It all started off as normal, with two dives at Koh Bon's West Ridge, followed by an afternoon dive at Tachai Pinnacle. The West Ridge is awesome, and continues to bear fruit. Mattias found no less than three Spearing Mantis Shrimp on one dive, and Dorianne's group was lucky enough to spot a White Tip Reef Shark cruising around the deep part of the ridge at about 30 meters. Yeah!
Tachai Pinnacle was cool, with the usual fish action in full force - schooling Baraccuda, Trevally and Fusiliers all circling overhead. That place is always impressive. There was some current on the site, more than some of the customers were used to, but everyone handled it just fine. Good times. We finished things off with a relaxing night dive in Tachai Reef, followed by dinner and some well-deserved sleep.
Day two began with a second dive at Tachai Pinnacle, this time to the deeper Northern Pinnacle. It was awesome, with morays and a huge male Napoleon Wrasse, and just enough current to keep things interesting. When we came up we had some wind and big waves, and the Captain informed us of very rough weather to the North in the Surin National Park. We decided to alter the schedule and drive South instead, rather than risk getting caught out in the open sea during a storm. We went back to Koh Bon and did one dive on Hin Luang, AKA Koh Bon Pinnacle. It was epic, with good viz and the what seemed like the worlds largest Nudibranchs, four of them together with their egg cluster nearby:
We also saw another Napoleon, and our old friend Stewie the Stonefish. He's so cool man, just chilling out on the top of the pinnacle week after week. I wonder how many Mantas and Whalesharks he sees cruising past each month. Quite a few I bet!
We decide to head further South to the shelter of the Similan Islands, doing the third dive of the day on North Point, Similan Island number nine.
Mild current allowed us to comb the bottom for small creatures, and we were able to find Nudis, shrimps, and a few Snub-nosed and Orange Spotted Pipefish. Pipefish are members of the Seahorse family, so the males carry the young. We found this cute little pregnant male at one point, hiding amongst the rocks. Always nice to see the local residents multiplying!!! :-)
We had enough time to go to the beach between dives, so we took the opportunity and went ashore in Donald Duck Bay on island number eight for a while. Everyone enjoyed, and the view from the lookout underneath Sail Rock is not to be missed:
The last dive was a sunset dive on West of Eden, and it proved to be the best dive of the day. Spearing Mantis Shrimp, baby Octopus, a Green Turtle, and two different types of Frogfish were the highlights. Dinner and a movie followed. Pasta, chicken and mashed potatoes. Then good 'ol James Bond. It doesn't get much better than that.
There were these two cool Canadian dudes on board, Scott and Andrew.
They were funny, playing this game called "Life". The rule is simple, anytime you say the word "mine" you must do ten push-ups, right then and there. Megan signed up, and they immediately started asking her questions to get her to say the magic word. I'm pretty sure she was sorry she agreed to play after just a few hours of doing push-ups every now and then. Good times. Well, for the rest of us anyway!
The final morning we awoke to some big waves and weather again, but still managed to dive Elephant Head Rock.
That site is amazing, with so many nice swimthroughs and tunnels everywhere. We also managed to find the family of Sea Moths that lives there. They are just so cute!
A few of our dive groups even got really lucky and had a visit from a friendly Manta Ray while they were doing the safety stop! Awesome!!!
The final dive was on the Sea Chart One wreck. So cool, an 84 meter long vessel that went down only a few years ago. It's still very much in tact and an impressive dive to experience.
A big shout-out to all of our students on board. Austin, Pilar, Patric and Sylvie all became PADI Advanced Open Water divers, while Dennis and Megan both finished their Nitrox courses while on board. Great job guys! So, in the end the schedule and dive sites were a bit different than our normal schedule, but it really worked out quite well. What started out as challenging weather was turned into awesome dives and a Manta Ray sighting. Pretty hard to beat! And that, my friends, is how you make lemonade out of lemons...