Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Manta rays and a whale shark

The following videos are courtesy of Robin Lippy. The whale shark video is of the one Linda would have gotten if she had remembered to take her macro lens off.... uhhhhhhhhhgggggg! (I took the liberty to combine four short video's into one. Then added a little music.)

Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Friday Nov 6
We have been looking for the Whalesharks since we boarded. Last week we were told that they were down South so we headed towards there. When we got there they were no where to be found. Then we were told that they had headed North. We headed North. Still no Whalesharks. We carried on diving to take a break from the search. This week the Dive Crew heard that they were down South again. That was two days ago. It has taken us two days to get back South and this time we are even further South than last time.

We knew that the crew were on the hunt today for them today. We did our first dive which was a very nice dive. Hey, what dive isn’t. We got back had breakfast and then got ready for our next dive. We were originally going to do our second dive then look for the Whaleshark. Well, when we hit the dive boat things changed. We switched that around and went hunting first.

The seas were really rough. I would say that the swells were about 6 ft/ 2 meters high. As the crew was searching we were all chatting and trying to stay I our seats without falling down. Water was breaking over the bow of the boat. You could see that some were turning green and wishing that the search would end and that we just could get into the water. We should have been ready to get into the water but like me….I am sure that nobody really thought we would see it. I am not sure how long it took the crew to locate one. They were on the roof of the boat. All of a sudden we could heard banging. They spotted one. YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In our excitement we grabbed our snorkel gear and hit the water.

Lily was first in which is amazing as she is not a great swimmer and was afraid of getting into seas that rough. It took me awhile to get my camera and lens ready. When I got in I remembered…….DO NOT TAKE PHOTO’S………..TAKE VIDEO. I was so proud of myself for remembering that. I was shooting for about a minute. The Whaleshark was just under me. As the shark was moving deeper and away from me I realized that I forgot to take off my macro lens……UGHHHHHHHHHHHH. Boo Hoo. The fortunate thing is that my friend Robin was right beside me the entire time. She took video as well so we would have had the same footage and even better yet…..she has a better camera than me. The video is awesome and I will put it on this blog when I get home.

That is not the end of this dive either. I have no idea why but I had told my buddies that I was going to stay with the guides today. Normally I am at the back of the pack and last on the boat.
Today I wanted to be up front. Well, that did not happen as my group got separated. When we regrouped the current changed and everybody had turned around. I now was waiting for one of my buddies to catch up to me. Not long after I was got everyone back in order I could hear a rattle being shaken like crazy. I knew that the others had seen the whaleshark underwater. I missed it. I was very happy for the others as I have seen 4 whalesharks underwater and this was their very first one.

Needless to say everyone is exhausted and very happy. As I write this piece we are in a storm. The boat is rocking and rolling. All of my seasick people are in bed…or at least I hope that they are as walking around on the boat is a challenge. I think I will grab my book and do exactly the same thing.

Sat Nov. 7
Did a night dive in the pouring rain. It was a strong current and because of the storm I wanted to stay with the group. They were flying down the reef. It was not my cup of tea but the Brit’s loved it. We did see a lobster and two huge rays.
Today we did a 4 ½ hr crossing in a storm. It was rough but due able. Again it poured rain for our two dives. Robin found an amazing nudibranch today. We were meant to do a bar-ba-que tonight but the rain stopped us. We were going to do a night dive but the crew are exhausted but driving that boat in the stormy weather. At last the storm has ended. I am back outside on the upper deck writing this.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thursday Nov 5th

I cannot believe how many of my people are getting sick. It started with one just after we got here. He had a nasty cold. He was down for about 3 days. Then his wife got it. She was only down for 2 days. Yesterday, another guy went down with the flu and my roommate has a nasty GI problem. We are hoping that they are not down to long. It is nasty to be sick in a island, worse when it is your on your vacation but on vacation on a boat. UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!

We are still in search of the allusive whale shark. I have decided that someone here had bad karma. HAHAHAH

So far this week the complaints are way down. Thank god. It is so much nicer.. I knew it was going to be tough to keep everyone happy but I did not expect that much pickiness. Even with that said, this has been an amazing learning experience. The biggest question I have is ………why did I wait so dang long to do it.

I am checking with Alex…who at the young age of 27 has been diving around Asia/Indonesia etc.alot. He had a shop in Malaysia before this boat Anyway, after chatting with him tons, he is going to set me up with destinations and dive operations where I can book a group and get in the 1 ½ hr dives that we are looking for as well as the small stuff. Of course we like the big stuff but we just do not want to waste our time looking for it.

I am pretty sure that I have not mentioned it or not but……I love being on the boat. At least this one as it is big enough to find hiding places to read or to write. One would have to be really careful about getting sun burnt on the boat is the breeze is amazing so you never feel hot when on the upper decks.

Dang…It just dawned on me….not everyone has seen photo’s of this boat. Go to www.mvorion.com or search mv Orion Maldives. This boat is amazing.

This afternoons late dive was amazing. Not only did it have some wonderful corals but we had a frogfish on steroids and a leaf fish. Here they call it a paper scorpion fish. The problem with the dives right now is that we are being followed by a boat of Italians and a boat of Spaniards. There are about 60 or more divers on the same reef. UGH. Hate it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Monday Nov 2 2009
At last everybody is extremely happy. We finally got our Manta Ray dive today. Not one, not two but 11 of them. . One of them had at least 10 remora’s on it. They danced, barrel rolled and dive bombed. The vis was not great. About 50 ft, which was fine by us. We were with the Manta’s for about 45 min maybe longer. They were not the little guys either. They were about 15 feet wide and at a cleaning station. They were so awesome that we went back the next day. Well, we went back because we have new people on the boat and they wanted to see them as well. The next day we had 6 Manta’s. After that dive we did a 6 hr corssing so we all read or slept.

Today we did a shark dive. We had a bout 5 grey reef sharks as well as about 10 white tip reef sharks. The full moon has been causing high tides and much stronger currents. Serena and I are usually the last ones on the boat. Not only because we are good on our air but because we hardly move even with the strong currents. It takes the boat awhile to pick up everybody then they have to back track to get us and the owner. Thank god the owner is with us. HAHHAHA

We have been finding a few nudi’s but not many. I am kicking my butt today as on of my people found an amazing one. It was just a baby.
About ¼ inch long. I only managed 3 photo’s as I wanted others to see it. Needless to say…….they were not in focux. UGH. OH well. I have gotten some amazing shots along the way.

Tonight is a beautifully clear night. I am sitton on the upper deck typing this………

Well, off to bed………….mone later……….when we find the whaleshark

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Now..where was I……..Friday…….If I remember correctly I left off with my Friday morning dive. We went to Fish Head and then after that we did a dive to Rahdigga Thila. Again there were loads of fish. Nothing to brag about as yet.

Now, back to the boat. There are 17 crew. The majority of them are Maldivian. Most do not speak English. The cook is directly from Thailand as is her helper/massage person. Needless to say the food is amazing. As you all know…..when your meals are made for you, you eat. I am going to be as big as house when I get off this thing. Thank God I am going to NYC and my friend is going to share her membership with me. I will also be running a 5km race in Queens a few days after I get there. One of the owners is all of 27. Not sure how old his partner is but he is at a dive show so we will not be able to meet him Alex (the young owner) has is parents onboard to assist him. They are so sweet. Oh, they are brits. So I am loving their accents.

On this ship there is a sauna and two hot tubs. They are not used as hot tubs but as a jet pool as the hot water would not be such a good idea for divers. Yes, everythings is expensive here. It is a luxury boat after all but like Bonaire…everything has to be brought in. Such is life. Make for much less drinking. HAHAHAH

Today is now officially Halloween. Guess it is snowing in most places. Giggle. Today so far we have done two dives. We will be doing 3 dives a day till the next Group arrives. Anyway, This morning we went to Bulalhohi Fahru. It had the most current so far. We would slip under a ledge to get out of it. The dive was beautiful but uneventful. After breakfast we went in search of the Manta’s at one of their cleaning stations. Not luck.. OHG I have been forgetting to mention the Napoleon Wrasses. They are truly amazing.

I have to say that all in all things are working out pretty well. It took a few days to get people to settle down and stop bitching cause the boat is not exactly as they would have built it. Such things as storage, wasted space, proper coffee mugs etc.

Today we had an amazing dive. The corals were how I expected them to be. Wonderful colors, tons of fish as well. I want more of that. We will go back there in a few days. Right now it is time for the Brits to leave. We were meant to have a bar-ba-que tonight but the weather turned again. Another big storm came flying in so we had dinner inside. The locals were singing and dancing tonight for everyone. The brit’s did joined in and did their own dances. The locals loved it.

Tomorrow we get a serious sleep in………wake up at 7am. YEAHHHHHHHH.. Not sure when everybody is leaving but a new crew is ooming in. A couple from Spain, Two young Brit chicks and a 54 year old single man……he is special for me. HAHAHA We will be heading to a dive site where the Manta Rays get cleaned. Another boat saw 4 of them there today. I am looking forward to that.

I sure wish that I could sernd some photo’s but I have no idea how to shrink them to send them out. I am very proud of some that I have taken.. I am already thinking of entering them in a contest if I can find the right one.

Friday, October 30, 2009

PLEASE forgive the delay. Internet is not easy to get everyday. Also, please forgive any spelling errors. I am sending this without proofing it. Sorry, no photo's till I get back as there is no way they will go through with this internet.

Thursday Oct 30

Today was the first day of diving. I have not had internet as much as I thought which is why I am a wee bit behind. I am now going to try to catch up. At least now I can write when there is no internet and copy and paste it when I do have internet.

So….let me see if I can remember everything.

The flight down here was nasty. I got up at 5am and was at the airport at 5:30am. The first flight was to Houston via Cont. A 4 ½ hr flight. I then had a 8 hr layover. My next leg was to Dubai with Enriates . This flight was 15 hrs. I was to meet my friend Robin there. I waited and waited for her to arrive. I was worried as I never saw her. I had a 9 hr wait before I was to depart for Male. Emirates has a lounge for it’s customers where you can eat. It was a very nice way to pass time.

The Dubai airport is more like a shopping mall than an airport. You can buy anything. It is a very international airport as it is a hub for the middle east.

After the 9 hrs. wait I got on my last flight to Male. It was another 4 ½ hr flight. I saw Diane and Jim as I was boarding this flight but still no Robin. When we got to the airport I told the people picking us up that Robin was missing. They got me a internet card and I go online but could not locate her on skype. I unfortunately did not take her phone numbers with me. I checked my email and saw a message from her saying that her first flight out of Boston was cancelled and she would be arriving in the afternoon with a bunch of the others. Whew….I could now breath again.

We found out that there were going to be 7 Brits joining us on this trip. So now instead of 14 of us there are 21. This is totally not a problem as the boat is hugh and beautiful. Ya, the boat is as beautiful as the photo’s.

The Brit’s are upset as they did not know that the first day of arrival was for us to stay on the boat instead of at a hotel. We were not meant to dive. Our first dive was not meant to be till Tuesday. I explained that to them but as they said…….their travel agent should have let them know.

On Tuesday the last of our crew arrived. We went out on our first dive to a site called Kiki Reef where we saw all the usual Indian Ocean fish. It was amazing. The currents were no where near as bad as I had expected them to be. We were suppose to do a afternoon dive but there was a problem with the compressor so no air. They did a night dive that night but I bowed out as I was not comfortable doing a night dive with only one dive under my belt here.

On Wed. we did a dive to where we Rasdhoo Madivaru saw a grey shark and 3 eagle Rays. We also got to snorkel with our first Manta Ray. It was doing the summersault feeding thing. It was amazing. My first encounter with a Manta that actually stuck around. I was thrilled. The next dive was to Gangehi Kandhu where we saw more sharks. This dive had a bit more current and the vis was not great. We had a seperation issue. Everybody had a buddy but me. I keep holding back in hopes that someone would come up behind me Found out later that they all went deep and I did not.……… last dive was to…………….. Still not much in the way of currents. On our 3 dive we went to Gangehi House Reef. Some of us saw a Manta Ray down deep.

On Thursday we did our first 4 day dive. It was up at the crack of dawn. Eat a bit, get a briefing, dive, eat, rest, briefing, dive, eat, rest, briefing, dive, eat rest briefing, dive, eat. First dive was to Beryu where we saw giant stingray, Manta Ray passing by and turtle along with all the major beautifully colored fish. Second dive was to Haffusha Thila. Thila means Pinnacale in the Maldivian language. Loads of juv. Whitetip sharks. Third dive was to Maaya Thila where we had 2 turtles, nudi’s, blennies and gobies. We did this as a prep dive for the night dive. The last dive was again Maaya Thila for the night dive. Awesome. 2 juv. Lionfish, nudi’s, juv. Whitetip reef sharks hunting for dinner.
Wow!!!!!!! It is friggin Friday. Where is the time going? The Brits are wonderful and a nice add on to the group. I have already done 2 dives today. I am hoping to get internet long enough tonight to actually send this off.

So the first dive today was to a site called Batala Maaga Kan Thila. Two Neopolian Wrasse’s, Eagle Ray, amazing overhangs. Found my first jawfish. I hate that I do not know the names of all the fish. I know most of the families which is nice but there are no extensive books to look up the fish names and even worse….no nudi book. UGH…………or creature book I guerss I should say. The next dive was to Fish Head. Richard found me a beautiful nudi and I found a stick like one. I love it when I can stay down longer but still not long enough. Longest dive so far was 76 mins. But I am thrilled that they are allowing us to do that.