Due to the number of photo's and loading times this report is split into 2. Part 1 is below and part 2 is here.

MV Sea Spirit. November 2006 Trip Report. Part 1

The first part of the report covers getting out there so if your not interested in baggage allowances, info about the flights and transfers or the details on Sea Spirit then click here - take me to the Diving, Dave!

Parking/Flights

We drove to Heathrow on the Saturday and left the car with Purple Parking. Was just under 90 for 3 weeks booked on the net through Holiday Extras. Service fine even though their mini-bus drivers are repressed formula 1 wannabes.

Maldives Scuba Tours uses Emirates scheduled flights to get you to the Maldives and these go via Dubai. Was my first time scheduled and had always been charter/package before. What a difference.

First of all at check in there was no problems with excess baggage. Being both a underwater photographer and a toy freak the 30kg checked and 7kg hand luggage is either 1, a problem or 2, expensive. No problem at all here. Emirates give scuba divers an extra 10kg checked and didn't even need to see cert cards.

The flight was great and the crew are a different class to the others we've had flying charter/package hol to the Maldives. Food and drinks are free and you each have your own TV screen with a huge selection of movies. I got through - Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Taggella Nights, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Mission Impossible 3, Family Guy and the Simpson's as well as playing some of the computer games and audio (Monty Python!)

Scheduled may be more expensive on the ticket but add up how much you usually spend of excess baggage, food, drink & headphones on the flight. Then take into account friendly helpful crew, great choice of entertainment and no delays to your flight. Soon becomes less of an issue.

Male Airport onto Sea Spirit

At Male we were met by Nick the cruise director who gathered us all up and took us to the Dhoni (local Maldavian boat) to transfer to Sea Spirit.

Got on the boat, quick intro and briefing about the boat, shown to cabins to unpack and then get the paperwork out of the way.

MV Sea Spirit

Sea Spirit has 6 cabins taking 2/3 divers each. On our trip we had 10 divers. 3 Americans (of which 1 lived in Sweden, 1 in the UK and 1 in USA), 1 Swede (who was married to one of the Americans) and 4 Brits.

The cabins are sufficiently roomy with plenty of room for storage even with 3 weeks worth of gear. The en-suit bathrooms are fine and the hot water is hot and the cold water is cold!

The salon has plenty of seating with a water cooler and a hot water urn so a nice cup of tea/coffee or a cold glass of water is always available. The tea is really nice as you'd expect being so close to Sri Lanka and India. There are two fridges, one with soft drinks such as Coke, 7up, Sprite, Lemon Tea, Soda etc and one for the beer (mainly Tiger). Soft drinks are free and alcohol is based on an honesty system. As well as beer there is red and white wine, vodka, Whisky, gin etc. Drinks are $4 a time so not too bad. I managed to spend less than $100 on vodka during the trip!!

There is a hi-fi, DVD player and TV where you can view the days photo's and the charging table for cameras/torches/toys.

On the back of the boat there are 3 big rinse tanks with fresh water for cameras/torches etc.

There is a sundeck on top with covered and uncovered areas and chairs/sun loungers. Nice spot to watch the sun set or look out for "big spotty fish" (the word Whaleshark is banned as not to jinx the trip).

 

 



All diving (and storage of your dive gear) is done from the support Dhoni. The compressors are also on the Dhoni and it moves away when charging the cylinders as not to disturb you! Nirtox is available and they use partial pressure blending. The fills are $10 a time so not particularly cheap and with 5 nitrox divers the O2 ran low towards the end of the trip and we had to ration nitrox fills for the most deserving dives.



The guides/instructors/cruise directors where Nick and Demelza. A variety of courses could be done onboard and I saw deep diver speciality and nitrox were undertaken during the trip. I must say was nice for me just to dive and not bother about 'education' :)

The daily routine onboard was a rousing wake-up call by Nick at 6:30am, briefing at 6:50am and on the Dhoni for 7:00am. In the water for around 7:20am and then back to the boat for breakfast. Next briefing at 10:50am, onto the Dhoni for 11:00am and then out to the site, dive and back for lunch. Final briefing at 2:50pm, onto the Dhoni for 3:00pm and off to dive and back for afternoon tea and cakes! Then it was time to crash out until 7:30pm for dinner.

The food was fantastic. It was very varied with eastern and western menus alternating each night. For example a Maldivian chicken curry was followed by burger and chips followed by Sri Lankan fish dish followed by Sheppard's Pie followed by Spicy Maldivian Fish followed by roast beef and Yorkshire pudding! The chef was Sri Lankan but obviously influenced by Nick. The chef was very accommodating and as one of the guests didn't like spicy food, she got her own dish specially prepared when it was something spicy.

The fish was extremely fresh as you could watch the crew catching it off the back of the boat. You'll not get much fresher than that!

The Diving

As it was a 12 day trip we could do a lot of different Atolls. Our trip took us to North Male, Baa, Rashdoo, North Ari, South Ari, South Male and back to North Male.

Day 1, Pre-Dive

After settling into the boat we did all the paperwork and steamed over to do our check dive.

Day 1, Dive 1 - Wattaru

This was our check dive on a reef which sloped from 3m down to 30m. We saw green morays, large puffers, titan triggerfish, lion fish and the usual assortment of reef fish.

I took my camera housing down empty to check for leaks after the journey and fitting the dome port so no photo's I'm afraid.

Depth - 26.7m

Temperature - 27 Degrees

Visibility - 20m+

Notable Sea Life - Nothing out of the ordinary.

 

Day 2, Dive 1 - Nelivaru - Baa Atoll

This oval shaped reef starts at 5 to 8m and slopes down to 30m. It is a manta cleaning station and that's why we were there, and we weren't disappointed. As soon as we dropped down there was a large manta and by the time we finished the dive there were two taking it in turns to hover over the cleaning station. As well as the mantas there were goatfish, octopus and a lot of anemones with their resident anemone fish.

Depth - 28.2m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 20m+

Notable Sea Life - 2 x manta, octopus.

 

 

Day 2, Dive 2 - Maddhoo - Baa Atoll

 

Another small over shaped reef starting at 5m and sloping down to 30m. A very nice swim through and quite a lot of life. We saw somwe huge tuna out in the blue, napoleon wrasse, scorpion fish, a number of morays and mantis shrimp.

 

This was a good lesson in checking your camera before you dive in. The flash hot shoe wasn't quite in so the flash wouldn't work during the dive. Doh!

 

 

Depth - 24.4m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 20m+

Notable Sea Life - Mantis Shrimp

 

Day 2, Dive 3 - Oghali Haa - Baa Atoll

 

An small reef with some nice overhangs and a lot of the magnificent sea anemones. Coral growth wasn't bad and there were a lot of the bigger reef fish on here including oriental sweetlips, morays, marbled stingrays, turtles and a MANTA! The current on this reef was quiet strong and that's probably why it's got some of the larger marine life calling it home.

 

 

Depth - 25.6m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 20m+

Notable Sea Life - Manta, Turtle, Stingray

 

 

Day 3, Dive 1 - Dhon Fanu Kuda - Baa Atoll

 

A large thila starting at 11m with a pinical on top to 9m and slopes down to more than 30m. Currents were generally weak and there are some great swim throughs on the eastern side. One is a tunnel probably about 15m long which starts on the top northeast corner of the reef and comes out further down on the eastern side. It's plenty big enough for even the largest of divers and well worth doing.

 

There are a lot of fish sheltering in the overhangs of this reef and it is a manta cleaning station too. We came across 5 mantas and they appeared to be very friendly and didn't mind come close to us divers. At some points they were almost brushing against my head. FANTASTIC DIVE! Now here is a problem, from the 92 photo's I took on the dive I have 12 ones I really like. Ahhhh sod it, I'll stick em all on!

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

 

 

Depth - 31.1m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 20m+

Notable Sea Life - 5 x Manta, Eagle ray, lobster and a LOT of blue lined snapper.

 

 

Day 3, Dive 2 - Kakani Thila - Baa Atoll

 

A very gently sloping reef from 5m at the top to around 30m at the bottom. There is a sandbank on the northwestern end. Generally the current was strong and there was a lot of coral rubble. We found a frogfish and a box fish along with the usual reef life. On the ride back to Sea Spirit we were joined by a pod of spinner dolphins.

 

 

 

Depth - 27.3m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 20m+

Notable Sea Life - Frogfish, Box Fish

 

 

Day 3, Dive 3 - Dharavandhoo - Baa Atoll

 

This is a long reef with a plateau at 20m with 3 large pinnacles going up to about 14m. The current was fairly weak and the coral wasn't great, there was a lot of rubble.

 

 

Depth - 26.5m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 15m+

Notable Sea Life - Lots of baby fish and large groupers.

 

 

Day 4, Dive 1 - Dhon Fanu Kuda Thila - Baa Atoll

 

Back to see if we could see any manta's, and boy, did we see them. This time we had 7 and one female was getting a lot of attention from the males.

 

   

 

Depth - 30.0m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 15m

Notable Sea Life - 7 x Mantas!

 

 

Day 4, Dive 2 - Dhigali Haa - Baa Atoll

 

The current was really ripping through this area on this dive. Top of the reef is about 10m and there is a lot of good coral. There is plenty of life on the reef including some big morays

 

 

Depth - 27.4m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 15m

Notable Sea Life - Big morays

 

 

Day 4, Dive 3 - Dhigali Haa - Baa Atoll

 

This is a long 'finger' type reef with it's top around 11m and dropping away to 30m. There was a mild current and the reef was teeming with life. It's what I define as a fish soup dive. We had everything from big groupers down to saddled sharp-nosed puffers and Lunar Wrasse.

 

After the main reef finishes in the east, you can swim into the blue for a few seconds and another pinnacle appears. This mini reef is only about 20m long but has huge magnificent sea anemones on it.

 

     

Depth - 21.3m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 20m+

Notable Sea Life - Lots and lots of reef fish

 

 

Day 5, Dive 1 - Nelivaru Haa - Baa Atoll

 

Back to the reef where I saw my first mantas on this trip. Again dropped in from the dhoni to see two mantas being cleaned.

 

 

Depth - 19.8m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 20m+

Notable Sea Life - 2 x manta

 

Day 5, Baa Atoll to Rasdhoo Atoll

 

After the first dive we used our surface interval to steam from Baa Atoll over to Rasdhoo. Spinner dolphins galore! They were everywhere, 100's and 100's making the water look like it was boiling. Many came up to the boat including mothers with young. Fantastic! Then we had 7 short fin pilot whales which we followed for about 10 minutes just off the bow before they dived deep. All-in-all a great crossing.

 

Day 5, Dive 2 and Day 6, Dive 1 - Rasdhoo Madivari

 

Well this was it. My 100th logged dive and it didn't disappoint. It's a reef system near to two small islands and starts from about 13m down to 30+ metres. There are some breaks in the reef containing large sandy basins. We saw a number of white tip reef sharks (well they had to be there for my 100th didn't they) as well as turtle, napoleon wrasse and a school of chevron barracuda.

 

 

 

 

Depth - 25.5m

Temperature - 28 Degrees

Visibility - 25m+

Notable Sea Life - White tip reef sharks, chevron barracuda, turtle, napoleon.

 

Continue to Page 2

 

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