MV Giamani Log Book

17 – 19 January 2014 – Hin Daeng / Hin Muang & Koh Haa

MV Giamani Trip Log: 17 – 19 January 2014.

Port of departure:  Chalong Pier, Phuket Island.

Weather Conditions: Warm evening, very slight breeze.

Sea Conditions: slight chop on the water.

On-board we have customers from: Italy, Russia & US

A warn evening in Chalong with a cooling breeze coming from the north east. Guest arrived promptly and happy and ready for the next few days diving and after equipment check and setup the firecrackers lit for another farewell to Phuket for a few days. Dinner was served we got everyone settled in and sorted out all the queries.

Diving Day 1 – 18 January 2015

Dive: 1 – Hin Daeng (Red Rock) Viz 15 metres temp 27 degrees current running slightly north  causing a little drifty a the beginning of the dive. As we descended huge school of Fusiliers greeted us. Down to twenty meters and it was like Moray Eel frenzy, they seemed to be lurking everywhere.

Scribbled File Fish chomping on the couple of dying non stinging Jelly Fish; our search for the Manta Rays continued further around the rock, unfortunately, they were not to be found.
However the Trevallies were putting on a show for us, as they smashed into the small Bait fish with all the might of a Marauding pack of hungry wolves. They are ruthless and no smaller fish is safe, when they are on the prowl.

The sea is still no calmer, so we have decided to move the boat to Koh Haa. There are plenty of places to stay where the water is still.

Dive: 2 – Koh Haa The Cathedral Viz 20 metres slight current, out the towards the edge of dive site, so we stayed closer to the island where there was none. As we went down, there at 6 metres we just cruised over the rock formations admiring nature’s handy work.

As we went round towards the entrances to the caverns we saw quite a few divers in the area too. So we decided that we would not go too far inside and stayed and watched the huge school of Yellow Snapper swim by. There was not much marine life in there, but the light as it enters the cavern is quite spectacular as a backdrop view.
Slowly we made our way round the site there are three small caverns here, but hey open up inside to reveal an amazing view, especially when you look from outside in, as the light penetrates inside, revealing all the divers, like silhouettes.

There Lion fish a couple of Scorpion Fish several Morays, White eyed and Giant, a few Yellow Mackerels hunting. Coral banded Sea Snake and several Anemone Clown Fish, small Yellow Tailed Barracudas. I have just realized that there was lots of different Yellow tailed fish down there today.

Dive:3 – The Chimney Koh Haa – Viz 15 metres, we started the dive in calm seas. We went down the sloping wall on Koh Neau dropping down, eventually to 20 metres and slowly making our way to the Chimney.
The chimney spits divers out at around 18metres, but you can go the other way, so we went inside at 18 and ascend to 8 metres and there is an escape hatch, where you can get out of. Also, a little shallower there is another, as you exit the corals they are so beautiful as the lighting his them.

We ascended one by one into the long funnel, small Cardinal Fish; we had to move them out of our way to get up.  Also there are some small jaggy rocks and potential Scorpion Fish lurking so it is wise to be careful where one puts ones hands.

As we exited the chimney, we turned left into floating above the huge purple coral, they have grown so big, and they are bending over on themselves, due to their huge bulk. Amongst that lot were several species of Clown fish, Koh Haa does seem to attract Nemo and his friends.

The Yellow Tail Mackerels were helping themselves to the small bait fish joined with half a dozen Moon Wrasse, they made sorties after sortie on the poor fishes. Also we saw some large Potato Groupers a Sea Turtle, Several kinds of Nudibranch.

Dive: 4 – Koh Haa Lagoon sunset dive Viz 15 metres, as we descended straight onto of a small school of juveniles Barracudas. Not sure if they were happy to see us though.
The sun was starting to set so the torches came out to reveal some smaller critters hiding in the small rocks. Creatures like Small Spiny Lobsters and Crabs lurking for an early supper.

There are lots of fish about this evening, as sunset is the best time of the day for activity, as the reek fishes are looking for a bed for the bed and the nocturnal hunters come out to play and forage.
There was lots of Feather stars out for a stroll, if you have never seen one walking before they have really long arms and clamber over the reef searching for plankton floating past them.
The was a couple of Lion Fish out herding small prey into their lair, we had to be careful where we put our hands around there, as there were a couple of Bearded scorpion fish there too.
Further round the sight we managed to bump into a small group of Squid another set of strange creatures, they probably thought we were. They came over and gave us the onceover and were gone, I think, if they can’t eat us, then they will look for something more digestible than someone in a wetsuits and mask and fins.

Diving Day 2 – 19 January 2014

We woke in the shallows reefs around Phi Phi Islands: 6:30 am and as the sun was rising we enjoyed a light breakfast before our first dive.
The night was very calm and everyone got a decent nights rest before the activities today, so let us see what this new morning will bring the intrepid divers aboard Giamani.

Dive: 5  – Bida Nok Viz 10 metres slight current gently leading us down the site, as we entered the water there were two Hawksbill Turtles, maybe they came to say good morning, which was a nice start to the dive. Just beyond them there was huge Raggy Bearded Scorpion Fish with the upside down smile on its face, which is probably the last thing its breakfast saw before gulped down.

The usual large school of Yellow Snappers, were about they are so beautiful as they stream past us, the colours are amazing. The big boys were out to hunting of course. Yellow mackerels, Giant and Blue Fin Trevallies were all darting in between the large groups of smaller fish looking for a spot sushi for breakfast.

Black and White Banded Sea Snake was noseying around the rocks; a couple of Spiny Lobsters could be seen with the Antennas sticking out of their little holes in from the rocks small. There were small shrimp ready to clean with cleaner wrasse looking for some any fish that needs a manicure.

Dive: 7  -Anemone reef; Viz 5 metres there was a strong current evident by the way the buoy line we were attached to was stretched to its maximum. So we had to play it safe, the visibility was not so clear. We have not dived here for a while and we were looking forward to find those smaller creatures that love anemone reef so much.

The reef itself is covered in Anemones and as they sway in the current it is a most beautiful site, when the vis is good it really looks like the whole rock is just waving in the breeze.
We saw many fusiliers at around 8 metres they seem to like just hanging off the rocks in the current. Next we headed down to about 18- 20 metres in search of the smaller macro life.  There are a couple of Ornate Ghost

Pipe Fish on here as well as some great little Nudibranchs and there is a very friendly pair of Tiger Tail Sea Horses.
There was a small crew of Chevron Barracuda, lurking just of the southern point waiting in the current for some poor defenseless fish to stray too far away from the security of the reef.

The current started to pick even more and the end of the dive was coming, so we decided to make for the buoy line and get out for lunch. Shame about the current and Vis but we did manage a Tiger Tail Seahorse which always makes the dive worthwhile.

Dive: 7 – Koh Doc Mai viz 5 metres from the south to north we went with the current we descended the wall dive which is covered in Oyster and Zig Zag Clams as we passed them they automatically close up and it does seem s the wall is moving very strange.

Down to 15 metres we found a cleaning station run by Box Shrimps they was no charge and they happily gave us a pedicure on our hands and nails without a single pinch, very kind. Next we bumped into a small White Eyed Moray who did not lock too happy, he was not in any crevices so he may have been feeling a little vulnerable, so we left him to sort himself out.

We also saw, even though limited by the poor vis (unusual fro this time of year) several other species of Morays, half a dozen different species of Nudibranchs, Yellow snapper, Blue Ringed and Emperor Angel fish. Lion fish and scorpion fish were also lurking. We are off back now to Phuket where we will see what awaits later.

MV Giamani Log Book

26 – 30 December 2013 – Similan Islands X-Mas Charter

MV Giamani Liveaboard Trip Log: 26 – 30 December 2013.

Port of departure:  Chalong Pier, Phuket Island.

Weather Conditions: Warm evening, very slight breeze.

Sea Conditions:  very calm seas.

On-board we have customers from: UK, US and Canada.

A warn evening in Chalong with a cooling breeze coming from the north. Guest arrived happy and ready for the next few days diving. After equipment check and setup dinner was served and the firecrackers lit for another farewell to Phuket for a few days. We are also celebrating a birthday the birthday of one our guests.

We have some people doing the Advance Course some doing the Nitrox course and one doing the Open Water Course

Diving Day 1 – 27 December 2013

After our trip through the night we were welcomed to the Similans by a rising sun, how beautiful, after a light breakfast and briefings for the dives we were ready for our 1st dive.

Dive: 1 Honeymoon Bay Viz 40metres slight drift dive from north to south… The visibility is simply outstanding here this morning. On the surface all guest perform a buoyancy check, making sure they are waited correctly. Once performed off to dive we go.

A simple relaxing dive to start the trip several Giant moray eels, lots of Fusiliers and juvenile Fusiliers, and bait fish beating chased about by the groupers and small emperors fish. We also saw a Titan Trigger Fish, no trouble of this fellow. Two Emperor Angelfish on a cleaning station having an early morning manicure.
We also saw a couple of Lion fish hiding under the rocks obviously been a very productive nights fishing for them as they look well fed.

Dive: 2 Anita’s reef Viz 30 metres…very slight current if any, we dropped down the sloping reef to ten metres, where we found huge sways of Garden Eels. Strange little Eels that sway in the current, half of their bodies buried into the sand, when divers get to close they sink back into their holes.

A huge Trevally and Spanish Mackerel came hurtling into the sandy area chasing a fish, both large pelagic predators hit the sand with a bump, not sure what kind of fish they were chasing, but, the Trevally got fed and the large Mackerel shot back out into the blue still hungry.

Closer inside the reef on top of a couple of Bombies the smaller Blue Fin Trevallies, Goat fish and Emperors were smashing the small bait fish, it’s an amazing site to witness, thousands of tiny fish scatter as they are under constant attack from these relentless  predators.

Dive: 3 West of Eden Viz 15 metres…visibility not as good as the other two sites, but just as much life here, if not more. It must be red Tooth Trigger Fish mating season, every few meters along the bottom they are sat on their little nest that they arrange by blowing water jets from their mouth onto the rocky bottom, exposing the sandy area underneath.

We swam into the slight current towards the other dive site in the area Deep Six. As we reached the huge boulders, the current could be felt getting stronger, so we turned around and headed back in the drift.

On our way back, there was a couple of Moray Eels fighting.  A Yellow Edged and a Giant Moray. I missed the start of the fight, so not sure what they were squabbling about, but the Giant moray had a large cut to its mouth and the Yellow Edge had a few slashes along its body, it is best to give them a swift swerve, no point it getting involved.

Dive: 4 Breakfast Bend (sunset dive) Viz 15 metres, after three dives today, we decided a pleasant drift dive to finish off the day.  Huge school of fusiliers, almost luminescent in colour flew by us, after that we bumped into yet another Large Red Octopus must be breeding season too.

Then not one but two Large Napoleon Wrasse, we have not seen either of these two for a few months so it was good to see them again. Tonight we sleep in the Similans, Island #9 to be precise.

Diving Day 2 – 28 December 2013

We woke in the shadow of Island #9: 6:30 am and the sun was slowly bringing its light and warmth to our boat, after coffee and toast and maybe a bowl of corn flakes, it’s time for a dive.

Dive: 5 Christmas Point  Viz15 metres… no current here the dive site bottoms out at over 50 metres, our depth was 26 metres. The bottom is littered with huge boulders, they are literally the size of houses, and we swam in-between and over the top and in some cases through the gaps.

Many mackerel and Blue Fin Trevallies looking for an early snack, Hawksbill turtle and the elusive Ribbon Eel were some of the critters we encountered on this dive. Plus several large Morays, Peacock, Blue lined and Jewel groupers. Also Oriental Sweetlips Red-tailed Butterfly Fish, Lined Butterfly fish and some Banner Fish to name but a few of the species on this site.

Dive: 6 Koh Bon (The Ridge) Viz 20 metres… Current quite strong, the Vis has dropped a bit here since last week and the current has picked up, also there are some larger waves outside of the Island bay. Due to this, we jumped from a different point; in essence we did the dive back to front, starting from the North side of the Island finishing back in the bay, as opposed starting in the bay.

Trevallies, Emperors all hunting on the wall, Scorpion Fish scattered along the top of the ridge, Moon, Rainbow and Speckled were just a few of the  Wrasse we encountered. Also the East Indian and tomato Clown fish were hiding in their anemones. Close to the wall there is many different species of Blennies popping their little heads out of the crevices as we drift by.

Dive: 7 Koh Tachai (Plateau) as we went down the line we saw several other divers coming up, so we had to make way for them. As we descended to 15metres, we went looking for our friends, the two Napoleon Wrasse we had seen on the previous dive here, alas they were not to be found.

Onwards and upwards, we hit 25 metres and started gently circling the magnificent Plateau, the huge boulders protecting us from the surging current.  First they appeared as a silhouette maybe fifty, a hundred, maybe even more, Pick Handle Barracudas came in close, so obviously hunting, like a hungry pack wolves at feeding time, and they are a formidable force.

Then another smaller group this team an even bigger species of Barracuda, Yellow Tails, this turned into a wonderful dive experience, better than any wildlife documentary.

Fantastic, just as they swam by the Giant Trevallies came in bombing raids, one then two of them, then a whole task force, ripping the small bait fish to shreds, the little fish had nowhere to go.

Already our air was dwindling and the safety stop approaching rapidly. We will be back to Koh Tachai again; maybe if conditions are good in the morning, we will have to see.

Dive: 8 Koh Tachai (Anchalee Bay Reef) after a great day of diving a sunset dive was needed. No current whatsoever, depth no more than 12 metres. We cruised this stunning little bay for 40 minutes, finding Crabs small Spiny Lobsters an absolute mass of Glass Fish that seem to only have a few small Mackerel as predators.

The coral in Anchalee Bay is in absolute pristine condition, nowhere else where we dive are there hard corals like these, a real eye opener. We are almost absolutely sure that hardly anyone knows about this dive site, let alone ever dive here. We will be back.

Diving Day 4 – 30 December 2013

Dive 13 – The Teak Wreck Viz excellent maybe 30 plus metres here today a little swells making the dive a little testing on the surface, slight current, again the school of Batfish we there to greet us 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. A couple of our guest completed their Advanced open water course on this dive. So congratulations to them.

Dive 14 – The Thai Muang Wreck: Viz 20 metres again same as last week, there was also a mild current it seems that the currents are definitely picking up now.
This old Tin Mining Vessel is from the days of the Phuket Tin Mining era. Sitting at 20 metres and is the home for so many fish and also it’s a nursery.  We saw a very small Titan Trigger Fish here, also two Honeycomb Moray and White eyed Moray and a huge amount of Yellow and Blue Striped Snapper.

MV Giamani Log Book

22 – 26 December 2013 – Similan Islands & Surin Islands

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.

MV Giamani Log Book

20 – 22 December 2013 – Hin Daeng / Hin Muang & Koh Haa

MV Giamani Liveaboard Trip Log: 20 – 22 December 2013.

Port of departure:  Chalong Bay, Phuket.

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

Sea Conditions: Calm with minor swells.

On-board we have customers from: Italy and the UK (Jersey).

We set sail earlier than usual, heading out towards Phi Phi and with the most amazing sunset we have seen this season; stunning. After the firecrackers, we set our dive equipment up, did not take long, had dinner, sat around the table discussing tomorrows dives with the others and then off to bed.

Diving Day 1: 21 December 2014

We woke at 6:30 am to the early morning call from our tour leader Ricardo; he is so energetic in a morning.

We had moored over night on the dive site of Hin Daeng, the sun had only just begun to rise high enough to turn out the boats lights, such a beautiful morning. Let us hope the diving here is as good has it has been recently.

Dive 1: Hin Daeng – Viz 25 metres, no current whatsoever, however, unfortunately, the waves were on the increase. We did our buddy checks and giant stride entry into the blue, what would be waiting for us this time on the red rock?
As we ascended down to 27 metres, it became apparent that with no current, there was not much movement from the fish; they all just seem to be taking a breather and just hovering around. As we ventured a little further around, the action started to hot up, the small Yellow Mackerel were viciously hunting the poor bait fish.  It’s great to watch, but I would not like to be a bait fish, no mercy is shown to them at all.

Around 40 minutes into the dive I noticed something long, black and white in the distance. After a double checked to see what it was, it had already disappeared, was it a figment of my imagination or was it a manta. 5 minutes later as we were going towards our safety stop, there, from nowhere, it appeared a 4 metre Manta; it gave us one fly by and was gone.

They are magnificent creatures, well worth the trip out here. We did our safety stop, happy at seeing one of the monsters of the deep. We have to go to Koh Haa now the waves are getting to big and it’s not so much fun.

Dive 2: Koh Haa – The Chimney – Viz 25, no current, as we approach Koh Haa the waves were less than at the Hin pinnacles, but still a little choppy. We entered the water just three divers, slowly we swam for about 30 metres at a depth of 6 metres and once we found the Chimney, we entered and descended down.
The chimney is so full of fish; it’s hard to see where you are going, it’s a fantastic dive site. At 18metres, we exited the chimney, and then slowly made our way around the huge soft coral garden. Then we turned and headed out to the deep water drop off. Here it seems that you can fly. As we hovered over the edge of a deep drop off, in the distance I could just make out a large shape heading our way. The small fish in the deep quickly darted away. It was a 1.5 metre Barracuda, looking for lunch no doubt. Once it saw us it swam by and with flick of its tail it was gone.
There was also some very large morays eel and numerous Scorpion fish, one being the rarer of the species the Devil Scorpion fish.

Dive 3: Koh Haa. The Cathedral Viz 25 meters slight current. The cathedral is a favorite of all who come on Giamani. There is three super large caverns, guarding the first is a huge Mappa Puffer fish that we actual have to almost push out he way to get inside. As these caverns are so large the diver gets a good feel what it would be like to cave dive, without actually putting themselves at any risk whatsoever.
There are two more caverns which have a large tunnel existing between the two, and this is another great experience for all divers to see. There is absolutely no danger of getting lost here, they are huge areas with lots of light, and we always look forward to diving these sites at Koh Haa.
We saw Cuttlefish, Two huge Moray eels, and a Hawksbill turtle, and loads of Wrasse and Parrot fishes, Nemo was there too.

Dive 4: Koh Haa Sunset dive around the lagoon. Gentle drifting current, going nowhere really we dropped into the blue just as the sun was starting to dip down, would not be long before it was dark. We saw a huge Great Barracuda come straight at us, and then turned at the last minute. A 500 strong school of juvenile barracuda appeared as if on cue. Towards the end of the dive we were followed by a hit squad of squid they watched us for 10 minutes.

Diving Day 2: 22 December 2014

The sun had begun its climb in the sky, as we started to wake. The sea was looking a little bit choppy, and the colour was green, the wind was a little blustery. But it was warm and we were ready to dive on Bida Nok, Phi Phi Islands.

Dive 5: (Phi Phi Island) Bida Nok – Viz 10 metres dropping down to 5 metres in parts, there was a small current running west to east as the tide went out. We dropped in on the southern point of Nok, we descended down the side of the wall to around 18 metres where we found the ref and slowly carried on down till we got to 26 metres. As the viz was not as good as it has been on here lately, we could not see everything that was going on.

However the dogtooth Tuna were out in force and smashing the Yellow juvenile Snappers, which in turn, excites the Trevallies and they start a sortie on the poor smaller fishes of the reef. A fantastic spectacle, better than any TV wildlife documentary on TV; other fish we saw were a pair of Emperor Angel fish, Blue Ringed Angle fish, many different kinds of Moray Eel, Sea Snake and a Hawksbill Turtle.

Dive 6: Coral Garden (Phi Phi) Viz 15 metres. Originally we had intended tog o to Anemone Reef unfortunately the conditions have said otherwise, so we have decided to go with another dive around Phi Phi.

There is always a good chance to see seahorses and Pipefish here so let’s see. Juvenile Barracudas joined us for a quick look, Bit of a drift dive here always a beautiful dive with many soft corals reds greens blue purple corals, very pretty there is a huge school of yellow Snapper and they seem to flourish maybe because all the big predators are still on the deeper sites, Coral Garden is only 16 metres deep at tops.

We saw Sea snake loads of walking feather stars, scorpion fish spot Lion fish several large swim through’s proved very exciting particularly with the surge of the sea. We are now off to Koh Doc Mai for the last dive of the day.

Dive 7: Koh Doc Mai Viz – 15 metres great wall dive to end the trip we saw A school of Black Fin Barracuda, pregnant Puffer fish, well it was fat at least. Also Blue spotted stingray, Tiger tail Seahorses and some unusual Nudibranchs.

Now we are of to Chalong to drop off the guests from Italy and pick up 11 more for our Similan trip.

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!