A great weekend at Mapor and the Northern Reefs around Bintan, Indonesia.
Meeting at Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) at 7.30pm, we headed over to Batam via the fast ferry before catching the free shuttle bus over to the Seaborne berthed at Nongsa Point Marina. With 10 divers, 1 Instructor and 3 DiveMasters we were a diver short, a reminder to us all on the importance of remembering your passport!
The diving around Mapor provided us with a spectrum of marine life, accompanying that with reasonable visibility a little to no current. Easy diving followed. There was lots of diverse marine life ranging from the intricate macro Nudibranchs and flatworms, to the spectacular displays provided to us by a number of cuttlefish throughout the dives around Mapor Island.
One dive at Sentut Island unfortunately had evidence of cyanide fishing, highlighting the destructive nature of irresponsible fishing practices. Evidence also that removing certain keystone species from reefs leads to population booms in other species which in this case were Crown of thorns Starfish; a species which normally feeds on unhealthy coral, however during population spikes they start to feed on the healthy coral and subsequently causing reef destruction.
The highlight of Saturday night apart from the infamous Seaborne BBQ was a great night dive especially a large blue and white Pseudoceras Flatworm which performed magnificently by going for a swim illuminated by our torchlight.
Sunday provided us with two wreck dives, one on the Nikoi Wreck followed by one on the Sarawak Maru. Nikoi Wreck could easily be dived a few times due to the abundance of marine life and the expanse of the wreck surrounding a central reef. Sarawak Maru had quite strong currents, so only some of our more confident divers made it down to see the sheer size of the wreck with the always impressive huge propeller.
Returning to Singapore via Nongsa on the 4.30pm ferry, after a weekend of 7 dives with a fun crowd of people, it was time to say goodbyes and head our separate ways.
Cheers everyone, James Campbell (GS-Diving Instructor)
Happy National Day Weekend! We celebrated in style with a 4 day exploratory trip in Indonesia onboard the Seaborne (live on board). We departed on the evening of the 6th from Nongsa Point Marina with 10 divers onboard and headed south to our first day’s destination, Pulau Abeng Besar.
Arriving early Friday morning we spent the day in the area doing 4 dives. The good visibility and calm seas meant everyone had enjoyable dives with lots of marine life. With weather conditions fading everyone decided against a night dive and decided to start the transit to our following day’s destination of Singkep Island.
We awoke on Saturday morning south of the equator at Singkep Island, the sun was shining and there were dive sites to be explored! We began the day with our first dive at Pulau Bunta, a cracking dive site with an abundance of fish schooling around and a healthy reef.
After this we went exploring, trying to find new dive sites in the area. There was lots of potential and I quickly had a look around before taking guests. Some proved to be too shallow or have too much current so we decided to move on. But I did have a quick ride on a current with a turtle, “Finding Nemo” style. After one more dive on the other side of Pulau Bunta, we set off back north.
We continued our journey north to Pulau Pompong, an island steeped in history. Suddenly everyone was a awake from their sunbathing and post lunch power naps. We had found a wreck!
GS-Diving’s Namesake/Owner/Instructor/Fish Finder and Wreck Explorer Extraordinar – Gary Savins jumped in to check it out. Arriving back on the surface 10 minutes later with a grin and the “go ahead” for the lucky guests to dive a new wreck – The SS Kung Wo. A fantastic dive followed and after the dive we went in search for another chartered wreck nearby but alas, luck didn’t go that far. So after our surface interval we dived the The SS Kung Wo again and this time Gary took down a camera to film it all as you can see in the video below:
Additional information about the SS Kung Wo can be found here.
We had a total of 14 dives over the long weekend. The clear highlight of the trip was the discovery of The Wreck, but others also gave us some other treats. A dive site now known as Crocodile Cove gave us a spectacular night dive with an octopus, decorator crabs, cuttlefish and to the delight of our guest Venus a “Shaun the Sheep” nudibranch.
The following morning, after a substantial BBQ Saturday night, we dived just around the corner from Crocodile Cove and the area proved to be just as good in the day as it was at night. Healthy corals teeming with fish and invertebrates with good conditions. You can’t go wrong!
A brilliant weekend with a great group of people and great diving. Happy SG50!
Big congratulations to Russel as well, for completing his PADI Advanced Open Water
Cheers, James Campbell
GS-Diving Seaborne Trip Manager
Friday the 17th was a Singapore Public Holiday (Hari Raya Puasa), so the Seaborne (live on board) departed Thursday night from Nongsa Point Marina bound for Malang Biru, an Island of Anambas, Indonesia.
With 15 divers onboard we cruised through the night in calm seas and arrived at our destination around 7am. We planned two dives at Malang Biru and I’m glad we did. Because 10 minutes into our first surface interval we were treated by the appearance of a whaleshark at the back of the boat.
GS-Diving Instructor James spotted the whaleshark and alerted us all. Of course, we all initially had our doubts. Why would there by a whaleshark at the back of the boat? But once we all realised that there was indeed such a creature nearby, we all jumped in and snorkelled with this beautiful animal. Some forgot fins in the excitement. Many forgot cameras. We spent about 20 minutes in the water with the whaleshark, until it swam deep into the sea.
You can’t really top a whaleshark after the first dive. But anyway, we managed 10 dives in total at Malang Biru, Katoka Rock, Repong, Igara Wreck and Northern Reefs of Bintan.
Anambas was amazing with 30 metres of visibility, stunning coral and decent fish to see. There was no current at Anambas, so the diving was nice and easy.
They were spotted at Bawah in the last 5 mins of their dive.
It’s a great place to dive and requires a special Indonesian Import Permit for the Seaborne.
On the last day of diving, Igara Wreck was crazy with such a strong current only those with good upper body strength could pull themselves down the line. Once on the wreck, there was no current and a good visibility. About 8 divers managed to get down. Some of the girls tried but could not do it, so at the top of the rope, they rejoined the boat at the surface.
With such strong current we opted not to do a second dive at Igara Wreck and headed to the very nice reef north of Bintan. I have named this area Northern Reefs. The visibility was about at around 8 metres. This site has a flat sandy bottom at a max depth of 10 metres with scattered coral. It is huge and seems to go on forever. This is a macro lovers dream with nudi’s of all kinds all over the reef.
We had an amazing weekend. Read Vasily’s testimonial here.
Pictures by Kelvin Pung below:
Don’t forget fins when snorkelling, it really does make a difference.
Thanks to Kelvin and Jonathan Kuan for the use of your photos.
Cheers, Gary Savins
This weekend we travelled to Mapor and Northern Reefs around Bintan, Indonesia.
We left Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) at 8.30pm and headed to Batam on the fast ferry. Then we caught the free shuttle bus to the Seaborne berth at Nongsa Point Marina, just a short journey, 10 minutes away. We left the Marina around midnight and arrived at Buddha Rock for our first dive just a few hours later.
I had a total of 10 divers (unfortunately we had one late cancellation).
Albert and Florencia completed their PADI Advanced Open Water Course with GS-Diving Instructor Yvonne. Katherine and James completed their PADI Junior Open Water Course with me.
The visibility is ok around Mapor with great coral and fish life. But once again northern Bintan was fantastic, the viz was 10-12 metres and the dive sites are easy to dive. The flat sandy bottom with scattered coral and fish life was good.
The highlight was diving the Sarawak Maru, which I thought had been salvaged. But we managed to find it again the previous weekend. This wreck was loaded with fish, trevally, groupers and schooling fusiliers. I was completely amazed to see that the massive propeller was still there.
The Saturday night BBQ was once again amazing, great food and great company all weekend.
Cheers, Gary Savins
Another great weekend diving around Mapor, Indonesia onboard the live on board called the Seaborne.
The visibility was ok, but not as good as normal. That did not deter us though from enjoying the weekend of diving. We completed 7 dives over the weekend. We dived Buddha Rock, Sentut, Redang, Valley Forge Wreck and the best dive was at the northern tip of Bintan where the visibility was really good.
Go figure, we travelled 7 hours to go to Mapor, but found better visibility only 3 hours from Batam.
Over the weekend I competed SDI Solo Diver with Eva and SDI Advanced Open Water with Shafiq. Well done to both! The Solo Diver Course is a lot of fun to teach and Eva really enjoyed what she learnt, a very good student she was.
Two years ago, I went to where the Sarawak Maru was but we could not find it. I checked again the trip before this one and we saw something on the depth sounder. So this trip GS-Diving Instructor Yvonne and I jumped in to take a better look. I was very happy to see the whole wreck is still there and a school of trevally greeted us. The visibility was good, up to 10 metres.
I will be diving this wreck every trip from now on.
The Seaborne BBQ was a hit again on Saturday night.
Cheers, Gary Savins
With two late cancellations, the group of 15 and I left Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal Friday night on the 8.30pm ferry bound for Nonsgapura, Indonesia. We were on our way to Anambas!
Once we cleared immigration we took a short bus ride to Nongsa Point Marina. The Seaborne is a live on board dive boat and she is berthed there.
After dinner we started our cruise to our dive sites. But shortly after we had left the Marina, we could tell that the weather was not on our side. We did not have good seas all weekend. Anyway, we managed to get most of the diving done.
On Saturday, we dived around Anambas, namely at Damar and Malang Biru. The visibility was ok, but dropped off a bit later in the day.
On Sunday, we only did one dive at Igara Wreck due to a super strong current. Once we dragged ourselves down the line, it was ok on the wreck. There was no current once you had descended, but coming back up the line, holding onto the rope was a challenge for most, so we opted for only one dive.
We returned to Nongsa Point Marina at 2.30pm, which gave everyone a bit of time to chill by the pool before we started our short journey back to Singapore.
Great weekend despite the weather. Great company, too! Thanks to Jeemee and Edwin for arranging everything.
Cheers, Gary Savins
Long weekends are fantastic for diving Anambas, Indonesia. We headed out from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) Singapore, Friday night and travelled overnight to our first dive site, an island called Damar about 110 miles from Batam.
The visibility was fantastic all weekend. We completed 8 dives around Anambas, Damar, Repong, Katoka Rock, Bawah and Malang Biru.
All fantastic with black tip reef sharks and turtles at some sites.
The highlight and low light was Katoka Rock. As we were descending a school of amber jacks decided to swim around me like a tornado. Just amazing, then they went and did the same to another diver nearby. Unfortunately, no one had a working camera to capture the scene.
After the great dive, we were all stung by jellyfish at the safety stop. There were so many we had to cut short the safety stop in order to get of the jelly infested water.
The other group of divers were also stung, but a lot worse then my group because they were all wearing bikinis and shorts with fully exposed arms and legs.
After the night dive on the last night, the jelly fish were at the back of the boat. The only way to move them was to get under them and blast them away with the alternate air course and quickly make a dash for the ladder.
We managed two awesome dives at Igara Wreck Monday morning. The first dive had some mild current but the second dive did not have any current. We managed to swim from the bow to the stern of the wreck and safely returned to the Seaborne via the rope.
Another great weekend, great dives, great food, great company. Congratulations to Tobias on completing your PADI Advance Open Water Course.
[cryout-button-light url=”#”]Glenda’s tip: Best to wear long exposure suit when scuba diving. This could be a rash guard or wetsuit. You never know what nasties might be lurking in the water.
Thanks to François Logeais and Alex Tay for the use of your photos.
Cheers, Gary Savins
By the way, we did not attempt to dive Seven Skies Wreck once we heard the report from the other boats that it has been salvaged. Such a sad day to see people destroying things that don’t belong to them. Money can be a greedy evil. What has the world come too? Soon there will be no wrecks left for us to dive if we don’t stop this illegal salvaging. I have created an album in FaceBook to capture her memory. May she rest in peace. Click here to view.
The Seaborne, live on board headed out towards Anambas, Indonesia for the first time, in a very long time this weekend. Unfortunately the seas were not as calm as expected in May and some people were a little bit sea sick.
We dived at Malang Biru, Repong, Katoka Rock on Saturday and the Igara Wreck on Sunday.
Katoka Rock was far by the best dive, with so much to see with fantastic colourful coral and loads of fish. The visibility was 20-30 metres.
With 10 divers on board and no other boats in sight we had all of the dives sites to ourselves. There was no current at all on Saturday and people really enjoyed the fantastic diving Anambas had to offer. The coral is still in good condition at Malang Biru, but Repong is showing signs of previous dynamite fishing.
On Sunday we dived the Igara Wreck which was fantastic, although the current was a bit strong on the way down the line and up again. On the wreck itself there was no current on the port side, but very strong on the starboard side. We did the usual swim through the rope room and “the crack” looking for the nurse sharks, but no sharks were sighted. The visibility on the wreck was around 8 metres, so not too bad at all.
The food on board was fresh as always and the Saturday BBQ was just as tasty as ever.
Cheers, Gary Savins
With 7 kids from an international school and 7 adults we headed out from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, Singapore to join The Seaborne (LOB) at Nongsa Point Marina, Indonesia. Big Andy, GS-Diving PADI Dive Master was on board to help out with some on the PADI Advanced Diver Course dives.
For those readers who are not familiar with an LOB, it is a live on board boat, where we sleep and eat and then dive from, all weekend. It is a great way to enjoy a diving trip as you don’t have to transfer between a dive resort and small boats, it is a complete package.
I was busy with 2 PADI Open Water students, 3 PADI Advanced Open Water students and 1 PADI Side Mount student. Andy was a great help conducting must of the PADI Advanced Water skills whilst I was doing the PADI Open Water skills.
It was a big group of people and sometimes we ran into each other, as we were co-ordinating the dive schedules. Anyway, it was still a lot of fun watching Andy teach the kids how to navigate underwater. Michelle was a bit lost the first time round, so she did the navigation square again. The second time was perfect.
Paul, Federico, Vicky and Ji Yeong dived together and enjoyed all that Riau has to offer. They were amazed by the number of sea fans and the untouched soft and hard coral. They were also very happy to see the school of trevally, yellow tail whiting and barracuda.
Gerald, one of the kids from the school, is my latest and youngest PADI Dive Master trainee. He dived with Chloe and the rest of the leisure divers. On the last dive of the weekend he and Chloe lost the rest of the group and they just dived together. He claimed that to be his first guided dive. Not bad for a 16 year old kid.
The visibility was not as good as the Easter long weekend, but it was still good enough to enjoy the dives. It’s always fun teaching kids to dive.
On Sunday, the Seaborne was cruising back at 12 knots, which was about 2-4 knots faster than average. It was so fast that we got back to Nongsa early enough to take the earlier ferry and we arrived back in Singapore at 4pm. It was a great way to finish a great trip. Big Andy said, “The Seaborne is so fast, I think it is blowing me off the back of the boat!”
It was a bit of a rush catching the earlier ferry, so I did not get a chance for a group photo. Sorry.
Some of Paul’s topside photos are below:
Cheers, Gary Savins