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Author Topic: Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock  (Read 4760 times)

Wombat

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Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock
« on: 07 Oct 10, 18:22 »
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  • Was thinking going to Kuantan wreck next month long Deepavali weekend. Anyone been there before can share experience? ;D

    SnapperJohn

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    Re: Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock
    « Reply #1 on: 07 Oct 10, 19:14 »
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  • can you still go there during moonsoon? heard its arriving early this year..

    (banned)

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    Re: Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock
    « Reply #2 on: 07 Oct 10, 19:27 »
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  • I find it funny that people are able to predict the weather so well every year.  Real meteorologists would love to have that information.

    The Kuantan Wreck's real name at the time of sinking was the Marvin 1.  It had just been bought shortly before it sunk and it is possible that they didn't even have time to repaint her as many years ago we were able to seem the name Nichi Asu Maru on her starboard side.

    Here is something I wrote up years ago although things do change over time and marine life die and migrate...

    The Nichi Asu Maru (にちやす丸) a.k.a. The Kuantan Wreck / Marvin 1

    Nichi にち-  means several things and there is a logical progression of the meanings too.  First, it means “circle” or “round”.  It can also mean “sun” (that’s round, right?) or “day” because the day starts with the sun.  Usually though, on things such as ships, it is used as the abbreviation for “Nippon / Nihon”, i.e., the Japanese name for their own country.  The “Ni” character is also the first character in Nippon / Nihon.  Also note the Japanese flag features a rising sun.  So “nichi” on the ship quite possibly means “Japan”.

    Asu やす– means “tomorrow” or the “future”.  In older days it meant “morning”.

    Maru 丸–  Centuries ago, “maru” was added to the end of all male babies’ names.  It means something like “precious” or “dear” because boys were – obviously – the much preferred sex of a baby.  Ships are also expensive, cherished and masculine in Japan so “maru” has also been added to the end of the names of all commercial and merchant ships.

    The Zen meaning: Since the Nichi Asu Maru is a ship that is sunk – you have to put it all together to understand that “Japan’s future is now at the bottom of the sea”.  It’s time to sell Yen because Japan is never going to recover.


    The Ship
    The Nichi Asu Maru (にちやす丸) or “Kuantan Wreck” lies on a flat sandy bottom at about 85 feet (26 meters) on her port side with her bow pointing mainly NNE.  The starboard side is obviously the shallowest and is at about 45 feet (14 meters).  The wreck is approximately 263 feet (80 meters) long.  She is said to be “an old Japanese coastal oiler” that sank in the 1960’s but I have not been able to confirm this.  The name of the ship is located near the railing on the starboard bow but may now be illegible because of coral growth.  It was graciously transcribed and translated in August, 2002 by Kazuyo, an SCA member.  Until then, no divers knew the ship’s name.  Interestingly, the Japanese characters appear in reverse order on the boat because we are reading the starboard side of the ship.  You read the characters as the ships “passes by you”.

    Marine Life
    This can be one of the best dives sites near peninsular Malaysia to see the weird and wonderful.  There are frequent sightings of large shovel-nosed rays, marbled rays, honeycomb rays, schools of large cobia, large groupers, cuttlefish, squid and turtles.  Sometimes you may need to take a bearing from the wreck and swim out a little to see such things.  On several dives there in 2003, we were escorted around the wreck by a two meter leopard shark that came so close to us that its tail was swatting our faces.  On the wreck itself, there are dozens and dozens of morays of all sizes.  Stone fish, puffers, lion fish, porcupine fish, yellow box fish and other reef fish also make the wreck their home.  At the base of the wreck, look for crabs, helmet shells and flounder.  Notice the tracks of the bottom dwellers in the sand around the wreck.

    Hazards
    If there is no mooring line, you have to be careful what you tie off to because lots of boats have tried mooring to the railings which have then been pulled loose.  The wreck is out in open ocean, not within sight of land.  Therefore, there is no place to hide if the seas are rough.  Weather and wind determine if you have large swells or glass smooth water.  Currents can be strong when more than 1 ½ hours away from slack tide but this is usually only a problem during the descent and ascent.  You can stay near the wreck at other times to avoid any current.  Visibility can vary greatly but has usually been around 30 – 40 feet (9 – 12 meters) when I have been there.

    There is very little space for penetration at the wheelhouse but it is not recommended.  The wreck can have a lot of fishing nets on it as well as old mooring lines and fish trap lines.  Be careful of entanglement.  There is still oil leaking from the wreck around the railings at the shallower points.  The oil looks like black ropes swaying in the current.  Be very careful so that you do not touch this.  Some of it has hardened but some of it will quickly “explode” (spread) when touched and go all over your gear.  It is almost impossible to clean off.  Additionally, there are sharp edges in the metal near the wheelhouse.  There are also loose bits of railing hanging off the wreck.  Keep an eye out for jellyfish during the ascent and safety stop if there is a current.

    Dive Plan
    The bottom of the wreck is something of a wall dive because of its large exposed rounded shape.  This is the side to look for the larger fish away from the wreck.  I usually circle the wreck twice, once near the sand and once half way up.  Then I spend the balance of the time on top of the wreck and the shallowest portion of the main deck near the railings.  Make sure you look for the many morays around the propellers and railings.  Also, carefully poke your head into the wheelhouse to look for the groupers if they are not out swimming free.  A torch may help here. 

    This is a perfect site for a nitrox dive since anyone with using a computer usually runs out of deco time here before they run out of air.  Also, you can not get so deep that you risk oxygen toxicity.  For those on air without a computer, a good safe multi-level dive plan is to dive at 25 meters for 10 minutes, 20 meters for 10 minutes, 14 meters for 10 minutes, do a 5 minute safety top at 10 meters while still checking out the action around the wreck then a 3 minute safety stop at 5 meters.  You can repeat this profile after a two hour surface interval.


    (banned)

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    Re: Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock
    « Reply #3 on: 08 Oct 10, 11:03 »
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  • Oops, I forgot to update that article.

    Here is additional information about the wreck:
    Shipyard: Kinoura Zosen KK, Hakata Ochi-gun, Japan
    built 1981
    Original name: Nichi Asu Maru
    Name at Sinking: Marvin 1
    Sale date: October, 1992

    took on water in heavy seas  03 43.194   103 48.69
    Date sunk: 17/11/92 (notice the vast difference from the story told by most DMs that visit the site)
    8 crew

    Wombat

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    Re: Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock
    « Reply #4 on: 08 Oct 10, 12:21 »
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  • Wow Michael, Thank you very much for taking time to write this. Its very detailed and now I learned a lot about the wreck from your article. I've been searching for information or reports on Kuantan Wreck for a few days but most of them are bits and pieces only. Even the dive center website doesn't have this much information. Now that I learned so much about the wreck, I am most probably going on this trip.  ;D

    ianlau

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    Re: Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock
    « Reply #5 on: 10 Oct 10, 09:12 »
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  • which dive co are you going with for this trip? i'm going on deepavali weekend as well with deep fathom! heard that its teeming with fish at kuantan wreck. looking forward to it!

    DIN

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    Re: Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock
    « Reply #6 on: 12 Oct 10, 19:34 »
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  • That is a very comprehensive report. Thank you for sharing.
    Mola-Mola is a Myth

    Wombat

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    Re: Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock
    « Reply #7 on: 14 Oct 10, 03:08 »
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  • which dive co are you going with for this trip? i'm going on deepavali weekend as well with deep fathom! heard that its teeming with fish at kuantan wreck. looking forward to it!

    How much is Deep Fathom?  I am most probably going with Big Bubble but I have not register yet.

    ianlau

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    Re: Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock
    « Reply #8 on: 14 Oct 10, 05:54 »
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  • check your pm

    DIN

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    Re: Kuantan Wreck & Varella Rock
    « Reply #9 on: 26 Oct 10, 14:44 »
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  • Micheal reports make me excited, so going LOB in Deepavali weekend if anyone interested!
    Mola-Mola is a Myth