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22 – 26 December 2013 – Similan Islands & Surin Islands

/ MV Giamani Log Book

MV Giamani Liveaboard Trip Log: 22 – 26 December 2013.

Port of departure:  Chalong Pier, Phuket Island.

Weather Conditions: Warm evening, very slight north easterly breeze.

Sea Conditions: slightly choppy seas.

On-board we have customers from: UK, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Hong Kong & Thailand.

Diving Day 1 – 23 December 2013

We awoke in the Similans in the gentle sway of the sea. A beautiful morning we watched the sunrise, as we enjoyed our steaming cup of coffee. Ricardo then gave the dive brief for our first dive of the day, on Shark Fin Reef.

Dive: 1 Shark Fin Reef- Viz 25 metres… The first dive of the trip is always a check dive making sure all are comfortable in the water, enough weight is used and air consumption is closely monitored. The dive itself was a great wake up call. Hundreds of Long tail Surgeon fish, the current drifting us down the dive site quite steadily, we also saw a couple of Trevallies hunting.

There was school after school of glass fish darting about; all trying to avoid becoming breakfast for the hungry Yellow Tailed Mackerels. We then decided to cross the reef to the other side and were not disappointed, finding a Hawksbill turtle slowly swimming about looking for some soft corals to munch on.

Dive 2:Elephant Head rock – Vis 30 metres… This is one of the trickier dives in the Similans, it drops down to over 50 metres and with the huge boulders littering the bottom and creating unique currents, sometimes really strong currents, thus causing shorter dive times due to extra air being consumed.

Another mesmerizing dive at Elephant head rock, there was some current pulling us around, but it was easily managed. The swim through’s are stunning, loads of reef fish which all seem bigger here than other sites, even Titan Trigger fish which was well behaved, seem bigger here. Giant Barracuda, Black Tip Reef sharks too.

Dive: 3 Christmas Point – Vis 20 metres… well it is Christmas and we felt a little festive, so we decided to try a different dive site than usual, we do like to live life on the edge on Giamani.

The dive site is completely submerged, except a small breaching pinnacle that stretches down to about 30 metres. There were some slight waves as we dropped down to 16 metres. Then the reef appears, introducing its bubble blowing audience to a hive of activity.

Masses of Surgeon fish, Blue Fin Trevallies, bullying the glass fish into submission, Tuna and small Barracuda hunting, another Hawksbill Turtle and a clash of the Titans, literally, a Titan Trigger fish attacking a Giant Red Reef Octopus; it’s all go on Christmas Point.

Dive: 4 Breakfast Bend – sunset dive: quite a strong drift dive, max depth 15 metres. All of the usual reef fish suspects. And some strange creatures, particularly at the end of the dive as it was quite dark, the shrimps, crabs, feather stars, all started to wake up.

A huge Giant Moray started to stir, it popped it massive head out of hole just to let us know not to come too close or stick our fingers in where they should not be. What will tomorrow bring? We are now motoring up to Koh Bon, where we will spend the night and in the morning make our first dives.

Diving Day 2 – 24 December 2013

We slept the night in Koh Bon bay, a very peaceful and still night and in the morning the weather was perfect, hardly any breeze. After our early morning slice of toast and cup of tea it was time to get wet.

Dive: 5 Koh Bon Pinnacle Viz 20 metres… The pinnacle is quite deep so a shorter dive than usual was expected. The life down there was simply amazing; it was all go from the start. After our negative entry we descended down to 26 metres, and found all chaos had broken loose. The Giant, Blue Fin Trevallies, help by the small Tunas and Mackerels were ripping into the bait fish without mercy. It was Breakfast time on the reef.

The visibility was very good, so we could see almost everything that was going on. The current was moderate, so at times we had to hang on to the rocks in order to get a good position to view the underwater action.

On our safety stop we had 5 minutes with a large school of Batfish they are very friendly and inquisitive After a 40 minute dive we ascended back to the surface for OUR breakfast and get ready for the next dive.

Dive: 6 Koh Bon Ridge Viz 25 metres mild current… We descended, with the Viz easily at 40 metres, down the wall in Koh Bon Bay to 24 metres and cruised out towards the ridge. There were some Emperor fish hunting with some Blue Fin Trevallies coming to greet us, along with some Angle-fish, two Blue Ringed and Emperor.

There was quite a few scorpion fish there too, the Raggy and bearded scorpion fish also we saw several Lionfish.

Oriental Sweet Lips and Oblique Banded Sweet Lips too, also we saw a Coral Banded Sea Snake about a metre in length. Quite a few Morays were popping their heads out to see what was going on, closer to the rocks the smaller Hawkfish was busy looking for small bite to eat.

Dive: 7 Koh Tachai Pinnacle Viz 20 metres… no current at all till the end, and then it just started as we exited the water. We all descended down the mooring line, we soon reached our max depth of 25 meters, this site goes to 35 and then beyond.
Instantly we were surrounded by a hungry pack of Giant Trevallies, checking us out, making sure we were no threat to them or their food source. Then school of Blue Fin Trevallies gave us a fly by and were gone.

As we moved slowly across the reef, a rarer visitor to these waters lately, a Napoleon Wrasse, then on closer inspection, another one, even bigger. These poor Wrasse’s have been almost hunted out of existence by hungry Asian fish market traders. They are the biggest Wrasse species and are beautiful to watch.

Then from nowhere, a huge school of Black Fin Barracuda, all averaging about 60 cm in length, schooled around us, eyeing us up, as if to ask, what you doing down here, before shooting off into the blue and beyond. The Trevallies were back, this time really moving in and out of all the divers, they were beginning to hunt, this should be exciting.

And so it was, all of a sudden one flew into a huge Bait Fish school and the rest followed, what happened next was complete carnage, it was just a blur of silver and blue and yellow, we had to keep our heads low, the small Yellow Tailed Mackerel came in for the scraps. Still searching for our 1st Manta, but no complaints, hopefully we will be back to Tachai Pinnacle in the morning.

Dive 8:  Tachai reef sunset dive Viz 20.metres… Another great end to a great days diving, drifting down Tachai reef, as all the fishes get ready for the night. Loads of Feather stars and Shrimps, plus two huge Giant Trevallies came flying in to see what we were up to, they seem to be getting very intimate with each other, gliding by rubbing their bodies against each other

Diving Day 3 – 25 December 2013

We slept on Tachai Island under a clear starry sky, the weather so mild. Discussions of what we may find on Richelieu Tomorrow. Anything can turn up there, well almost anything.

Dive: 9 Koh Tachai Viz 25 metres +… at the start of the dive there was no current, so we dropped off the descent line and hit the bottom at about 20 metres There we found two Reef Octopus, together in a loving embrace. Further round the reef all creatures were starting to wake, the Yellow Tail Mackerel were heading straight for the Glass fish.

Then a school of Blue Fin Trevallies came by, followed by half a dozen Tuna, the current had now begun to start moving. The Barracudas however, had still not shown up, maybe they had had a tough night on the reef.

We saw a Clown Triggerfish, they have amazing colouring, several species of Lion Fish and a scorpion fish, also a huge Parrot fish with markings like I have never seen before. Plus a couple of Oriental Sweet lips, school of Moorish Idols and heaps of Longfin Banner Fish. There really is just too many fish to mention here…
Next dive Richelieu Rock!

Dive: 10 Richelieu Rock Viz 15 metres… very little current, we dropped right on top of another octopus, instantly it changed its body colouring and texture to that of its surroundings, they are fantastic masters of camouflage.
With no current there were not so many big boys about so we concentrated on the macro life we spotted loads of Durban dancing shrimp, Boxer shrimp, White Albino Pipefish (30cm long).

A huge school of Yellow tail Snapper seemed to follow us on the dive, maybe looking to hide amongst us, who knows, but they are so beautifully coloured. Inside the rock crevices was a white eyed moray swimming around looking for a safe place to wait.

Dive: 11Richelieu Rock Viz 15 metres current starting to pick up, not so many divers from other boats this dive, which is good. Visibility is usually better here than today. We cruised around the south side of the reef, finding some unique Nudibranchs indigenous to this site only. Large cuttlefish, Coral banded Sea Snake, Peacock Mantis Shrimp, and  Anemone Crab.

Then the big boys came out to play, we moved around the reef further bumping into a small school of Yellow Tail Barracudas (1.2 metres each), closely followed by another school of Barracuda; this team, were of the Pick-handle variety, a little smaller than their yellow Tailed cousins, but no less menacing to the smaller fish.
Closer into the rocks looking for the smaller stuff, I noticed several different gobies and an Eastern Rainbow wrasse, Check-board Wrasse and Speckled Wrasse. A couple of tiny juvenile Puffer fish (very rare) a Bicolor Wrasse, Powder blue Surgeon fish, and a Picasso Trigger fish, I could go on and on.

Dive: 12   Richelieu Rock sunset dive Viz 15 metres… maximum depth 18 metres, current moderate… many fish again at this time of the day, we always see more on a sunset dive at Richelieu. On the outskirts of the reef, Yellow -Tail Barracudas were out patrolling along with the Trevallies and Mackerel…Supper Time!

We also found an old friend that we thought had gone missing, a pair of Harlequin Shrimps. There has been a pair of these critters here for years and it’s the first sighting for us this season. Harlequin Shrimps are unmistakable; they are usually in pairs, the female being the bigger of the two, with very small body’s, decorated in a harlequin colour scheme and possessing large claws.

Normally in these claws are large pieces of Starfish, which they have rudely slice off from the nearest unsuspecting starfish, welcome back Shrimps.

Diving Day 4 – 26 December 2013

We slept the night close to Khao Lak as our last two dives of the trip are wreck dives and are both close to the mainland resort.

Dive: 13 The Teak wreck sits down at 40 metres, the Viz was at 20 metres which is very good here, giving us a great view of the wreck itself. We descended down to 24 metres, and hit the wreck square on; as it lies on its port side.

From there we can see its full cargo of Teak Timbers, huge timbers in fact, so huge and heavy they do not even float. The marine life is growing daily, there are lots of Common Lionfish, and watching them heard the small fish into their lair is a special treat.

There of course is a huge school of Yellow Snapper. White Eyed Moray Eel was skirting around looking for a bite to eat too. The dive is relatively short, our bottom time did not exceed 40 minutes that is with the safety stops included, it’s a wonderful dive, an eerie dive, like some ghost ship from a bygone era.

Dive :14 Thai Muang Wreck (old Thai Tin Mining Dredger) Viz 20 metres… an amazing array of life on this little wreck. Over the years it has become a nursery for Juveniles; here is a list of some of the young fish we have just seen:-
Yellow Tailed Barracuda (20 cm), Titan Trigger Fish (20cm), Lizardfish (5 cm),White Spot Snapper (15cm), Bearded Scorpion fish (15cm)… We also saw a Honeycomb Moray Eel, White Eyed Moray and some huge Common Lion Fish and small Emperor Fish. The whole wreck is covered bow to stern in fish, great dive for the end of the trip, now, back to Chalong Bay, Phuket Island.