Thailand - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 273 (83)

Surin Islands

Monday 6th December

Day two of the dive was initiated this morning by the dive coordinator walking down the cabin corridor shouting ‘good morning, wakey-wakey’ in a high-pitched voice. This repeated call was followed a few seconds later by the sounds or people moaning and groaning as they fell out of their bunks and opened their cabin doors. Strangely enough, although everybody was still very tired from the previous day’s intense diving, we all mobilised into action and were swiftly up on deck and waiting for the dive briefing to commence quite quickly. The first dive of the day is always right before breakfast but most of us partook in a banana or something to help make it through until then.

The viz for this first dive was just stunning. We could clearly see in all directions for well over forty metres or more. Good visibility is the very first thing I hope for when I have the camera underwater. Great all round visibility means that I can spend more time on one subject and still keep a good eye on where everyone else is so that I can catch them up without getting lost. At one point, however, Sandy was seemingly insistent that I rush back over to the rest of the group and I did so in such a rush that I’m sure I used up a lot of air in the process. Probably as a result of this, we were back up to the safety stop again well before the rest of the group and, once again, we were the very first people back onto the boat. This was particularly annoying as it not only meant that everybody else was still enjoying themselves beneath the waves, but it also meant that I had to sit there and watch the already cooked breakfast getting colder and colder before everybody was back on board and the now stone cold food was finally served. We are now averaging about forty-minutes of bottom time with our dives. Some of the dive masters somehow manage to still have well over a hundred and twenty bar of pressure left in their tanks by the time we’ve nearly completely exhausted our own supply. Do they have gills or something?

With everyone finally back on board, I sat and ate my cold breakfast and everybody on the boat found a place to sit or lay and rest until the mid-day dive. In the meantime, the captain found a secluded spot between two of the islands where the surface waves were minimal and the boat was more stable in the water. It was very peaceful for the next few hours as we whiled away the hours until the dive coordinator was satisfied that enough of a surface interval had elapsed. After a while, I pulled out the laptop and showed some of the other divers a selection of our very best underwater shots. Several other divers on this trip also have underwater digital cameras and I loaded some of their photos too so that we could all see what we all saw underwater.

The mid-day dive turned out to be one of the most spectacular dives of our entire trip so far. Klaus had apparently asked one of the boat boys to put a little extra pressure into my tank and I was fortunate enough to start off the dive with two hundred and twenty bar of air. This gave me probably another five minutes or more of additional bottom time for which I was very grateful. We saw several things of interest during this second dive of the day including an octopus and a horseshoe crab (sometimes known as the king crab) – a descendant of the long since extinct trilobite, one of the earliest living organisms on earth. Not even any of the dive masters had ever seen one of these before so this was a particularly thrilling sighting. As if the octopus and horseshoe crab weren’t enough, we also saw no less than three separate sharks – two black-tipped and one white-tipped. They didn’t get particularly close, probably no closer than about fifteen meters, so I wasn’t able to take a snap at them but it is rare enough to see sharks for it to always be quite the thrill.