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“Raja Ampat Aggressor” Captain’s log *28th September 2018 Rajat Ampat
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Salgap
Cruise Director: Urik
2nd Cruise Director: Remi
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
2nd Chef: Irwan
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Dive Technician: Jasman
DIVE SITES :
Sa : Shallows, Surprise, NB2, Pantai Malam
Su: Gorgonian’s Passage, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Barracuda Rock
Mo: Shadow Reef, Boo Windows, Yillet Kecil, Gelu Malam
Tu: Puri Pinnacle, Tank Rock, Whale Rock, Yillet Besar
We: Boo West, Puri Pinnacle, Sagof
Th: Melissa’s Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo Night
Fr: Mayhem 1, Dayang Island, Sarawandarek, Yenbuba Jetty
Sa : Cape Mansuar, Cape Kri, Mioskon, Mioskon
Su: Sardine, Blue Magic
GUESTS: Nora, Viv, Soraya, John, Matt, Walter, Peter, Gary, Anne, Roy, Ellika, Marie, Doudou, George, Marce
Friday 28th September
At the scheduled time our group of guests were picked-up and transferred to the vessel, where the crew, led by Ervanto, the captain, was waiting for all with a smile and greetings! With a fresh towel and a welcome beverage in hand, they were all introduced to respective staterooms before the bell rang for our first meal together: lunch.
Komang, the chef, and Irwan, 2nd chef, prepared one of our Indonesian meals as a welcome one. Afterwards Urik, the cruise director, proceeded giving an introduction briefing which mentioned some details about the boat, as well as some of the rules we apply on board and safety procedures. The afternoon was time to rest and enjoy the sunny weather in Sorong, West Papua.
After sunset, already with their dive gear prepared (thanks to the help of Jemy, Jerod and Reki, the divemasters), we gathered in the salon for an early dinner. Once dessert was over and as we started motoring towards Misool, south Raja Ampat, Urik gave another briefing, this time mentioning the dive logistics and procedures aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Respecting the long journey most of our guests endured to reach West Papua, it was the last activity for the night and most opted to rest after it.
Saturday 29th September
It was early morning when we arrived in the region of Sagof, our first stop in south Raja Ampat.
As the first guests started to wake-up after their first night, a light breakfast buffet was served in the salon. They could enjoy some fresh coffee and tea with some cake, cheese, fresh fruits, porridge and also some fresh bread cook daily by our Chefs.
The bell for the first dive briefing rang and all the divers went into the dive deck, starting putting on their wetsuit. Urik draw a map on the white board and after repeating some safety concerns and special check dive tips, he gave a dive site briefing. The guests were divided in three different groups, each on of them lead by a divemaster. Each group then start to board the dinghies with 10 minutes between each on, this in a way to avoid being all together on the same spot underwater.
The Check dive was held along a reef name Shallows. This wall is cover in hard and soft coral with sea fans as well. Lots of Nudibranchs were found as well as the first Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse of the trips. It was an easy dive and the divers could check their gears, skills and buoyancy. The end of the dive was on a beautiful hard-coral garden, mainly made of Acropora Coral.
Back on board, the bell rang one more time, signaling the beginning of the Breakfast time. Every day, the guests can enjoy a different Indonesian Style breakfast with other Westerns food choices as well. Then in was a time for relaxing on the sun deck while the yacht was motoring toward our second locations of the day, the archipelago of Balbulol. We will spend the rest of the day here, in the calm water protected by the island.
The second dive site name was Surprise. We start at the corner of a wall and follow this wall toward a ridge going to a small pinnacle. On the way, the divemasters found some Electric Clams, Denise Pygmy Seahorse and a big variety of Nudibranchs such as Nembrotha, Chromodoris and Blue Dragon.
Once the divers were safely drove back to the yacht by the two dinghies driver Ody and Carly it was time for the lunch buffet. All the guest gathered in the salon and share their first impressions of the day about diving. Once lunch was over, most people took a well-deserved nap, some in their stateroom and others on the sun deck. A few guests did some snorkeling around the yacht, swimming up to a desert tiny beach cover by white sand.
When the bell rang again to signal the afternoon dive, all the divers wake-up and went on the dive deck. The third dive of this wonderful day was an exploration dive on a new dive sites name NB3. It is a wall with some slopping part cover in hard-coral with a few overhang parts. The first hawksbill turtle of the trip was spotted and more Blue Dragon Nudibranchs as well as schools of Fusiliers and Anthias.
Some snacks were waiting the divers as soon as they came back from the dives. Today the could enjoy some fried banana with chocolate sauce and melon juice. The sun was nice and they guests enjoyed some good time on the sun deck on more time today, watching the sunset just before gearing up for the night dive. This night dive was in front of a white sand beach. It started on a slope cover by Acropora and other hard coral and on each side of this slope we find some walls with more coral and life as Moray eels, giant Pufferfish, Porcelain Crabs, Marble shrimps and Octopus.
Just after the last divers was back on the vessels, the bell rang one more time for dinner time. After all these good food and wine, Urik gave some explanation about the following day of diving. He will do this briefing every night, letting the divers know what to expect and giving tips on the most recommended lenses for the photographer for each dive site. Then he also gave a presentation on the TV about Rajat Ampat area, explaining some historic events and why this area is considered as one of the most important centers of biodiversity in the world. This gave a better idea of what to expect for the guests during the trip.
Once this was over, the Captain and his crew start motoring the boat toward our next destination for the following day. We arrived there around midnight, anchoring in calm water to ensure a good night of sleep to everyone.
Sunday 30th September
The sun start rising over the horizon in the early morning and some passengers were already awake to watch this moment.
Slowly all the rest of the guests waked-up and enjoy the breakfast while the divemaster went to check the current and condition of the first dive site of the day. We were around the island of Wayilbatan, on the South-east part of Misool island.
First immersion was at the Gorgonian’s passage, on the eastern side of Wayilbatan, on the channel marking the separation with Walib. We dive along the wall with a nice current coming from North, letting the divers enjoy the drift, watching all this massive sea fans hanging there, Lots of Pygmy Seahorse were found there: Bargibanti, Denise and the Denise color variation endemic from Rajat Ampat, red and white, also name Santa Clause Pygmy Seahorse. A family of Humphead Parrotfish was hanging on the wall toward the end of the dive, and along the wall a big schools of small silver fish were spotted along with a Mobula Ray passing by.
After the breakfast, it was time for the second dive of the day. The boat moved slightly West and took mooring in a bay where it will stay for the rest of the day. We went diving around a rock call Barracuda rock. Big congregation of small silver fish, Anchovy, were present and a good number of Jack and Travely were hunting them, making the show for our divers. After going down along a wall and exploring a large overhang part starting at 30 meters/100 feet, the divers went along a ridge, hooking there to enjoy a school of Chevron and Pick-handle Barracuda with other Sweetlips and Snapper passing by. Then the last part of the dive was on the other side of the rock, along another wall cover with colorful soft coral.
After a resting time that most of our guests took on the sun deck, we geared up for the third dive of this fantastic day. We went diving around a rock name Wedding cake, due to the fact that on the East side of the rock, going down the wall is having a layer shape, like on the traditional cake for wedding. Lots of small silver fish, call Puri in Indonesian where on the split point of the dive along side with a big school of Yellowtail Fusiliers. Swimming along the wall, divers could see more Pygmy Seahorse, Nudibranchs, Flabelina and Napoleon Wrasse. The back part of the rock was really sunny and the three groups finish the dive in the shallow part made really colorful with the light hitting the soft coral garden where a Great Barracuda was hanging around.
Night dive happened on the shallow part of Barracuda Rock, starting on the wall and finishing on the hard-coral plateau. Some Octopus, Squid, Nudibranchs, Pipefish and Scorpionfish were found around the site as well.
After dinner, Urik gave the briefing about the following day of diving then went for a lecture about Pygmy Seahorse, explaining in details the 5 different ones that can be encounter around Rajat Ampat, detailing their mating behavior and what are they predators.
Then while some guests stayed around for a talk, most of the guests went to bed. The boat stay anchor there for the night, in calm water, letting the passengers having a good night of rest.
Monday 1st October
Along with the sunrise on what turned out to be another bright sunny day, the Yacht start motoring toward a seamount out in the sea, close to the island of Warakaraket. We arrived there in time for the first dive of the day.
The divemaster went to check the currents then Urik gave the detail briefing of this dive. This big seamount is call Shadow Reef, also known as Magic Mountain. The top is between 4 to 12 meters (12 to 36 feet) then is sloping on one side, transforming into a ridge going out in the blue and finishing on a pinnacle at 25 meters/ 75 feet deep. We jumped on the point where the current split and hook there on the wall for a few minutes, enjoying the actions of school of Barracuda, Tuna and Spanish Mackerel passing around as well as some Grey reef Sharks. Then along with the current, the divers went to the pinnacle, seeing a big Napoleon Wrasse, a school of Yellow Snapper, more Grey reef sharks and lot of schools of Puri. Back on the seamount to finish the dive in shallower water, more schools of Longfin Platax and Fusilier were present, letting the divers enjoyed them during their safety stop.
Once all the divers were safely back to the vessels, the crew drove toward our next dive site of the day while the guests enjoyed a tasty breakfast prepared by the Chef.
Next dive was Boo Windows. It is two rock breaching the surface and connected by a reef. Three holes allow divers to see the other side of the rocks once underwater, giving the name to that place. More Barracuda, Blacktip reef Shark, Yellow Snapper, Blue and Yellow Fusiliers and even Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse were found.
Afternoon dive was around a rock name Yillet Kecil. The rock is surrounded by a plateau from 4 meters/12 feet to 12 meters/36 feet then turn into a wall. On the East side of the wall some big overhang can be found and a big amount of sea fans as well. During this immersions, three different kind of Pygmy were found, Bargibanti, Denise and Santa Claus (also call Rajat Ampat Pygmy Seahorse, a color variation of the Denise). A school of Chevron Barracuda with three Pick-handle Barracuda were spotted on the edge of the wall on the Wester side and in the blue three Mobula Rays were passing by.
The night dive was held on the West side of Gelu Island, where the boat could anchor for the night in calm water. We dive along a slope made of hard-coral and rumble that make a good playground for critters. Ornate Ghostpipe fish, Squid, Swollen Bubble Snail, Lovely Headshield Slug and Squid were present and the divers could take shot of them.
For dinner, the Chef Komang had prepare an Italian Night with Ravioli of Ricotta and Spinach for main course and Tiramisu for dessert. The guests enjoyed this succulent food and congratulate the Chef skills. Then, after some good expresso coffee were made, Urik gave his briefing followed by a lecture about his favorite fishes: Sharks! He explained their characteristic, mating and reproducing behavior and the threats they are now facing in the human world. Then most of our guests went to rest after this beautiful day of diving in South Rajat Ampat. The boat stayed anchor for the night as our first dive site tomorrow will be very close.
Tuesday 2nd October
Dawn arrived and some light started to break through the clouds in the sky. The yacht moved to the first diving site of the day as the breakfast was served in the salon.
The first dive site is name Grouper Net, also call Antichovy by the locals. It is a seamount starting at 7 meters/21 feet below the surface with 3 smaller pinnacles on one side of it. The seamount as a wall on one of its side and a slope on the other side. This place is famous for the huge concentration of Puri, the small silver fish like Anchovy, that bring a lot of Bonito, Jacks, Travely, Tuna and Mobula Rays hunting around. And one this day we could see a huge ball of Jacks and Bonito chasing the Puri, some Mobulas passing in the blue and as the divers were enjoying the hunt and taking pictures, came out of the blue a Blue Marlin of almost 3 meters/9 feet long. The Marlin came close to us many times, being curious to see the divers there. What a magic moment we could enjoyed. The last part of the dive was on the top of the seamount where the divemaster found a massive Stone Fish laying under a coral table.
Second and third dive of the day were in the area of Fiabacet, at Tank Rock and Whale Rock. These sites are famous for the concentration of Soft Coral of different colors on the reefs. More Tuna, Grey reef sharks and Rainbow Runner were seen as well as Hawksbill turtle feeding on the reef.
Before sunset, all the guests went to a beach where a small ranger station is based. It was a nice moment to enjoy a walk on this pristine white sand, taking pictures of the area and walking in the shallow water where juvenile Blacktip reef sharks where swimming.
As all the guests went back to the yacht, the ones that decided to do the night dive started to gear-up. The site was along a big island call Yillet Besar. Some Bobtail squid, baby cuttlefish and other Crabs and Shrimps were found in the hard-coral slope. A big squid swimming over the reef was spotted as well.
The dinner pass and it was time for the evening briefing about the next days. Then the presentation of the day was given by Urik, this night about Manta Rays, detailing the different Mantas known, the specific courtship ritual and the threats the Manta face now, making them population decreasing rapidly around the world.
Wednesday 3rd October
Early morning arrived and the guests waked up after a good night of sleep in the calm water of South Rajat Ampat. They gather in the salon, enjoying the light breakfast with some coffee and toast.
The divemaster went to check the current for the first dive of the day that will be held at Boo West, a wall dive along an elongated rock breaching the surface, in the area of Fiabacet. This wall is cover with many different colors of Soft Coral, making stunning view when the light of the sun hit the reef. The current was small and visibility was good around 20 meters/60 feet and water at 27℃/82℉. The dive was easy and divemaster found some Orangutan Crabs, Octopus, grey reef sharks, Barramundi Groupers and Yellow-spotted Jacks passing close to this reef.
Once the dive was over, the yacht start motoring toward Grouper Net site, the one we did the previous day. We decided to repeat this place as every one had an amazing dive with Mobulas, Jacks and this Blue Marlin before. This time we could enjoy a bigger school of Bonito and Travely, school of Red tooth Triggerfish, Napoleon Wrasse, Rainbow Runner, Travely and a big aggregation of silver fish. The top of the seamount was cover with open soft coral and some Mantis Shrimp and 3 octopus were found there.
While the guest had a lunch and a rest on the sun deck, the yacht moved toward the North part of Misool area to our last dive site in South Rajat Ampat. We dove around a rock name Sagof where few Mobulas Ray were seen passing in the blue, six Bargibanti Pygmy seahorses (some of them pregnant), Giant Groupers and Jacks hunting in the cloud of Puri fishes.
This was the last dive of the day. Once all the divers where back on-board, the Captain and his amazing crew drove the vessels for the rest of the day and all night toward central Rajat Ampat: Dampier’s Straight. We will spend the rest of the trip around this area.
While the yacht was navigating, all the guests chilled on the sun deck, checking their pictures, reading books or playing some games together.
Thursday 4th October
As the horizon started to get brighter, the yacht arrived in sight on Penemu Archipelago in Central Rajat Ampat. The night of navigation was smooth with a calm sea and the guests enjoyed a good night of rest.
The first dive of this sunny day was held on a circular reef name Melissa’s Garden. The slope around the reef is cover by coral bump where diver found the first Wobbegong shark of the trips. Passing by in the currents the guests could also enjoy the company of Blacktip reef Sharks, Napoleon Wrasse, schools of Jacks and some Pompano as well. The top of the reef is a massive hard-coral garden. Here you see healthy coral as far as you can see with all the coral fishes that live there like Clown Triggerfish, Moray eels, lot of schools of different Fusiliers, Anthias and some Lobsters as well.
The boat moved toward Keruo island during the breakfast and was in position before the second dive. Some adventurous guests took the kayak and went visit some pristine beaches of this islands. Then the bell rang for the briefing and divers got ready. The dive was along the wall of the channel that separate two islands. Current was small and we could enjoy a nice drift along the hard-coral and numerous anemones present. In some of the Mushroom Coral, divers seen Mushroom Pipefishes and Mushroom shrimps, also called Pop-corn shrimps du to their white head. Also, another Wobbegong shark hiding inside a coral bump was found by our youngest diver, Nora, that is 11 years old. She already has good eye for finding fishes.
After a tasty lunch made of home-made burger, it was time for the afternoon dive that was on a wall call Galaxy. The drift was a bit faster and some blacktip reef sharks pass by. Along this wall some Pygmy Seahorse, Flatworms and colorful hard-coral were present.
Shortly after all the divers came back to the vessel, we all change clothe and went for a land excursion at the Geo Park of Penemu. We climb some stairs to the top of the hills to enjoy the stunning panoramic view of the archipelago. It was a good time for group pictures. Once back to the dinghies, Ody and Carly, the dinghies driver, gave a tour inside the lagoon, along the cliff where we could see red Parrot birds singing and flying around.
The night dive happened along the South side of Keruo island. The slope is cover in Acropora coral with some sandy parts. Lots of Octopus were present on this reef as well as Decorator Crabs and different Shrimps.
After dinner, the crew made a surprise to our guests. They all gather into the salon, playing music and singing local song. They even sang a few American songs and many of the guests sang with them. A huge round of applause closed the show and it was time to go the rest for most of the passengers while others stay into the salon, talking around some glass of wine.
Friday 5th October
Early in the morning, before sunrise, the crew drove the vessel to our first dive sites. Once there, the sun started to appears over the island of Gam. The sea was as flat as a lake today.
The seamount we dove for the first dive of the day is call Mayhem 1. It starts at 7 meters/21 feet below the surface. We jumped on the North side, inside the split point to enjoy some action. There we found a Marble ray resting on the slope. Then we drift on the side of the seamount toward the other side. Wobbegong sharks were found at the backside of the seamount, hiding under a coral table. During the dive we also spot Garden Eel, Jacks, Bonito, Napoleon and a lot of Gobies with their symbiotic shrimps digging their holes.
The second dive of the day was more south at an island name Dayang. The reef just if front of the island is shallow and we had the surprise to see 3 Reef Mantas, playing around, making some barrel roll and cleaning around rocks. We spent the all dive just at the border of their cleaning station, watching the show and taking video. Divers also see a Wobbegong shark during this dive as well as a Hairy Squat Lobster.
After a good lunch and nap on the sun deck, the divers were ready for the afternoon dive that was held in front of a village call Sawandarek. The water was crystal clear with a visibility of 30 meters/100 feet and temperature of 30℃/92℉. A huge amount of fish is living there: big schools of Oriental and Diagonal Sweetlips, schools of Yellow and Midnight Snappers, congregation of Longfin Batfish that follow you all the dives, Malabar Groupers sleeping on top of hard-coral, Bargibanti pygmy in their sea fan, lots of other different Snappers and Fusilier swimming around. And even more, too much to name them all here.
The night dive was held on the East side of Mansuar island, under the jetty of Yenbuba village. There we found the first walking Shark, also name Epaulette shark, of the trip was laying on a hard-coral bump at just 1 meter/3 feet below the surface. The divemaster also found Coconut Octopus and Pygmy Cuttlefish during this immersion as well as a sleeping Hawksbill turtle and a giant White Moray Eel.
After dinner, Urik gave his briefing about the following day that will be the last full day of diving. Then Remi gave a presentation about walking sharks, explaining their behavior, habitat, mating behavior and they favorite food. He also details the different known species which most of them are endemic from Papua and Halmahera.
The boat stay anchor for the night in the bay of Yenbuba as we will dive there for the first dive the next morning.
Saturday 6th October
The last full day of diving start with an amazing sunrise. The guests that wake-up early could enjoy this moment. The boat spends the night in front of the village of Yenbuba.
We dove on the Mansur Cape for the first dive. We start inside a bay and slowly make our way toward the corner of the wall. The white sand slope at the beginning of the dive combine with crystal clear water make the scenery really great. In the blue some Jacks and Pick-Handle Barracuda were found. Longfin Platax, Butterfly, Rabbit fish and Snappers were feeding along the reef and some Titan Triggerfish were seen on their nesting spot.
The second dive of this sunny day was at Cape Kri. This site is were two famous marine biologists made a world record of identifying the greatest number of different fish species in one single dive. And guests were not disappointed. We start on the wall and drift toward the corner, going along with the current. Close to the end of the wall, a huge school of Jack and Bonito all together were there with a school of Pick-handle Barracuda. Lots of different school of Fusiliers and Sweetlips were found in shallower water and even a Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse. Also, Hawksbill turtle, giant Grouper and Whitetip reef sharks at the bottom of the wall were spotted.
Back on board the lunch was served and then the guests took a nap on the sun deck, sharing their feeling about these two amazing morning dives. Then it was time to get ready for the afternoon dive on an island name Mioskon. We will do the night dive there as well, more in the shallow part. During the day time, more Wobbegong sharks were seen, sleeping under coral bumps, as well as schools of Yellow Snapper, Oriental Sweetlips, Square spot Anthias and a Juvenile Whitetip reef sharks sleeping as well. During the night, more than 4 different types of Eels, Decorator Crabs, Sponge Crabs and 5 different Walking Sharks were found by the dedicated Divemaster for the pleasure of the divers.
The divers were greeted by the full crew back on-board after the last night dive of this wonderful trip in the water of Rajat Ampat. Then it was time for dinner followed by a presentation about Sea Turtles.
The boat stay in front of the island of Mioskon for the night as our dive for the following day will be in the area.
Monday 7th October
The day start with the sun rising over the straight of Dampier and the last day of diving on-board the Rajat Aggressor started.
After the guests enjoyed the light breakfast, they geared up for the first seamount dive of the day on a site call Sardine. The visibility was more than 30 meters/100 feet and water temperature 29℃/85℉ for the day. It was a pleasure to be underwater. The three groups jumped in the blue, going down drifting toward the split point where they stay for a good part of the day, watching Oceanic Triggerfish, Pompano Jacks, Whitetip reef sharks, school of Yellow tail Fusilier and Pick-handle Barracuda. Drifting on the side of the seamount for the second part of the dive, more sharks were seen as well as Wobbegong, Giant Groupers and Tuna in the blue.
The second seamount of the day and the last dive of the trip was at a place name Blue Magic. The current was milder and water visibility and temperature the same as the first dive. On the beginning of the seamount, a massive school of Oceanic Triggerfish was staying there with Big Eye Barracuda and Travely passing by. During the dive along the seamount and on the top of it, massive ball of Jacks and Bonito keep coming close to the divers that could take amazing video and shot of them. The last Wobbegong of the trip was found and two giant Moray Eel hunting on the seamount were seen. The divemaster also found Scorpion Leaf fish on a coral bump while divers were watching at Pick-Handle Barracuda passing by. This dive was really good and the divers came back to the surface with stars in their eyes.
As the last divers boarded the yacht, the crew start washing and rinsing the dive gear and hang it to dry, making sure that every-one will go home with clean and dry dive equipment. During this time, the guests enjoyed the last Lunch with Pizza on the menu. After all this food, Urik played the Video of the Week he prepared, showing the highlight of this trips and beautiful memories. Then Remi opened the Boutique and the guests bought souvenir like t-shirt and books.
During the afternoon, most of the guests hang out on the sun deck and at the scheduled time, the bell rang for the last time, calling everyone for a Farewell Party. The crew played music one more time and it was an excellent sunny afternoon to take more pictures. Urik gave a last talk, thanking the guests for spending their precious holiday time with us, then the Rajat Ampat Traditional toast was done with Champagne. The crew play more songs and it was time for the Awards ceremony. This week see the youngest diver of the boat, Nora, which is 11 years old, completing a Milestone of 50 logged Dive. So young and already lots of dive under the belt, Congratulation! Anne pass also a Milestone of 1100 logged dive and Soraya get her Nitrox Specialty Certificate for successfully completing the course with Urik as instructor.
The Iron diver of the week that had completed the 33 available dive of the 10 days trip in South and Central Rajat Ampat are Matt and Viv. Congratulation, you are tough divers!
Then the time for group and dive groups picture arrived.
The rest of the afternoon and sunset time was a good moment for the passengers to exchange pictures and contact, while enjoying some wine and beers on the deck.
Dinner time arrived and the Chef Komang had prepared his signature dinner with Surf and Turf and Lava Cake. The guests gave him a big applause, thankful for the tasty food they had this trip. After dinner, Urik gave the departure time briefing and after a last thanks from his heart, we played a slideshow with the pictures the guests wanted to share of their underwater adventures. Everybody enjoyed the photo, remembering some highlight of the trip. Once it was over, Urik thanks the guests one more time. Then it was time for sharing pictures and talking a bit longer in the salon, around a good glass of wine.
The boat was anchor in front of Sorong, in the same place where we started the trip.
Tuesday 8th October
At the scheduled time the crew was waiting to bid their farewells to this fun, kind group of guests and wish all a safe journey back home. Thank you for visiting us and we hope to see you again aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Happy bubbles!