DEPTHERAPY’s 2018 CHUUK LAGOON EXPEDITION
Funded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s 2016 Libor Fund
BLUE LAGOON DIVE RESORT DIVE CENTRE
The dive centre is part of the main resort and a minute or so from the accommodation, it comprises of an administration area, a dive shop, that saw lots of tee=shirts etc purchased by the team, a large compressor room an area for kitting up and a drying area.
The centre has a fleet of speed boats that take divers to the various dive sites. It is also home for a fleet of smaller boats that act as a water bus service between the various islands.
HOW IT WORKS
So being a group of 22 we were allocated three boats with a dive guide and driver for each boat.
We decided that we would always dive the same wreck, thus meaning that our medical team would always be on scene.
We would work out what wrecks we wanted to dive each day.
A whiteboard showed which boat each of us were on.
Chris Middleton, Simon Reed both Dive Masters and Jon Beever a trainee Dive Master we appointed to be team leaders on each boat. Richard, Martin, Andy and Sharon were there just in case anything went wrong.
Our guides and helmsmen for the eight days of diving were:
|Boat Team Leader||Guide||Helmsman|
AFTERNOON OF ARRIVAL
So we all took our dive kit across to the dive centre and completed the necessary paperwork. The dive centre is a PADI resort and has a large team of guides, boat drivers, dive shop and general helpers.
SCHEDULE OF DIVES
There will be a report on each days diving but it is important to understand that Chuuk Lagoon offers rich diving to recreational divers.
There are wrecks that are beyond recreational limits and that need to be dived twinsets, with stages or mixed gases/rebreathers. Many of the most iconic wrecks are within recreational diving limits – no deeper than 40 metres.
RULE OF THIRDS
We strictly abide by the rule of thirds and it was good to see team leaders giving words of advice to those who breached this rule. Although we did at time dive to the deepest parts of the wrecks we were keen that expedition members should see as much as the wreck as possible and everyone was reminded if you go to 40 metres on the RDP you have 9 minutes. Team leaders set maximum depths and checked no one had gone into deco. Going into deco would bring an automatic two day diving ban.
Diving EANx or mixed gases is very expensive in Chuuk and our decision was to dive on air as we were not diving beyond recreational limits and we would dive well within NDLs.
THREE DIVES A DAY
Our schedule was three dives a day, for 8 days, based on two dives each morning, returning to the Resort for lunch then one dive in the afternoon.
In between we sometimes went to the island of Eten and enjoyed coconut milk from coconuts we saw cut down.
Day 3 we lost the morning’s dives due to extremely bad weather.
On the 15th the Pro team and a couple of others dived the Nippo Maru at 36 metres.
ACCESS TO BOATS
The dive centre and the dock are all on the same level and for expedition members negotiating their way onto the boats was not difficult. Ben and Andy as ever jumped out of their chairs and bum shuffled onto the boat.
The crew were very helpful supporting people as they stepped from the quay into the boat.
For the four wheelchair users staff on the dock took their chairs and put them undercover, bringing them back to the dock when the boats returned.
We went to Chuuk in the half of the year that is considered their ‘wet season’, the weather and the sea changes rapidly from being unbelievably calm one moment to heavy rain, wind and rains the next. Going out in the boats when there are waves and wind ensures you get a top class face scrub as the boat powers through the waves.
No GPS but the guides have an uncanny sense that allows them to find the mooring lines which are unmarked and below the surface. They seem to triangulate the wreck site using the islands to navigate. If there is chop then it takes slightly longer to find the mooring line, if not the find is almost instantaneous and the dive boat stops dead on the spot.
A BIT OF ADVICE
If you are going to Chuuk then research the wrecks it will make your experience more enjoyable. You can find lots on the Internet and there are also some excellent books on the subject.
The dive briefing by the guide is on the dive boat.
Some of the wrecks have degraded faster than similar aged World War II wrecks in the Red Sea. I am told that this is due to the grade of steel that the ships were built with. The older wrecks were made of higher grade steel and therefore the rusting process takes longer.
Salinity also varies latitudinally, reaching a maximum of 37 parts per thousand in the south eastern area. The water near the equator, which can have a salinity as low as 34 parts per thousand, is less salty than that found in the mid-latitudes because of abundant equatorial precipitation throughout the year.
Salinity. The Red Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, owing to high evaporation. Salinity ranges from between ~36 ‰ in the southern part because of the effect of the Gulf of Aden water and 41 ‰ in the northern part, owing mainly to the Gulf of Suez water and the high evaporation.
Dive weights at the dive centre are Imperial rather than Metric. If you are used to diving in the Red Sea you will need to reduce the amount of weight you carry. In the Red Sea I normally dive with 6kg, in Chuuk I dived with 6 lbs or roughly 3 kilos and was not underweighted. Part of this may be due to the fact I was wearing a Scubapro Lite Hawk wing that is much less buoyant than my Scubapro Explorer BCD.
Great dive centre, great staff, excellent guides, helpful cheerful place and Howard Payne found a new way of washing his kit and maybe cooling down
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