Trip log and photos of the Mergui Archipelago scuba diving cruise on the MV DEEP ANDAMAN Qn 28. January – 3rd February 2015.
28 January – A Day in Thailand
Having set sail in Thap Lamu in the evening of the 27th, the divers woke up on Koh Bon for the first dive. Within 10 minutes into the dive, a giant manta cruised along the western ridge like it wanted to welcome the guests to andaman waters. The second dive site, Koh Tachai, was found to be in the same great condition and visibility as Koh Bon before.
The DEEP ANDAMAN QUEEN then headed for two dives to Richelieu Rock, where an amazing amount of fish gathered in the afternoon. On the second dive visibility dropped a little bit due to incoming plankton.
After the fourth dive at 6:30pm the boat headed for Ranong to spend the rest of the night there.
29th – Immigrations and Distance
At 6:00 am in the morning, the Tourleader Steve Leathwood left the boat to do all passengers Thailand Immigration paperwork and get boat clearance to depart country. The distance between Ranong deep sea port and the Myanmar Jetty Kaw Thaung is only 2,4 nautical miles and so the DEEP ANDAMAN Qn was in burmese waters 25 minutes after it left Ranong immigrations.
At exactly 10:30 the responsible officer at Myanmar authorities gave the clearance call for the MV DEEP ANDMAN Qn and 19 guests from Austria, Belgium, Canada, England and Germany were sailing into the Mergui Archipelago with five hours of driving ahead.
As Black Rock was scheduled for the 30th January, the boat wouldn’t stop from now on for nearly 20 hours. The burma entry dives were on High Rock and a stopover at 3 Islets for a nightdive. High Rock had some limited visibility but showed no signs of recent bombing and quite some schooling fish were about to make the reef lively enough. “In Though The Outdoor” – the main divesite of the 3 Islets is always good for an exciting nightdive and every diver on the boat was happy to see lots of nocturnal reef life on the northern reef.
30th January – Black Rock
Meant to be the highlight of the Trip, Black Rock showed immediate signs of recent blast fishing activities and so on the reefs and out in the blue were hardly any fish to be seen. To see this dive site in that state for four dives was a sad experience for the guests and dive staff, although the sunset on the fourth dive attracted quite some oceanic fish.
31st January – 3 Islets
The legendary 3 Islets proved their name and made for a fantastic days diving with seahorses, pipefishes, nurse sharks and a whale shark. Visbility was limited to about 15-20 meters for most of the dives although it cleared locally in the shallow parts of the north west side of the rocks.
1st February – Into the Heart of Southern Mergui
Around the Investigator Channel between Loughborough and McLeod are several divesites. Although close enough together to do four of them within one day, they all vary in marine life and conditions. Stewarts Rock is always nice in good visibility but it needs the sunlight coming from west and so it wasn’t a perfect choice for a morning dive. Frog Rock next to McLeods Island proved to be in perfect shape and offered stunning visibility for its charming orange and yellow soft coral outfit.
2nd February – Whale Shark & Immigration
Two more morning dives at Western Rocky in perfect conditions offered plenty of schooling fish, macro life a whale shark and an eagle ray. After a very satisfying end to the Burma part of the trip the MV Deep Andaman Qn set course to Kaw Thaung in order to leave Burma.
3rd February – Thailands Wrecks and Return
5 nautical miles off Koh Prathong lies the HMTS PRATHONG 715. Formerly the USS Dodge County (LST-722), a US Navy landing ship which fought in the Korea war, later was passed on to the Thai Navy for training. It was sunk in March 2013 as an artificial reef off the island which name it owned under Thai Flag.
The HMTS PRATHONG was originally sunk at its side with some steel cables attached to the sea floor in order to fix it in this position. Unfortunately the ship has nearly turned over on its back, but the steel cables seem to prevent further movement. The wreck attracts schools of oceanic fish with some barracudas and mackerel to hunt after them. All in all an interesting dive on this trip as it is a complete different scenery to the previous days.
The popular Boonsung wreck directly in front of Khao Lak was the last dive with tons of juvenile schooling fish and the big cobias giving a great farewell for the guests of this Burma trip.
Trip Log and photos courtesy of Niko, Mergui diveguide