Sunday, 8 September 2013
Wednesday, 29 August; Awesome Diving Tinanja Island
Awesome is word used too frequently and not always in it’s true sense. The diving on the outside of Tinanja island, Taka Bone Rate is awesome in my humble experience, possibly the best diving we’ve enjoyed since we’ve been cruising.
Ronald has secured a larger dive boat for us today – 9 divers, 2 dive guides and 3 boat handlers. It’s still basic but all part of the adventure. Eleven divers putting together kit and preparing to dive on a narrow and rolling boat is a challenge if you are not to slip or knock an important bit of kit overboard before it’s attached to your body (and you’re ready to go).
We all got in the water safely although Dick from Geramar had forgotten to attach the low pressure inflator hose with his BCD and immediately sank to the bottom at 3m. A small panic attack, a fright and he chose not to do the dive. The rest of us enjoyed a drift along a superb wall of the biodiversity you see on TV documentaries – sublime colours pristine, fish galore, superb clarity. Exceptional diving and David and I had the OK from the dive guide to continue for a full hour instead of surfacing when the first person became low on air, our only proviso was to return to the boat. I’ve switched from breathing from my air tank to my gills so low on air is a very rare reason to finish a dive.
After lunch and our required surface interval we continued along the second half of the wall. Again, fantastic. We were very, very happy divers today.
Friday, 30 August: Latundo Island Take 2
Eight of us diving again today and conditions remained good for a return visit to Latundo island and it’s beautiful wall. There were lobsters, crocodile fish, more turtles, nudibranchs, no sharks today and the beautiful soft and hard corals, sponges, truncates. Just gorgeous.
At sunset we all met on the beach to watch the sun setting and to play petanque, aka boules or botchie (?sp) ball which was most interesting in the dark. Where’s the jack? And where’s my boule?
Tuesday, 28 August: Diving Latundo Island
Four more yachts, Rutea, Atea, Equanimity and Backchat arrived in the anchorage before breakfast and watched us and Geramar heading out on our less than luxurious dive boat. The weather is calmer today so Ronald said we could make the hour trip across the atoll to dive on the outside wall of Latundo island, his second favourite spot. More great diving on a pristine wall; whip corals up to 8m long, a couple of small black tip sharks, turtles, mantis shrimp, scorpion fish. Very few people come here to dive because of the remoteness – no airport and the nearest port 7 hours ferry ride away, plus once you are here no established resorts to stay in. The park authorities are trying to build guest accommodation on Tinabo where we are anchored.
Two excellent dives with no current again, our surface interval and picnic lunch on board today and we were home by mid afternoon. Rutea had organised everyone to go ashore for sundowners on the beach and we were able to secure a larger dive boat to take us and the divers who arrived today out tomorrow.
Sitting on the white beach looking at the sunset enjoying the peace and beauty of the island just filled me with joy. Cultural ceremonies are fun but this takes the big banana – diving is why we came to this part of Indonesia and we are enjoying some of the best.
Monday, 27 August: Diving Taka Bonerate
As promised, Ronald and Yusun picked us up at 9.30am and we went 5 minutes to dive site no. 1, the Pinnacles. The timing was perfect, we dropped 8m to the top of the pinnacle with no current to sweep us off. A gentle float around the elevated area looking at super colourful corals, including a new one for me which is a lime green fan coral. They are like big plants, almost 1m tall and sometimes 1m across swaying in the drift to catch nutrients. The large number of fan corals shows this is a site usually washed by strong currents.
Thursday, 5 September 2013
Sunday 26 August: Tinabo, Taka Bonerate
After Wakatobi our next stop was Taka Bonerate, the third largest atoll in the world (and no, I’d never heard of it before either). We were still travelling with Dutch boat Geramar while the rest of the rally boats had gone north and west to Buton island for cultural exhibitions and dancing organised by the Regency. Our mission, and our reason for choosing the northern route trough the islands, is to dive, dive, dive Indonesia.
We’d been given the contact details for Ronald the marine park ranger based on Tinabo island and I’d phoned him a few days ago to say we were coming and to ask his advice on where to anchor. Yet again, the electronic charts for this part of the world are sketchy and inaccurate though there are much better Indonesian paper charts with details. The only problem is finding one for sale! Ronald directed us to a point on the south east corner of Tinabo – a quintessential paradise island with white beaches, coconut trees and a small dive resort being built on one end – where we dropped the hook off the reef in 22m of water, sparkling clear water.
We’ve organised Ronald to take us and Tricia and Dick from Geramar out for two dives tomorrow using a local boat.