This is the first time Big Blue Diving Khao Lak has ever dived in October. We should definitely do it more often too. It was brilliant!
The luck surrounding the boat started from the moment we left the pier. Every Similan Liveaboard trip begins with a simple Thai tradition. An offering of food is made to Buddha at the front of the boat and firecrackers are set off to ward away bad spirits. As the string of crackers explode, one by one, they get closer to the final big bang at the end of the line. This last explosion reveals a small flag, containing several Chinese characters and five numbers. The captain keeps this small flag as a good luck token for the trip. This trip the flag did its job.
Another Thai tradition from more recent years is to look for lucky numbers anywhere possible so they can play the lottery. The firecrackers provide a perfect example. This week, three of our crew phoned their friends as we left the pier, and used the flag to buy their lottery tickets. All three people got the winning numbers, won big, and for us scuba divers we hoped the luck would extend to us. We had never dived in October before so we were not sure what the weather would be like and what marine life was awaiting us. Fortunately, it couldn’t have gone much better.
It turns out we had no need to worry about anything.The weather was great, the sea was almost completely flat and there were a lot of surprises around the corner. A Similan Liveaboard with Big Blue is a 4 day/4 night journey. We begin with a day and a half around the 9 Similan Islands, and then head north up to Koh Bon, Koh Tachai & Richelieu Rock. Typically the diving gets better as the days go by. Richelieu rock is, for many people, the highlight of the trip. However, this trip had so many good dives it is hard to pick a favorite.
By the time we left the Similan Islands (6 dives) there had already been sightings of a Manta Ray, Leopard Shark, white tip reef shark, napoleon wrasse, turtles and of course all the other colourful, amazing reef fish. On many dive sites it looked like there has been some new growth too, especially of the soft corals. Koh Bon was teeming with life and the whole site was covered in thousands of glass fish. At Koh Tachai some people were lucky enough to see a 2 meter guitar shark!
Richelieu Rock was a little bit green but it didn’t matter too much because there were so many fish. As I was watching one of my friends photographing two mating cuttlefish, I noticed dozens of fusiliers frantically biting at the bubbles every time she breathed out. I don’t know if they thought it was food or something else, but as I watched, a thought occurred to me. Any fish born in the last six months (or those with a bad memory) are not used to seeing people. For the rest of the trip I just became fascinated watching the behavior of the fish as Scuba Divers passed by.
I may not have personally won the lottery on this trip, but I felt lucky nevertheless. Every guest had a special memory from this first Similan Liveaboard of the season. For me, the encounter with a Guitar Shark was the closest I have ever been to one. It was a new experience for all of us to visit so early in the season, but if it is always as good as this, I hope we do it every year.