Dive in Style author Tim Simond is diving his way round the most remote parts of Indonesia. This is the first in a series of blogs on his trip written on board the Seven Seas boat in the Banda Sea.
Aboard the Seven Seas off Ambon in a sea of plastic bags in the middle of nowhere. Regretfully the Indonesian attitude has always been nature will clear up which worked fine until plastic, but we are soon to leave this detritus behind as we head south.
We are currently researching hard for our clients, current and future, as to the best and most comfortable ways to access some of the world's most exceptional diving, here in the magic triangle, the origin of the expression 'sail the Seven Seas'. Probably the three best destinations in the world, all perhaps best accessed by boat are Komodo, Raja Ampat, and our destination now, the Islands of Banda.
We start with a 'muck dive' which really lived up to the name in the port of Ambon, as we slipped beneath the waves between plastic bags and a dead dog, hereafter marking the dive as Dead Dog Bay. However, all is forgiven when you encounter the extraordinary life that lurks beneath. Curiously, sitting as it does in a filthy and busy harbour, this is one of the great 'muck dives' of the world. It was here that the incredibly rare psychedelic Frogfish was first discovered, taunting researchers and National Geographic for two months before disappearing, so far yet to be seen again. We dived in hope, but whilst "psycho" was not around all other manner of Frogfish were. As dusk settled beautiful white morays came out in a mating dance, schools of razor fish danced their way across the reef, ghost pipefish and all many odd creatures stirred. A great taste of the days to come. Assuming we would see all again, I was lazy with the camera. Mistake.
Our home is the Seven Seas, cruising in convoy with Tiger Blue. Both are Phinisis or traditionally styled timber fishing boats, Seven Seas being some 25ft longer and sleeping up to 16, the added length being a help in what can be a rough crossing. Tiger Blue sleeps 10, and whilst newer and more comfortable, is best suited to private charters. We were fortunate in being skippered by the owner of the Seven Seas, Mark Heighes who knows these waters better than anyone and having established the National Park in Komodo, now seeks to educate the locals here about the merits of conservation and how it can pay. The result is some of the best coral you will ever see, totally pristine, specifically at Nysa Laut or Sea Point where he seems to have created a mini marine park paying the locals per diver in return for them guarding the reef. It works.
The next instalment goes into more depth about the Islands of Banda.