have time to stay out there. He seemed pretty shirty about it but hey, we weren’t bloody told that we had to keep up so we just did our usual leisurely paddle pace.

Still, a good dive with lots to see – a couple of big morays, some cute little cube box fish (a little juvenile yellow one and a dark one whitespotted one), a couple of lionfish, lots of little garden eels poking their bodies out of the sand, a cleaner pipefish, a big spotted grouper underneath a rock, oriental sweetlip and schools of grey sweetlip, ring angelfish, batfish, giant triggerfish, and big schools of yellowback fusiliers. Kept looking in the sand to find some partner gobies but no such luck.

 

Dive 277: Batfish Rock, Koh Tachai (Thailand)

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Dive time: 00:46:00
Max depth: 27.7 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 20 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 12:09:00

A nice dive back at Batfish rock. We descended down the mooring line where there was a fair bit of current on the surface, which died down a little on the bottom. We swam around the big boulders, finding lots of batfish, bluefin trevally, giant trevally, coral groupers, large brown groupers, fusiliers, a mantis shrimp scurrying along the sand, giant triggerfish, a banded sea snake free swimming in the water, and lots of colourful butterflyfish and angelfish.

We swam out into the blue a few times, seeing more giant and bluefin trevally patrolling amongst the schools of fish. Saw a school of barracuda in the distance. The whole time a couple of friendly batfish followed us around, swimming right up to our faces, and Sophie and I would have a giggle as they would check us out.

Got annoyed at the dive guide James again, who kept on telling me to come up shallower as we were heading back to the mooring line at around 8 metres. No idea why he has a problem if I want to have a slow ascent rate. We were still at 41 minutes of a planned 50 minute dive so there was no fricking rush. What the…

Dive 276: Tachai Reef, Koh Tachai (Thailand)

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Dive time: 00:41:00
Max depth: 15.5 metres
Temperature: 29 C
Visibility: 30 metres
Buddy: Tom
Surface interval: 03:08:00

Night dive

A pretty nice and relaxing dive off the back of the boat straight into the reef. I was hoping to see a giant moray swimming out hunting but no such luck for me, although everyone else bloody saw one!

Saw quite a few parrotfish sleeping in their holes, lots of feather stars that closed up with the light shining on them, hundreds of cleaner shrimp, a spiny lobster’s antennae poking out of a hole, a red crab that was about 15cm wide, and bannerfish.

Still had 150 bar left at the end of the dive – shame the planned dive time was so short!

 

Dive 275: Batfish Rock, Koh Tachai (Thailand)

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Dive time: 00:51:00
Max depth: 22.6 metres
Temperature: 30 C
Visibility: 40 metres
Buddy: Sophie
Surface interval: 02:54:00

What a stunning dive! We descended onto Batfish Rock and swam amongst the big granite boulders where there were soft corals and sea fans sprinkled around. There were schools of little fish everywhere, giant trevally and bluefin trevally cruising past and hunting the little fish, a school of batfish hovering near the bottom and as we cruised past one of them followed us around for about 10 minutes. We swam off the main rock and out into the blue where there was a massive school of barracuda hovering in midwater and occasionally swirling around us and in front of us with a few giant trevally swimming with the school as well. The batfish was still following me at this point, and would come up and swim very close to my face and when I reached out to touch it, it almost looked like it would let me stroke it before it turned away at the last moment.

Also saw amongst the big boulders some large black sweetlips, oriental sweetlips, a brown grouper that was about a metre long, a banded sea snake, a giant triggerfish moving bits of coral between its jaws to get at some food, a flutemouth, quite a few anemones with anemonefish, filefish, and lots of various colourful reef fish.

We ascended up the mooring line where we hung on for dear life during the safety stop as it seemed like the current was roaring, even though it wasn’t so bad on the bottom. But as soon as we let go of the line to drift back to the boat the current seemed OK.

Sophie and I were all smiles back on the boat!