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Newsletter September 2010

The year the dry season never came...

In normal years, most of Indonesia experiences dry weather during the southeastern monsoon. From May through October, except for the odd line squall, rainfall in Eastern Java and the Lesser Sunda Islands from Bali to Alor is exceedingly rare.

This year, however, the dry season never happened. Bali experienced the heaviest and most frequent dry season rains most residents can remember.

Although Komodo has experienced only occasional showers, even that is extremely unusual for this season. At the end of August, the hillsides on Komodo, Rinca, Padar and surrounding islands, normally sere and brown from June through September, were still surprisingly verdant and green.

Meteorologists attribute this year's anomalous weather to an unusual ENSO (El Niņo Southern Oscillation) cycle and higher-than-usual Indian Ocean temperatures in waters between the archipelago and North Australia.

The odd weather has been blamed for a doubling in the price of chili peppers in parts of Indonesia, but fortunately, wetter weather hasn't had noticeably negative effects on the quality of diving in Komodo.

If anything, underwater visibility at the southern sites in Komodo has been better than usual for this time of year. Water temperatures remained in the 22° - 24° range considered normal for August at the southernmost sites.

The unusually clear waters provided Seven Seas guests with opportunities for great encounters with Mantas at South Komodo as well as excellent diving conditions for at Cannibal Rock and Yellow Wall.

Other highlights of the Komodo season so far include a pod of blue whales near Tatawa Besar in late July, and a mother-and-calf pair of Dugong (Dugong dugon) spotted underwater by fortunate divers in late August.

After refit, The Seven Seas is better than Ever!

After emerging from an extended dry-docking session in Surabaya, the vessel is now in better shape than ever. New improvements and upgrades include...
  • Complete overhaul of the main engine, all three generators, and the outboard engines used on the tenders.
  • Upgraded our twin 4,000 liter/day water-makers with new, bigger membranes to ensure high throughput with less strain and better reliability.
  • Replaced several sections of hull-planking near the bow, matching the original (and now very hard-to-find) kayu ulin, or Borneo iron wood.
  • A new, higher foremast that will carry a larger spread of canvas - wait until you see her under sail!
  • Renewed of all plumbing, sanitary and hot water systems. Waiting for a hot water in cabins 1 and 2 will now be an annoyance of the past!
  • Serviced air and nitrox dive compressors and renewed or replaced all dive gear. We now have a full set of rental dive gear including a full range of sizes for wetsuits and BCDs.
  • Re-fiberglassed the main (dive) deck and repainted the entire boat.
  • Bulkheads forward of the dining room were torn down and rebuilt to eliminate the leaks cabins 3 and 4 were experiencing in rainy weather.
  • New sumbrella covers and pillows for all the outside lounge beds.
  • Replaced bedding with custom-made spring mattresses, new bed linens, pillows, and bed covers and installed new lighting in all staterooms.
  • Renovated the galley with more and better food storage and other upgrades.
  • Replaced the venerable "Rubber Ducky" rigid inflatable boat (RIB). We will acquire an additional aluminum RIB before the beginning of the Raja Ampat season this fall.
  • Upgraded our on-board emergency medical equipment and pharmacy, and arranged additional training to first aid staff. (As announced in the April 2010 newsletter, the Seven Seas is now equipped with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to deal with cardiac emergencies - Karl and Linda are both trained Emergency Responders.)
  • Added photo and video courses to the list of available activities on board.
  • Upgraded our on-board boutique shop with new Seven Seas Wear, Critter Wear and beautiful "fossil coral" jewelry set in silver and gold. (This jewelry is "reef safe" because it is made from mined remnants of ancient reefs that mineralized millions of years ago.)
If this sounds like a lot of work, it was. This was done to ensure the quality, comfort and safety of your experience aboard the Seven Seas wherever we go. Please contact us with any questions about the set-up of the boat or its tenders and other equipment and facilities.


Reminder: Starting in January 2012, there will be no fuel surcharge and the cost of nitrox fills, port clearances and conservation fees will be included in the standard daily prices. We also hope to hold on-board prices for beverages and other incidentals in 2012 to the same level as 2011.

The reason we dropped the daily charge for nitrox fills is that we want to encourage all our diving guests to take advantage of the enhanced safety margin nitrox can provide over air, particularly for repetitive diving over multiple days. To realize this benefit, divers must be suitably trained and adhere to sensible dive profiles. If you don't already have your nitrox certification, now might be the time. Nitrox courses can also be arranged on-board during your cruise!

Spaces and trips

There are still a few last minute spaces on one more Komodo trip this year, from 22 September through 4 October. Some spaces are also left on the last trip of 2010, from 17 to 31 December, in Raja Ampat. Then there is a great opportunity for a nice relaxed Raja Ampat cruise on Seven Seas in early 2011. Close friend and neighbor of Seven Seas, Grant McArthur, is looking for a maximum of 5 more people to fill his charter on the Seven Seas in Raja Ampat coming January 19 to February 2. Very nice relaxed group of people, who enjoy their diving, cruising, and having a good time. Grant ([email protected]) is looking for the right people to fit with his group. Two full cabins are still available on this charter and another space is available for a single female on cabin sharing basis. After that, we only have spaces left available in Raja Ampat on our February 4-12 cruise in and out of Sorong.Grab those last cabins while you can!

Our cruises into the Banda Sea (4 * Sorong to Ambon and v.v. plus an Ambon to Ambon cruise) are all fully booked. From there we move to Alor and Komodo, where we have availability again starting in May of 2011. The next of our popular "family cruises" over July-August 2011 is already sold out, but we can always organize more family cruises if so required - of course also on custom designed private charters! Let us know if you are interested in being contacted the next time a children-friendly trip is designated.


Course and Photography

While we do not offer the Basic Open Water dive course on the Seven Seas, Karl Klingeler and Linda Johnston can usually do advanced open water and nitrox courses for children and adults. Please contact us in advance if any members of your group might want to do one of these courses. Co-Cruise Director Linda Johnston also offers instruction in underwater photography and videography for beginners and advanced shooters, while lensman Robert Delfs (whose images you've seen aboard the Seven Seas as well as on this site) can be booked for instruction in advanced underwater photography and techniques for photo processing and color correction using Adobe Photoshop and LightRoom.
The Seven Seas - Grahalia Tiying Gading 18, Suite 1 - Jl Tukad Pancoran
Panjer Denpasar 80225 - Bali - Indonesia
[email protected]