It’s the final liveaboard trip before Christmas and everyone is in festive mood as we…
The conditions at sea look good and we’ve got 4 days on a Similans, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock. It promises to be a good trip.
The guests this time are Pim, from Thailand, and Ken, from Taiwan. They’re both really excited and can’t wait to get in the water. In fact, they’re busy for the first few hours of meeting up telling everyone they know what they’re up to via their smartphones – tweeting and facebooking like crazy!!
On board on the first night we set up all the equipment and prepare for the next day while Ismael gives us the boat briefing. The do’s and don’t and safety on the boat. Ismael is a gregarious character and there are lots of faces smiling in anticipation.
On the first day Pim and Ken starting getting into the diving groove and their buoyancy gets better and better. Ken is having a few ear problems so we’re taking it easy on the descents and ascents. Anita’s Reef is swarming with life and we play in the sand trying to sneak up on garden eels.
At Elephant Head rock there’s some current, but the guys are ready for the challenge and we scoot through a few swim-thoughs. Every time I turn around to check how they’re doing I can see them grinning through their masks and double-OKing!!
That night we sit and watch a few cartoons in the saloon on the big screen. There’s something international about Bugs Bunny that doesn’t require translation. Someone being hit over the head with a frying pan is funny in every language! They’re looking forward to a deep dive in the morning towards their Advanced Open Water.
In the morning we jump in a North Point and slowly, gently we make our way deeper. We bimble around the north pinnacle, through the arch and back again into the shallower water and in around 16m of water a turtle swims down and joins us! Ken and Pim are very excited and we spend 5-10 minutes watching it nibble the coral. It’s a great dive and they’re all smiles on the safety stop and when we surface.
Later that day we move to Koh Bon and Koh Tachai and the guys get their first flavour of current. But, having briefed them carefully to stay low and close to me they’re fine. Some people don’t like currents. But, like the wind on land, until you descend at some sites it’s difficult to tell how strong it is. The big bonus with currents is that they bring nutrients and life. And today is no exception. Trevallies, Mackerel and Tuna are out hunting smaller fish. Darting around like missiles in the blue. Beautiful.
Day three begins with big winds. It’s against all the forecasts but the captain and crew are very experienced and we put safety first and head for the shelter of Koh Bon. Pim and Ken don’t mind. They haven’t stopped smiling all trip and are happy to go back to Koh Bon. It’s not a hardship – Koh Bon is a wonderful site. As we arrive reports come over the radio that a whale shark was seen at the site earlier that day. It’s not a zoo and we try not to get our expectations up – but can’t help getting a little excited before the dive.
The whale shark doesn’t appear but we get our first Manta sighting of the trip and there are lots of smiling faces on the dive deck from the group who got lucky. Mantas are big. Really big. 4m plus from wing to wing. Pelagic giants. You don’t find a Manta. A Manta finds you. You just need to be in the right place at the right time.
On Day 3 people are starting to flag a little bit and most people (including some of the Instructors) take a little siesta after lunch. It’s amazing how sleepy the nitrogen makes you after repetitive dives.
Then, in the evening, Ken and I go for a sunset dive in the bay at Koh Bon. It’s a chilled out end to the day bimbling around the bay at 12-15m doing a bit of moray spotting. Then, as I’m swimming along, I hear Ken shouting behind me (through his regulator). A banded sea snake has just (unknown to me) swum underneath me – right near my ‘vital areas’!! Banded sea snakes are highly poisonous but not aggressive – and, famously, have very small mouths – but not seen that often so it’s a good spot from Ken.
On the final morning we head back via the Boonsung Wreck before docking back at the mainland.
It’s a great trip and everyone is tired but happy when we moor up and say our goodbyes.