Saturday, 29 March 2008

Trip to Kapoposang


Towards the end of January, Bonar informed me and Zen that they are planning to go to Makassar for a dive trip. We then registered as a waiting list as the seat was limited to 13 persons only. There are already 8 people in the waiting list. Towards the end, most of them were cancelling their trip due to various reasons. Finally there were only 6 of us confirm to go to Kapoposang. Alex was appointed as the new team leader or organizer replacing Nita. Henry and his wife Tina also joint to extend the honey moon. Zen also finally confirmed to go in the last minutes after a conference call with Henry and me. Andreas from Surabaya also joint. Andreas always dives with his underwater camera and camcorder. Couple days before the trip, Alex informed us that another three divers from Makassar will joint also to make the trip merrier.

On Thursday morning 20th of March 2008 which coincide with public holiday, we embark on the journey to Kapoposang. Contrary to my previous trip with NGI, in this trip, one of the divers brought spear guns. I initially have a bit of objection with spear gun as it might hit one of us. But soon after catching several fish, the next lunch or dinner the fish was served fresh and looked delicious. I then change my perception of spear gun. Actually, I am now thinking of purchasing a spear gun. Henry at the end of the trip while waiting at the airport lounge was contemplating to purchase a spear gun after a serious discussion. I took a spear gun in action as depicted above.

At the first dive, we are confronted with several sharks. Henry said it was black tip shark. However, the shark made several quick movements near us. The spear gun then must be pointed to the sharks as a self defense. We quickly leave the site, to search for fish. Henry’s wife was a bit shock after the incident. She then refused to dive early in the morning after that as the first dive of the day always at the Shark point.

On the day two, a remarkable event also occurs. Being diving at below than 40m or nearing 50m, Andreas said at dinner the night before that he wanted to go to 50m deep to make a record of his own. So, once submerged, we went down to 40m and a bit more. Since I brought a camera, I stayed at around 45m. It was my deepest dive so far. Zen was handed over by Andreas his camera and camcorder. He stayed at 47m, which is his deepest also. Henry and others were at 50m or so. Henry was breaking his own record also at 54m deep. Andreas however, was diving straight to the bottom reaching up to 81.4m deep. All of us were stunned by his action. At the boat everybody were shouting. My ear was a bit hurt since they were shouting near me. Soon at the dinner we learnt that Andreas has taken a lot of specialty including deep dive. We realize later he was a dive master with a very fit body. The visibility was also conducive as we can see nearly 50m or more with no current.

The last dive was quite interesting as a lot of fish, a rather large fish were seen. After catching up a fish, the blood invites several sharks in less than 10 seconds. The fish then quickly tied up to a rope and send to surfaced with a gas balloon to be picked by surface boat. The current was quite heavy. I left the site rather early since I nearly reach decompression limit.

The chef was quite good; we ate sashimi, steam fish and lobster. I ended gain weight nearly, 3kg in this trip. The bed room was equipped with air conditions ensuring enjoyable sleep. The cottage was quite relaxing. I forgot the routine office activity for a while as the only communication available was satellite phone. Overall, it was quite enjoyable diving trip.


Photos at Henry's multiply

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Long Dive Trip


So far, I have taken two rather long diving trips. The first trip was around a week diving at Bunaken, north Sulawesi. The other trip was with National Geographic Indonesia to Wakatobi, southeast Sulawesi. Both trips was quite enduring. I would like to reflect on both diving trips, the good and the bad.

The first trip to Bunaken was quite luxurious and off course expensive. We plan the trip nearly a year ahead. The trip was organized by Adolf and we invited several dive centers to submit their plan and pricing. After evaluating through chain of emails, we finally chose Immersion Quest that collaborated with Eco-dive. There were nearly 20 people join the trip. We stayed at Tasik Ria Resort. The room was quite luxurious, each equipped with air-condition, re-fridge-generator, laundry, hot water for shower. The food was western style and standard. I recalled one of the divers cannot finished the dish consist of hamburger with 15cm in diameter with 5cm thick beef. The ship was a luxury catamaran, with two toilets and shower facilities. The dive gear was set up and cleaned every day by dive operator. What we did is only relaxing, eat and go dive without set up the gear. No need to lift the tank.

The other trip, to Wakatobi was a subsidized trip. We only pay nearly half of actual cost or as Dina once said the cost we paid was nearly a quarter if compared to luxury dive with Wakatobi dive center. We were live aboard Menami wooden ship. We slept in non air conditioned room with exhaust fans that sometimes were not working. You can image, we were sweating all over when sleeping. Those who were not sleeping in the room, slept at the open shelter which were prone to heavy wind and rain. No hot water provided, and we have to get sea water using pail with rope to flush. The fresh water was only used for shower. The ship was overcrowded as there were additional 18 persons from media so in total there were around 40 people in the ship compared to the ideal capacity which supposed to be only supporting 10 people. We were then limited to shower only once in two days. So Kiky’s trouser was once called by team as trouser of salty fish to describe the smell associated with it. The food was nearly the same menu from day one consist of rice, instant noodle and fish. We have to lift the tank from the speed boat to the ship and vice versa on our own. We setting up gear on our own also.

Reflecting on them now, I can recall the sound sleep at the Bunaken Hotel, but I can also sleep well at the Menami although it was very hot. I can still enjoy the food to the last piece of rice in my dish in Wakatobi trip. Why was that? I now understood, the physical exercises such as lifting the tank, I lift nearly everybody tank in my group, made me tired. I initially did the tank lifting to impress NGI so I will be invited on the next journey, but soon after I did to make diving faster and so later we can eat on time later on. The tank lifting and gear set up made me very tired. The tiredness made me hunger for food. I ate a lot of rice and so I sleep better also with full stomach and tired body. The favorite exercise which I participated in Menami was lifting the anchors. The picture above taken by Keke, depicts the situation in lifting the anchors. It must be done together for both Anchors at the same time; otherwise the other anchors would be stuck.

The other advice, besides exercise, was to avoid problems with other divers. Personal and group conflicts in live aboard are common but we have to solve them before getting bigger. The other advice was to keep healthy especially in maintaining cleanliness. The most important to maintain was ear cleanliness as it is the location of body stabilization. I cleaned my ear after every dive with shower. A clean ear will make it dry faster. Wet and dirty ear prone to break by a cut and then infected by disease. The other important issue was to keep eating good food. Benry was once suggested to drink honey every day before dive.

Overall, in any type of dive trip, we have to adapt to the situation. Keep mind and thought healthy and we should always exercise in any conditions.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

My Diving Story


My brother in law used to dive. When I was around 10-12 years old, I used to see a lot of diving gears he used to dive including a spear gun.

My eagerness for diving was prompted after a trip with my sister to Bali, in January 2006. She and her friend were working to renovate a hotel in Bali. I was invited to join since I have nothing to do during my field break. While they are working to buy some materials, talking to workers, I took the liberty to snorkel around blue lagoon. After seeing beautiful fish, I want to go deeper and have a diving certificate.

At the office there is a diver who extensively diving almost everywhere. He is Henry Simanjuntak. Upon asking him the way to earn the diving certificate, he organized a class of four students. The instructor was Parvita Siregar, a seconded from Owner Company, working also at Jakarta office. Zul who was working in field with me at that time was also registered to join the training. Zaenal who is working at Jakarta office also joins the training. Chrala, the Corporate secretary join but did not continue due to some reasons.

After passing the Open water, we are looking for friends to dive together. Zaenal, soon called by nick name Zen, have a new channel obtaining friend that can dive together. Then we agreed to join the trip to thousands island. The so called cost sharing trip was organized by Adolf. After first trip with Adolf, Zen and others, I continue to follow the second trip with Adolf again while Zen cannot participate due to some reasons.

The second trip was then gave a birth to a mailing list called Alfa Dolfin. At the boat during surface interval, we agreed to make a mailing list. Promoted by Sani, a lecturer in University Indonesia, the mailing list was created. Pak Edy, a relatively new diver that always participate in diving with Adolf, mentioned that the Alfa Dolfin actual means Adolf, in short for Adolf. I participated in several trip organized by Adolf. The trip was quite relaxing, some of us commented in Monday using email saying they are fresh and gaining new spirit in working. The cost sharing trip was very efficient way to increase dive log as a subsidized trip such as National Geographic trip requires minimum 50 dives.

The Alfa Dolfin trip was getting bigger and bigger in participants; also the mailing list member was now surpassed 300 members with participant vary from newbie to expert, from amateur to commercial divers. There were also several dive centers selling various products.

To broaden the network, Zen asked me to get Advanced Open Water certificate using Ody Dive. Besides Alfa Dolfin, we used to dive with Immersion Quest as Parvita used their training facilities during open water course. We went to Bunaken with Alfa Dolfin friends organized by Immersion Quest. I and Zen also went to Bali, stayed in hotel renovated by my sister and dive at Blue Lagoon. I took Zen picture while diving at Tulamben wreck as depicted above as he swim close to schooling fish. I also participated in National Geographic Indonesia to Wakatobi last year.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Jogging at Senayan


Jogging is an activity routinely organized by Medical Department in my Company to enhance employee health. Besides jogging, there are numerous sports subsides by Company such as cycling, aerobics, squash, basket ball, tennis, mountain climbing to name a few. As a holder of 2007 Petro Cup championship, Company supports a lot of sports activities.

But last week was a bit extraordinary, nearly 22 people registered to join the jogging activity. Two taxis were hired to mobilize extra participant besides Company mini bus and several employee cars. The previous week, only 5 people went jogging. It might be caused by socialization done by Medical Department at the beginning of the week. The socialization was on anticipation of Heart Attack. One of recommendation to avoid heart attacked is regular exercise. The socialization was done by a specialist doctor from Mitra Hospital. He clearly depicted the hazard and process of heart blockage either to heart or brain that caused stroke. The socialization was extended from one hour duration to two hours due to a lot of question from employee. Most of employee, especially those above 40 has gone to heart surgery to place a ring or performed a bypass. Most of patients are working in fields, that notorious for eating a lot of fatty food and lack exercises.

Similar situation also occurs in field several years back when I still work at field. Shortly after one of my colleagues died due to high cholesterol, many people went exercise in the afternoon. Most of them never exercise before. Some time, we need to be reminded to trigger a healthy habit.

For a diver, a fit body means less fat body. Fit bodies will in turn make diving more enjoyable. Less fat body will require less weight to get negative buoyancy and hence less effort in swimming.

Jogging is regularly done at Senayan Sport Hall. It took me around 30 minutes for hard exercise as I used a programmable private trainer of Polar F11 watch on my wrist. To avoid injury, I perform a warm up lap before hard exercise. After jogging, the medical guy will provide a mixed fresh fruit and free selection of drinks from a food seller at the site (if there is no trantib – or district police that prohibit people selling anything near the Sport Hall). I usually choose Pocari sweat. Then as usual, most of the girls will have pictures taking session while drinking after exhaustedly running. One picture depicting them while jogging was shown above. It was a quite relaxed session and the jogging habit is very good for our health. Many thanks to Medical Department and the team for organizing the event.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Cycling at Pengalengan


In leading up to Wakatobi Trip, I need an exercise to prepare for the long trip. Mawan, the Company Cycling Club Coordinator, asked me to join the cycling exercise at Wayang Windu, Pengalengan West Java. Since I need an exercise I agreed to join the trip. Mawan promised the trip will be fun and there will be no rush. The cycling exercise is organized by Petro Bikers; a club consists of Bikers from all Production Sharing Contract of Oil and Gas Companies in the country.

On December 16 at 1400 hours, we gathered at the car park in front of transport office. Besides Mawan, Iwan the from Engineering Department and also Klaten residence, Selly from Hills, Security Company and Ari from Finance who was later appointed as a photographer also participated in the cycling exercise. Pak Dewo, from Maintenance Badak, joined us later in Bandung as he was on vocation with his family.

We used two company's cars, one 7 seater Serena and a pick up that carry our bicycles. Pak Pri, a senior driver, and Kosim, previously Security, drove the cars. The trip to Pengalengan just south of Bandung took around 4 hours.

The trip was full of laughing and everybody keep on teasing each other. The night before, I was a bit worried with lack of cash so I kept thinking to search for Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) along the trip to Pengalengan. However, I managed to get the cash at the 1st floor of Wisma Mulia just before meeting at the car park. So, when we stopped at the KM 19 to load the food and beverages, I was a bit amazed with the availability of abundance ATM at the highway stoppage. Iwan then warned me to be amazed with sophisticated woman instead of ATM. A long the journey, Selly kept repeating and we are all laughing on the incident.

When we arrived at the Citere Hotel, we went directly a cottage provided for us. There were two rooms, one toilet and a dry kitchen. Selly occupied one of the rooms while the coordinator and Ari took the other. The rest sleep at the lounge. At 2000 hours, there was a briefing provided by Petro Bikers President. Briefing for local terrains and track conditions were given by Sudarmadji, a doctor from Star Energy. He used to bike in the area. His picture taken by Ari was depicted above. He warned us on extremely steep hill conditions and we should watch out for marker along the route.

Later, due to very cold weather at hotel as it was located at the mountain hill, we go around looking for hot beverages. After driving about an hour, we cannot find a trolley that sell Bandrek. We then shop at Alfa Mart for Bandrek and Sekoteng in sachets instead.

The next morning after early breakfast, we took a ride to the new well of Star Energy near the top of a mountain. After a warm up exercise, we set up our bike and take picture of course. The track was maily down hill and very much fun. There are many stoppages whereby we take a lot of photos and drink water.

At 1330 hours we finally arrived at Cibolang and have a lunch. After packing our bikes, we headed home. On the way home, we shop for milk as Pengalengan is very much famous of its milk. We also searched for sekoteng in sachet but could not find any in Alfa Mart. We stop at Kampung Sawah resto, to performed Zhuhur and Ashar prayer together. Then we ate the Sundanese food again as the trip to Jakarta still take approximately another 5 hours.

We arrived at the office car park around 1800 hours feeling exhausted but happy.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Trip to Wakatobi (part 2)


On the day two, at the Hoga Channel near Kaledupa Island, we were attending training and met with media team consisting reporters and presenters. I managed to get signature and photo of the famous presenter Rianni Djangkaru as requested by my nephew who is very much fond of her. The training was about how to perform monitoring. It was very much scientific, but to perform it requires an advanced diving skill. The data will be used as a feed back to TNKW (Taman National Kepulauan Wakatobi – Wakatobi islands National park). The data includes Reef health status, herbivore fish population, and carnivore fish population. There is a correlation between those three that indicates ecosystem healthiness. The other training was on Spawning Aggregations (SPAGs) monitoring; whereby we monitor fishes especially of a rather large commercial fishes were mating in a large aggregation. There were 5 known locations for the SPAGs usually takes place, that are now reserved and agreed with locals not be fished. The locations are kept secret to preserve the fish populations. To monitor SPAGs requires a lot of effort as it took place in heavy current area. The current ensures eggs are spread around avoiding being eaten by the predators.

I realized, I have entered a scientific community where people talking about fish by their scientific names instead of common names such as Baronang, Kerapu etc. The TNC personnel were talking about fuscogattus, aerolatus, etc. Upon mixing with these researchers, Bendri –our speed boat captain- has developed his own scientific name for his Batak friends such as ucoklatus etc.

The diving was quite good. We saw several Spawning Aggregations. We saw Wakatobi pigmy sea horse, turtle, large fish and also nudi branch. I was once attacked by a trigger fish called Titan. Luckily, I can move back quickly avoiding it. Pak Putu, TNC personnel, was laughing when I met him shortly afterwards, it was the first time he was laughing under water and I was a bit shock at that time. Later at the ship, Sessy informed me that there was an event she read in a magazine where by a diver lost his ear eaten by Titan. Titan can be very aggressive especially when approached by human while it nesting. Titan has very strong jaws.

To avoid problems due to unfit body, I always dive closer to the surface than anybody else in the group and immediately went on to the surface once one of the researchers surfacing. Kiki once asked me why I surfaced so quickly. The next dive, however, she was diving close to the surface also. Upon asking her on air status, she showed me the gauge that went 50bar then reduce to 30 bar and increase again to 50bar. I then open her tank exhaust and immediately the indicator showing 100bar. So she surfaced with 100bar tank.

On the day three we were hit by a storm. The ship was move around by gusty winds on top and heavy current in opposite direction at the bottom resulting both anchors were moved several meters. The ship ended up sink to the sea sand below. Upon starting the engine, the rear side of the ship sink deeper as the front side was stuck at the sea bottom. The ship can leave the site after water level increased due to high tide at mid night. The next morning, the snorkeling crew found the ship propeller was damaged. The ship was then docking at Kaledupa port and we stayed there for about 2 days while waiting for propeller being fixed at Wanci. The good thing was that we can perform Jum’ah prayer at Kaledupa in congregation instead of individually at the ship as it was originally planned.

After hit by a storm, the team spirit was down, nearly all team members were sick. The only one who was not sick was Darwin, the body builder. Sari tried to boost team spirit by performing a visit to Kaledupa salt water lake and wait for sun set at Sombanu beach at the other side of the Kaledupa Island. It was quite enjoying actually. Just before the storm, we visited a village in Hoga to release tension after a training that finished late at night and a full day monitoring exercises. However, being a true divers, the team spirit always boosted when we were about to dive especially a fun dive. Nearly all team members went diving regardless of their sickness. At the bottom, the sickness is healed, they said.

From Tomia, we were informed that BMG (National Weather Bureau) had released information saying that in 1-2 days ahead a huge tropical storm will be approaching. After diving in the morning under light rain, we headed up to Wanci which took around 5 hours under heavy storm using Menami. We spent New Year eve at the boat at Wanci and visited TNC-WWF office at Wanci. I took Yayan’s picture in front of TNC-WWF office as depicted above. From Wanci we went to Kendari using regular ship that took around 10 hours.

At the end of trip, we were greeted with Ir. Hugua, Wakatobi district head (Bupati) in Kendari. He asked us how our feel on the overall trip. Before meeting him, Sari already appointed Yayan, the eldest among us to talk on our behalf. So when Bupati asked how our observation was, we all looked at Yayan. Being late at night (around 23:00 hours at that time) and lack of sleep, Yayan nervously mentioned that we have visited Tomiang (should be Tomia) and Kelapa dua (a district in Jakarta instead of Kaledupa). The team was then burst in laughing. Anyway, I saw a leader with very optimistic view in pak Bupati. Being an entrepreneur himself, he has a vision to make Wakatobi a major tourist destination in the near future.

Overall trip was quite adventurous and yet scientific. Look forward for another trip with NGI.


Thursday, 3 January 2008

Trip to Wakatobi (part 1)




Towards the end of the year 2007, I still got no plan to spend the end of the year while there are still a lot of leaves that I have not been able to spend. Suddenly, there was an announcement in Alfa Dolfin mailing list, inviting divers to participate in Reef and Spawning Aggregations monitoring at Wakatobi. I registered and soon found out that Bonar Sitohang (my friend at Alfa Dolfin as we used to dive together) also participated in the event.

The trip was organized by Indonesia Reef – NGI (National Geographic Indonesia) together with TNC (The Nature Conservancy) and WWF (World Wildlife Federation). A lot of sponsors are supporting the event including Ody Dive. Ody Dive was involved in planning the trip together with NGI.

Initially there were 12 divers, but soon after it was increased to 18 divers. At the technical meeting, Sari - the dive coordinator - reminded us to limit our baggage to maximum 15 kg. She said it was caused by relatively small airplane that flying from Makassar to Baubau at Buton Island where by only 65% of the gross weight will be carried by the airplane the rest will be sent on the next day. After nearly removing all fancy items, I managed to get 20 kg. Sari was in no objection when I sent an SMS to her indicating my baggage weight. It turned up later the baggage limitation inflicted some problems in some of the divers. Some found the meals were not suitable but they did not bring enough food of their own choice. Many of participated divers did not bring their Under Water casing for underwater photography.


On 25 December 2007 early in the morning, we embark on the journey to Makassar by plane. Soon after we landing at the Makassar, there was another mishaps as a result of miss management where by our luggage were not transferred directly to next flight to Baubau but was sent down to conveyor belt instead. So we recheck in again at Makassar. The flight to Baubau was delayed also for about 2 hours. I met with my co-worker at the airport lounge but I forgot who he was. After talking with him around 15 minutes, I finally gave up and asked Department he working for and he said Field Human Resource. I then remembered he was Arnham Pattamwari. I used to meet him at Musholla in Badak while performing Ashar prayer. I left Badak already for more than a year, so it a bit hard to remember everyone.

I was a bit sick when leaving Jakarta, but since Debbie – Sari’s assistance- requested me to submit a health certificate I went to a doctor couple days before trip. The doctor then directed me to an internist specialist. Then I got a lot of medicine including Aridin that should be used before diving.

Finally at 15:00 WITA, there was an announcement to board the plane to Baubau. Makassar - Baubau took around 45 minutes using twin turboprop engine. Soon after we landed at Baubau, we embark on land cruise to Pasarwajo which took around 2 hours driving using a bus. The facility at Baubau airport was very poor. The toilet has no water. I cannot imagine if I have to wait for a flight in that airport. The airstrip also very short, I think that was the reason for limiting baggage weight.

At Pasarwajo port, the ship FRS (Floating Ranger Station) Menami already waiting for us. Some divers took liberty to shower and clean themselves as Menami was loaded with fresh water. The spirit was a bit high at that time. I can feel it. From a driver at Wanci, I later learned that Menami is the common local name for Napoleon fish. Menami have 12 beds at the bottom deck and 4 beds at the lower deck. She has two toilets. The upper deck was an open but sheltered deck giving a room for a meeting and comfortable sleeping room at night. The pre-dive briefing and training were given in the upper deck.




Tulisan reporter majalah Tamasya

Photos by Dewi

Photos by Dewi (kampung Bajo)

Photos by Keke