Read the prologue to this trip report here.
Read Day 1 here.
After a decent night’s sleep I was up bright and early, assembling my camera after charging the batteries and re-greasing the ‘O’ rings. I took it up to the briefing deck and got some tea and toast; this would become a habit I’m afraid.
“Dive Briefing!” It was 7:30am. Today’s first dive site was going to be Christmas Point on Island number 9, the most northern point of the Similan group of Islands. It is called Christmas point due to the large amount of Christmas tree worms that can be found there. The briefing outlined that this was an exposed area, and the current can be strong – and as a result we may see some big marine life.
The first group once again entered the water at around 8am, followed quickly by the second and then by our group. We all descended down the mooring line to around 30 metres. Near the top of the shot line we came across a blue spotted stingray resting on the bottom. The site was made up of huge boulders and rocky outcrops, once again making it good for quite a few nice little swimthroughs and several large gullies with loads of sea fans. Twenty five plus metre visibility and a bright sun made it an incredibly blue site.
During a swim through of one of the gullies we came across a lovely blue and yellow ribbon eel, mouth open wide as it hoped to catch some breakfast. There were more fish in the shallower areas – oriental sweetlips, parrotfish, triggerfish and of course loads of Christmas tree worms. After everyone else had returned to the boat, Sharky and I carried on finding more swimthroughs. The last one looked like it might be a bit tight, but you never know until you try. Not being the smallest of people, Sharky thought he might be pulling me out by my heels, but it was a perfect fit, very little in it. The landscape underwater was very impressive. Dive five over, so time for breakfast, which once again was another pile of bacon, sausage, eggs, ham and toast.
We were now heading further North to the next dive site, Koh Bon. Although not part of the Similan Islands, it is still part of the Mu Koh Similan National Park.
“Dive Briefing!” It was 10:30am. Dive six was going to be Koh Bon Ridge, on the western side of the island. Again an exposed area that can have very strong currents, which again might attract some large fish. The limestone ridge ran from the surface down to around forty metres. We were going to jump in on the east side of the ridge and swim around and over it, and if the current wasn’t too strong we would wait around looking into the blue for anything big passing by.
At around 11:00am we entered the water, descended to around 20 metres through a huge shoal of big eye snapper and headed to the ridge. There was quite a coverage of star corals (as well as the odd staghorn coral) and the usual reef fish. As we arrived at the ridge, the current greeted us; quite a good bit of current actually – we were hanging on for dear life! We hung on to the rocks for a few minutes looking into the blue for anything else that might like some strong current, but we saw nothing, so we swam over the ridge and down the other side. A couple of large Blue ring angelfish darted off as we got close (they don’t like having their picture taken). As we made our way a little shallower we came across huge beds of staghorn coral, some of which had been damaged by dynamite fishing before they made it part of the national park, but it is all beginning to grow back slowly. The staghorn corals were covered in shoals of glassfish and damsels; the odd rocky outcrop had an occasional nudibranch. As we were doing our safety stop a couple of huge barracuda swam over the ridge; at least we saw something big. 56 minutes later it was time to come up.
Another huge lunch was awaiting us; were they trying to fatten us up? I tried to do what I could to help clear all the food, then after a few minutes on the sun deck where we said goodbye to Koh Bon, we started making our way to Koh Tachai.
“Dive Briefing!” Dive number seven was to be Koh Tachai Pinnacle at 2:30pm, a circular plateau surrounded by boulders. We were told that we might be met with some very strong currents at this site. The plan was to get straight on to the mooring line, follow it down and get into the shelter of the boulders. We would then follow the boulders around, hopefully avoiding as much current as possible before ascending back on the shot line.
We jumped in and made straight for the mooring line, and yes, there was a current. Descending to around 27 metres there was a lot of life: parrotfish, fusilier, grouper, snapper, lionfish, triggerfish, angelfish and several batfish – everywhere you looked there were fish. Shoals of wide lined fusilier swarmed all over the place; batfish accumulated near the bottom of the shot line where they were being groomed by cleaner wrasse. Time was up – another dive over.
Koh Tachai pinnacle again
“Dive Briefing!” 5:00pm. Dive number eight was going to be a dusk dive on Koh Tachai pinnacle again. The briefing was short and similar to the last, except we were told that we wouldn’t be going as deep this time. I do like dusk dives – you can see where you are going and when you take a photograph the ambient light is minimal.
We entered the water at 5:30pm. Unfortunately there was another boat on the way – they obviously had the same idea. We dropped down the line and hid from the current, which didn’t seem to be as strong as before. The dive was very similar to before; lionfish, a giant moray, scorpion fish, puffer fish, spotted boxfish were all present. The divers from the other boat entered as we were swimming around, and when we came across them I realised that it was a Japanese group. Now I have nothing against Japanese divers, but every time I meet a group of them, they seem to be a little… how should I say it? Ragged. Now I am sure that there are thousands of perfectly good divers in Japan – I just don’t think that they go to the Similans.
While we were on the mooring line the current increased. To start with, everyone’s bubbles went vertically; after a few minutes they went at the same angle as the mooring line. Thanks to the fifteen divers from our boat, plus the Japanese who were now on the line, we had a free spa bath.
Time for the evening meal. I could feel the pounds piling on; what happened to my willpower? The boat was now making for our most northerly dive site: my favourite, Richelieu Rock. We reviewed the day, solved the world’s problems, wondered why we ever would want to dive in cold water again and watched a film.
Then it was time to turn in; we were going to be up early again tomorrow.
Read Similan Islands Liveaboard Trip Report: Day 3 here.