I dived with a group called Stride In on a boat called the Black Pearl this time around. We took a coach from Lavender up to Malaysia in the evening, stopping over at Kota Tinggi for a quick dinner before reaching Tanjung Gemok Marina at around midnight. We got ourselves on board and stayed in port for the night.
The boat is called the Black Pearl (no relation to Captain Jack) and it’s quite a small dive boat. The very first LOB experience I ever did was on a boat called the Beach Boy in 2010 also to Tioman, and I was secretly hoping this boat would be bigger, but alas, it was just as smaller, or maybe even smaller! Well it was cheaper, so you shouldn’t be expecting luxury for reasonable budget prices.
The boat can hold about 20 people (not including the crew) but the rooms are pretty teeny. We had 3 in a room this time, and both were people I knew so that helped a bit in terms of navigating the space. I took the upper bunk, which was a little precarious because there’s no ladder or barrier (I tried to clamber up without stepping on the bottom bunks, failed miserably and landed with a whump on my arm) so when the boat got rocky at night I was a little concerned about falling onto my friends below.
My biggest issue would be that the dive deck seemed particularly cramped – you didn’t even really have space to suit up side by side. And perhaps I’m a bit spoiled by the Malapascua diving experience where I had a whole space to myself and even a personal basket to put my gear in, but having more space to gear up would have been nice.
I did like the upper deck where we chilled out and had our meals – spent most of my time sleeping up there between dives. Also the food cooked by the crew was quite good and much looked forward to after every dive!
The thing about wreck diving is that most of these sites are located out in the middle of nowhere with just sea all around with no sight of land whatsoever. Only at Gyoshimaru Wreck did we have some land sighting, and even then it was a tiny island with a signal tower and a rocky outcrop, which was apparently what sunk the ship in the first place.
Other wrecks we dives at – Temu Wreck, Verrella Wreck and Rompin Wreck. Visibility at wreck sites also tends to be murkier, though our DMs were saying we were quite lucky – our visibility apparently was much better than normal.
My group was just 3 of us and our divemaster M and all of us had cameras so we were usually the first ones in and felt like we had free run of the waters before the rest descended, which was nice =)
Some of the more interesting things we saw: