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Dive Review of Komodo Dancer in
Indonesia/Komodo Islands

Komodo Dancer, Jan, 2003,

by Pat Wikstrom, NC, USA . Report 770.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Socorro Islands, Roatan, South Africa, Costa Rica, Channel Islands, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Bonaire, Cozumel, Florida, Yucatan Caves, Bahamas, Little Cayman & Brac, Belize, Turks & Caicos, Indonesia, Thailand, Cocos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 76 to 83 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 25 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions experienced divers were allowed wide latitude
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Slide processing daily if needed, well set up for UWP's

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments My twelve day tour from Bali to Komodo Island and points in between showed off some of the most spectacular diving available anywhere in the world. And the 100ft long traditional twin masted motor sailor, Komodo Dancer, is truly a wonderfully exotic, comfortable vehicle to explore these islands from. I did 29 of the 32 offered dives with an average dive time of 56 minutes. During these 27 hours underwater I recorded literally hundreds of new species in my log book. The wealth of fish ID books aboard allowed us to accurately catalog the incredible parade of bio-diversity that abounds.
Surprisingly, since it was only a couple of years old, the Komodo Dancer was showing some wear and tear during our voyage. Steel rigging, rails, and the crane were rusting, paint was faking, and some lighting was defective. But she was scheduled to go into dry-dock right after our trip so some of these issue may have been corrected. The upper decks werent sealed in any way other than the three times a day the crew poured salt water on them to keep them swollen. This allowed rainwater to percolate down through the roofs of the cabins causing much consternation in those divers whos bunks got wet. Also the watermaker was broken during our voyage requiring periodic stops near inhabited islands to obtain deliveries of barrels of water from the locals.
However these problems paled in comparison to the beauty of the vessel riding at anchor in a cove as seen from the dive skiffs, or the enthusiasm of the fourteen man local crew, or the professionalism and attentiveness of our four person dive staff, or the usual high level of Peter Hughes service. Food was excellent and plentiful with marvelous curry, garlic, and Thai sauces, snacks between meals, wine with dinner, and beer and rum drinks all included. I did, however, get a little tired of rice by the end of the trip.
The all wooden ship was filled with beautifully polished hardwood throughout. The seven cabins were relatively spacious with en-suite baths, individually controlled A/C, adequate storage, and comfortable bunks. The multi purpose salon, which was smaller than usual, doubled as a gathering place, computer and photo workshop, air-conditioned haven on hot days, and the sick bay during our one instance of potential DCS which required a diver to lay down and suck on the oxygen bottle for a couple of hours. Most meals were served at a huge table out on the main deck covered by a tarp laid across the yard arm on the main mast. During hard rains we either got wet outside or squeezed into the salon. The small sundecks on the Lido deck, both tarp covered and uncovered were frequent gathering places during surface intervals. The dive deck, while not huge, was well laid out for the purpose; with camera table, charging stations, showers, and sufficient gearing up space for fourteen divers. The Dancer carried two 20ft long open fiberglass dive tenders powered by twin 40hp engines. On most dives both tenders went to the same site although the drops were staggered or the specific point on the site was varied. Dive staff loaded and unloaded our gear so all we had to do was step aboard with camera in hand, sit down in our position, and shrug into our kit. Dive tender staff occasionally fouled up peoples tank weights and weight pockets, or banged up gear as it was hoisted up over the side. They preferred we not climb up the ladders wearing gear.
But most important was the diving which was fantastic. From the first check out dive off Satonda Island where I noted a wide array of hard and soft coral, Lionfish, five different species of Nudibranchs, Morays, Turtles, free-swimming Crinoids, and huge schools of colored Anthias -it just kept getting better and better. Great boulder sites like Pillarsteen with rocky caves, cracks, and swim throughs with Blacktip reef sharks lurking about; ripping current dives at Tatawa Besar where Mantas cruised in the pea soup vis; wonderful night dives on sites like White Beach with Spanish Dancers, Octopus, Seaslugs and Moreys foraging. On some of our stops every site was spectacular. Gili Banta held K-2 a true pristine coral garden, Star Wars with staghorn coral in fields of green, yellow, brown, purple , and grey colorations, and the thrilling GPS Point where high voltage currents and vibrant colors added up to a washing machine dive through an artists pallet. But most impressive of the whole trip was Nusa Kode. This stunning island serves up wall dives on either side of the channel; Yellow Wall & Pelican Point, where Yan found us Pigmy Seahorses, Banded Sea Snakes, Sea Dragons, Ribbon Eels, Frogfish, and dozens of different Nudibranchs. Nusa Kode is also home to Cannibal Rock the most colorful accumulation of sea life Ive ever seen. This shallow sea mount in the bay is packed solid with multicolored anemones, crinoids, sponges, sea fans, and delicate soft coral in green and orange, purple and pink, gold and reds all crammed together in an unbelievable density. Three day and one night dive at this one site still wasnt enough for me. During one picture perfect surface interval riding at anchor in the bay we saw Komodo Dragons stalking the little wild pigs on the beach, white headed eagles were soaring on the wind overhead, while a Marlin jumped right behind the boat. It just doesnt get any better than this.
Great diving, great boat, a must do itinerary. PS the land excursion to Komodo itself was lots of fun with great photo-ops of Dragons fighting and getting frisky. The island of Bali seemed very safe, friendly people, beautiful temples, interesting culture, good shopping, and hot nightspots. A fantastic trip. Id go back in a heartbeat.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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