A typical day aboard
It’s seven o’clock in the morning, the sound of the bell is the signal for a new day to begin aboard the S.M.Y. ONDINA.
As we agreed the night before during dinner, the people who want to dive start waking up and coming out of their comfortable cabins to have some tea and biscuits in the dinning room.
When everybody is ready in the diving deck the diving briefing, the report about the expected diving conditions we will find today, begins. Depth, currents, possible encounters and security advises are covered and all questions properly answered.
This morning it’s going to be a drift dive taking the advantage of the ascending tide along the very deep wall fully covered with soft corals, giant gorgonies and barrel sponges splashed with crinoids.
Once everybody is changed, tanks and heavy equipment is carried out to the chase boats by the crew and divers descend through the two Royal Staircases to the waterlevel where the two dinghies with the equipment await to fly them to the diving point.
After jumping into the water, the current takes the divers along the multicoloured wall, thousands of gliding small fishes swim in the same direction.
Once back on the S.M.Y. ONDINA, in front of a tempting breakfast, the highlights of the dive are discussed. For some, it was the Manta show with the carangides pecking the parasites on her belly, for some others it was the encounter with the sharks the most exciting part, today they came close enough to get nice shots.
After breakfast, photographers will get hold of the more than 4 m2 table specially made for them, to prepare their cameras for the next dive. The rest of the group check their diving equipment, collect their batteries from the charging station and get ready for a lazy sunbathe in one of the hammocks at the sundeck or for a nice book under the shadow of the canvas in the aft banks.
Midmorning the bell rings, it is time to dive again!. At the group request, we are going to repeat the same dive but in very different conditions, this time no currents and less depth. At high tide we jump when the drift is minimum allowing the photographers to work slowly in the caves and overhangs we found during the morning dive. After completing the briefing, the changing ritual is repeated and the dinghies are soon drawing a silver road on the sea surface away from the boat.
Coming back from the dive, the rumour of the main engine waits for them. When the last dinghy has arrived, the anchors
are pulled up and we start moving towards a small island. The sea is calm and everybody has decided to have lunch in the open-air dining room under the shadow of the canvas with the sea breeze.
When Coffee is served the S.M.Y. ONDINA has arrived to her destination and grasp one of the previously installed mooring buoys. It is Siesta Time and everybody finds his preferred place: the hammocks in the sundeck, the air-conditioning of their cabins or the refreshing atmosphere in the closed dining room paging one of the many fish or nudibranchs books or watching a video to sleep.
The bell again ! Time has come for the third dive of the day. A group of stone pinnacles not very deep, very heavily decorated. The nudibranchs are very abundant here and everybody of the group finds some of this magnificent creatures during this slow dive. Some others have seem an eagle ray, turtles and a couple of black tip reef sharks.
After coming back onboard the group leave their equipment and we are taken ashore to have a nice and pleasant walk on the beach and get to the nearby fishing village hidden under hundreds of coconut palm trees.
Very friendly locals come to greet us with smiles and offer some lobsters that are exchanged for cigarretes, soft drinks and chocolates that will be part of our dinner tonight.
On the way back to the S.M.Y. ONDINA, the monsoon is bringing some light breeze. Before dinner, each photographer takes their time to select their best shots Tonight there will be no night dive. Tonight we will sail a long stretch to reach one of the most spectacular archipelagos in our route early morning.
The sun disappears behind the horizon while the S.M.Y. ONDINA set her full 600m2 of sails in a very co-ordinated manouvre on which everybody helps, crew and guests, under the precise instructions from the Captain.
After dinner a photo show is prepared and we discuss all diving encounters of the day: the Manta shots are great and that giant Tuna and the School of Barracudas with the sun rays among them are really excellent. Some macros are a bit blurred but I promise tomorrow will have another chance to have better photos of nudibranchs.
We all laugh at the story of the scared octopus inking the mask of the spanish chap when he tried to touch him. Those who are taking the Naturalist or Underwater Photography Padi courses get apart with the instructor to discuss about their photos consult some books or clarify any doubt that the day dives might have brought.
While we have a drink comfortably seated in the aft, others play cards and backgammon or fill their log-books in front of a hot cup of coffee, the East winds gently push the S.M.Y. ONDINA towards our new destination.