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Raja Ampat Liveaboard Diary

Discussion in 'Indonesia' started by seaseadee, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. seaseadee

    seaseadee Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Boca Raton, Florida, United States
    251
    140
    43
    I'm aboard the Gaia Love for my first ever Liveaboard. I thought it might be fun to post a diary of sorts with daily entries of the goings on, dive sites etc. If I can ever figure out how to get pics from my iphone and camera on to this PC I will post photos as well. We have satellite WiFi on board which can be hit or miss depending on the weather, so I'll post when I have coverage.

    Day 1 (Half way through):
    Arrived into Sorong at 06:30 on the red eye this morning from Jakarta. Spent the last week hanging out with friends and family in Jakarta, so jet lag is less of an issue. Jakarta airport was really empty. Not sure if that was due to the lateness of the flight or Coronavirus fears. The flight from Jakarta to Sorong was 4hrs 5 minutes with a two hour time difference, so I was pretty knackered when I arrived at the airport. Gerry (one of our two Cruse Directors) met myself and six other divers at the airport exit with cars to take our luggage to the port for our Panga ride to the boat. The trip from the airport the port took less than 10 minutes and was uneventful. We hopped on our skiffs shortly after arriving and headed to the Boat. We were greeted by the Crew with warm smiles and a cold glass of Dragon Fruit juice.
    The boat is spacious, clean and seems well maintained. The crew seems genuinely caring and helpful. Gerry and Geil (our other cruise director) seem like a fun pair. She's gregarious and quick with a smile and he's got a very dry sense of humor. There is a full scale coffee station in the lounge with snacks, coffee and tea all day long.
    We had a cooked breakfast this morning on arrival. I had an omelette which I paired with yummy Indonesian Sambal. After breakfast we were shown to our rooms and I decided to get my dive gear sorted out early as I only packed a single suitcase with my gear and clothes for the trip. The camera room is in the lounge and is well equipped with outlets for each station fitted with international sockets. I went out of my way to bring Indo style plugs and they don't seem to fit well in the international sockets (Doh!).
    Geil gave us our boat briefing around 10:30 and we found out that there is no diving today as we have to go to Waisai for the official park checks. Lunch was Ayam Bakar (Indonesian barbecue chicken) which was yummy. No diving today as we have to go through the official checks for the Marine Park at Waigeo.
    We've just now pulled into port and I imagine we'll be here for a bit while we await the paperwork to be completed.
     
    Dan, Joneill, Mike Veitch and 2 others like this.
  2. Cali_diver

    Cali_diver ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: California
    983
    538
    93
    I love Gerry and Giel... you are in very good hands. Have a great trip!!
     
    Mike Veitch likes this.
  3. Mike Veitch

    Mike Veitch Dive Charter

    12,453
    411
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    They learned from the best... :p
     
  4. seaseadee

    seaseadee Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Boca Raton, Florida, United States
    251
    140
    43
    Day 1 (the other half):
    The rest of yesterday was spent waiting for the harbormaster to give us clearance to leave Waisai. Hung out in the lounge getting to know the other folks on the boat and reading. Dinner was lovely. We had fresh Tuna that just arrived on the boat. All of the meals are fresh and the portioning is perfect. Not too much, not too little. Geil gave us the outline of the next day's schedule. We were going to have our first dive briefing at 6:40am with an expected dive time of 7am.

    Day 2 (the first dive):
    Woke up in the middle of the night with a nasty cramp in my left calf. Also noticed that my head was pounding. I guess that beer I had with dinner combined with my lack of water consumption yesterday did me in. Word to the wise: stay hydrated. Up at 6am for the first dive at a site called Sawandarek. Our briefing was thorough with a description of how we get on and off the Skiffs, procedures for wet clothes etc. Safety first appears to be their M.O., with clear simple guidelines on what happens if your computer dies or you go into Deco. Apparently they have to tell folks that you cannot drain your tank completely. Didn't realize that that was a thing.
    Sarawandek was a beautiful dive site. Nestled in a bay with a max depth of 82', the island that we were close to has a Jetty with abundant life under it. Started at the deeper end of the site and worked our way back to the jetty. we saw tiny pigmy sea horses, Ghost Pipe Fish, baby frog fish and the biggest clam I've ever seen. He must have been 4' across. Scared me a little when he clammed up as I was examining him. Nasty Cramp in my right leg at the safety stop, so I must have looked like a flailing mess. Guess I'm going to sit out the next dive to let all the water I'm consuming kick in.
     
    Dan and Joneill like this.
  5. Tippytoes12

    Tippytoes12 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK
    1,096
    514
    113
    Oh wow, great report and many thanks for sharing. Sadly the more birthdays we have the less diving and even one teeny weeny glass of beer or wine mix. It makes me feel so terrible that I am now going completely alcohol-free on dive trips. The same happened to my husband about three year ago, funnily enough he is three years older than me.

    Enjoy the rest of your wonderful trip.
     
    chillyinCanada and seaseadee like this.
  6. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    20,922
    14,001
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    How is your head feeling now? Is it only leg cramping?

    Have you ever experienced this before?
     
  7. seaseadee

    seaseadee Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Boca Raton, Florida, United States
    251
    140
    43
    Day 2 update 1:
    Apparently I missed the Wobbegong sharks, Cuttle Fish and a whole host of Nudis on this last dive. The suck was only offset by the fact that the current was ripping and it would have been a 10 minute dive for me anyway. My head is much better after drinking copious amounts of water. Both my calves are still store but improving. I should make the 3 O'Clock dive.
    I really like this group. The folks are mostly serious divers with lots of experience and they seem pretty chilled out.

    Chilly, It's only the calf muscles on both legs and yes this does happen to me. It's been happening more frequently lately, so I'm trying everything on this trip to not let it stop my diving. No more alcohol and lots of water. We had Papaya for lunch so I'm hoping that helps too.
     
    Dan and chillyinCanada like this.
  8. seaseadee

    seaseadee Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Boca Raton, Florida, United States
    251
    140
    43
    Day 2 Update 2:
    Did my first night dive ever! Not as scary as I thought it would be. This was a Muck dive at a site called Sapobran. Mostly shallow at 30' or so with all kinds of macro stuff. Juvenile cuttle fish, octopus, nudi's and batfish.

    Day 3 Update 1:
    Dove a site called Citrus garden. Dropped down on a decent sized (10'ish) black tip reef shark. The rest of the site was like diving in a garden. Not many big fish, but immense coral formations that look like a scene from Avatar. Lots of hard coral that host a ton of critters. Sandy spots with Garden eels were cool to observe from a distance.
    I don't think I was prepared for the diversity of life that I see on these reefs. I'm like a squirrel: I start looking at one thing and something else catches my eye and I shoot off to examine that.
     
    Dan, Wisnu, AlMitch and 2 others like this.
  9. seaseadee

    seaseadee Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Boca Raton, Florida, United States
    251
    140
    43
    Day 3 Update 2:
    The two other dive sites we dove were Mayhem and Melissa's Garden. Loads of life on Melissas Garden: quite a few Wobbegong Sharks, Cuttlefish, banded sea snake and loads of little stuff.
    The crew organized a hike for us at one of the islands. It was more of a stair climb to the top. The stairs were nicely made, so getting to the top was pretty easy. We could see the surrounding islands and the boat out in the open ocean. Some of the group said that this was the iconic view of Raja Ampat used in Dive Magazines and advertising.

    Day 4:
    Today's we spent at a pearl farm, diving under their three Jetties. This was a spectacular muck site. We dropped down right next to the first jetty and there were huge schools of fish darting into and out of the jetty. I saw a cloud of sand under the jetty and thought it was another diver stirring up the sand. It turned out to be a Wobbegong shark feeding on the fish darting in and out of the jetty. He would spring up so fast that I could only see him after he caught the fish and was settling back down to wait for the next batch. Very cool. Much to the chagrin of Geil, I was too engrossed in the sight to bother taking out my camera to get footage.
    Sea Horses, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Praying Mantis shrimp were the high light of the rest of that dive.
    We returned to the Main Jetty for our night dive. More flamboyant cuttlefish (although I have a sneaking suspicion that it was the same one), a Frogfish with eggs, seahorses, nudis. Tonight we leave the north and motor for 6 hours to arrive in Central Raja Ampat. We will be diving around the island of Batanta.

    Day 5:
    Today was Manta Cleaning station Day and boy did it not disappoint. Motoring up to the dive site there was a huge splash next to the boat and we could see the Manta diving back down. We dropped down on the cleaning station and I really was unprepared for how large Mantas are. There were three or four of them circling us and it felt like the largest one was 20' across. I guess if you account for magnification they were still 12' - 14'. At one point I had to put down the camera and just be. I don't think I'll ever forget when one did a fly-by within arm's length above me.
    We did a second dive at the site and alas, there was only one and he scrammed as soon as he saw us. We spent the rest of the dive in the shallows hovering over dense hard coral garden. There was not a spot of sand to be seen. It was cool to watch the smaller fish darting in and out of the lettuce coral.
     
    Dan, AlMitch, Jay and 3 others like this.
  10. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Sounds like you're experiencing and appreciating everything Raja has to offer! I'm looking forward to tomorrow's report, especially because as read along, I see it all in my mind's eye as if I'm you.
     
    AlMitch and seaseadee like this.

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