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Dive Review of Mermaid I in
Indonesia/Bali to Komodo

September, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by John M. Artim, CA, USA
Report Number 2103
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
51-100 dives
Where else diving
Monterey, CA, USA
St. George's Cay, Belize
Cozumel, Mexico
Permuteran, Bali, Indonesia
Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, dry  
calm, choppy, currents, noCurrents  
Water Temp
68   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
35   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Typically 100' depth limit, one hour maximum bottom time, end the dive at
around 750psi to do a mandatory 3 minute safety stop and surface with about
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Kay Golding, the dive master and tour leader for our trip, provided a great
deal of very useful advice on what to find and where. She also had a small
Sony camera for rent by the day which my buddy used on three of the six
dive days.

The dive deck included a separate dip tank for cameras, flashlights, and
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
5 stars    
This was the most awesome diving experience of my life! The sheer lushness
of the reefs must be seen to be believed. It took me most of the first
three days (out of six) of diving just to take it all in. Where other
"good" reefs I've seen were covered in various coral, sponges,
and other encrusting organisms the reefs in this part of Indonesia are
stacked three and four deep. The effect is a giant swirl of color and
motion. The fish life, particularly the smaller (<3') fish, were more
plentiful than anywhere else I've been. And the variety of the dives was
spectacular including walls, patch reefs, sea mounts, and sand flats.

The current was only really up at one site--Lighthouse Reef--and
consequently this was the best chance to see larger pelagics including
white-tipped reef sharks, and some other sharks cruising the blue that I
was unable to identify. With stronger currents they get more pelagics.

Dive entries were either giant strides from the Mermaid's dive platform or
backrolls off one of the two dinghies (RIBs) used as dive tenders. The
dingy operators were really first class. As soon as they spotted a surfaced
diver they always checked for an OK sign.

Kay Golding is an excellent dive master and tour guide. Unfortunately, she
had a bad cold the week of our trip so she only went out on a couple of
dives with us. Her dive briefings were thorough and included a
highly-detailed hand-drawn map of the site with key depths marked,
indications of probable currents, and the intended dive profile. Kay then
concluded with a very complete listing of the creatures of interest most
likely to be seen at the site.

I was especially delighted by her attention to safety before, during, and
after dives. There was a strict no diving after alcohol policy. The Mermaid
has an ample supply of oxygen onboard available for Nitrox (we typically
did the second two dives of the day on Nitrox) and for first aid purposes.
In her first briefing Kay warns everyone that conservative diving is a must
considering the three to four dives-per-day schedule kept up for six days
and the fact that at the furthest point in our trip--Komodo--we would be 30
hours cruising time from the nearest hyperbaric chamber in Bali.

Even with Nitrox she took extra precautions. Any diver using Nitrox was
required to measure their mix and sign off on a check-in sheet. Kay also
regularly reminded other (non-Nitrox) divers that we might spend more time
at depth than they could safely do. 

We had a couple of minor equipment snafus which Kay and her staff were
quick to help us with. On one occasion I broke a fin buckle just as our
dingy was about to pull away from the boat. Kay was able to lend me a spare
strap until after the dive when I could go back to my cabin and retrieve my
spare. My dive buddy's BC oral inflator valve stuck open at the end of one
dive. The staff spent about an hour with it cleaning the valve and
repairing the leak.

Our only complaint about the dive crew--and the ONLY thing that prevents
them from getting a "5" rating--is that regulator dust caps were
routinely left off of the regs after they cleaned up from one dive and set
up for the next. We complained about this and Kay was seen having words
with the dive staff but the problem persisted. Otherwise, the dive crew
went out of their way to make sure they did as much prep and clean-up work
for us as they could.

We shared this trip with 9 other divers. Six were a group from Germany, one
was a lone diver from Moscow, and the other two were a couple from
California. We split into two teams--the German group took one dingy and
dive guide and the rest of us used the other dingy and dive guide. We were
not required to stick with the dive guide. My buddy and I did split off on
our own a couple of times (letting the guide know ahead of time) because
our group tended to bunch up and get in each-other's way particularly on
night dives. This worked out just great for us.

The only real problem was that one diver in our dingy was a photographer
and she paid no attention whatsoever to whom she finned or flailed as she
went for her photos. She also tended to monopolize photographic
opportunities--even opportunities I had found for myself! Kay tried to
address this in the dive briefings but the behavior persisted. I doubt
there was much anyone could do. The guide went out of his way to try to
mitigate this problem. Ironically, she apologized profusely after each
dive--only to do it again on the next one!

Our trip included a few optional land stops including one on Komodo Island
to see the Komodo Dragons (definitely worthwhile). If you get a chance,
take advantage of the offer to walk around some of the small islands along
the way.

The food and other service on the Mermaid are outstanding. The cook is
Indonesian and we adored the Indonesian dishes she created including a
really awesome fresh snapper. I think if you were a vegetarian (one of the
German folks was) or wanted American/Continental food you might not be as
happy. We were lucky enough to be given a cabin upgrade to the master
cabin. For a boat cabin, it was positively spacious! Air conditioning was
somewhat weak but air temperatures were very high (about 80F) and, with the
in-cabin fan provided, we much preferred this to the meat-locker cold-room
effect some air conditioners provide. The shower/head/vanity area was quite
roomy. The room had adequate storage space and, if requested, the crew
would stow luggage below-decks. Our room also had a DVD player and TV. We
surprised ourselves by watching a couple of movies before turning in.

We're ready to do this trip all over again!
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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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