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Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

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Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#1  Postby altair » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:40 pm

Hi all. Would just like to share my experience diving the Sugar Wreck off Pulau Perhentian. This is one of the more popular wrecks in the area, so I'm sure a lot of you know it already. Although not sure if divers from Redang also dive here? Hmmm. Okay, here goes:

Max depth: 18m
Bottom time: 33mins
Viz: Poor, max approx 3-4 meters
Currents: Moderate

I did this dive as an adventure wreck dive right after I got certified as OWD. It'll be credited when I do my Advanced :) I've always had a fascination for shipwrecks ever since I was a wee kiddo, still remember I had books regarding wrecks and I loved to read em. Suffice to say, I was pretty damn excited bout this dive. Let's go wrecking , yeah!

A bit of background info on the wreck. Let's see if I can get this right, hehe. The ship was originally a cargo ship that mainly transported sugar (hence the name), original name was MV Unistar 17. It's port of call was somewhere in Indonesia. The ship's length is 78m and it's beam (width) is 12m. The story of how it sunk goes something like this. On it's last run of hauling sugar from somewhere to somewhere (heheh) in 2001, one of the engines kaput. So it had to be towed back to Indonesia for repairs. On it's way there while being towed, a heavy storm broke out. Fearing the worst, the tugboat crew had to cut the towing lines, thus leaving the ship to float free. Unfortunately, it took in a lot of water in the heavy seas and duly sank to the bottom (there's also a few people that suspect the sinking was intentional, so that the company can claim insurance and whatnot, but i disgress). No lives were lost. The tale of how it sank is kinda similar to the story of the American Star wreck, off Fuerteventura...which is simply eff-ing amazing! Google it, and honestly u won't regret it!

At present, the wreck lies on it's side (the port side, I think, might be wrong), with the deepest part of the hull resting at 18m depth and the shallowest part of the hull standing in only 6m of water! Cool eh?

Our boat ride to the site took about 45mins from Long Beach, it's one of the furthest from shore dive sites in the area. Upon arrival, we could see about 2-3 other dive boats already there, with quite a few divers already in the water. We promptly got our gear on, entered the water and got with our assigned buddy groups. My group consisted of 1 DI-cum-DM, me and my buddy, and a British couple who also just got their OW certifications. We then descended along the mooring/buoy line which is attached to the stern of the wreck. Unfortunately, the Brit girl had a few problems equalizing, so we had to wait for her to get it right, which was about 10mins wasted during the descent.  [-( Eventually, she did and all of us descended together.

Going down, my heart sank as the viz was very poor. I can hardly see the others in my group if they went ahead a few feet from me. Nevertheless, the stern of the wreck slowly came into view at around 6m. Man, it was huge (at least for me)! As we got to the hull, we levelled off and started exploring. I was kinda nervous cuz I was afraid of getting lost, so I didn;t have much time to really look and appreciate the wreck itself, as I was too busy looking ahead to see where the DM and the other buddy group were going. Sigh. Anyway, we came to this huge cargo holds. The original dive plan was to partially penetrate the cargo holds, but since the viz was very poor, Vince wisely called it off. Off we went towards the bow of the wreck. All the cables/ropes of the ship were still intact, also some sort of radio equipment in the bridge. Seeing them was amazing! Another thing of note is that the wreck is covered by about 10 million sea urchins...so all throughout the dive I was asyik2 compensating my buoyancy (tak pandai sangat lagi ni) so as to avoid the urchin's spikes from puncturing my privates, hehe. There were a few close calls though, especially in tight spaces.

As we made our way to the bow, my buddy pointed something out to me. He was pointing at a hole in the deck of the ship. I took one look and didn't see anything, so I signalled him to move on and get with the program hehe. Didn't wanna lose sight of the DM. It turned out my buddy saw a freaking big grouper lurking in the hole. Kinda sad I missed it. The DM also signalled a few times when he saw something of interest, a pufferfish, an angelfish, some crabs, trevallies, fusiliers, etc. Truth be told, I didn't see any of these things! Sigh...guessed I was too preoccupied with not getting lost. What I did see was all the urchins! Oh well...

Upon reaching the bow, we made our way back to the stern where the buoy line is. At this point, I was running low on air, 50 bars left. I signalled the DM. There was quite a current then, so our progress was slow. Believe it or not, when we got to the buoy line, I had only 10 bars left!  :( I made this known to the DM. He signalled the ascent and all of us ascended along the buoy line. During the safety stop, I began to feel the air I was breathing thru the reg had a sort of resistance, as if I had to work harder to breathe. Verrryy anxious at this point, hehe. I collected my wits and signalled the DM that I was out of air and that I wanted to use his octo. So that's how I surfaced, alternate air source ascent. :) And strangely, this is not the 1st time it happened either. On my 3rd OW dive, I also ran out of air and had to AAS ascend. I used up 40 bars in just a few minutes! I wonder why....my instructor said there should be some sort of award for that, lol.

Overall, the dive was OK, but not that great. mainly due to the poor viz and currents....and also the damn sea urchins! Haha. I rate it 5 stars out of 10.

My buddy and I did take some underwater pics with a disposable underwater Kodak camera, and I wish I could post them up here. But the camera is now no longer with us. It's a long story involving my dive buddy, me, the DM and a dive knife. Ask no more, it's a loooooooooong story. Hehe. Hopefully we'll be getting the pics sent to us in September.

Okay, that's all for now. Hope I got this rite and all of u enjoyed reading this. Ciao! :)
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#2  Postby tulip » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:54 pm

wow.. this is a really good report altair.. mm... i could imagine what u went thru.. i love sugar wreck but my first time there was a bit nerve wrecking  too [-( [-(
err... huh?
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#3  Postby dp » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:04 pm

tulip wrote:wow.. this is a really good report altair.. mm... i could imagine what u went thru.. i love sugar wreck but my first time there was a bit nerve wrecking  too [-( [-(


so there were two wrecks there that day u dived la?

one sugar wreck.

the other, nervous wreck.


:D :D :D :D
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#4  Postby tulip » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:09 pm

dp wrote:
tulip wrote:wow.. this is a really good report altair.. mm... i could imagine what u went thru.. i love sugar wreck but my first time there was a bit nerve wrecking  too [-( [-(


so there were two wrecks there that day u dived la?

one sugar wreck.

the other, nervous wreck.


:D :D :D :D



:D :D :D :P :P :P :P :P
err... huh?
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#5  Postby Scuba Dynamics » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:25 pm

dp wrote:
tulip wrote:wow.. this is a really good report altair.. mm... i could imagine what u went thru.. i love sugar wreck but my first time there was a bit nerve wrecking  too [-( [-(


so there were two wrecks there that day u dived la?

one sugar wreck.

the other, nervous wreck.


:D :D :D :D


Good one lah Bro  :laughing11: :laughing11:
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#6  Postby artdiver » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:37 pm

Good xperience lah bro for you.....

should try the 7 sisters wreck in Tenggol...35+m......
iF DiViNg iS a cRiMe...mAy GoD fOrGiVe mE.....
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#7  Postby bikinibottom » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:57 pm

i dived thru the wreck in 2005 n never knew how it sank until now, ur extensive elaboration on the ship makes me feel like this is a good reading, and i have to agree with the conditions, mine was quite poor n current was quite strong, but it didn't break me as i managed to spot a baby shark! not so small guy after all!
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#8  Postby John F SeaDemon » Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:50 pm

Very good report, Altair.  In fact she is one of two "intact" steel wrecks diveable by recreational divers, and still remains one of my favourites.  In fact she was sunk towards the end of December 2000 according to the Marine Department's Notice to Mariners (44(T)/2000 dated 23 December 2000) while on its way with sugar in its cargo hold from Thailand.

Sugar Wreck has its surprises all the time. My last dive there found me "chasing" a Cobia, and back in September of last year got buzzed by a Blacktip near the stern.  When viz is really good, technical divers with adequate preparation, training and equipment, in a team, can penetrate this wreck AT OWN RISK from the bridge down some gangway. But be warned! There's still diesel on top so don't get caught.
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#9  Postby sheik » Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:56 pm

sweet report, altair. as sweet as the water around it when the cargo sank (lots of sugar liao!)... ;-)
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#10  Postby duyong95 » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:11 pm

i read ur report as if i read a novel la....best.... B-)

p/s 1st time me & buddy tulip went there, gosh...kinda spooky... :tongue3:
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#11  Postby mocha » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:34 pm

hafto agree with the rest!! this is one of the best field report i ever encounter... and a single dive trip report is longer than most of my whole trip report!! haha... well done...hope to dive wif u one day and u gonna be our official trip reporter!! haha...
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#12  Postby dp » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:35 pm

The wreck can indeed be awe inspiring on days when visibility was stupendously clear (have been fortunate to dive the said wreck wif 20m++ vis twice since 2003)

And on days when the vis wouldnt even let you see your buddy's bright yellow fins in front of you, it gets hair raising-ly creepy (mostly from my imagination lah)

Experiences, that have kept me making it one of the sites to dive whenever i go Perhentian.


:)

(very well written report, i have to say. Kudos, altair)
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#13  Postby LaraCroft » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:53 pm

Great report altair!! Enjoyed reading it. Reminds me of my dives there at sugar wreck but DP.. i didnt see 'nerve wreck' tho..  :D :D :D

Anyway.. I wish I could write like you Altair. Keep it up! What about the rest of your dives? Im sure you have some more interesting reads.

Cheers.
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#14  Postby IkanBilis » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:15 pm

:icon_thumleft: :icon_thumleft: :icon_thumleft: "Three thumbs up..." that's the review of your report altair, lurrrvveeee it. The research and the work before the dive is superb. Too bad u missed some of the critters, but hey, me like you too, sometimes missed the things other people saw.. Lesson learned, watch your gauge, and relax.....

Now I felt compelled to dive the wreck...
[font=Freestyle Script][size=12px]IkanBilis in the shallows, under the jetty and near the shore,small and insignificant,too small to play in the deep, yet nice and crispy in nasi lemak. [/size][/font]
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#15  Postby Nitrogen addict » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:41 pm

:crybaby2: :crybaby2: Oh man i really miz perhentian  :crybaby2: :crybaby2: :crybaby2:
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#16  Postby zani » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:39 pm

Great report my friend......enjoyed reading it and missed perhentian too. :crybaby2: :crybaby2:
.....let's get wet and blow some bubbles.......!!!
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#17  Postby altair » Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:03 pm

Wow, you guys are awesome! I'm simply overwhelmed by your responses. Thank you, thank you and thank you! I feel the praise is a bit unjustified, but thank you nonetheless. Really, it was just a piece of lazy afternoon writing...I haven't even had my bath yet when I wrote that, yuck yuck yuck  :icon_tongue: You guys make me so kembang2 la, enhancing my pufferfish-like physique...now I'll wonder how I'll squeeze into a wetsuit on my next dive trip  [-(

Lol yeah dp, I guess you could say that I dove 2 wrecks that day. Couldn't say I was too keen on diving the nervous wreck though, it bloody sucked. Hehehe. For awhile there I thought "Why the hell am I doing this again?!!!"...but that's just me getting panicky I guess, hehe. Dude, I'd loved to be able to dive the Sugar Wreck when the viz is great, like the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvrfyeeP47c. As it was, I made absolutely sure I could see the DM's bright yellow fins ahead of me all throughout the dive. It was like his fins were my waypoint or something, haha. One thing that I couldn't get over was how absolutely massive the whole wreck was, at least for me. To have been able to see it in it's entirety would've been amazing.

To ikanbilis and bikinibottom: Thank you guys, but I fear I didn't do any research on the wreck at all, hehe. Those were just info I obtained during the pre-dive briefing given by the DM's, hehe. All credit goes to them :)

To Seademon: Thank you for the clarification John. To tell the truth, I wasn't disappointed at all that we didn't get to penetrate the cargo hold, due to our lack of experience and expertise...and it would've been downright dangerous in those conditions that were present that day. Anyway, what's the other intact diveable steel wreck for rec divers?

Mocha and zani: Tq bro!  ;)

To Laracroft: Errmmm, my other dives? Okay, perhaps one day I'll tell you guys about the close call I had on my 2nd open water dive at Shark Point. Tulip knows a bit about this :) I'm all tapped out at the moment, haha.

Hopefully I can go diving other wrecks in the near future, I might even revisit the Sugar Wreck one day. And I wish I didn't use up air so fast la...perhaps it's time for Nitrox? Hehe...or twin tanks?
Last edited by altair on Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#18  Postby DaaKuLa » Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:26 pm

yupp...great report....luuurrve reading it  :icon_salut:
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#19  Postby altair » Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:37 am

Tq dakulaa.

Tulip and duyong, care sharing with us your hair-raising experience diving this wreck? Would love hearing about it :)
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#20  Postby erysyah » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:49 am

good report altair.

last time went there, we suppose to dive in sugar wreck.but in the last minutes,our instructor advise us not to go there as the current was too strong.So we break away with the other team of diver who still insist to go to Sugar Wreck.We went to Batu Layar instead.
After the dive, we were told one of the DI has been stung by stingray.and he had to do emergency ascent.(is it danger,as we have to ascent quicker than normal?) lucky he still alive and can still can laugh with us after that.

Seems the wreck's site you have to be more carefull, i guess.more creature to see yet more dangerous.
i'm broke.. how to go dive?
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#21  Postby John F SeaDemon » Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:20 am

Lucky me I have never had any hair-raising experience...I have no hair to raise.  :P :P :D :D :D
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#22  Postby DragonDreams » Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:58 am

Hi Altair!

Thanks for sharing your experience. Was very good report (appreciate the info) and can imagine how nerve wrecking (forgive the pun ;p) it can be trying to enjoy the view and at the same time to not have the group out of sight, especially with low-vis environment. Salute you on that!

...Hope I'll be able to experience the Wreck too...but with good vis please! ;)
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#23  Postby dp » Fri Jul 18, 2008 8:27 pm

John F SeaDemon wrote:Lucky me I have never had any hair-raising experience...I have no hair to raise.  :P :P :D :D :D


didnt know u go waxing, bro.

;)
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Re: Sugar wreck - Pulau Perhentian

Post Number:#24  Postby John F SeaDemon » Sat Jul 19, 2008 1:12 am

dp wrote:

John F SeaDemon wrote:Lucky me I have never had any hair-raising experience...I have no hair to raise.  :P :P :D :D :D


didnt know u go waxing, bro.

;)


Brazilian, bro. No stubs.  :D :D :D :D :D
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