The Liveaboard Life

Sunset from the dive deck.

Sunset from the dive deck.

This week I thought I had nothing to say; we are resting up after a trip. By all accounts it was another routine week of diving on the boat, albeit a pretty busy trip. But pouring over the photos I quickly remembered that being on a live aboard means there is no such thing as an ordinary day. The diving is nonstop and every day presents new challenges and adventures.

The handful of photos I managed to take between diving, filling tanks, and organizing the dive schedule remind me how lucky we are to be leading such an exciting and unusual life. Some days we wake up at sea with our first dive scheduled for 5am and the fourth and last dive getting in the water at 4pm, and other days we are anchored in port waiting for the next group to arrive, anticipating the fun and insanity that will ensue.

This past trip was filled with beautiful sunsets off the dive deck, coconuts on the dock, deliriously fun dives, and divers that kept us laughing and partying late into the night.

Can you spot the crab?

Can you spot the crab?

Feeding the local goats on Havelock. They are serious coconut fiends.

Feeding the local goats on Havelock. They are serious coconut fiends.

Fishermen heading to market in Havelock.

Fishermen heading to market in Havelock.

Lovely little shrimps at 'Vivek's Wreck,' just outside Port Blair

Lovely little shrimps at ‘Vivek’s Wreck,’ just outside Port Blair

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On the ferry out to Neil Island to find some new dive sites.

On the ferry out to Neil Island to find some new dive sites.

A beautiful pufferfish with some big ole chompers.

A beautiful pufferfish with some big ole chompers.

Sunset dive at Vivek's Wreck, Port Blair.

Sunset dive at Vivek’s Wreck, Port Blair.

Many hours were spent filling tanks on the dive deck.

Many hours were spent filling tanks on the dive deck.

I’m on a Boat, Andamans Edition

North Bay near Port Blair, Andaman Islands. We went looking for new divesites near the capital and were pleasantly surprised to find some nice easy reef diving.

North Bay near Port Blair, Andaman Islands. We went looking for new divesites near the capital and were pleasantly surprised to find some nice easy reef diving.

Castaways on Sir Hugh Rose Island, Andamans.

Castaways on Sir Hugh Rose Island, Andamans.

As you read this, we are cruising in the Indian Ocean around the Andaman Islands on a diving liveaboard. We’re on an enormous boat with a lovely sundeck and a great diving platform. I promise we aren’t suffering too much on this portion of our trip 🙂 We’ll be on the boat until December, diving and assisting with PADI courses.

It’s difficult to describe the Andamans without falling into the usual tropical island trap of ’emerald,’ ‘turquoise,’ and other hyperbolic gemological adjectives that never really suffice. But let me make my own feeble attempt. These islands are tiny, lush spits of land surrounded by cruise-commercial white sand beaches and electric blue waters.

In 2004 the tsunami came through and damaged many of the coral reefs that circle the 500 plus islands. Zev and I keep reminding ourselves that unlike most coral damage we’re used to seeing, this is the result of a natural disaster and not man made destruction (dynamite fishing, boats anchoring on reefs, global warming). The reefs are staging an aggressive recovery; soft and hard coral has begun to regrow and there are some really vibrant patches of reef.

The diving here is good and we are looking forward to visiting the more remote islands where the diving is supposed to be truly spectacular.

A tiny tiny nudibranch or 'sea slug.'

A tiny tiny nudibranch or ‘sea slug.’

Another nudi, great colors.

Another ‘nudi,’ great colors.

One of my favorite sea creatures, the octopus! Found at the Wall dive site, Havelock.

One of my favorite sea creatures, the octopus! Found at the Wall dive site, Havelock.

Underwater Komodo

The snorkeling and diving around the Komodo islands was breathtaking, so I thought it deserved its own post/ photo exposition. Zev is far and away the superior underwater photographer, so most of these photos can be credited to his amazing breath-holding and underwater photography abilities.

After snorkeling a few sites on our trip with Mackenzie, we knew we couldn’t leave without doing at least some scuba diving. Unfortunately the budget was tight, so we settled for a day trip, three dives total. Given all of the hype surrounding diving in the Komodos, we were a little nervous to put all our eggs in one basket. What if one of us had to scratch a dive? What if we didn’t see what we hoped for? In the end, we agreed to relax and just go with the flow. We opted not to go looking for Mantas (we had come up ‘kosong‘ or empty on Manta dives many times before, and while it’s always thrilling to see the giant rays, the dive sites where they hang out can be deadly boring if they don’t make an appearance).

We were not disappointed by our one day of diving. The sites were challenging and incredibly rich with sea life. Some of the sites we visited are known for strong and variable currents, but we were surprised to find that our experience diving with currents off of Nusa Penida in Bali had adequately prepared us and we both felt fairly comfortable in the fast waters. During our dives we saw white and black tip sharks circling bright healthy reefs teeming with large schools of fish. The snorkeling alone made the Komodo islands one of our highlights of SE Asia, and the diving was really the icing on the cake.

Clown fish at Semaya Island. Snorkeling.

Clown fish family at Semaya Island, snorkeling.

Tiny nudibranch off Semaya Island. Snorkeling.

Tiny tiny nudibranch at Semaya Island, snorkeling. (Photo credit to EQ, finally a decent snorkeling shot!)

A giant pufferfish, snorkeling at Semaya Island.

A giant pufferfish, snorkeling at Semaya Island.

Can you spot the devil scorpion fish? Snorkeling, Angel Beach.

Can you spot the devil scorpion fish? Snorkeling, Angel Beach.

Crystal blue waters. At Cauldron, Komodo.

Crystal blue waters. A site called Cauldron/Shotgun, Komodo.

Giant trevally in the background. Snorkeling at Batubolong.

Giant trevally in the background. Snorkeling at Batubolong.

 

Cool looking box fish at Batubolong.

Cool looking box fish at Batubolong.

Snorkeling cousins, Zev and Mackenzie! At Batubolong.

Snorkeling cousins, Zev and Mackenzie! At Batubolong.

 

Mackenzie and her fellow researchers.

Mackenzie and her fellow researchers. Batubolong.

Snorkeling at Pink Sand Beach.

Snorkeling at Pink Sand Beach.

Blue spotted stingray, Pink Sand Beach.

Blue spotted stingray, Pink Sand Beach.

Diving Castle Rock.

Diving Castle Rock.

 

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A very pregnant shark at Castle rock.

A very pregnant shark at Castle rock.

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More sharks at Castle Rock!

More sharks at Castle Rock!

Schooling fish at Castle Rock, one of the most famous dive sites.

Schooling fish at Castle Rock, one of the most famous dive sites.

Sea turtle, diving at Tatawa Kecil.

Sea turtle, diving at Tatawa Kecil.

 

Another stunning sunset after a full day of diving.

Another stunning sunset off Flores.