Rocking Riau weekend.
The visibility all weekend was 8-10 metres, the sun was shinning and seas were flat, a perfect weekend all round. The leisure divers did 7 dives including one night dive that Andy volunteered to lead, so nice of Andy!
Andy was guiding Richard, Hans and Kevin. Glenn was looking after Evan, Ann and Francis. I had four PADI Open Water students, William, Philip, Alison and Meghan. Suzanne, JB and Paul teamed up as well.
The first dive at the navy meeting point was very good, we found a great site just off the point and the coral and fish life was extremely colour full. My students did extremely well on their first dive and I could see they were going go be excellent divers by the end of the weekend.
After dive 1, the captain pointed the Seaborne south and we headed to the best diving area in Riau. We completed 5 dives.
We dropped the leisure divers at Seafan Alley, which is an awesome site I have dived a bunch of times. As you descend you start to see a few seafans then a few more and more and when you get to about 22 metres at the point, the place is just covered in seafans. There must be at least a thousand of them big and small.
I took my students over to Safety Stop Reef to complete a bunch of skills in shallow water. I discovered and named Safety Stop Reef last trip. It is a long reef system running between to fish traps that is no deeper then 7 metres, where most of the dive is at 6 metres. The reef is covered in clown fish, rabbit fish, damsels, cardinals and a massive number of small bait fish. The sand is littered with shrimp gobies of every colour.
The next dive was at Mini Island, unfortunately it was not as good as the last trip. There were a few colourful nudis around, but no where near as many as before. My students completed more skills and a 45 minute dive for their final dive of the day.
Meghan had a little bit of a panic during mask clearing, I grabbed her and held her from swimming to the surface, she regained herself and sorted the mask out and we continued the dive. Later she told me that she was sinking and thought she was going the land on a sea urchin. Meghan is 11 and handled all the other skills easily.
The conditions were awesome, so I decided I try a new site around the corner in the open sea, the wind was blowing a bit and it looked like the current was a bit strong. I thought, what the heck lets give it a shot. My students all sat a watched the rest of us jump in for the fourth dive of the day. As soon as I descended with Suzanne, JB and Paul I noticed a school of trevally. The trevally started circling me, so I just hovered and enjoyed the show for 10 minutes. I assumed that the other guys we also watching the trevally, never assume… I suddenly felt unloved and lonely.
I soon bumped into Andy’s group and Andy who is hard to impress gave me a double ok signal. This site turned out to be the highlight of the weekend, with so much fish life including a school of barracuda, cuttlefish, parrot fish, and loads of small damsels. The current on the site was mild, but it attracted all the fish life and at around 20 metres the sand was covered in seafans and soft coral of every type. So I decided to call this site Soft Coral Round-about. It was a round-about, because it was a small round island that we were able to swim all the way around.
5 divers dragged Andy in for his favorite type of diving at 7.30pm. The rest of us all sat on the upper deck laughing at Andy and watching him trying to herd all his divers back to the boat after 30 minutes with his light. It appeared that they ignored him a few times and made him stay for 50 minutes. I felt sorry for him and greeted him on the dive deck with an open beer. I passed it to him before he got out of the water….
The Seaborne BBQ was the next adventure and as always it was awesome. I think we actually managed to finish all of the food this trip, I think Andy had a lot to do with that.
Sunday rise and shine 7am, for me anyway. I made a coffee checked the sea and woke the rest at 7.20am. We pulled up the anchor and headed to Parrot Fish Point. This was the fourth dive for my students and they did well. We descended and started to swim into the current, but it was a little to strong, so then we we did a drift dive until around the corner were the current stopped. I have not dived this side of the island before, but it was excellent and made for a great qualification dive for my PADI Open Water students.
We headed north, back in the direction on Singapore and stopped along the way for one more dive at a new site. The boat was about 10 metres from the reef and the depth sounder was reading 37 metres under the boat. I thought to myself, can I name this The Drop Off, maybe? When I got on the reef, I changed my mind and named it Dynamite Drop Off, instead. The reef was blown to pieces and there were no fish, clearly by the locals using dynamite.
After about 20 minutes of Blown Up Reef, we came across this amazing valley. The sand in the middle was about 12 metres deep and the coral rose up on both sides to about 5 metres. It was just amazing to swim through this valley, the coral was intact and the plate coral was stacked ontop of each other, fish everywhere including a huge grouper and a juvenile sweet lip. We came across a swimming flat worm and loads of other interesting subjects. Once the valley opened up and I could see some sticks sticking up in the sand that was part of the fish trap. After 50 minutes Meghan complained she was cold, so we completed our safety stop and got out. And Philip, William and Alison were also happy to ascend. I was impressed with their air consumption too!
All four students accepted their PADI certification paperwork with a smile.
Riau just seems to get better and better. I look forward to diving it again, soon.
Thanks Glenn for the use of your photos.
Additional photos may be viewed on our Facebook page here – 9 to 11 March, 2012 – MV Seaborne with Gary to Riau