Here is my 1st 'Exploration report'..
Have been thinking of a local 'exploration' dive for a while. And finally last Tuesday, I manage to put together a dive team and a volunteer boat crew for a Thursday trip. Day was chosen as current conditions was favorable at the targeted sites. So on Wednesday, I make necessary arrangements for tanks and get the boat ready for action.
Thursday morning, dive team met at Keppel marina 8am. The team of 4 consist of 3 experienced divers (including 2 dive pros) and a noob (me
). Once our gears are loaded up the boat.. I start up the boat and headed towards RSYC to pick up tanks and crew for the day. Manage to go along side at RSYC 9am sharp as per planned and started loading dive tanks. (while loading tanks, realized I've left my camera at home!
) Boat Crew includes 2 professional skippers, a deckie and a guest. 2nd skipper was still out at sea and we waited for him. Manage to depart RSYC at 10am.
Arrived at 1st dive site, a previously surveyed breakwater off Tuas with max depth 34m. After some quick assessment of site conditions, a dive plan was worked out. We plan a drop at deep end and move east so we can survey the entire profile of the wall and should end up at the shallow end. Current was slack as expected and we entered water and started our decent at around 10.40am. Viz was not good (2m), but we decent anyway, heading towards 34m bottom. A very well controlled decent, team decent at similar and constant rate, keeping the team together.
Past 10 m mark and we could see a dark bottom approaching. 15m, we were in darkness.. 25m, it was dark EVERYWHERE! Past 25m, u cannot even tell which way up!
Hit sandy bottom at 34+m, no silt, clean heavy sand. After making sure all 4 of us are together, we move towards East as per our plan. This is the 1st time I'm diving in such conditions, extremely dark, very poor vis (only locating one another with lights). We were putting in alot of effort staying together, but still, I manage to see and played with a baby squid.
Finning straight was difficult in extreme darkness, with only sand, limited viz and no reference, we have to fin referring to compass all the time! After 5 mins of finning over 34m deep sandy bottom and not seeing the wall, I decided to change direction towards north as that should be a shorter and more direct path towards our targeted wall. But I failed to convey the message to the team and we could not move towards north as a team, coordination uw in such condition was extremely difficult.
And after 12 mins @34m, looking at sandy bottom and all hitting deco, we decided to call it off and end the dive. Dive time 29mins (including 10mins deco). Guys surfaced with 60 bar and gals.. 90 and 100 bar still in tank!
Though we did not successfully reach the wall and seen practically nothing, but most of us agree that was a great dive. None of us have ever dived in such darkness b4 and all agree its a very interesting experience. Managing to decent, dive and accent together in such condition is itself an accomplishment! Will make further attempts in the near future.
Later we figure our drop was too far south (strong north-east wind was pushing the boat south-west while we were entering water).
2nd dive was a wreck off Jurong Island. Believe its an old steel vessel at 18m, from previous survey, seems most of the hull already sunk into mud with only 4m exposed structure. We know skin divers have been diving and spearing fish at this wreck in the past. After a 2 hr surface interval, we make this dive at 1.20pm. No current and typical local viz of 1m, an easy decent to 15m and attempt to move around wreck in a clockwise direction. Vessel is heavy covered in silt and even with careful finning, its almost impossible not to kick up silt. Looks like super structure has already been cut away, we just encounter panels of steel walls and pipes. Some swim throughs and opening spotted. But we make no attempts to squeeze thru those openings. Spotting some small seafans, sponges, whip corals and small fish. Plenty school fish over there, but u hardly see them swimming around u as viz is really poor. You only see their silhouette against bright surface when u look up. Believe there are big bottom dwellers but could not see any, they swim away as we approach, only see the silt they kicked up. We surfaced near our boat after 50 mins. Deckie fished up a batfish while we were diving!
Last dive, we did Pulau Salu. Due to the delay at RSYC in the morning, current was picking up and we have to cut short our surface interval. Shallow dive anyway and we dived into northern end of island. @10m, see sandy bottom with lots of holes, gobies and some nudis.. we found the reef but was all covered in silt. Spotted a very pretty flat worm lookalike nudi.. 1st time seeing something like that (I later referred to diver hloc's nudi photo collection and could not find anything similar. Someone, pls lend me a nudi ref book.. ). But current was picking up and viz became really bad and water cold at 28deg C. Team got separated and we ended the dive @ 50 mins.
Drop off boat crew, guest and tanks @ RSYC b4 6pm and make the short journey back to Keppel marina.. wash up gear, clean boat, shower, dinner and finally the trip concluded at around 10.30pm! Excellent day of great diving and company!
Top side vids and photos shortly.