Dive #266 - Rich Torkington's Dive Log
Copyright 2010 Rich Torkington Mesa, Arizona

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Bottom Time to Date:

233h
54m


Dive Info:

Dive Start:
9:45AM

Bottom Time:
56 minutes

Maximum Depth:
53 feet

Safety Stop:
3 minutes

Beginning Air:
3000 psi

Ending Air:
1400 psi

Weather Conditions:
Sunny 84F

Surface Conditions:
Calm

Surface Water Temperature:
83F

Bottom Water Temperature:
83F

Visibility:
40-60 feet

Gas:
Air
266
TITLE
* * * *
March 18,
2010
KOH BIDA NAI
PHI PHI ISLANDS, THAILAND
BOAT DIVE
 
Janel, Phil, Sara (buddies), Jeab (guide)
Dive & Relax
Koh Lanta
www.diveandrelax.com
Similan
Linda and Janel laxing in the Layana pool
Photo by Rich on Koh Lanta 2010 
Similan
Linda and Janel on the Koh Lanta Beach
Photo by Rich on Koh Lanta 2010 
Similan
A lucky guy
Photo by Layana pool guy on Koh Lanta 2010 
Dive Journal: Details of this dive day, March 18, 2010, were captured by Rich at torksinthailand.blogspot.com/2010/03/despite-our-revelations-of-relaxation-i.html.

Janel and I have been laxing on the idyllic island of Koh Lanta for a few days, and it occurs to us that we ought to get in a couple more dives while we're here with our gear. Our aim was to dive at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, known for being hangouts of larger pelagics. I checked out the dive operations from our resort, Layana, but their speed boat is in for repairs. Hiking up north up the beach, I found two other dive operators, but I got that "cattle boat" vibe from them both.

Back in the room, I find Dive & Relax on the web offering a speed boat to local dive sites. It appears that they're on our same beach, but must be south of here. The next morning I hiked down there and found them easily enough, tucked into a corner of the Lanta Castaway Resort. Cameron, the owner and scheduler, was extremely friendly and welcoming, cinching the decision to dive with them. Linda is not interested in diving further - the daily massages at Layana are too great to pass up.

Cameron explains that, due to tidal swings, the current conditions at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are quite less than ideal, with higher-than-usual current and low vis. These conditions make the diving possibly tedious and they also make the mantas and sharks stay away as well. He suggests alternate dive sites, and we decide that the Phi Phi Islands work best with our schedule.

We rise early the next morning around 7am. Right away, it's apparent that our scuba gear bag is going to be one big pain to lug all the way down the beach to the dive shop, so we call up Dive & Relax and ask if they can pick us up here. Cameron says no problem!

Following breakfast, we hike it out to the main road, and in just minutes Cameron swings by in a truck. We also pick up Andreas, and we learn that with today's dives he is completing his PADI Advanced Open Water course today.

Seven other divers will be going with us today, as well as 4 dive staff plus a captain and mate. We meet and greet for a while at the Lanta Castaway bar, then adjourn to the beach, again crossing the "stream" to get out there. Not much water there this morning, though.

We've signed up with Dive & Relax for several reasons. Foremost, Cameron has been immediately great to work with. Just as important, we like their use of a speedboat and a relatively small dive party. Our speedboat will take us just 35 minutes to reach the dive site, while many other operations I checked use a larger boat that can take 3-1/2 hours!

Fifteen folks (including thirteen divers) on our 36-foot boat, plus gear and tanks for 2 dives a just a little cramped. But worth it. The ride out is smooth and fast, and we enjoy various conversations starting among the divers.

Dive & Relax has thoughtfully attached our personal computer hoses to their rental 1st stages, so Janel and I are diving with a familiar piece of equipment. Additionally, the remainder of our rental gear (BC's and reg) are both more comfortable than what we used aboard the liveaboard last week.

Our first destination is Koh Bida Nai, which is part of the Koh Phi Phi National Marine Park. The islands are lovely tall limestone structures rising out of the smooth blue Andaman. Unfortunately, we didn't bring a camera with us on this trip for fear of it getting wet, so we have no photos from these dives.

We're teamed up with Jeab, our dive guide, and also with two other tourist divers, Phil and Sarah from the UK. We immerse to find wonderful 84F water, a mild current, and crocodile needlefish patrolling the surface schools. Phil takes some extra time with his equalization on descent, and Janel and I discover a gorgeous softball-sized jellyfish pulsing along.

Immediately, we're presented with blankets of urchins and anemones everywhere, the most common features of this dive site. Among our sightings: yellow-tail barracuda, ornate ghost pipefish, copper sweeper, and some distinctive bar-tailed goatfish.

We snake our way through an overhang of rocks. There is a juvenile ribbon eel halfway through - pretty cool. As Janel enters, she watches with some horror as Sarah's knee nearly comes to rest on top of a scorpionfish not far from the eel. THAT would probably have ended the dive!

The boat follows our progress, so we're always swimming with the current. Janel and I want to stop and explore much more than Jeab does, and we have some difficulty in keeping her in sight, way ahead of us in the mediocre visibility. Still, it's a very pleasant dive. Unfortunately, Jeab signals a need to surface after only 50 minutes or so. Janel and I still have half our air remaining!

We dutifully follow her up. On exit, it is quite enchanting to slowly rise up through the polarized hoardes of silversides just next to the island's rock wall.

Phil's had problems with his full-foot fins, and slaps on bandaids. It is another reminder that, despite the hassle of it, lugging our own open fins and booties from the States has paid dividends.

Note: Details of all our 2010 Thailand travels can be found at torksinthailand.blogspot.com.

Sealife Observed on this dive:
very cool jellyfish on entry
juvenile ribbon eel (yellow stripe on black)
scorpionfish
yellow tail barracuda
TONS of anemones and urchins
ornate ghost pipefish
copper sweeper
anemone crab feeding/seining
bar-tailed goatfish
crocodile needlefish
great silversides on exit
free swimming eels on the wall at exit
table corals
tuna divebombing through panicked silver glass fish

More
Dive
Info:
Fins:
Tusa Xpert Zoom Splitfin
Computer:
Oceanic Veo 200
Tank:
80 ft3 Aluminum
BCD:
Rented from Dive & Relax
Dive Type:
BOAT, Dive & Relax speedboat
Body of Water:
Andaman Sea
Mask:
Tusa Visio Tri-Ex
Protection:
2mm shortie
Regulator:Rented from Dive & Relax
Weight:
5 kg
Water Type:
Salt
Video Equipment:
None