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Author Topic: Trip Report: Southern Island Local Dive with Leeway Sub-Aquatics  (Read 4997 times)

Leeway SubAquatic

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Hello everyone. Firstly, we sincerely apologize for the late turn out due to mis-communication, and the passage being blocked due to the movement of the ship in the small river. Please understand that the jetty is too small to accommodate more than two boats at any one time, and as a result, we were not able to wait at the jetty indefinitely for passengers to come on board. It is part of our standard practice to stand-by outside for all the divers to be present before we move the ship alongside. Unlike the RSYC, which owns their own berth and can allow boarding at any time.

The advantage of our work boat is due to our experience from being chartered for many commercial work at different locations, such as the Brani Container Terminal, Jurong Port Wharf, Jurong Island as well as for island coral reef checks. This experience means we are very familiar with these areas, and have access to information that not many other boat men know. Uncle George is one of our most experienced in this regard.

Usually we do not provide a dive master or guide on board like many other boats do, unless there is space for the volunteer and they know the site well. This time, there was no right candidate for the spot of dive master, and therefore we informed the organizer and allowed another leisure diver fill the vacancy.

On Sunday, we had 1 instructor and 2 dive master trainees to experience that dive site. Uncle George knew there was some risk at the site, Sister's Wreck, where you guys chose, and that is why he was the one who took you guys there instead of another captain. He voluntarily explained the challenging environment conditions before the dive, knowing that many of you are new to this dive site. That is something other boat men might not normally do. However, we have received feedback that the dive members had doubts about his advice. Despite his warnings about strong currents then, some also tried to macho their way into the troubled waters, and almost got drifted, while others were stopped by Uncle George who saw the first guys having difficulty reaching the anchored line. He then helped to haul the first diver to the ladder, where the current was so strong that the diver could not even get himself upright to stand up on the Monkey ladder, which was a T-Cross bar 2 feet below water line. The ladder was designed in this way for the professional diver to climb up to the boat swiftly without needing to remove the fin. It is not that we do not allow divers to take out their fins and climb up, but that would defeat the purpose of the design.

Since the spot was too challenging, Uncle George suggested another shelter site. It took a while to anchor at the seabed in those deeper waters. It is quite common for the boat to drift when there are strong waves or strong winds blowing at the surface, especially if the anchor does not hold. Experienced divers should know that because the site has no buoys. It certainly is not fun pulling the anchor up and down, but the captain did so for a few reasons. One is that the anchor did not bite, which can cause the boat to drift to shore like the case of the MV Nautica, which was reported in the papers. There was a definite need to re-anchor. Another reason is that the natural call-anchor drift. Experienced divers know to move away when the anchor drifts. On that day, the water was clear enough that it was obvious the anchor was drifting.

After the first satisfaction dive, it was after 12 noon. In total 12 tanks were used. With 7.2 cuft per min filling rate or 200 l/min, to refill from 0 to 3000psi or from 0 to 80 cuft, refilling takes about 11 min. It did not take 3 hours to refill the 12 tanks.

Second dive was at around 2 pm, and that was when Uncle George suggested moving back to the wreck as he observed that the tide had changed and current subsided. We tried to anchor approximately to the wreck site, but unfortunately it hit right on the wreck. That does mean that divers can descent effortlessly on the wreck and enjoy the dive, instead of having to swim a little harder to get close to the wreck, like divers on sunday experienced. It is, after all, possible to miss the wreck even if it is just a couple of meters away. Of course, that doesn't mean we always want to anchor to the wreck, as there is the risk of the anchor being caught by the wreck, which will require a diver to free the anchor or the ship will be stuck there.
We had no choice but to request a diver to free the anchor.

There are many stories about all the adventures, and somebody's food is another's poison. As humble divers, we always learn from the lessons of each dive, and while some might have good experiences, some will also have bad ones. Some will enjoy their dive while some will not. We understand we cannot please everybody, but at the very least, we do our best trying to make the dive enjoyable and safe for all the divers. Thank you for your consideration.


Leeway Sub-Aquatic

woobc

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For clarity, I would like to ask (pardon my ignorance) :
1) is Uncle George the boat captain and also owner of Leeway ? or 2 different people going by the same name ?
2) did Uncle George write this reply
3) was a DM first promised, but then backed out last minute as divers claimed ? or DM not usually provided for such trips as Leeway claimed ? or there was no right DM candidate to volunteer as Leeway claimed ?
4) was there anyone from Leeway on the boat ?
5) what if none of the diver customers agreed to free the anchor ?
6) what is Leeway's role/responsibility in organising/marketing such trips ?
7) if diving with Leeway, is it advisable to bring own indemnity form ?

Should have just left it as unfortunate that the anchor landed on the wreck. The less said the better.
As a leisure diver, I also prefer NOT to have to climb ladders with my fins on even if the ladders are designed to do so.

I wasnt on the trip, only done 2 dives in local waters & no experience running dive ops.
Just hoping to learn from others experience.

siaokao

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Hello everyone. Firstly, we sincerely apologize for the late turn out due to mis-communication, and the passage being blocked due to the movement of the ship in the small river. Please understand that the jetty is too small to accommodate more than two boats at any one time, and as a result, we were not able to wait at the jetty indefinitely for passengers to come on board. It is part of our standard practice to stand-by outside for all the divers to be present before we move the ship alongside. Unlike the RSYC, which owns their own berth and can allow boarding at any time.

The advantage of our work boat is due to our experience from being chartered for many commercial work at different locations, such as the Brani Container Terminal, Jurong Port Wharf, Jurong Island as well as for island coral reef checks. This experience means we are very familiar with these areas, and have access to information that not many other boat men know. Uncle George is one of our most experienced in this regard.

Usually we do not provide a dive master or guide on board like many other boats do, unless there is space for the volunteer and they know the site well. This time, there was no right candidate for the spot of dive master, and therefore we informed the organizer and allowed another leisure diver fill the vacancy.

On Sunday, we had 1 instructor and 2 dive master trainees to experience that dive site. Uncle George knew there was some risk at the site, Sister's Wreck, where you guys chose, and that is why he was the one who took you guys there instead of another captain. He voluntarily explained the challenging environment conditions before the dive, knowing that many of you are new to this dive site. That is something other boat men might not normally do. However, we have received feedback that the dive members had doubts about his advice. Despite his warnings about strong currents then, some also tried to macho their way into the troubled waters, and almost got drifted, while others were stopped by Uncle George who saw the first guys having difficulty reaching the anchored line. He then helped to haul the first diver to the ladder, where the current was so strong that the diver could not even get himself upright to stand up on the Monkey ladder, which was a T-Cross bar 2 feet below water line. The ladder was designed in this way for the professional diver to climb up to the boat swiftly without needing to remove the fin. It is not that we do not allow divers to take out their fins and climb up, but that would defeat the purpose of the design.

Since the spot was too challenging, Uncle George suggested another shelter site. It took a while to anchor at the seabed in those deeper waters. It is quite common for the boat to drift when there are strong waves or strong winds blowing at the surface, especially if the anchor does not hold. Experienced divers should know that because the site has no buoys. It certainly is not fun pulling the anchor up and down, but the captain did so for a few reasons. One is that the anchor did not bite, which can cause the boat to drift to shore like the case of the MV Nautica, which was reported in the papers. There was a definite need to re-anchor. Another reason is that the natural call-anchor drift. Experienced divers know to move away when the anchor drifts. On that day, the water was clear enough that it was obvious the anchor was drifting.

After the first satisfaction dive, it was after 12 noon. In total 12 tanks were used. With 7.2 cuft per min filling rate or 200 l/min, to refill from 0 to 3000psi or from 0 to 80 cuft, refilling takes about 11 min. It did not take 3 hours to refill the 12 tanks.

Second dive was at around 2 pm, and that was when Uncle George suggested moving back to the wreck as he observed that the tide had changed and current subsided. We tried to anchor approximately to the wreck site, but unfortunately it hit right on the wreck. That does mean that divers can descent effortlessly on the wreck and enjoy the dive, instead of having to swim a little harder to get close to the wreck, like divers on sunday experienced. It is, after all, possible to miss the wreck even if it is just a couple of meters away. Of course, that doesn't mean we always want to anchor to the wreck, as there is the risk of the anchor being caught by the wreck, which will require a diver to free the anchor or the ship will be stuck there.
We had no choice but to request a diver to free the anchor.

There are many stories about all the adventures, and somebody's food is another's poison. As humble divers, we always learn from the lessons of each dive, and while some might have good experiences, some will also have bad ones. Some will enjoy their dive while some will not. We understand we cannot please everybody, but at the very least, we do our best trying to make the dive enjoyable and safe for all the divers. Thank you for your consideration.


Leeway Sub-Aquatic
First off, I like to thank Leeway coming here to provide their side of the story.

After reading their response, I have the following comments:

West Coast Pier is not a big pier but is not as small as Leeway's reply seem to imply.  The pier is also situated near a river mouth, but it is not anywhere in a river where "movement of ship in the small river" will affect the schedule at all.

Also from the thread, I'm surprised by the boat handling and seamanship of the boatman/captain, and especially so after Leeway mentioned that is their most experienced in their commercial diving operation.

Drifting anchor while anchoring happens but especially anchoring in front of a wreck, boatman/captain should recognised that before the anchor reaches the wreck.  When dropping anchors, the one thing I avoid at all cost is to make sure my anchor do not end up stuck to the wreck.

As far as current goes, any half decent boatman/captain should know just by observing how his boat drift while anchoring.  Even if the boatman missed that, looking at the anchor rope, you could tell if the current is suitable for diving. One do not need a diver to have difficulty reaching anchor line to know current is too strong.  I would not have even release any diver in such a situation.

Explanation for lifting anchor while divers are still in water is also unsatisfactory. Lifting anchor and anchor drifting are 2 different things.  Anchor drifting is when anchor failed to hold and got dragged on the seabed, quite different from divers seeing the anchor in mid water.  What happen to those divers still below the boat looking for the anchor line to ascent? Why change the dive plan while divers are underwater?

In Leeway anchoring issue reply, "experienced divers" are used twice.  This seem to imply some divers are complaining due to their 'inexperience'.  Is this really the case?

I like to clarify that I was not personally there, have no interest in any commercial dive operations, never dived with Leeway and do not personally know any characters in this whole saga.  This also means I have nothing personal against or for any parties here.  I'm writing as I see it and I hope Leeway can look into the above points.  To the divers, you usually get what you pay for, go diving with eyes open.
So they call it a 'FACT' coz someone made some statements on a 'FACT SHEET'? hummm...

Crash

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Hello everyone. Firstly, we sincerely apologize for the late turn out due to mis-communication, and the passage being blocked due to the movement of the ship in the small river. Please understand that the jetty is too small to accommodate more than two boats at any one time, and as a result, we were not able to wait at the jetty indefinitely for passengers to come on board. It is part of our standard practice to stand-by outside for all the divers to be present before we move the ship alongside. Unlike the RSYC, which owns their own berth and can allow boarding at any time.

The advantage of our work boat is due to our experience from being chartered for many commercial work at different locations, such as the Brani Container Terminal, Jurong Port Wharf, Jurong Island as well as for island coral reef checks. This experience means we are very familiar with these areas, and have access to information that not many other boat men know. Uncle George is one of our most experienced in this regard.

Usually we do not provide a dive master or guide on board like many other boats do, unless there is space for the volunteer and they know the site well. This time, there was no right candidate for the spot of dive master, and therefore we informed the organizer and allowed another leisure diver fill the vacancy.

On Sunday, we had 1 instructor and 2 dive master trainees to experience that dive site. Uncle George knew there was some risk at the site, Sister's Wreck, where you guys chose, and that is why he was the one who took you guys there instead of another captain. He voluntarily explained the challenging environment conditions before the dive, knowing that many of you are new to this dive site. That is something other boat men might not normally do. However, we have received feedback that the dive members had doubts about his advice. Despite his warnings about strong currents then, some also tried to macho their way into the troubled waters, and almost got drifted, while others were stopped by Uncle George who saw the first guys having difficulty reaching the anchored line. He then helped to haul the first diver to the ladder, where the current was so strong that the diver could not even get himself upright to stand up on the Monkey ladder, which was a T-Cross bar 2 feet below water line. The ladder was designed in this way for the professional diver to climb up to the boat swiftly without needing to remove the fin. It is not that we do not allow divers to take out their fins and climb up, but that would defeat the purpose of the design.

Since the spot was too challenging, Uncle George suggested another shelter site. It took a while to anchor at the seabed in those deeper waters. It is quite common for the boat to drift when there are strong waves or strong winds blowing at the surface, especially if the anchor does not hold. Experienced divers should know that because the site has no buoys. It certainly is not fun pulling the anchor up and down, but the captain did so for a few reasons. One is that the anchor did not bite, which can cause the boat to drift to shore like the case of the MV Nautica, which was reported in the papers. There was a definite need to re-anchor. Another reason is that the natural call-anchor drift. Experienced divers know to move away when the anchor drifts. On that day, the water was clear enough that it was obvious the anchor was drifting.

After the first satisfaction dive, it was after 12 noon. In total 12 tanks were used. With 7.2 cuft per min filling rate or 200 l/min, to refill from 0 to 3000psi or from 0 to 80 cuft, refilling takes about 11 min. It did not take 3 hours to refill the 12 tanks.

Second dive was at around 2 pm, and that was when Uncle George suggested moving back to the wreck as he observed that the tide had changed and current subsided. We tried to anchor approximately to the wreck site, but unfortunately it hit right on the wreck. That does mean that divers can descent effortlessly on the wreck and enjoy the dive, instead of having to swim a little harder to get close to the wreck, like divers on sunday experienced. It is, after all, possible to miss the wreck even if it is just a couple of meters away. Of course, that doesn't mean we always want to anchor to the wreck, as there is the risk of the anchor being caught by the wreck, which will require a diver to free the anchor or the ship will be stuck there.
We had no choice but to request a diver to free the anchor.

There are many stories about all the adventures, and somebody's food is another's poison. As humble divers, we always learn from the lessons of each dive, and while some might have good experiences, some will also have bad ones. Some will enjoy their dive while some will not. We understand we cannot please everybody, but at the very least, we do our best trying to make the dive enjoyable and safe for all the divers. Thank you for your consideration.


Leeway Sub-Aquatic

Oh come on...i wasn't questioning the design of the ladder. i was merely remarking on the need to climb up the slippery ladder with my fins on during the choppy conditions up the bumboat while the boatman stands at the side and verbally directs me to place my feet on the next step. No physical assistance was given even though he was just standing right there infront of me. I staggered up on my feet and even walked down the steps to the bench with my fins on. I'm perplexed as why i had to professionally and swiftly climb up the ladder for the second dive but climb unprofessionally and less swiftly for the first. If you said it was due to the sudden change in sea conditions or gastly weather, it would at least make some sense but that doesn't seem to be the case at all. For what's it's worth, I'll just take it as a minor misunderstanding and a lapse of judgement and let the matter rest. No point bickering back and fourth about such a small issue eh? :)

If you carefully read the replies, most of us are content with the dive trip, myself included. In fact some are happy to return to explore other parts of sisters island. The only thing we hope you'll do is to review some of the unorthodox practices we highlighted previously such as raising the anchor line while divers are still ascending on it. That's all.

Anyway, reading your reply has truly humbled me and got me to self reflect on my lack of experience for such demanding dives. I will look for less experience local dive operators in the future to suit my needs and to built up my experience. Thanks leeway for the enjoyable and unforgettable dive at sisters wreck. And thank you for actually replying here on scubasg. Really appreaciate it. Not even my MP would reply my email, let alone on reply on a public forum.


Godspeed and dive safe!


P.s: pls say hi to uncle george for me :)

siaokao

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After reading leeway's reply again, I may have misunderstood leeway's point of 'passage blocked due to movement of ship in small river'. Leeway's vessel maybe moored in pandan river and their path was blocked by other vessels.
« Last Edit: 18 Dec 14, 23:02 by siaokao »
So they call it a 'FACT' coz someone made some statements on a 'FACT SHEET'? hummm...

runez

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Dear Leeway,

I'm glad you replied to this post, even though it took more than 2 weeks and some of the details are already fading from my memory. Too be honest, I'm disappointed with your reply. Especially since I didn't think you were as bad as implied in the OP and I already stated that I would dive with you again.

You claim that as "humble divers, we always learn from the lessons of each dive". However, other than the opening apology which you attributed to mis-communication (and not a mistake), there's no acknowledgement of any other lessons learnt during the trip. For example, which dive centre asks their customers to provide their own indemnity forms? You gloss over the inconvenient facts and use the rest of the post to justify your actions on the day itself, and imply that us (the customers) were unreasonable, inexperienced and/or had unrealistic expectations. Sigh.

The best thing you could've done was to own up to the oversights which resulted in this less-than-perfect thread, clarify the facts and promise to deliver a better customer experience the next time round.

...we were not able to wait at the jetty indefinitely for passengers to come on board. It is part of our standard practice to stand-by outside for all the divers to be present before we move the ship alongside.

Uh.. you admitted that there was a "traffic jam" at the river, hence we were waiting for almost an hour before the boat arrived. I don't see how this was a mis-communication error, nor how this statement is relevant. This statement seems to imply that we were late? Or does it mean that once we miss the 8am window, there was a 1+ hour queue for the boat to come into the jetty?

The fact is, instructions were to arrive by 8am, our last diver was late (arrived about 8.15), and we only managed to board to boat at 9+. Unfortunately, I didn't take note of the exact time we boarded the boat, I only remember waiting a long time. :)

Despite his warnings about strong currents then, some also tried to macho their way into the troubled waters, and almost got drifted...

Not really. Uncle George did warn us about the currents and asked our coordinator if we wanted to continue, and since our main objective at Sister's Island was the wreck, she replied that we would like to try it. We did not disobey Captain's orders and our diver certainly did not "macho" his way into the troubled waters. I do not appreciate a professional company insinuating that it was the customer's fault, or using such words to describe their customers.

After the first satisfaction dive, it was after 12 noon. In total 12 tanks were used. With 7.2 cuft per min filling rate or 200 l/min, to refill from 0 to 3000psi or from 0 to 80 cuft, refilling takes about 11 min. It did not take 3 hours to refill the 12 tanks.

You're right, it didn't take 3 hours to refill. The fact is, it took almost 2 hours to refill. So what's your point?

The 2 hours were ok for me, since I like my SI between dives to be at least 2 hours. What I didn't appreciate was that you didn't refill my tank! It was still 40 bars after "refilling" and I had to swap tanks just before the 2nd dive, which still came in at only 150 bars!

One is that the anchor did not bite, which can cause the boat to drift to shore like the case of the MV Nautica, which was reported in the papers.

Really? Mentioning a competitor's boat in your argument? Sounds like a cheap shot to me.

Experienced divers know to move away when the anchor drifts. On that day, the water was clear enough that it was obvious the anchor was drifting.

I suppose this is to address the "anchor being pulled while divers were still in the water" feedback.

First of all, how would you know that the water was clear enough? You weren't in the water. It was decent for Singapore's waters, but that equates to maybe 2-3m of visibility.

I also don't appreciate the "experienced divers" argument. We're certainly not professional divers, and if staying away from a drifting anchor was that important, please mention it during the dive briefing! Recreational divers use the anchor (or a shot line) as a visual reference to surface at/near the boat. This would be preferable to doing a free ascent without any visual reference, as there is a very real risk of drifting into the busy channel. The visibility was about 2-3m, so if not for the anchor chain, there would be no other reference for divers in the water to know if they were near the boat or in the channel.

According to our friends in the water, the anchor passed very close to one of the divers at the safety stop. As the group had shot a SMB, there's no excuse for the boat crew to say that "experienced divers know to move away when the anchor drifts", because you can bloody see the SMB and know there are divers down there!
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racerx_

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As a diver who was there I find most of leeways reply quite ridiculous.

We arrived at 8:00am and returned at 4pm for two one hour dives due to lateness, inefficiency, and lack of proper planning. That's a really long time for 2 dives.

Also I was on the line maybe 2 meters from the anchor when they pulled it and it came flying toward us which is not one of my favorite underwater memories. This is just one of the ridiculous things that happened that day. I believe no one mentioned the fact that in both dive breeding a we were told to return to the line but on both dives they had pulled the anchor up before we finished. I think instead of calling for "experienced" divers perhaps there's a need for experienced boat captains here. The least that could happen is they take responsibility for some of the problems and oversights and seek to fix it in the future.

Winchester

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I wasn't a diver on that trip but I am quite puzzled, why would the captain wanted pull the anchor while divers are still in the water? I supposed this was not explained by leeway (the anchor drifting should be addressing to the repeated anchoring/weighing anchoring procedure for the first dive?).

Does the depth of seabed around the wreck varies drastically? If not, I do not see how an anchor drift can cause the anchor to change depth and get suspended in mid water.

If it is due to other reason/s, then I think it is time to review the operations procedure for such local dive before allowing divers into the water. Diving in a low visibility, high traffic area while fighting against current is stressful enough already, the last thing you would want is to have an anchor hurling towards you.
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Crash

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I wasn't a diver on that trip but I am quite puzzled, why would the captain wanted pull the anchor while divers are still in the water? I supposed this was not explained by leeway (the anchor drifting should be addressing to the repeated anchoring/weighing anchoring procedure for the first dive?).

Does the depth of seabed around the wreck varies drastically? If not, I do not see how an anchor drift can cause the anchor to change depth and get suspended in mid water.

If it is due to other reason/s, then I think it is time to review the operations procedure for such local dive before allowing divers into the water. Diving in a low visibility, high traffic area while fighting against current is stressful enough already, the last thing you would want is to have an anchor hurling towards you.

Apparently that's what experience boatman do. Inexperience divers like us should just look at them in awe.

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I have dived sisters wreck many times and it is a great wreck with loads to see, but you can only dive it certain times of the year on particular tides.

You guys are very lucky no one was lost or hurt trying to dive there this time of year.  The rain can cause zero visibility (on the surface) and that makes it impossible to see a diver drifting off.

Suggest for everyones sake you stay at Hantu until monsoon is over and than consider others site like Sisters wreck from March/April.

The only and safest way to dive Sisters wreck is to have a line secured to the wreck (not anchor)  Someone has to jump in and tie to the wreck.  The boat can anchor away from the wreck not in the coral, but in the sand/mud.  All divers go up and down the line.

This is the report from my first trip there in 2012

http://www.gs-diving.com/latest-news/trip-report-13-november-2012/



« Last Edit: 22 Dec 14, 09:30 by GS-DIVING »