Getting Wrecked at Night and Diving with Knives

The sun drifts below the cloud cover of the horizon.  The moonlight glimmers off the water surface.  The pink boat sways with the rolling waves.  The boys are flying high and ready to dive deep.  Cue ‘Ave Maria’.

Sometimes conditions are perfect for awesome dives.  My personal favorite so far was a night dive of 742 Sattakut Wreck.  (The wreck is 48 meters long, 18 meters high, and has two massive gun turrets on the bow and the stern.)  As we waited for darkness to overtake the skyline, the crew suited up in full penetration gear.  Aussie Tom, Mitch, Jonas, Brian, and myself waited in great anticipation for the go ahead to jump off the boat.  With a front flip entry off the port side, we swam towards the bouy line, gave each other the ok signal, and started our descent.

High caliber diving.

High caliber diving.

The water appeared a very deep blue under the surface, accentuated by the lights from our torches.  The bubbles escaping our regulators with each exhalation created the soundtrack for our goodbye to the surface world.  Time ceased to exist as we gradually floated down past 5 meters, 10 meters, 15 meters.

Where the hell is the wreck? 

Looking up we noticed Jonas slowly surfacing due to some trouble equalizing and we slowly ascended back to the surface.  Here we noticed the current had dragged us away from the buoy line, explaining why the wreck was nowhere in sight.  Take 2.  Re-cue ‘Ave Maria’.  This time we’ll ascend down the buoy line.

This time there were no complications and the wreck sat on the ocean floor, 30 meters below the surface, inviting us to come do some exploring.  Maneuvering through the narrow entryway, we descended down the stairway to the top floor, slowly cruising through the corridor along with a small school of silvery fish that reflected in our torchlight.  The inside of the wreck appeared completely different in the night opposed to the day, providing an aura of intrigue and mystery.

The vessel pre-sinking.

The vessel pre-sinking.

As soon as we exited the south side of the ship we immediately u-turned and re-entered the second level of the ship where the cargo hull is.  It began to feel even more like a movie as fish lurked in small corridors and I could imagine finding a skeleton or ancient artifact tucked into a corner.  (Unfortunately that was just my overactive mind taking over, no crazy discoveries were made.)  As we finished the second level, our decompression time was down to less than 6 minutes and we took our excursion towards the shallower White Rock dive site.

On the swim over we passed by some small schools of barracuda (which will eat small fish if you shine your torch on them) and some blue spotted sting rays.  The rays are much more active at night and watching the rippling motion they use for propulsion always fascinates me.  After a 45 minute dive, we broke the surface of the water to a sky dotted with distant stars and let out an enthusiastic “Aaawoooooo!”.  Big Changs awaited on board, a fitting end to an awesome dive and a fitting start to an awesome night out.

While the wreck night dive was my favorite so far, every time we visit the Chumphon Pinnacle makes for some great diving.  This site is farther out into the ocean than most of the others and the pinnacles make for feeding grounds that attract huge schools of fish.  Giant schools of barracuda frequent the aptly named Barracuda Rock.  Thousands of butterflyfish drift past, allowing you to corkscrew your way through until completely surrounded in a sea of yellow.  A sweet boxfish resides right next to one of the three bouy lines and giant groupers hang out near the ocean floor.

The link below highlights some of the wildlife found in Koh Tao.  A large portion of the footage is from Chumphon.

With all the bountiful wildlife in this awesome site, you can understand why we were heart broken one morning to find illegal fishing nets caught amongst the coral, and fish trapped in the nets.  As such, we decided to change our plans for our second dive that morning and do something about it.

The boat captain graciously offered us some of his kitchen knives so we could retrieve the nets without damaging the coral.  Descending past fun divers, armed with butchers knives, I’m sure a couple of people were freaked out.  In a joint effort we managed to remove all the netting and free some of the still struggling fish.  It was a completely different type of dive to what I’m used to, but it was by far one of the most rewarding ones.

The video below sums up the day’s dives.  That Planeteer at 3:09 with the butcher’s knife, you know who it is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrjFVQcUxQA

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