Around the World

23 February 2013 | Similan Islands Thailand
21 February 2013 | Bay of Bengal
15 February 2013 | Cinque Islands
15 February 2013 | Henry Lawrence Island
12 February 2013 | North Button Island
10 February 2013 | Henry Lawrence Island
09 February 2013 | Havelock Island
06 February 2013 | Neil Island
04 February 2013 | Rutland Island
01 February 2013 | Andaman Sea
30 January 2013 | Port Blair
26 January 2013 | Andaman Sea
26 January 2013 | Andaman Sea
03 December 2012 | Burma
02 December 2012
08 November 2012
08 November 2012 | Thailand
08 November 2012
10 June 2012 | Rebak Marina Langkawi
06 February 2012 | Malaysia

Diving the Makasar Reef

03 September 2011 | Komodo Islands Sabajar
michael and jackie
Our first port of call was the town of Labuan Bajar. The town follows the line of the waterfront for quite a distance. Lonely Planet thinks it may be the next big tourist destination. At present it is probably best described as in transition. The main street is dusty and dilapidated. An efforts seems to being made to tidy up but you have to jump across gaping holes over open drains or scramble up broken steps to reach shop fronts. Certainly the town would be transformed by a tidy main street you can readily walk along since its setting is quite attractive. By the docks there is a cluster of dive shops and restaurants catering for tourists, often Italian or Italian influenced. We had pizzas that evening as good as any in Italy. The restaurants and dive shops fade into more Indonesian shops, hardware stores selling all sorts of bits and pieces. One turned out to be the wholesale meat seller. The shops mostly sell packaged food and necessities. Few sell fruit and vegetable. At the top of the hill though overlooking the town, the new market is a cornucopia of vegetables, roots rice and grain, along with clothing and everything to be found in markets worldwide. In the shared bus back the women complemented us on our choice of bananas. We found plenty of green vegetables but sadly no limes to fuel gin and tonics - a medicinal requirement out here - the quinine to stave off malaria and the lime to fight scurvy. Incidentally, so far we have met few mosquitos thank goodness.

Our final task in Labuan Bajar was to arrange some diving. A previous American boat, Ghosi, had recommended Sabajar diving, and the new resort on the island. Wow - was their recommendation right. We anchored between the islands, between some reefs. There were quite a few boats there so we had little anchoring choice. After 6 attempts. a record for us, we settled, in very poor holding.

The next day we joined the dive boat and headed out. There were two American couples with us from Wind Pony and Northern Winds, more experienced than us. The first dive was absolutely glorious. It was round a strange rock with a hole in it above sea level. We swam over coral gardens teeming with every kind of fish imaginable, including lion fish and a couple of dozing reef sharks. It must be one of the best dives ever as the water was so much clearer than the barrier reef and the variety of fish and corals surpassed anything we have seen before.

The wooden dive boat then took off for another spot. This was a drift dive but my goodness - it wasn't so much a drift as a helter-skelter run. There are very strong currents here and even more so under water. We got down to about 20 metres and just took off. Actually it was quite scary and even swimming into the current we were moving so fast that it was difficult to stop and admire the beauty of the reef and wall we were zooming along. I should say that there were two very effective dive masters guiding and supervising us through all this thank goodness. After about 15 minutes we were out of the current and into the sheltered area by which time Michael was prematurely running out of air, probably as a result of fighting against to current too much. Mermaid Jackie was happily going on spotting nudibranches, lion fish and all sorts. But sadly it was all over, and fortified with some Nasi goreng the wooden boat headed back to the island.

In the evening we ate at the resort, which it has to be said is very much in the process of being built. It is situated on a beautiful beach in front of lovely coral gardens on a pass between two deserted islands. We had what must have been one of the best meals we have had in a long time. The Italian owner, Sr Antonelli, explained that they had only been open a month. Course after course of mouthwatering Italian food arrived until in the end we were defeated and had to refuse the dessert and the digestif, which must have been a first for us.

On returning to the boat our anchor track showed that we were slowly moving towards the reef. So at near midnight we did a bit of scary re-anchoring in the pitch dark, an experience not to be repeated if possible. There were less boats now so it was possible to find better holding.

The following day we snorkeled the nearby reefs which were tremendous as well, and kayaked the various lagoons and coral beaches. Unfortunately not scenery which makes for good photography as the views were too big, but all in all a beautiful spot and a resort which I suspect will become very well known in the future.
Vessel Name: Lady Kay
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 380
Hailing Port: Falmouth
Crew: Michael & Jackie Chapman
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