For this newsletter we like to draw your attention to the crossings that we have scheduled in early 2007 between Raja Ampat and Banda Sea for March 26 - April 6 and the one between Banda Sea and Flores April 10-21. Mid 2007, the owners will bring Seven Seas back from Komodo to Bali with a nice cruise from May 27 - June 3. After prescribed docking, Seven Seas will move again from Bali to Komodo with a cruise from June 28 to July 7 and later in the year, Seven Seas will cross the eastern Indonesian seas again from Ambon to Raja Ampat for the X-mass season.
Check out the schedule via www.thesevenseas.net/schedule.php and consider one of these crossing that are famous from the spice trade since the late 1600's, they are truly stunning, lots of interesting dives at sea mounts, encounters with large marine mammals, and some good fishing for tuna.
Group picture of February cruise with Peter Mous (free-diver), Jan Henning Steffen (UNESCO), Thomas und Gabi (NDR film crew) and other guests and crew. Photo by Margie Burks
Recent cruise report by one of our guests
Whereas Seven Seas offers a wide range of activities, some of our guests choose to design their own program. Our friend Peter Mous, for example, combined kayaking, mangrove exploration, and free-diving into a single experience that kept him busy most of the day - more often than not forsaking lunch. Right after the first breakfast and after a quick look at the nautical chart, Peter took one of the six kayaks, snorkel gear, and a bottle of water, and he started paddling the reefs around the anchorage of Seven Seas. Here is his report:
I used to do a lot of kayaking in Komodo when I was still working there for The Nature Conservancy. It is an excellent way to appreciate the reef and mangroves: you get to places that are just too difficult to reach by outboard-powered tender, and the colors of very shallow reefs are just magnificent - vibrant purple, turquoise and light blue on a background of white sand and green sea-grasses. You get to see plenty of wildlife, such as small black-tip reef sharks, who like to hunt in one foot of water on shallow reefs, garfish hunting at the surface (sometimes bumping into the kayak in their eagerness to get to the prey), large giant trevally that come to check out the kayak, and even dolphins. I am not a birder myself, but I think that a kayak is also an excellent platform for bird-watching in mangroves and other coastal habitats. The quietness at sea is an experience by itself.
Raja Ampat is an excellent area for kayaking, and part of the charm of kayaking in Raja Ampat is the opportunity to explore. The crew of Seven Seas knows more than enough dive sites to fill a diving holiday, but the area is just so large and so diverse that there are still many places just waiting to be discovered. In South Waigeo, I kayaked into a mangrove forest that looked like a green wall from the shore, but after 20 m into the forest it opened up into an amazing lagoon. Some of the islands in Southwest Kofiau have large lagoons that can only be reached swimming or by kayak - the one I explored had a nice, meandering creek with overhanging mangrove trees that connected the island's fringing reef with its lagoon. The channel between Gam and Waigeo ("The Gap") is a well-known dive site, but I found that kayaking through it is at least as rewarding as as diving in it. The scenery and the atmosphere reminded me of the way Tolkien described Rivendell, the last stronghold of the elves, in the Lord of the Rings...
Wobbegong, Photo by Steve Esposito
During my daily expeditions, I was snorkeling and free-diving a lot, towing the kayak behind me on a 30 m line. You can get a very good impression of a large area in that way - you swim around for an hour, then paddle a bit, and look for another promising site to have a look. Currents are much easier to handle kayaking than swimming, so with the kayak you can also have a look at the up-current side of islands and reefs that usually have many more fish than the down-current side. Free-diving presents an opportunity to spend a lot of time looking at those fantastic reefs because you do not have to worry about decompression and surface intervals. Of course, you do not get to spend a long period at a time below surface, but even one minute is long enough to have a good look around. Furthermore, you actually get to listen to the reef because you do not have the constant noise of bubbles from your regulator. I usually hear large fish before I see them, because of the pressure waves they make with their tails when they launch an attack on a prey fish. You also hear snapping shrimp, and you hear parrot fish gnawing chunks of coral out of the reef. I got to see plenty of blacktip reef sharks and big nasty-looking sharks that might have been grey reefs, a group of Mobula rays, really large bumphead parrotfish, really, really large giant trevally, large groupers (nice to see that there are still a couple of them around!), schools of dogtooth tuna, the occasional Spanish mackerel, schools of bigeye trevally, schools of hunting Eastern little tuna, manta rays, wobbegong, etc. etc. I kind of missed out on all those small-but-spectacular, difficult-to-spot critters, but spectacular reefscapes and the occasional sights of large fish more than compensated for that.
Seven Seas in the news
Two journalists-filmers from German National TV (NDR) joined a recent cruise in Raja Ampat. They worked on a story supporting the nomination of the Raja Ampat area to become a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jan Steffen representing UNESCO for Indonesia joined their creation of the documentary. The documentary is likely to show on German TV this spring. Check out UNESCO's work in Indonesia via www.unesco.or.id.
Photo by Steve Esposito
Background articles and movies
On our website we placed several articles about destinations that Seven Seas visits throughout the year, some of these stories feature the Seven Seas, but more interestingly, they provide real good descriptions of the beautiful places to visit in Indonesia on a dive safari. On this web-page you can also read again our previous newsletter, check out www.thesevenseas.net/blog
Soon we will also be featuring some short movies on our adventures on our website, so you can relive your trip, or show others what Seven Seas cruises will entail.
From January 23 to February 2, Robert Ashton joined Seven Seas. Robert is the Executive director of The Manta Network, a global organization concerned with the well-being of manta and mobula rays.
Robert took his manta-cam with him, installed and tested it on Raja Ampat reefs and it worked fine. The manta camera that features also on his website, allows continuous recording of behavior of mantas and other creatures underwater, and is remote controlled from the mother vessel.
We saw the footage, and while it was tested on a Raja Ampat reef where little manta's passed by during testing, it is immediately clear that the reef fish behaved so undisturbed that its almost like you're swimming amongst them as one of them, looking out through the cameras lens from onboard the Seven Seas sipping some cold white wine.
While his organization is engaged in all sorts of activities, Robert and manta scientists plans a special cruise with Seven Seas in August 2007 in Komodo during one of the peak seasons of the Mantas there, to learn more about their behavior using the manta-cam again. You can join this special cruise either through contacting Robert via his website, or by contacting us.
Indonesia to issue longer visas
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is to grant foreign visitors visas for up to 120 days compared to the current 30 days in a bid to boost tourism, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Thursday.
"It is now being processed, that tourists get four months," Kalla told AFP during an interview here.
He said the longer visa was part of the government's drive to attract more foreign visitors.
Click here to read the full article.
The Seven Seas - Kuta Poleng D7 - Jl. Setiabudi Simpang Siur - Kuta 80361 - Bali - Indonesia