Newsletter December 2015
Into the Heart of El Nino: Banda Sea to Raja Ampat
Trip Report, photos and videos by Hunter Lenihan
The Ring of fire, Spice islands, Banda the land of nutmeg, center of marine biodiversity, on-going tragedies of man dominating nature, and the four kings (Raja Ampat). So far the adventure has gone as smoothly and calmly as the sea was to be for the next two weeks. Flying through Hong Kong, Denpasar, Makassar, and Ambon - 20 hours of dreamy flights - I arrived in a hot, steamy, green-blue mix of heaven and hell. Heaven in terms of the beautiful people and unimaginable marine life, and a bit of hell in terms of the poverty, pollution, and destruction of nature. I had previously never thought seriously about visiting Indonesia - what a mistake. I cannot imagine living a full life without seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting this magical place.
The Seven Seas, a burgundy and cream Indonesian phinisi schooner, is a beautiful site. Made to cut the chop and swell, fast like a pirate boat should be, and loaded with custom-designed skiffs, scuba tanks and nitrox, the Seven Seas is run by a crack crew of 15 able bodies ready to serve, joke, and share. Aboard they're all sporting their company polo shirts. It's a highly professional crew led by two highliner guides, Linda and Karl, who are ready and willing to teach us many things about marine life and life in Indonesia. As we prepare to pull anchor Karl remains calm amidst a flurry of last minute shopping requests, changing flight plans, lost baggage, and other forms of chaos expected of young people arriving from around the world.
We leave the tree-lined shore, floating garbage, and 9 yr old boys shooting off their potato-hair spray cannon for an overnight cruise to find hammerheads, bubble corals, flashlight fish, blue-ringed octopus, oceanic mantas, and crazy colored nudibranchs. Oh yes, and seahorses, the search for which is a passion aboard this boat. I am made to feel at home right away. It's already so different from a research cruise, where you learn the rules and petty quibbles of someone else's workboat. This will be a very well-catered, comfortable adventure. Dinner was delicious and after a few sips of Belvedere I landed hard on my soft, cool bunk below the foredeck.
» CLICK HERE FOR HUNTER'S FULL TRIP REPORT & MORE PHOTOS
"To Linda, Karl & the Seven Seas crew:
Well, you have topped my last three trips on board! No dragons, but saw a walking shark, a tasselled shark and an entire school of sharks carrying hammers! Fabulous. The kindness of this crew, the professionalism of you two and your positive attitude is to be admired. Thank you for hearing our requests and delivering! Much love,"
Sarah (Banda Sea to Raja Ampat, December 2015)
"Dear Linda, Karl & Seven Seas Crew: Thank you so much for this incredible time. Had such amazing moments with you guys on this unforgettable trip .... it was such a pleasure to meet you. Best of the best !!! Loving the crew, from Russia & L.A. with love,"
Daria & Nico (Banda Sea to Raja Ampat, December 2015)
» Click here for more testimonials.
Return to the Forgotten Islands
Trip Report by Mark Heighes. Photos and videos by Bill Snare (hammerhead video by Meity Mongdong).
It was great to be back in what must be Indonesia's most remote island region. Lost for years, this still largely unexplored group of islands lies in the south eastern outskirts of the archipelago. It is closer to Australia than and any other place in Indonesia, but coming from Sydney it still took me 3 days and a good number of flights to get there. The town of Saumlaki on the island of Yamdena is about as sleepy as it gets anywhere, and to fly in over the island was a treat. The Seven Seas rested at anchor below, recently arrived after a long voyage from Maumere, Flores.
We boarded eager to set sail only to find that the port clearance was delayed as the Bupati was in a meeting with the Harbor Master. To make things worse our shipment of food that left Bali 2 days ago was still sitting somewhere in Ambon. There are many challenges operating in remote areas like this. It is all part of the job and I find it exciting in that you just never quite know what to expect. From experience I know however, that most problems can be solved with a little patience and flexibility. Three hours later we had our port clearance and were on our way to a nearby island to play. The food shipment had been found and was due in the next day.
We are in the Tanimbar Group of islands that lie on the Australian plate then plunge down into the depths of the South East Banda Sea. The deepest sea for its size on the planet. That's where we are headed. But not without our food so we spent the next day diving a reef 40 miles from town. We left a speedboat and crew back in town and by the end of the day we had our much needed supplies and set a course for the island of Dawera 75 miles east.
If you have never been to Dawera it's a must. The island and its neighbor Dawelor sit on the South East Rim of the trench that is the Banda Sea. The place is extraordinary both above and below. A tiny Christian enclave with strong ties to the land and sea, the people are friendly and very proud. They have been good guardians of their islands and surrounding waters. As long as one reports to the village first you are free to play in their paradise. It is so refreshing to find a place like this and it really gives one hope for the future. Somehow they have found a balance here. What seems to be a happy balance at that.
» CLICK HERE FOR MARK'S FULL TRIP REPORT & MORE PHOTOS
Hammerheads, Banda Sea
As a little end-of-the-year gift to you we would like to offer you a 10% discount on our Komodo cruise from 15 to 27 May 2016. But hurry, this offer is only valid for bookings until 31st December 2015. CLICK HERE for information on our Komodo cruises.
Also, Wirodive in Germany has a 15% discount on their Raja Ampat cruise from 28 February to 11 March 2016. Please contact Wirodive directly via [email protected] if you are interested.
The Seven Seas - Pertokoan Simpang Siur (Kuta Poleng) C1 - Jl. Setiabudi
Kuta, Badung 80361 - Bali - Indonesia