DIVING IN RAJA AMPAT #5Report about a trip to Indonesia and Tecline equipment tests by Przemyslaw Jocz
BATU HITAM - BLACK ROCK
At the small island of Batu Hitam you can expect a very successful dive in a strong current – it is absolutely necessary to feel the rhythm of it. There is quite bit of undulation here – but of a pleasant amplitude. At times, you can feel like a hand of a giant clock, rhythmically moving back and forth. The current tugs and pulls but proves to be very gentle to those who surrender to it. Attempts to disregard the rhythm of water will turn diving here from wonderful – to tiring and tedious. Turns out, not the haughty and confident man but nature and her forces get a say.
A black rock – true to the island’s English name. There are actually two hills visible above the surface. One takes the form of a gently tipped cone while the second one is reminiscent of a camel seen from a side view. First, there is the head, then the sloping down neck and soon after two humps, at the end – the tail. We find the reef 5 meters below the surface, gently inclined down until 25 meters. We don’t descend further – a really terrible current begins there. Above, however, the much calmer current carries us around the rock and we are free to admire the wonders of life at microscopic scale, pretty coral formations, beautiful gorgoniids. Large areas covered by sea anemones ripple like tall grass or grain in a gusty wind. The even, almost meditative, breathing rhythm – so contrasting with the violent and tangled current streams – persists on the surface. Superb regulators V1 ICE TEC1 SemiTec leave an excellent impression long after the dive.
Maximum depth: 21.3 meters; time: 53 minutes; temperature: 30 degrees Celsius.
SATU TIGA BATU (ONE TREE ROCK)
The island is small, maybe 70 meters long – from a boat berthed at Kawe, it takes 10-15 minutes to reach it by motorboat. You have to head east towards a group of small but tall – clearly visible from afar – rocks. One of them is almost black and very narrow – but long enough to fit three high hills. Next to the one with one coconut palm you have to jump into the water. Somewhere nearby is the equator.
While looking at the water surface from the motorboat it is not worth to use your imagination too much, thinking what could be happening in the depths.
CURRENTS AND HOOKS
This is where the massive ocean and sea currents meet. Looking east – you can see the perfectly smooth surface, without a single wave, or any movement whatsoever. One can get the impression that this area of water was ironed by some giant. It is so even that if it were pants and not water, you could get cut by the creased edge. To the west – waters of the relatively small – in comparison to the Pacific – Seram Sea move with rhythmic, gentle waves. The point of contact of both bodies of water looks amazing and somewhat frightening.
Underwater, the current is very strong, there are spots where hovering next to a vertical wall on a reef hook is exhausting. That being said, you can expect a decent reward for your effort. Three manta rays in 10 minutes is truly something.
A tiny island next to the northwest shore of Kawe. From a distance, it almost looks like a bread roll spread with – to give it a green color – a thick layer of wasabi. At the contact point with water it is a smooth bare rock heavily undercut by waves.
The island can be circumnavigated under water with its side on your right hand. The Tecline reef hook is in constant use. The first hooked stop can be done right at the beginning, near the vertical wall – in strong current; if there is no sight of manta rays – no point waiting too long. Swimming above the ridge can be a strange experience, especially if you are following someone. The diver preceding you suddenly disappears behind the ridge. Do not hesitate and follow them there, thanks to the strong descending current you will find yourself two meters below – in a very peaceful area. A moment of fun straight from an amusement park.
“The equipment of yours – looks like a work of art,” I hear on the motorboat during the return to our safari boat.
I look at the blue – demonstrative and my own black – Peanut, both with aluminum backplates – one with a minimalistic adjustable harness, the other – mine – made only of belts.
“I am delighted every time I look at it and dive with it,” I answer. This is the only wing meant for a single tank setup with such great buoyancy.
Maximum depth: 28 meters; time: 55 minutes; temperature: 28 degrees Celsius.
First completed diving course (2008) in the National Defense League (3rd class diver). He has been diving intensively since 2015. Current diving certificates: SSI AOWD (Deep, Dry Suit, Nitrox, Science), SSI Gas Blender Nitrox/Trimix, cylinders filling qualifications: Office of Technical Inspection. Volunteer Firefighter. Co-organizer and participant of ecological actions, volunteer of W.O.Ś.P. Author of one book, co-author of two. His wife Anna is a technical diver and diving partner.