MV Giamani Log Book

13 – 15 December 2013 – Hin Daeng, Hin Muang Safari

MV Giamani Liveaboard Trip Log: 1800 hours: 13 – 15 December 2013.

Port of departure:  Chalong Bay, Phuket Island.

Weather Conditions: Scattered clouds, warm evening, very little breeze.

Sea Conditions: Calm with minor swells.

On-board we have customers from: Russia, Singapore and Thailand.

After the fire crackers which is an old Thai tradition, in order to bless the boat for a safe trip, we were under way; a wonderful balmy evening, sailing toward Phi Phi Island with the sunset as a backdrop

Dive Day One – 14 December 2013

We awoke at 6.30 am next to Hin Daeng, a very deep dive site, which reaches depths of 60 meters and beyond. It breaks the surface by only a meter or less. The sea was calm with only a slight breeze on the surface causing small ripples.

Dive 1 Hin Daeng – Viz 20 meters very slight current drifting from east to west. The Giant & Blue Fin Trevallies and Dogtooth Tunas with small several Mackerel tagging along were all out in the early morning looking for breakfast. The small bait fish never really stood a chance; it was a free for all feed-fest down there. A couple of very lazy Moray Eels looked like they were still sleeping, plus loads of Nudibranchs and a beautiful cowrie.

Dive 2 – Hin Muang – Viz 20+ meters there was quite a few divers on this site, maybe they know something we don’t. A few Rainbow Runners greet us with a fly by as we descend. There was a huge Grouper, groupers are usually quite timid fish, keeping distance from divers, but not this one, it was on cleaning station, and as we approached it, it did not even flinch, must have been 40 kilos in size.

A little bit further down the reef and it seemed to go all quite, all the fish seem to have disappeared. Then out of nowhere, rising from the depths, a 4 meter Manta Ray flew right over our heads. Incredible!

Dive 3 – Hin Muang – Viz 20 + meters we decided to stay and try our look again, see if we can get an even better look at this Massive Manta. Even before all the divers were in the water, it appeared again, just 3 meters below the boat, circling the reef like a huge space ship.

When all the divers finally splashed in, excited at the prospect of another sighting, we headed down but only to around 6 meters. The manta came around for another showing, hang on, another manta, two mantas together, we were blessed. One Manta had a perfect formed long tail, the second one however, had only half a tail. We stayed with them for ten minutes.

Further down the reef there was another Manta, this one had no tail whatsoever, who knows how they lose their tails, maybe fighting with sharks, and another mystery of the deep goes unsolved. Three Mantas, one dive, fantastic! Does it get any better?

Dive 4 – Koh Haa, The Cathedral viz 15 meters quite poor for Koh Haa as we normally expect about 25 meter viz. A sunset dive at Koh Haa, we dropped down to 18 meters and drifted round the corner towards the 3 huge caverns. As we entered the first cavern and made our way about 6 meters inside we turned to look at the wonderful silhouette of the other diver’s images, as they swam toward us. Loads of Nudibranchs, Featherstars, Shrimp, Spiny Tail Lobster, and we even found Nemo.

Dive Day 2 – 15 December 2013

Another beautiful sunny day with very little breeze and no surface current evident We awoke in the Phi Phi islands next to Bida Nai. We were the only boat in the area, so we decided to get a move on before the hordes of divers arrived from Phi Phi.

Dive 5 – Bida Nok – Viz in places was only 5 meters, but after a few minutes it cleared up, revealing Bida Nok’s wonders.  There was a slight surge, and as we rounded the corner to the deeper part of the dive site we immediately met up with the thousand (at least) strong school of Yellow Tail Snappers.

The poor snapper’s in turn were being tormented by half a dozen Giant Trevally. Also we saw a Hawksbill Turtle, loads of Morays of different species, Giant Fimbriated and Yellow Edged plus loads of Long Toms on the surface.

Dive 6 – The King Cruiser Wreck- Viz 15 + meters we descended down the mooring line to 17 meters, there was 6/7 divers on their way up, so we had to avoid them. On top of the wreck we were greeted by two huge schools of juvenile fishes. One of Yellow Snappers and the other Barracudas, each school 500 strong, we dived headlong into the Barracudas and watched them scatter, would not do that with their parents though, they get to over a meter in length each and don’t take to kindly to silly divers annoying them..

The wreck is still an eerie place, the way the light hits it in different directions, like a ghost ship from another era. KC still attracts more divers than most other sites because it is still a fantastic dive site.

Dive 7 – Koh Doc Mai – Viz 10 meters, the last dive of this trip before we head to Phuket and pick up and drop off guests. Before heading out to the Similans for a four day trip, Koh Doc Mai is a great wall dive and ideal for macro hunters. We saw loads of Box Shrimp, Cleaner Shrimp and Cleaner Pipefish, White Eyed Moray Eels. Fusiliers, Blue-Ringed Angle fish, Coral banded Sea Snake. Great drift dive to end the trip.

MV Giamani Log Book

7 – 13 Dec 2013 – Similan Islands Trips

MV Giamani Trip Log: 09-13 December 2012.

Port of departure: Phuket Island.

Weather Conditions: Bright sunshine, flat seas and a mild breeze

“The season has really started now!

The trip got off to a fantastic start with a minke whale mother and cub spotted of the coast of Phuket on the way up to the Similan islands, they stayed with the boat for about 30 minutes.

Once up in the Similan Islands we were treated to perfect high season weather, bright sunshine, flat seas and a mild breeze in the early evening to help cool down.

Also underwater all was good 40 metres visibility allowing us to see all of the massive schools of snapper and fussilier, at West of Eden a Great Barracuda was posing for photos, but drift diving was the order of the day with fairly strong currents.

At Koh Bon Pinnacle we got to see 4 leopard sharks sitting on the bottom (at about 45 metres) and were surrounded by large groups of Giant Trevally and Tuna. Moving on to Koh Bon West Ridge we got a colour changing show from a pair of Octopus as well as being followed by the resident pair of Napoleon Wrasse.

At Koh Tachai we dropped into fish soup, so much life here at the moment massive Blue Fin Trevally, a large school of Pickhandle Barracuda and masses of Jacks and Mackerel feeding on the smaller reef fish, this was topped of with the appearance of two Manta Rays which spent a bit of time with us.

Onto Richelieu Rock, we’ve found the Seahorses again as well as some ornate ghost pipefish for the first time this season. We also had the continuation of the Cuttlefish XXX show, a group of three on the outer side of the rock including a massive male almost a metre long and on the inside of the rock were another pair. On the line we had a large group of Juvenile Batfish and a hovering Great barracuda.”

Guest Comments:

“Very good and professional guide, very helpful and friendly crew, got taken good care of during the whole trip. I would like to come back and dive with Giamani again.” – Grace K.

“Great crew and service, personal dive boat feeling” – Chuck M.

“Similans = Giamani” – Daniel P.

MV Giamani Log Book

29 Nov – 01 December 2013 – Hin Daeng, Hin Muang Safari

MV Giamani Liveaboard Trip Log: 29 Nov to 1st December 2013

Port of departure:  Chalong, Phuket.

Weather Conditions: Blustery winds.

Sea Conditions: Over a meter swells coming in from the east.

On-board we have customers from: Singapore, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Chalong is very windy this evening, although there is no rain. Over a meter swells. We left at around 8pm. Dinner was served; we then set up the equipment for the next day’s diving. Although we were not sure whether we could go to Hin Daeng the next day, we would sure try. We slept the night in the safety of Phi Phi Islands, Maya Bay.

Diving Day 1 – 30th November 2013

The next morning we were greeted with more traditional high season weather of calm seas, blues skies and a gentle breeze. What a relief, we can go to Hin Daeng / Hin Muang after all, and what a treat that would turn out to be.

Dive 1- Bid Nok – Viz only 10 meters which is due to the weather and strong winds. The water temp is still the same a warm 29 degrees. We managed 55 minutes dive time. Giant Moray, was the first thing we saw, Black Tip reef Shark are busy early this morning too. A huge Group of Yellow Snapper, Fusilier’s and loads of different Nudibranch’s.

Also we had Bearded Scorpion fish and a school of Hunting Jacks buzzed us at the end of the dive. But the highlight had to go to the Reef Stonefish we saw walking along the bottom, looking for a new place to sit and catch breakfast no doubt, a fantastic and rare sight indeed.

Dive 2 – Koh Haa Neua (The Chimney) – Viz 15 meters which is not great for Koh Haa as it usually produces at least 25 meters visibility, again all down to the weather; another 55 minute dive. We started at the entrance which is at 5 meters, a huge funnel like cavern which stretches down to 17 meters and is literally full of fish.

After exiting the Chimney there are several other exciting swim throughs to enjoy. Which are full of small Glass Fish all darting around trying to avoid the hungry Groupers in search of a mid-morning snack.

Dive  3- Hin Muang  Again the vis 15 meters and is not what it should be here, with the water taking on a green tinge, meaning a large Plankton bloom, hustled in by the recent strong winds. As we descend to around twenty meters the water starts to clear and it is possible to see the murky water layers on top of the more crystal clear blue, usually associated with this area.

The current was quite strong and building, however as this site lies east to west it is easy to shelter from the strong currents.

We had Giant Trevally hunting and also we saw a huge Jelly Fish being eaten alive by four File Fish, after around 15 minute we ascended to a shallower part of the site, and there coming up like a huge cloud from the deepest depths was a 4 meter wide manta Ray. It swam over our heads by no more than a meter and disappeared as quickly as it appeared – awe inspiring.

After about 20 minutes of the dive we ascended further to around 12 meters, it appeared again, but this time it stayed, there feeding in the current, really disinterested in us, just happy to be feeding on the masses of plankton. We hung out with it till our air ran almost dry.

It is easy to lose oneself in a situation like that and not concentrate on gauges.  We got a much better a look at the huge fish, it had been obviously bitten by a Shark, on its left side fin at some point on its travels and its right front lobe had been damaged too. The huge female was still in excellent shape. And she gave us a dive experience of a life time.

Dive 4- Hin Daeng Viz 15 meters this was an excellent choice as a sunset dive, there was very strong current ripping in now, but there are many place to hide on this devastatingly deep dive site. The action at this time of the day is mesmerizing to say the least. The action here is fantastic, Blue Fin Trevally greeted us on our entry to scope us out, they then disappeared and a huge Giant Trevally came in for inspection. The bait fish that were being stalked by these predators never stood a chance. Also looking for supper were some great Barracuda and Dogtooth Tuna.

Diving Day 2 – 1st December 2013

Another beautiful start to the day as we woke again in Maya Bay, and after a light breakfast we headed out to the Bida Island for our first dive

Dive 5 – Bida Nai  Viz only 10 meters here, and the current was strong, as we turned south towards fantasy reef, it was a drifting experience as we cruised along the bottom looking for the elusive Leopard Sharks. There was not much life to see here as we needed to head back to the main part of the site the current was growing stronger, so we had to be careful, we managed to get over to the swim throughs and admired the huge Gorgonian sea fans.

Dive 6 – Phuket Shark Point  Viz 10 meters No current as we entered on high tide. We stayed around the main pinnacle, looking for Nudibranch’s and Seahorses we also got some great pictures of an Ornate Ghost Pipe Fish, a very beautiful and quite rare member of the Seahorse family.  Also Huge Porcupine Box Puffer, Sea Snake, and a fine selection of Morays too, alas no Sharks.

Dive 7 – Koh Doc Mai Viz just 10 meters, this is a great wall dive, especially looking for macro life, so the diver needs to be close to the wall searching every nook and cranny along the way. The current gave us a decent drift so little effort was needed from our group finning wise. Many different species of Nudibranchs, Durban Dancing Cleaner Shrimp, Jens Pipefish, Common Pipefish (not so common) were also spotted.

Not 1, not 2 but 3 Tiger Tail Seahorses all in different areas of the reef, a testament to the dive guides eye sight which is surely not fading with age. One of the Sea Horses was a juvenile and half the size of the other two. We also took a look inside the 2 huge caverns, very dark and eerie, wonderful dive to cap a quite fantastic trip.

We headed back to Chalong for 3.30 pm to pick up a couple more customers and head out to the Similan Islands in the evening.

MV Giamani Log Book

15 – 21 November 2013 – Andaman Sea Diving Safari

MV Giamani Trip Log: 1800 hours: 15 – 21 Nov 2013.

Port of departure:  Chalong, Phuket – Thailand

Weather Conditions: scattered clouds, slight rain with gentle breeze

Sea Conditions: Calm with gentle swells

Giamani’s logbook:

On-board we have customers from Italy, Hong Kong, Russia, Australia and USA.

We set sail into the night for Hin Daeng, after watching the blessing of the boat with fire crackers, dinner is served and most of us find our cabins and try to catch some sleep before the full day of diving that awaits us.

Diving Day  1 – 16th Nov 2013

Dive 1 – Hin Daeng: Viz 25 Meters – the sky is looking a little cloudy and there is a slight chop on the water. There is also another boat here. The visibility is 30 meters plus. There is only a very small current running south to north. Many Moray Eels including Giant, and White eyed. There is a small school of Bat Fish as inquisitive as ever and approach our group. There are many Glass Fish which is also a good sign, as we might see some more Trevally and Tuna hunting on the other sight s like we have here.

Dive 2 – Hin Muang: Viz 25 meters – all good fun at Hin Muang, there has been a new mooring line installed, but it is very deep, at least at 40 meters. We will not be going down there that way again. There is even more fish on here then on the sister sight of Hin Daeng, absolutely amazing, we were here last week and there were Dolphins now they have gone and it seems the fish life has come back. It’s very busy down here with Rainbow Runners and Barracuda running the show Trevally’s and Tuna also in on the hunting act, also we spotted some rare Nudibranch.

Dive 3 – Koh Haa: The Chimney. Viz 25 meters – after about a two hour journey from Hin Muang, we were ready for another dive. This time in the idyllic setting of Koh Haa, is what can only be described as a Blue Lagoon Paradise. The viz was 25 meters, very slight current if any. Fish absolutely everywhere, the highlight of the dive, is the vertical swim through, called The Chimney, one at a time divers ascend up The Chimney it is a funnel full of Marine life you have to push out of your way to get through. It’s easy to navigate, full of light and lots of room and great fun.

Dive 4 – Koh Haa: The Cathedral. Viz 25 meters – a sunset dive here at Koh Haa is quite spectacular, there is loads of activity, with most of the fish preparing for night time on the reef, fish are very active during this time of evening. It’s a great way to end the day. We also found the large caverns at about 14 meters underwater, they are very easy to navigate, and you can swim inside without any fear whatsoever. There was a huge school of Fusiliers and we also found a Spiny Lobster lurking in the rocks

Diving Day  2 – 17th Nov 2013

Dive 5 – Bida Nok: Viz 25 meters – we wake up on the waters that surround the Phi Phi Island group, Bida Nok is the island furthest from Phi Phi main island and offers some of its best diving. Today we did a 60 minute dive and we saw a Leopard shark, a couple of black Tip reef Sharks, Octopus, Trevally, Dog tooth Tuna. At the end of the dive, there was also a 2 meter Great Barracuda spotted, big big teeth.

Dive 6 – King Cruiser Wreck: lies down at 32 meters and we managed a 50 minute dive here, the visibility was fantastic here also. The wreck itself is barely recognizable from what it was a few years ago, but it still makes for an excellent dive. With many predators lurking, as the whole wreck is a nursery for the local young fishes. Yellow Snapper, White Eyed Moray Eel and a school of at least a thousand juvenile Barracuda followed us everywhere. Advice time: be wary of depth, time and limits paying particular attention to your dive computer.

Dive 7 – Koh Doc Mai: Viz 15 meters – this is a gentle drift dive against the back drop of the wall of Koh Doc Mai. We found Cleaner Pipefish, with Durban Dancing Shrimp, two Blue Ringed Angel Fish, and a Sleeping Nurse Shark to name but a few here.

Sunday 17th November: We arrive back to chalong to pick up a couple more guests and to say farewell to some others. Two guys from the UK and two from Switzerland join as we get under way for the Similans.

Diving Day  3 – 18th Nov 2013

Dive 1 – Sharks Fin Reef: The conditions this morning are warm and calm, the viz here is 25 meters, plus water temp is 30 degrees and absolutely no current again. The size of the fish seem bigger here, there is the usual hunting packs of Jacks, but also large Unicorn Fish Surgeonfish, Octopus and Bearded Scorpion fish

Dive 2 – Deep Six: Viz 25 meters – the current is building up now, but still not too strong. As we descended down, we saw a juvenile Black and White Coral Banded Sea Snake coming up for a breath of air. But the highlight here was the Peacock Mantis shrimp that seemed to wallow in the limelight and much to the delight of the waiting paparazzi of underwater photographer’s

Dive 3 – Elephant Head Rock: Viz 25 meters – there was a slight down ward current and surge we managed a depth of 28 meters although 50 meters is easily possible here. We saw two massive Great Barracuda that seemed to be just taking it easy. Giant Trevally and Pick Handle Barracuda also seen hunting here and near the end of the dive there was a Black Tip Reef Shark, slowly cruising, there was a Nudibranch laying eggs on the rocks below.

Dive 4 – Koh Bon Bay: A night dive to finish off with, down to 14 meters the viz is excellent many different kinds of Crabs and Shrimps, Brittle Star Fish, Scorpion Fish and a Cuttlefish.

Diving Day  4 – 19th Nov 2013

Dive 5 – Koh Bon Pinnacle: Viz 30 meters – no current yet again in the morning, which is nice. There are many divers here which is unusual for this site. Large Blue Fin Trevally and Rainbow Runners hunting out in the blue distance, Raggy Scorpion fish, Dog Tooth Tuna too.

Dive 6 – Koh Bon Ridge: Viz 25 meters – the current is definitely gaining in strength pushing us out toward the ridge. Possible sightings of big fish can be enjoyed here. Trevally and Moray Eels along with a couple of Coral Banded Sea Snakes, Emperors, Surgeon Fish, Unicorn Fish, Blue Fin Trevally and several different species of Gobies hiding in the rocks

Dive 7 – Koh Tachai Pinnacle: Viz 25 Meters – no current as it is high tide, which means we experienced a little surge throughout the whole dive. 100 Pick handle Barracuda, 2 very large Great Barracuda, one kamikaze Parrotfish that for some reason was swimming around like it was possessed, Rainbow Runners and Bearded Scorpion Fish.

Dive 8 – Koh Tachai Reef: Viz 20 meters – gentle slight current, enabling a pleasant drift dive lots of small Glass Fish being stalked by small Groupers. Being another sunset dive, it is again a very busy dive site, with most fish actively out and getting ready for the night time. Just before the end of the dive we have an incident with two Titan Trigger fish, they seem to get upset that we were passing through their borders uninvited and let us know about it, by trying to bite several of our group of diver’s fins.

Diving Day  5 – 20th Nov 2013

Dive 9 – Tachai Pinnacle: Viz 25 meters – It was rather cloudy on this morning and quite with a slight chop upon the water. As we descended, it was obvious that there was more current than yesterday. The Trevallies and Barracuda were out looking for breakfast. The highlight of the dive was two Octopuses mating, the different colours and the different shapes they changed to is amazing.

Dive 10 – Richelieu Rock: Viz 25 meters – the seas had calmed down by the time of the second dive. We saw Pipefish; one species was the Cleaner Pipefish and another one we could not recognize, there were so many different kinds of Nudibranch and Shrimps. Yellow Snapper, Silver Trevally, and Sea Bream, a Stonefish lay in wait and a Sea Snake and Great Barracuda were cruising.

Dive 11 – Richelieu Rock: Viz still about 20 meters – no current and calm seas. Octopus, White Eyed Moray Eels plus a Giant and a Fimbriated Moray sharing the same hole; Four Legged Starfish that had been obviously mauled by the elusive and tiny Harlequin Box Shrimp

Dive 12 – Richelieu Rock: Sunset dive, viz 20 meters – depth 16 meters, great conditions. There was so many fish, Silver and Blue Fin Trevally, Snappers, Emperors all hunting the small glass fish. 30 Yellow Tail Barracuda a meter plus in length, also we saw a Cuttlefish at the end of the dive

Diving Day  6 – 21st Nov 2013

Dive 13 – The Teak Wreck Viz 20 meters – calm seas, very slight current, as we approach about 20 meters in depth, we were greeted by a twenty strong Batfish welcoming party, and they stayed with us for the whole dive. The Teak Wreck is quite a deep dive so it is a short dive, but well worth it, what a wonderful shipwreck.

Dive 14 – The Thai Muang Wreck: Viz much less here than on the other dive sites, there was also a mild current, this is an old Tin Mining Vessel form the days of the Phuket Tin Mining era. It sits at twenty meters and is the home for so many fish and also it’s a nursery. We saw a very small Titan Trigger Fish here, no doubt practicing its terrorizing tactics for the unsuspecting divers for the coming years.

We arrived back to Chalong at 17.30, and Giamani is ready to go again.

MV Giamani Log Book

29-31 March 2013 – Hin Daeng & Hin Muang Safari

Although generally not as popular or as well-known as cruises to the Similan Islands, I can strongly recommend doing a two-day dive trip to the southern sites of Phuket or, even better, combining one with a four-day trip to the north as well! I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do this trip many times over the years (at least once a year) and I can honestly say that it promises something new every time because the sites are so variable. It seems that every time I do the trip, I have a new favourite site.

The first thing to know about this trip is that there is no guarantee of what you will see. You will most likely see a leopard shark or two, some cool macro, lots of beautiful soft coral and unique landscapes topside, but the dive sites can provide very different experiences from one day to the next. Our first day of diving was a perfect example of this. The first dives were on the twin sites of Hin Muang and Hin Daeng, known for manta sightings and two potentially spectacular sites where after finding eight different kinds of morays, I stopped counting and instead focused on the different sorts of cleaner shrimp I found on them, sometimes in their pliant gaping mouths. As always, on the early morning dives, I try to remember to keep one eye on the blue in order to not miss out on the early show of jacks and trevallies feeding on the waves of glassfish and rainbow runners and sometimes much bigger creatures. I was also testing out a new camera and housing and some striking nudibranchs amidst the beautiful soft corals were perfect for trying some macro shots.

Feeling the sun’s early rays on my back as we headed towards Koh Haa, I was already quite content with my day. Yet, the next dive literally took my breath away at times. At the Chimney site, we descended on a seabed covered in two-spot and big-eye snappers with silver sides raining down, forming a wall of fish. After they moved off, I began hunting for squat shrimp since there was so much bubble coral around and I was rewarded with four different groups of the beautiful creatures. But it was the variety of marine life I found which really cheered me: star wars shrimp (my non-scientific name for this weird alien creature), huge murexes, including an orange one, peacock mantis, a granddaddy map puffer and a giant grouper. But what was just as gratifying was seeing the variety of healthy corals on display after the area was hit by coral bleaching four years before. Bushes of purple soft coral that have sprouted directly on the seabed have already reached over a metre in height, which almost made us miss the leopard shark hidden in their midst. But maybe they made him feel more secure since he allowed us to approach him (so I could see that he was definitely male) within a fin’s length. We finished off the dive with one of my favourite parts of this site: diving “up” the chimney, a beautiful space full of life such as transparent shrimp and delicate tube anemones, which opens up into an overhang of light reflecting off of hundreds of chimney sweepers. Even in the shallows, there were lots of creatures to keep us entertained such as moon wrasses flitting at my mask and a sea snake and a feather star both undulating around the reef to our group’s delight.

Our downtime after that dive consisted of snorkelling with a turtle in the calm beach bay where we had anchored surrounded by striking limestone karst formations that are typical of the area. We finished off the day’s dives at the Cathedral where we could just enjoy the fading light and the hunters darting in and out amongst the schools of smaller fish.

Our last day started off with a sunrise to rival even the most gorgeous sunsets. The first dive was at Koh Bida Nok where the visibility started off at 10m but later improved to around 25m allowing us to observe yet another sea snake bobbing around. Another advantage of doing a Thailand liveaboard in this area is that there are no other groups of divers to contend with and we were able to catch a glimpse of the famous “Beach” from the film of the same name (gorgeous) before the invasion of the hordes (hey, where’d the beach go?) – a spectacle in itself.

The visibility for the last two dives was not the best but that didn’t stop us from seeing lots of very nice stuff. At Shark Point, we started the dive at the third pinnacle where we saw a blue-spotted stingray and on the way in towards the first pinnacle, we also encountered a porcelain crab, a leopard shark, a very pretty flatworm, a tigertail seahorse – one of a pair apparently – a rock covered in at least a dozen white-eyed morays swimming in and out of crevices and, as the perfect crowning touch, around four or five huge cuttlefish that lingered with us during our safety stop. The final dive at Koh Doc Mai provided a complete change as it is a wall dive known for its macro life. In addition to lots of shrimp, mating nudibranchs, scorpionfish and more white-eyed morays, we also saw a resting bamboo shark, the cutest little yellow boxfish and an ornate ghost pipefish.

It’s only a short ride back to Chalong Pier from Koh Doc Mai but it’s really impressive how quickly and efficiently the crew took care of people’s gear for the unlucky passengers like me who had to disembark. I once read a quote from a well-known dive photographer who said: “I am most impressed when a dive team is able to foresee all possible problems and solves them without you even noticing. This allows you to forget about mundane chores, and focus solely on making beautiful images.“ I’m still working on the latter part but thanks to the crew on the Giamani for the rest!

MV Giamani Log Book

17 – 21 Feb 2013 – Similan Island Safari

MV Giamani Trip Log: 17 Feb 2013 – 21 Feb 2013.

Port of departure: Phuket Island.

Weather Conditions: Sunny & calm.

Even though I had just returned home from a dive holiday in Sipadan (fantastic!), I still didn’t hesitate for a second when I had the chance to join a four-day liveaboard cruise going to the Similan Islands, one of the advantages of being self-employed and living in Asia.

Since 2006, I have generally tried to make a trip to the Similans one of my annual dive holidays. I had already enjoyed previous trips on the Giamani and was happy to see that they had made even more improvements to what is already a comfortable boat. Divers are generally limited to 12 which makes for a friendly but relaxing cruise. There’s a huge dive deck for kitting up and the main lounge areas, one for dining and hanging out and another for watching movies or tinkering with photo gear, have been opened up a bit and a new wooden floor has been installed which makes it less slippery when lots of wet divers traipse through. The cabins seem brighter and new aircon systems help to keep the rooms fresher.

After a welcome drink on the boat, I went down to the dive deck to find my gear had already been completely set up. I almost felt cheated as there was nothing for me to do but check that all my gadgets were in the right place, but then thought I could get very used to this! So I went back up topside to grab a beer and enjoy the view of Phuket and a sunset as we headed out. It turns out that all of the other guests had already been waiting on board as they had been on the previous two-day trip to the south of Phuket, so we had an early afternoon sailing instead of the usual night one.

First minute of our first dive: we practically landed on top of a leopard shark (or zebra shark in case my brother reads this). Luckily, we all saw it and were able to approach it cautiously and admire it before it glided off into the blue. We were on Shark Fin Reef, a very nice site which I hadn’t dived in years. On any first dive in the Similans, I never fail to be impressed by the massive granite formations underwater. The singular seascape just adds to the feeling of being in another world where I can fly and spy on exotic creatures. On that dive, I was able to find the usual suspects, some nice dart gobies, garden eels but was most taken with some unusual red bubble coral that looked like mini pacifiers or, with very little imagination needed, something else along the same lines!

Next came one of my favourite parts of liveaboard life: breakfast! It’s only after diving that I feel like (and can indulge in) having a heaping plate of bacon and eggs topped with cheese on fresh toast. My husband and I even started adding peanut butter and nutella to this breakfast of champions! I would like to say that I would then eat a lighter lunch and dinner, but the truth was that the food was really good and varied enough where I just had to try a little bit of everything. Anyway, it’s all part of the glorious dive/eat/sleep schedule.

Our second dive of the day was almost an exploration dive as it was at East of Eden, a site which had just been reopened after having been closed off for the past couple of years to allow it to recover from coral bleaching damage. It was a nice dive and although you could still see affected areas, there were some gorgeous huge bommies covered with corals, old and new, and healthy fish life. It was also nice to see that one of its more legendary inhabitants, a giant moray eel, was still a resident.

As there were several photographers on board, and even a couple of professional ones shooting a campaign to promote ocean ecological awareness with the help of a live mermaid(!), it was nice to be able to check out different types of pictures (macro, fisheye lens/wide‐angle and underwater
sirens) and exchange shooting tips with a good group of people in our down time between dives.

That first day, we even received a very entertaining visitor after a third dive at Elephant Head Rock (very cool and fun swim‐throughs) when a turtle came looking for some food and company. It was a very curious hawksbill turtle who stayed with us for at least an hour, allowing everyone ample time to take pictures and snorkel with it. Apparently, we were a recommended address because he even came back later with a smaller lady friend in tow!

I must admit that as a macro photographer, I’m always on the hunt for new strange critters, but on this trip I was able to see a little bit of everything I love: schools of trevallies, barracuda balls, huge groupers, tapestry shrimp, harlequin shrimp, ribbon eels, stunning nudibranchs… We didn’t happen to see the mantas this time around on Koh Bon, but they were there according to at
least three other boats. On one night dive just under the Giamani, where we were anchored to catch the sun set over a gorgeous beach (I skipped the optional afternoon visit), I never even managed to explore beyond a couple of
bommies as they were teeming with all sorts of crabs and shrimp, but I was rewarded with shots or views of at least six shrimp that I had never seen before.

And, day by day, the dives just kept getting better and better. At Koh Tachai Pinnacle, where my husband and I once spent an entire sunset dive just watching the pelagics hunting and darting around through schools of fusiliers over the reef, I was constantly amazed at the rainbow of colours of the enormous fans and featherstars, with countless scorpionfish camouflaged in their midst, not to mention the barracuda ball which stayed with us during the safety stop! Richelieu Rock remains a gem and, even after having dived there at least a dozen times, I was happy to continue my tradition of always seeing “new” creatures there. Ricardo, our dynamic tour leader, always on top of things and anticipating everyone’s needs, made it a point of planning our dive so that I wouldn’t miss the resident harlequin shrimp this time around, as I had always previously refused to waste my precious dive time waiting behind other photographers all piled up in one spot. Success! I even had the wonderful creatures all to myself and was able to admire and study the wonderful intricacy of their colours. We then went in search of the pineapple fish that had been hanging around the site. The tiny creature was apparently too shy that day but we did see a very nice and rather sociable black ribbon eel. I was actually more entranced by a giant moray right next to it which was peeking out from behind a curtain of glassfish. I also found a beautiful yellow and blue, black and white spotted toby which I now need to identify!

Our last two dives of the trip were actually the most exhilarating (even if the last – sniff!)! They were both wreck dives with the top of the first one, known as the Teak Wreck, located at around 22m.

Here, I have to stop for a second and say, hooray for Nitrox! Knowing that I would of course find the coolest stuff one minute before hitting deco, I decided to use nitrox throughout this trip. It really made a noticeable difference given my dive profile and let me linger and really enjoy sites like Koh Bon, Richelieu Rock or the wrecks.

Ok, back to my last (boo!) dives. There is really not much that can compare with the early morning light at 25m revealing a huge underwater structure with no one around but thousands of fish. I was torn between just floating and watching the spectacle in front of me and hunting down what I knew were some great macro shots just waiting for me. Luckily, with nitrox, I could do both! Because the wreck dated back only a few years, I was in awe at the discovery of a mini carpet anemone, about the size of a doll’s circular rug, which had taken up life on the wreck’s edge. As I studied it, I noticed a familiar little wiggle. It was a minuscule sexy shrimp (aka the much less sexy name of squat shrimp), no larger than 1cm, waving its tail around from underneath the anemone. It was too shy for me to get a good shot of it without disturbing its home but I was mesmerised by its little dance. So
nevertheless I still managed to come very close to deco (my computer stayed at one min. until I hit 18m) and up until the last second, I was still finding things to look at and drink in.

When we surfaced from the last (wah!) dive, the crew was already busy rinsing everyone’s equipment and hanging gear out to dry. By then, I was definitely used to the boat boys somehow always being there to help with fins, zippers, tanks, buckles. I have been on a lot of liveaboards with similar service, but I want to give a special shoutout to the crew and tour leader who made it all seem effortless, going the extra mile by helping even with the little details. Whether it was the hostess in the dining area or the guys on the dive
deck, everything ran smoothly and was relaxed.

I’ll be leaving Asia soon but I am quite sure I will still find a way to make it back to the Similans, hopefully aboard the Giamani (I have to have some
more of their fried bananas with cake batter!). Obrigado and many thanks to Ricardo and everyone for reminding me why I love liveaboards and diving!

MV Giamani Log Book

25 – 31 Jan 2013 – 6 Day Andaman Safari

MV Giamani Trip Log: 25 Jan 2013 – 31 January 2013.

Port of departure: Phuket Island.

Weather Conditions: Windy morning with calm afternoons.

The sea was a little rough on the trip south towards Hin Deang / Hin Muang, but the weather improved as the trip went on, throughout the trip we had windy morning with calm afternoons.

The visibility was very good in Phi Phi Island, having been quite poor the last couple of weeks.
In the Similan Islands, particularly good dives at Elephant Head Rock and Koh Tachai Pinnacle.

MV Giamani Log Book

11 – 17 Jan 2013 – 6 day Andaman Safari

MV Giamani Trip Log: 11 Jan 2013 – 17 January 2013

Port of departure: Phuket Island

Weather Conditions: Calm Seas & No wind

Another trip on board our MV Giamani with no wind and calm seas.  We had some special guests at Hin Deang as we were joined by 5 Manta Rays.
Low visibility at Phi Phi Island, but yet again Similan Islands had very good visibility and calm conditions.


“4 days of diving like this are really an ideal break from civilisation.  Fishes everywhere, by hundreds, Lion, Nudibranchs, puffer fishes.What a pleasure to be helped by this careful crew before and after diving.
A word on the cook – “please can you come back home with us” – you should offer cooking lessons on board!” –  Valerie (France)

“A good choice of boat… right size! … Terrific crew and diving experience.
Every member of the crew made everything easy.”  – Peter & Christine

“The crew were terrific and the diving was fantastic” – Joy

MV Giamani Log Book

New Year Safari – 30 dec – 5 Jan 2013

MV Giamani Trip Log: 30 Dec 2012 – 5 January 2013.

Port of departure: Phuket Island.

Weather Conditions: Mixed.

Strange weather on this trip, every day was half rain and wind and half blazing sunshine and calm seas and the order they came in alternated daily. Being just after full moon we had some strong currents on this trip. The ribbon eel was back at West of Eden and we had our first sighting of Hump Head Parrot fish at torinla Ridge in the Surin Islands. As ever the wreck dives were full of macro life, nudibranchs, cleaner shrimp and hermit crabs.

The old year ended a few hours early on MV Giamani with Fire works and fizzy wine allowing everyone the chance to get some rest before another great day of diving.

Guest Comments:

“To the fabulous crew – we would like to thank you for the incredible care and service on the boat. You all pampered us and now we have a high expectation for the next dive trip. We will never forget New Years Eve 2013” – Marlene & Peter

“I had a great time during this trip. The crew took an amazing care of us in every details of the dive preparation and ending. The dive masters were very professional and knowledgable. The cuisine was great such that I probably gained a few kilos.” – Christelle

“Fantastic Crew – Thai people are absolutely wonderful, kind and helpful people. Richelieu rock was beautiful. The divemasters were great – relaxed, helpful and outgoing. Thanks for everything I had a lovely time” – Bob S

“Thanks all for a really great time. The entire crew was really kind and efficacious. From the staff taking care of us getting ready for diving, to the very nice hostess, to the amazing cook ( I’ve never had such good food on any boat yet.) The divemaster team completed it and made everything work smoothly in a very relaxed and great atmosphere. – see you next time” – Nathalie Y

MV Giamani Log Book

Christmas Trip 2012 – Similan & Surin Islands

MV Giamani Trip Log: 23-29 December 2012

Port of departure: Phuket Island

Weather Conditions: Sunshine and flat seas

The trip started with a report of a looming storm and strong winds, this seemed to be the case with rocky conditions in Chalong Bay. However, as we set off the sea calmed down and we woke to sunshine and flat seas in Similan. The good weather continued for the whole trip, blotted only by a couple of evening rain showers.

Underwater the conditions were also good with very good visibility and mild currents. On Koh Tachai we were joined by Manta rays and at Richelieu Rock we found Seahorse, Pineapple Fish and a Ribbon Eel as well as the habitual schools of Barracuda and Trevally.

Guest Comments:

“Thanks for a fabulous week of diving over Christmas 2012. Loved everything about the trip – great food, great company, plenty of great diving. Now to bring the Dive, Eat, Sleep, Repeat mentality home with me.” – KA

“We’ll look back on Christmas 2012 with great memories of the trip, some fantastic diving, great company and an amazing crew” – Stuart & Eila