09 September ~ 2019
I just returned from an 18 day vacation to Indonesia, to snorkel and freedive in the reefs of the Coral Triangle. It was better than I expected, and I spent a lot of time in the water. Towards the end of my trip on one snorkel I was out alone in the sea for for 3 1/2 hours, without coming to shore. On my last full day I had another swim for 3 solid hours. The time passed without me noticing because I was so entranced with the amazing sea life just a meter below me, descending down to the blue depths of the mile deep water beyond the reef. I returned home from my trip relaxed and inspired by all my time in the sea and the beauty I witnessed.
I went out with the morning excursions of the dive boat for 10 days. They would drop me off at the edge of the reef and after their dive would come and pick me up. There were many times when I couldn't see the boat and was totally alone in the sea. One of my best decisions for this trip was to tow a large yellow inflated buoy behind me, which allowed the dive boat to easily find me for the pick up. Having the buoy made me less nervous about being solo in the ocean. The buoy also alerted boats to my presence, and I know of four boats that saw it and diverted their course to avoid me. I didn't hear most of them coming. I saw a shark down in the blue once. The divers saw them almost every day.
For most of the trip the currents were mild and my 3 foot long freediving fins allowed me to race through the water. At high tides around the new moon and in a few locations I could barely swim against the current long enough to snap a photo, and drifted with it for a long ways until the dive boat picked me up. One uncomfortable morning the current keep pulling me off the reef into deep water. Everytime I swam back over the reef it would happen again. There was nothing to hold on to so I could rest. Finally the dive boat came over to check on me and I got aboard. I also found the currents could be highly variable, even reversing directions while I was out. That is part of the reason there is so many fish in Bunaken, is that circulating and reversing currents trap fish larvae. /1
In the afternoons before and after low tides I would swim the 900+ feet from where I was staying out to the reef edge, then swim laterally just beyond the edge of the reef exploring and taking photos and videos. That is where I took the 3 hour swims. I found three types of clownfish at the house reef, including two groups who lived in anemones in the seagrass, just 100 feet from the shore. At extreme low tides the anemones would close up and the clownfish would rest nearby.
It was a long journey to get to Bunaken Island by even the fastest route, which was through Singapore. I got a room behind security in Changi Airport for an overnight stay going and coming back from Bunaken. That airport was absolutely beautiful, the best I have ever seen. People sometimes book a ticket just to get in and explore the airport, which gets them in trouble with authorities.
I came home on a Saturday afternoon, and the dogs and I had a joyous reunion. After that I took a nap and then went dancing at the Rose. There is no place like home.
1/ " Northeasterly currents generally sweep through the park but abundant counter currents and gyros related to lunar cycles are believed to be a trap for free swimming larvae. This is particularly true on the south side of the crescent-shaped Bunaken Island, lying in the heart of the park." . . . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunaken