Reefseekers Trip Report
Here is recap of the trip report from the Reefseekers Dive Co. to Murex Manado. They stayed for 9 days with us this month and had a great time. The full trip report can be viewed here and downloaded as a PDF file here. Group leader Ken Kurtis made a great slide show that can be viewed here.
“Our diving was done with our good friends at Murex Dive Resort, now owned by Danny & Angelique Charlton. The transfer of ownership took place earlier this year from Angelique’s parents and, quite tragically, shortly after that, Angelique’s father Dr. Han Batuna died as a result of an accidental fall in his garden. So while we’re always happy to return to Murex (this is about our eighth trip there), this one had a different feel for a whole lot of reasons.
But some of those reasons are the changes, some obvious, some subtle, that Danny & Angelique have already implemented. Among the more subtle ones is that breakfast is now served daily from the gazebo near the beach so you’re starting your day a few feet from the shoreline while gazing out over the Celebes Sea towards Bunaken and Manado Tua, two of the offshore islands that comprise Bunaken Marine Park and would be among our prime dive sites.
But perhaps the biggest and most welcome change is that they’ve totally rebuilt their boats. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the diving is that we go in traditional Indonesian-style boats that were adapted for diving. This means they’re generally long and sleek and built low to the water. But they also sometimes lacked the things we Americans take from granted on dives trips like storage areas and an on-board head. Not anymore.
The new boats (we dove Arlena) are still in the Indonesian style but are much better adapted for diving. They’re about 40 feet long and 12 feet wide with nice padded seating in the front, a great tank/gear area in the middle, a real head (with a door and everything) in the rear along with an area in the back for the crew. The boats are really well laid-out for diving and they’ve also redesigned their ladders so that getting out (entry is done via backroll) is quite easy.
So we’d leave at 8:30 each day and head over to Bunaken. Generally we’d do dive #1 shortly around 9:15 (dives are usually one hour bottom time), break for an hour, do dive #2, break for another 60 to 90 minutes and during this time have lunch on the boat, and then do dive #3.
But before I do, I need to throw in words of praise for our dive guides. Because when you’re doing this kind of diving, while you can find some things on your own, to find the REALLY esoteric animals, you need a really good guide. And we had two of the best in the form of Basrah Tan, Murex’s lead guide, and his faithful sidekick Hanny. I like to joke that my big Nikon D200 is nothing more than a point-and-shoot camera because Basrah points, and I shoot. But when you want to find things like Pygmy Seahorses, Leaf Scorpionfish, almost-invisible crabs, or Mimic Octopi, you won’t find them without a good guide.
So overall, it was a really nice trip. Despite all the drama and the side issues (and they’re all good learning experiences), we had a really nice time. We got in eight days of diving and a total 25 dives overall with a good blend of reef and muck. And the nice thing about diving this area is that it’s impossible to see everything in one trip so it’s a place that worth coming back to again and again. And our friends at Murex will certainly take good care of you so that’s not only where we’ll be returning to, but where we’ll direct you as well if you do this on your own.”
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