Dive 283: Sail Rock, Koh Samui (Thailand)

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.

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Dive 282: Sail Rock, Koh Tao (Thailand)

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

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)

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)

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.