From Dairy 1
16. Try something completely new: Eight hours of undisturbed sleep. Not bad at all! It is a fantastic morning with full sun over the bay and not a wind. Makes one grab the camera and go diving straight away - or not... I have to admit I now only spend like ten seconds seeing a new creature while I before spend ten minutes.
We start out at Mike's Point. It is on on the north-western corner of Bunaken, offering almost a amphitheatre on the real steep and rather deep wall. The top is up in the big waves, and that gives room for huge corals; ascidians. My mask is working perfectt for once, and I'm able to stay down with the others for 85 minutes.
Here are new species of nudibranches, huge Napoleon fishes, stingrays, shrimps, "things" and a wall packed with soft- and hard corals. We start on the deep part and end up in the shallow top reef. I misses my camera...
The afternoon dive is at Likuan I , in the bay. It is once again a wall. This time with seven to ten green sea turtles, most of them more than a meter in the shell. Here are plenty of corals, fish and creatures, some of which I won't even guess the kingdom! Of the more familiar, things: Nudibranches (of new species), dragon fish, plankton eaters in large schools and 100 other species of fish. We end up at a canyon with a cold current from the deep.
The third dive of the day is at Alung Banua, in the western part of the bay. It is first at quarter pass five, and it turns into a night dive real fast. At the shallow first part, we find several Mandarin fish, which are real colourful with orange rings on a dark purple background. Then some ringed pipefish, cleaner shrimps, harlequin shrimps, different craps, small dragon fish, a tiny moray and the others see two pygmy seahorses. These ten millimetre creatures was discovered in 2002.
17. It is a windy morning, and while I try to maintain my cheese toast on the plate, I anxiously watch the sea. I am the worse excuse for a Viking: Always freezing and have to hold a glass of water real calm not to get seasick! While I try to pull my selves together, I ripe Morten's camera for his diving photos.
Our first dive of the day have changes into Pangalisang, located on the eastern side of Bunaken, it is sheltered. Morten and I share a "new" guide, which remembers Jesper and Morten from they were here six years ago. Wonder why...
We go down to fifteen to twenty metres on the vertical wall. Here are not that much new, but there are a abundance of it! After an hour, we go up to five to seven meters, and this is the most beautiful reef I ever have seen! All kind of corals and a fish soup between them with the sun playing from above. Unfortunately, Morten is low on air, but I hope to get back here one day.
While we eat lunch, I spot several animals. One is a large skink, which reaches its den before I get close. Then there are some insects, among them a magnificent blue bee. A walk on the tide dried beach reveals some interesting mussels and snails.
The afternoon dive is at Tengah One, in-between Likuan II and Likuan IIl. Although the reef have been damaged in few places, the overall is great. We find a few new species of nudibranches and a real dark and narrow finned lionfish. Out on the deep water, a blacktipped reefshark passes bye while some bigfin reef squid hovers over a sandy part.
I have to steel the camera from Morten when I find a porcelain snail, significantly larger than my fisted hand. The wall have some large cracks, forming cannons five meters vide and 50 deep. On other places, large caves gives room for a swim in the dark. The top reef is a bit of a disappointment: warn down by waves.
A bit of relaxment in the late afternoon - with the PC on the lap, and then down to greet the newcomers. A Brit from Scotland and a German from Shanghai. Then Benny make a presentation on our Lembeh Tour, which starts tomorrow. We sail with Sanny - a liveraboard - up and around the northern tip of Sulawesi, and in-between Sulawesi and Lembeh. We will be six divers, two divemasters and six crew members for the five day tour. Four dives a day, in a completely different area, dominated by sand bottom with few but very popular boulders.
18. It is a real windy morning, and both the morning dive and the Lembeh Strait tour is cancelled. I lure Morten into a walk into the inner of the island, and everybody else joins in. A narrow concrete path leads in to the town. We passes nice houses in-between banana and coconut patches. Some huge bamboo and other tropical plants are scattered in-between.
Most of the gardens are real nice with lawns and colourful flowers on bushes and trees. I'm having a hard time figure which plants are indigenous and which are cultured. A few cows and a goat stands calm along the path while ducks catch flies in the grass. In the trees, epiphytic fern and orchids can be found, although they are not common.
Most people we passes greats us real friendly. Here are no cars, just mopeds, some with three wheels and a flatbed. I get some photos of the plants and insects while the skinks elutes me time after time. Due to our photo shooting, Morten and I are rather slow, and we turn back before the others, when we reaches the dive lodges and mangrove on the other side of the island.
Lunch and a bit relaxation, and we are off to Jere, right out in the bay. A relatively low wall, offering a great warranty of corals and fish. I'm along with the French and Jimmy, and we go relatively deep. Here are nudibranches,, lionfish, pipefish in different sizes, the usual suspects and as a real treat: The tiny Pygmy Seahorse. This newly discovered seahorse is only ten millimetres, and real hard to find.
We did book a night dive, but they claim it is rough and the sight will probably be too bad. All right with me, we will get diving enough the next five days, I guess. It starts to rain in the afternoon, and Amira and Jesper pops bye for a chat and a view from our porch. The temperature drops to - 28C. Thunder roles in - right on top of us - and the porch seems real cosy!
I'm warn out after the late dinner, and crashes on a dry spot of our cottage, little over eight. The palm leaf roof that looks so cosy are not as efficient as I would like it to be, when the rain really start to poor down - literary in buckets.
19. Ten hours of sleep brings me to a great morning without a wind. We are scheduled to leave right after breakfast at nine, and I sincerely hope the calm water continues all the way to the Lembeh Strait. Here, it should be calm all the time. Our stuff is packed, some in a little bag for the next five days onboard Sanny; the liveraboard.
Sanny is a 29 meter vessel, build in 2004 as a diving boat. Here are six cabins for passengers, a large saloon with a big shadowed porch on the top.
The whole back of the lover deck are flat and end few centimetres over the sea, easing the returning of divers, either from the small boat or directly from the water. Here are compressor onboard, a cook and beds: All we ask for, if the diving is good enough.
When we get free of Bunaken, the waves tend to be a bit rough, and from an odd angel, and I focus on the horizon and Sulawesi. Lunch can wait...
When we make the corner, is eases down, and we get some great views into the national park on northern Sulawesi. I'm only able to recognise some Cycas from the distance, but the dense and lush vegetation promises more interesting adventures.
Small rafts with little shelters are seen way out on the sea. Here, the fishermen's lives and catch their fish while some other comes and collect them. Not my dream position! Frigates collect their part, and terns make a meal of the smallest fishes.
At four, the Lembeh island occurs from the slight mist. A few settlements are seen on both coasts, without road access. It seems like coconut are the crop of the volcanic slopes. combined with fishing. We anchor up in a bay outside Bitung at five, but have to wait until six for the first dive. Then the creatures of the night have set the stage. We are in the southern end of the strait, and will work our way op north during the coming days.
I it s slightly falling sandy bottom, going from four to fifteen metres. The upper part covered in eel-grass while the lower part are almost bare. After we have made a return for the boat to get diving mask (won't say who forgot it - but Morten would be the one missing it the most), we plunges into the cold water - 28C. Even though the bottom are rather bare, here are a lot of animals.
Different lionfish, frogfish, angler fish, coconut octopus, the rare Ambon scorpionfish, large nudibranches, sea urchins, swimming crabs, stargazer, spiny devilfish, devil scorpionfish, neetlefish, sea anemones with clowns, false stonefish, conck Hapar articularis, filefish, flounder, worm with legs and a lot more I have no names on.
Back at the ship, we are served a delightful dinner with grilled fish and calf. Then I admire Jack's photos with his flash: They are absolutely amassing, and just like Morten, he willingly share his goodies. This way, I got some photos for this diary - and my ever failing memory. Morten's photos of the day have been affected by a lack of weight - literally.
Even though the weather is real calm, the boat is all over the place. It was designed by Christine - who had no background for it at all. It is, more or less, a giant scale of the local boats. It is way too high, and the bottom are shaped like a cigar, giving it no stability at all! And I'm the one suffering...
Cosy evening, and in the bunks at ten. The temperature have dropped to around 26C, and the waves gives me a nice lullaby.
20. Wake up early, but stay in bed. At six, there are some activity on board, and I join in. A beautiful sunrise from the ridge of Lembeh island into the bay, spiced with a jumping eagle ray. A fast cup of coffee, and we set of to the sandy bottom and coral reef next to the Sulawesi bay: Rumah Indah.
Here are first single columns and rocks, hosting a great spectre of fish, corals and creatures. Here are lionfish, puffers, sweetlips, yellow boxfish, dragon seamond, pigmy seahorse, nudibranches, clownfish, sea pen, cardinal fish, - I don't get to finish the list before we set out on the next dive.
Just a bit further in the straight, Pante Parigi is a sandy bottom with few boulders. Those few "anchor places" are real popular. Here are some current, and in some areas, the temperature drops to 26C - bit to chill for my comfort. We find - among others - many different lionfish, puffers, sweetlips, nudibranches, clownfish, cardinal fish, spearing mantras, conch, painted frogfish, stingrays in a huge school, cleaner shrimps, thin black moray, fat yellow moray, huge hermit crab and - I need my camera!
My diving computer claims I have to decompress, and that give me time to explore the five meter deep top-reef. Here, huge cussing of soft corals cover the sand bottom entirely. When I reach the surface after an hour, the rain starts softly. We swim to the big boat, and when we are onboard, the sky opens.
It is over before we finish the delicious lunch, but the sun are a bit slow. When it finally kicks in the temperature rises to 36C shortly, and not a wind to ease. The rest of the party crashes in the shadow on deck, while I do some catching up on diary and dive log. If it wasn't for the large generator, if would have been perfect! I end up doing a single "granddad nap" too.
At two, just as the sun disappears, we head for the next dive. This is next to some tiny islands where the sandy bottom are home for a vide variation of life forms. Here, in the shivering cold water (which my diving computer claims are 28C, but my body feels like 10C), different lionfish, new nudibranches, small red Warty frogfish, a huge sea pen, stonefish, false scorpionfish, ringed pipefisk, sweeplips, shortailed pipefish, puffers, goatfish, cleaner shrimps and many more have found a home.
I'm not really enjoying the last bit, due to my shivering body, and feel relived when my air are slowly running out. The French stay for extended time while the rest of us returns to Sanny for cold showers and hot drinks. While the rest sit and sort their photos - I just sit and feel sorry for my selves. Slight improvement when Julia make a chocolate-raid at a local shop.
The sun have disappeared, but we still wait until six for the night dive. Or; they do, I have frozen enough for one day and stay put at the top deck. A few raids down to the saloon for coffee and snacks, and I feel fine - at least till they returns with their stories and photos to prove it.
21. After a fast cup of coffee, we head for Nudi Fall, next to the policestation's pier. A ten meter vertical wall leads to a rather flat sandy bottom. Besides from two or three new species of nudibranches, here are not much news. I observe a beautiful praying mantra shrimp for some time, here are plenty of sea anemones with large clownfish, lionfish, a single cuttlefish and quite a few sweetlips.
A the end of the dive, we return to the wall, and the water have some real cold areas. It looks like a curtain of smoke where the different temperatures meet, and the temperature changes five degree or more in 25 centimetres. I've been in for well over an hour, and take it as my clue to get up.
Back at the mother ship, breakfast is served with eggs, toast and pancakes. I take my daily five minutes in the sun. That, and the few minutes I spent in the dingy, is enough to ensure me my nationalistic colours: Red & White. A quick nap, and it is time for the next dip.
Left of the police station, Pante Lipi is a slightly polluted sandy bottom, but here are still quite some animals in-between the rubbish. We see a bright yellow moray and a couple of greyish ones, two or tree new nudibranches, one huge and the usual suspects of lions-, crocodile-, clowns-, puffers-, cardinal-, sweeplip-, and other fishes.
At the end of the dive, we reaches a wreck of a huge wooden vessel, overgrown with soft corals and sponges. A huge crocodile fish is lying on deck while other fish are scattered around the entire wooden structure.
Back at the mother-ship, we all grab a nap, and then pull the anchor and go north to bunker water and do a dive in the area, known as Aer Prang. It was made by the Japanese during the occupation in WWll, and are still functional.
Here we find a big, flat sandy bottom, but is is completely covered in different sea anemones. A bit further out, there are fewer, but here are still a lot to look at. Some huge sea cucumbers are large enough to host colourful crabs and a new nudibranche. Two other new nudibranches are found here too, as well as some different morays and lionfish. I decide to quit after less than an hour, and save some warmth for the night dive.
Sit at the top deck to warm up until six, and then out with the dingy to a spot called Jahir. This sandy and rather barren area are home to several different squids and octopuses. We are even lucky enough to see several of the Flamboyant cuttlefish. Small but colourful! A eel , several lionfish, a devil scorpion fish, crabs including the decorated, a cow fish, different conchs, ouches, cockatoo wasp fish, flounders, spiny flathead, sea star and a lot more species of fish and creatures in general.
I end up being cold, although my diving computer claims it have been 28C. Sit under a blanket during the delightful dinner, and eventually, I get my natural heat restored, just before bedtime. We sail a bit further up north before anchoring up for the night. The television is on, and it seems like there are 90% commercials, 10% soaps.
DUE TO THE SIZE OF THE PAGE; THE DIARY CONTINUES ON PART 3