Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Exploratory wreck dive trip into the Gulf of Thailand

Exploratory wreck dive trip into the Gulf of Thailand

On the night from 1st to 2nd March around midnight we set sail for an exploratory wreck dive trip into the Gulf of Thailand and not coming back to Pattaya again until 21.00 on the 2nd or last night.
After two days of teaching the Instructor Wreck Specialty, now it was time to perfect opportunity to put all they learned straight into practice.

This is the boat we sailed on, straight from Bali Hai pier in Pattaya to somewhere in the Gulf of Thailand, using the Si Chang tidal charts. The captain was amazing, for all three dives he put the shot line withing meters of the wrecks we dived, so that the lines went over the wreck, absolutely stunning skills and craftsmanship by our captain.

The Pattaya crew for the wreck diving Instructor training and the exploratory trip, from left to right; Thomas, myself, Nigel, Rob and Grainne and Preben is sitting in the front row.

This may give you an idea of all the equipment we had to take along, 11 persons diving in total, 24 Nitrox tanks for my group and another 12 tanks for other divers that joined our trip, including some twin sets. On top of that we brought our own equipment, drinks, first aid kits, oxygen etc etc. Quite a bit of organisation goes into that and many thanks to Neil of Seafari in Pattaya for all the logistical help.

This is what it's all about; a mark by the captain with a float above it, marking the location of one of the wrecks. Marks are usually obtained by the captains because a lot of fish can be caught here due to the wrecks and coral growth and/or because fisherman lose a lot of nets that get hooked on the wrecks. With a GPS nowadays it's easy to locate (and re-locate) the sites.

During one of the dives, I spotted this Bamboo shark, well hidden under parts of the boat.

Plenty of parts are sticking out of the wrecks covered in coral and marine life, which makes it exciting but also slightly dangerous and you have to be aware of your surroundings, so you don't get trapped or entangled.

During the third dive there where plenty of these lovely nudi branches; Glossodoris atromarginata.

Some other safety considerations are mono filament, the thin but very strong ropes used by sea fishers to catch fish. Many times this line or mono filament gets stuck and entangled on wrecks. they're difficult to spot since they're blue coloured, like the water, so the fish can't see them but we can't see them neither! It's easy to get entanglement in them and sometime rather difficult to cut your self loose.

More things to look out for underwater; nets. There are plenty on these wrecks but they are easier to avoid than the mono filament. It makes this kind of diving very challenging and if you are interested in learning more, besides the wreck dive specialty, there are technical diving courses that specialize in this kind of wreck diving, like PADI's Tec Rec programs or ANDI just to name a few..

We made it all safely back on the boat though and here some of our group of divers can be seen during a safety stop at the end of the dive.
We dived three wrecks during this day, two being Royal Thai Navy boats, one a Navy patrol boat and one wreck which was the biggest out of all of them, which we couldn't identify.

We all enjoyed a fantastic trip with great dives! Thanks to Bruce Konefe for starting up this idea!
Hope to see you again here soon and there will be more of these trips coming your way!

Camille

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