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Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

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Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#1  Postby decimal86 » Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:36 pm

KOMODOS on the MERMAID II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Memaid liveaboards provides transport from your hotel anywhere in Kuta, Den Pasar to the harbour at Benoa. i was picked up at 1330 hrs and we went out to pick another family along the way. The usual icebreaker and the housekeeping rules and extra charges were laid out as the boat pulled out from the harbour at 1610 hrs.

it is a modestly fitted boat and there were 18 divers on board. from experience, the dive deck is a little cramped and not nearly enough table space for DSLR (not that i had one..) and they do not have a hose with hot water for rinsing for the divers. rinsing for your camera-adequate, separate bin for your watches, torches and goggles.

behold! there is a Jura coffee machine!!! and its free! last time i had to pay on Black manta. all soft drinks are free except for the beer. very generous servings of fruits and cakes.

the rooms are a bit small for my liking...the air-conditioning is a blower only no thermostat control! windows to ventilate your room. the shower is for the slim and agile...very cramped. and yes, the toilet is there as well. as with all liveaboards, paper is to be thrown into the bin. no, i mean wipe then throw into the bin...eeeeww.

generous shelves and nooks for storing your chargers and accessories, brilliant.the electrical outlets in the rooms are 2 flat-pins 220 volts. in my room there were 5 outlets. there was also a box fan.

extra bed on top for laying out your clothes and camera equipment.plenty of space under the bed for all your roller-bags. you will be given a number and a basket where all your dive gear is deposited and later assembled by the crew. there is a towel also numbered for you to dry yourself after rinsing. an air-hose to dry your camera casing before opening. plenty of SMB or sausage for everyone as the currents are strong here. on one of your ascents, we did it in open water. so a good chance to practise deploying your sausage (that sounds so vulgar).

nitrox is chargeable. if you are not certified, they can do that for you here. they use membranous blending. at the end of the trip they had a thumb-drive with all the data of each dive and the creatures seen by guests..how useful is that!

it is a very long journey to our check-out dive. 18 hrs to be exact. we travelled through the night in moderate waves and arrived at Moyo Island--Angel Reef--- for our check-out dive. excellent vis and water temp recorded by my temperamental Suunto 28deg. not very much to see here.

next dive was at Sumbawa Island, a short ride from previous but on calm waters this time.it was explained earlier on that since the trade-winds blew from the SE, we were sheltered from the winds.

since there were so many of us and the limited space on the deck, we were divided into 2 groups and suited up in turn. if you have a back ailment you can request to wear your BCD in the dinghy. in fact they have boatboys that fit your foot into the fins for you on the dinghy! how's that for assistance?

when you board the dinghy after the dive, camera, weights, BCD then fins in that order to the boatboy.it is not often that you get so many ppl in the water at night, it may be good idea to hook a flasher to your DM to tell him apart.

Sumbawa provided more kodak moments as they had pygmies and nudis and ribbon eel. but the vis was not great. there is a village nearby and boat traffice could have kicked up the sands.

night dive was at Satonda. a bit of Lembeh experience here. star gazers and bobtail squid.

early next morning we dived Tikno reef which is off Sangyaeng Volcano this has got to be the ghostpipe capital of the world. no less than 7 on 3 ferns.flabelinas, nudis. this was more muck diving than the previous. followed by Hot rocks which had frogfishes galore.

we hopped on to Gili Banta next. actually you need to make 4 island stops before you arrive at Komodo national park marine reserve. on Gili banta we did 2 dives one at the bay and the other at Gazer beach-which was our second night dive. many snake eels, we found one ornate ghostpipe, now deceased! there were so many lion fish around we could not protect him the whole night....sad. they have hot cocoa waiting after every night dive!!! wow! they provide torches on the night dives. oh yes....that torch from petaling street?? excellent stuff! survived all my night dives, one which we went down to 19m!! made in china some more.

after 2 nights we finally arrived at Komodos island itself. it is made up of small isles. we did Gili Lawalaut/Crystal rock first! it was crystal...clear! not many places i have been has this crystal clear waters. early morning traffic jam. sharks, tuna, trevaly and jacks were out having a buffet breakfast. the hard and soft corals are plentiful and healthy. the one thing i feared most did not come to pass...the water temp was 28 degs. after all the horror stories i heard about wearing 5mm wetsuits, i was relieved to be swimming in tropical waters.

they organised a trek up Sulphera hill which is located in the Komodo National Park--Loh Liang trail. where you will come up close and personal with the famed komodos dragon. we saw 5 captive dragons and 4 wild at Rinca Island. this was a huge thrill for me as i have seen them so many times on Discovery and now, a few metres away and with its tongue flicking and tasting the air of humans...scary!! a fall anywhere here and game over!! some villagers attempting to sell us XXL sized T shirts ?? very good carvings of dragons and dragons wearing scuba gear...


finally we had company. 3 other boats showed up and we would have to discuss some kind of roster to dive the diff sites.the water temp dropped a bit--25 was the coldest my dive comp recorded. it felt colder than that. i had my 3mm and a vest with a hood on and i could feel the cold.

next was Castle rock which was not that great, mostly corals and one or two sharks. again nice temp and mild currents. third dive at Tatawa Besar was a drift dive and it was enjoyed by all. 3 turtles and lots of antheas. the staghorns here were wild!! other soft corals were also growing wild. it is all that the brochures bragged about. my humble opinion? it is healthy than Bunaken or Sipadan because it is truly growing wild here. i have read of dynamite fishing and all but it would seem exagerated or maybe it was on some otherislands?

this dive was also the saddest--we met a very bubbly japanese diver on our maldives adventure. yound, beautiful and with so much life! she lost her life at crystal bay the day i started my LOB.no phone reception so only heard today.so sad to hear that. my friends and i will miss her and her laughter.

i was not very impressed with cannibal rock, because of canniballistic nudis? we did not see one nor feel that it was outstanding. perhaps some other time.at manta alley, we saw zero mantas. some ppl in our boat saw 2 but by the time we jumped in, they were all gone. at lighthouse, we saw 2 cruising by with no fear of us.our night dive at torpedo alley was very much like Lembeh. black sand and the usual list of suspects. i saw a bobit worm, seahorses, orang utan crab and decorator crab. other night dives were not so exciting except at gazer beach which had 3 stargazers. they were most coral fields than black sand.

last dive was on--lost boys. wah?? they say they just discovered it a few months ago. very pretty site with lots of bommies and hard corals. plenty of eels and jaw-fish. with a few nudis. shallow dive to accomodate the ppl who are going home early tomorrow.

they have Pepe the videographer who recorded most of our dives and sold it as a means of living. professionally done.there is also massage on board if you so desired.a complete audio-visual entertainment sytem, no karaoke though. 3 HDMI inputs, so you are most welcomed to share your shots on any of the dives.

i was lucky to meet stephen wong and takako uno on board who graciously critique our shots. and he shared some shots of his latest trip as well. i learned to shoot a hairy frog-fish using a torch! awesome man. he is so humble despite his track record. one day i will take shots half as good...one day.

the trip back to Bali is seriously rough. was supposed to socialise and drink, but the party deck is sprayed with sea-water! we saw some really luxurious boats in komodo, wonder if they fare better in such rough seas? i am susceptible to sea-sickness. if this was hand-written, it would have been a mess--green mess. 

meals on board was very good. the food is not halal as this is Bali, we had roast pork which was DIVINE! crispy skin and tender on the inside.oh it might be a good idea to buy "finna' keropok udang and ask the cook to fry for meals. it is so good.they serve a complete range of fruit juice for breakfast. i have not seen this even on a resort. well done!

and the coffee  was excellent, what a difference a day makes when you have an espresso machine on board. but the dining hall is very small as well. however the 'party deck' also the smoking area, is thoughtfully designed and furnished. sofa throughout and throw cushions, for smokers and non-smokers to lounge away from the harsh sun.

to their credit, this is the first time i have been briefed with the aid of a slideshow the illustrations of the dive-sites were very accurate.. makes for a more interesting brief and keeps from falling asleep. Keith-the dive director tries to keep us awake. hey guess what? divers keep rubber time on board as well. there is that waiting for one more before we start.

the sundeck unlike previous trip is in front of the captain's cabin. so no hanky panky! well maybe a little... also generous cushions and a lot bigger than most. they have a man-overboard beacon!

phone signal has a break in reception whilst at saengyang volcano, well..i guess so. who would want to stay on a dormant volcano? for most of the journey i had phone signal from Telkomsel.

just sharing info here, if you buy a new BCD, soak it in water before you actually use it for your dive. the tank band came loose twice during the maiden dive!

i realised that indonesians do not like the word 'pukul berapa' when i asked pukul berapa dive lagi? they said 'jagan pukul saya pak!' they prefer the word 'jam'

they boatboys come from all over. thailand, malaysia and indonesia.

by coincidence, the captain was also the man in charge when i did the Similans 2 years ago! it was the South Siam 4 then.

so was it good value for money? yes it was a lot of RM, but we are fully satisfied that the crew were professional and tried their best to find all the critters in the latest issue of asian diver. the  boat was kept spick and span after each dive and more importantly dry! i really liked the hot choco after a night dive. i guess being able to speak bahasa malaysia helped, but they do try to speak to the other guests in english. the 2 captains are especially enthusiastic...helped with the washing of the wet-suit every single dive!!!

here's a bit of trivia for you..what's 6 foot long, weighs 3 tons and drags along the ocean floor? Moby's dxxx.

so in closing, i would say i would dive with Mermaid II again, in fact i am considering going to R4/Lembeh with them next year. Komodos is a good mix of critters and pelagics, not that we were ever close to a Manta or shark, it has the best vis ever for me...and if you like to dive in cooler waters, then this is where you should go. the boat-boys tell me that you can do a low-cost LOB from Labuan Bajo if you want. saves you from gut-wrenching crossing from Bali to Moyo Island.

dive happy surface safely!!
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
decimal86
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#2  Postby decimal86 » Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:37 pm

photos to follow
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#3  Postby zaff1984 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:42 am

nice sharing.. now is photos time... hehe
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#4  Postby terjuntiruk » Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:37 am

As usual, excellent reporting.
Photography tips from Stephen Wong and Takako Uno, priceless. You are so lucky, bro.
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#5  Postby mamakpenang » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:38 pm

excellent report bro......bestnyer...... :grin:
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#6  Postby Daylight » Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:46 am

nice.. :)

wonder when can i write half as good report as this.. lol
diving is AWESOME!!!!
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#7  Postby decimal86 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:14 pm

terjuntiruk wrote:As usual, excellent reporting.
Photography tips from Stephen Wong and Takako Uno, priceless. You are so lucky, bro.


he is so humble...i am inspired! he is always eager to give a good report and then back up with how to enhance it further. so helpful....and his wife--Takako Uno... OMG...her eyes can pick out the parasite on a pygmy seahorse !!! we were all floored when she showed us her porfolio. he is more into dolphins and whales and she is into macro.

he showed me a trick with a torch, just a torch, unbelievable!! worth any workshop.

it was all by coincidence, i stepped on board and i knew i have seen this man before (he is more prosperous now) and then i saw Takako, WHOA i said!!

their best hits of the decade in their MacBook Air, left everybody on board with a big grin and a warmth in our hearts for his love for the sea.
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#8  Postby decimal86 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:20 pm

i am most happy to write and share whenever i come back, i think most ppl have a lot to say, but due to work, family, other hobbies, they cannot find time to put their keyboards to work.

after i transfer my photos into the notebook, i normally pen a few lines and finish the rest and closing statements after i return home. since i pay for my own trip i feel i am entitled to my opinion.
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#9  Postby gavstang » Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:47 pm

Nice report bro!  Makes my ass itchy to go!
Hook Line and Sinker
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#10  Postby decimal86 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:32 am

alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#11  Postby Daylight » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:01 am

superb!!!
diving is AWESOME!!!!
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Re: Komodos on Mermaid II 25/08/12 thru 01/09/12

Post Number:#12  Postby decimal86 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:18 am

i heard all these reports about pelagics, i go there just my luck...none. even manta alley also zero
alamak, the tank goes at the back??
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