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|Newsletter End of January 2012|
Deep South Komodo During the North West
Hi To All!
A private trial of our new DEEP SOUTH itinerary had us enjoying a great vacation early January, during the peak of the North West season. South Komodo, Padar, Rinca, Gili Motang and South Flores. It was absolutely gorgeous! Beautiful bright mornings most of the time, glassy warm and clear waters down South - right up to Karang Makassar, Batu Bolong and Pengah Kecil, but don't go further north this time of year, brrrr! Great manta cleaning station in clear water on North of Karang Makassar, all the 4 sisters EASY at Padar, and even Lida could find a frog fish there. OK, it was the size of a skippy ball...
The whole world to ourselves
Fresh fish for dinner
Flat calm conditions and nice warm blue water welcomed us in South Komodo, where you normally get rocked around before entering cold and turbid waters during the Southeasterlies. Stunning views of all the formations around manta alley on our dive there, without mantas this time of year, but with great visibility and a chance to focus on the reef, the rocky formations, canyons and fish. Nice big potato cod came to say hello here. So many more and new dive sites open up during this season, it was beyond what we had expected and there is just a whole new round of exploring yet to be done.
Great wide angle diving in the bright mornings, focusing on the little things in the darker late afternoons, or just hanging out on a beach then, or doing some fishing for the pot. Your little survey team just added a handful new sites on this trip, checked out some of the ones we knew (from WAY back when…) and in talking with some of the local guides basically realized that we have a whole new menu of sites yet to design for this season in the DEEP SOUTH.
So much to do, all of a sudden, around Padar for example, excellent dive with elegant sand divers (the biggest displaying males that I have ever seen) and then into the channel just off the beach at Padar Kecil. Then the 4 sisters just around the corner, the secret garden, the seamount at South Pader, and the islets to the West… And as expected, NOBODY there, except for some small local boats near Pantai Merah and Karang Makassar, and of course the eagles in Loh Dasami, we did not see ANYONE down south. Yes we did, I remember now, one local boat on one day in Padar, got some antibiotics from them for my sinus infection - thanks guys! And for the rest, all the beaches and the dive sites to ourselves, just as we had hoped for.
Plenty fish around too, great casting for small tunas that went straight into sashimi and seviche. Big mackerel around, great fresh steaks, just seared with salt and pepper and lime, yummy!
Lida and Jos Pet & kids
Every beach to ourselves
Update on the Banda Education Project
The Banda Education Project helps kids whose parents can't afford to send them to school. It also seeks sponsorship for tertiary education for bright kids - mostly girls.
Seven Seas is sponsoring Fajarria Saban from the Banda Islands, Maluku, to study Marine Biology at the Hasanudin University in Makassar. Fajarria is the youngest child of 4 born and raised in Mangko Batu, a small village about 3 kms outside of Banda Neira, the main 'town' of the islands and 500 meters from the sea. Her father works as a subsistence farmer, occasionally obtaining employment as a builders' laborer. Her 3 older brothers were unable to afford tertiary education and work as laborers (2) or local fisherman (1). Fajarria went to school at the only SMK where her greatest ambition was to be a sea captain until this opportunity came her way. She ranked first over all in her school. She is a very small, slight girl with lots of determination and inner strength.
When told of the potential scholarship her family and friends immediately borrowed the necessary money to go to Makassar to take the entrance test. Having passed this, the scholarship took over. It pays for her travel to and from Makassar once a year, renting and furnishing lodgings, entrance and semester fees plus a monthly allowance for food and transport etc. Before going to Makassar Fajarria was able to swim - just - but she has been taking lessons and is now proficient. She will start snorkelling and diving training later this year. She is studying marine conservation which we all hope will help to improve the sea condition and marine life in Maluku.
Agnes and Bahri
Trip Report January 8-22. By Special Guest Star: Stew Esposito
It is great to be back and filling in for Karl & Linda. I am excited to see the old crew and the new. This was a special charter for many reasons. First off the Filmmakers Howard & Michele Hall were aboard. Second there was five additional guests that I knew and returned to sail with us. The crew always loves having repeat customers back; it is like saying welcome home, lets dive! With new guests aboard as well, and it being the first time to Raja Ampat for many, we wanted to show them the best. We also had returning guests to Raja Ampat, so I also wanted to show them something new that they had not seen before.
We started our dives at the Western end of the Dampier Straight in Yangeffo. Dive #1 was at Batu Dalam with a slight current to keep the fish all together. Next we checked out Citrus Ridge and had a great showing with wobbegong, grey reef shark, turtle, batfish, barracudas, eel and nudibranchs. On our second dive the current switched and the citrus colored soft corals really opened up!
That night we steamed up to the Islands of Wayag. Next morning the guest & crew hiked the mountain to have a stunning view of the boat and lagoon. After the hike we all took a swim from the beach to cool off. After a couple dives we took a boat ride and toured the Karst Islands.
Next on the agenda was a visit to the Pearl Farm at Aljui Bay. One of my favorite spots for macro critters and a night dive under the fuel jetty. My highlights on the night dive were the epaulet shark, robust ghost pipefish and the octopus. It is amazing what you find under the dock. Earlier in the day we spotted five wobbegong sharks in the shallow reef area.
Continuing our course down to the South we stopped in the Fam Islands and dove Keruo, Melissa's Garden & Walton's Ridge/My Reef. We saw octopus, giant clams, sea snake, sharks, barracuda & the beautiful coral gardens at Melissa's. Long haul tonight as we head for Misool. Howard showed a couple of his videos, WOW the footage and action that he captures is AMAZING.
SE Misool was next. We hit up Boo Island with a light current, good visibility and SUN. As usual Boo was terrific with all its soft corals in the shallow, sun beaming through the window and all the yellow snappers schooling around the bommies. Moving down to Fiabacet Rocks we dove Nudi Rock then Tank Rock. The colors and fish life on both sites was incredible pristine. On this special evening we had our BBQ on the beach. Getting off the boat for a spell, feeling the sand between our toes, taking sunset pictures, a stroll down the beach, having a drink with new & old friends (letting Yovin shake up an amazing drink), a fire to set the mood, music by the crew with singing & dancing by all. What a great way to end a GREAT DAY.
We did some diving around Barracuda Rock and the guest loved it. We had batfish & barracuda buzzing us, Pigmy Sea horses for all the macro photographers and some bizarre octopus behavior (running their tentacles all around themselves).
Heading back to up north we stopped at Batanta to check out Algae Patch 1 & 2. The guest got to see some interesting nudis, lionfish, cuttle fish all over and an active Blue Ring Octopus hunting, harlequin shrimp, ghost pipefish, snow flake eel & scorpion fish.
To end the charter we dove Mioskon & Sardine's reef. The sun was shining, water visibility was some of the best we saw all trip. The fish were all out and up at the point. We dropped in and hung out with them all dive. There was napoleon wrasses, sharks, a school of batfish, sweet lips hugging a bommie and plenty of cleaning stations with surgeonfish there. Everyone thought that was a great way to end the trip. After lunch we hoisted the sails and took some photos.
One more trip for me after this one, with both new & old guest arriving to continue the Adventure. Come join us (again) soon!
The Seven Seas - Grahalia Tiying Gading 18, Suite 1 - Jl Tukad Pancoran
Panjer Denpasar 80225 - Bali - Indonesia