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Dive Review of Dive Damai in

Dive Damai: "Another enjoyable trip to Komodo", Jul, 2018,

by David E Reubush, VA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 65 reports with 31 Helpful votes). Report 10528 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was my third trip on the Damai I, but it had been 6 years since I was last on the boat. The trip to Komodo was a continuation of Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock’s “Fish Geek Weeks” with Drs. Gerry Allen and Mark Erdmann. Since it had been so long I wondered whether the boat was as good as I remembered. I was not disappointed. Carlo and Shawna, the cruise directors, were friendly and helpful. The food was skewed toward Western entrees and tasted great. (I am not a big fan of Indonesian food.) Another thing I really like about the Damai operation is that they don’t nickel and dime you with additional charges for things such as sodas and beer. There was a refrigerator in the salon with an assortment of sodas and Bin Tang. There was no extra charge no matter how much you consumed. (Once you had the first Bin Tang there was no more diving for you that day.) Also, a glass of wine was included with dinner at no extra charge. The crew looked after us very well. They carried our gear from the dive deck to and from the tenders. Every station on the dive deck had its own rinse tank for the cameras so you didn’t have to worry about cameras banging together in a big common rinse tank. The tenders were spacious so it was relatively easy to get geared up when we got to the sites. One of the tender drivers has been on the boat since I was first on it in 2009 and it was good to see him again. It reinforced my impression of continuity in the operation. I did miss Gusti, who I believe is one of the best dive masters/dive guides in all of Indonesia. Gusti was back in port supervising the annual maintenance on the Damai II.

My dive buddy from Siladen and Lembeh had to return home after Lembeh so I ended up bunking with Burt in Cabin 7 on the upper deck. Cabin 7 was small, but comfortable. My only complaint was the water pressure in the shower was not great. Evidently they were having trouble with the pump as they replaced it near the end of the trip and the water pressure got much better.

Our big group was subdivided into 3 smaller groups and we rotated through the 3 dive masters, Yanto, Salim, and Daniel, and in the order in which we rode out to the sites. Yanto and Salim were very good at finding things for us to photograph. However, Yanto had a tendency to find something and then move on without waiting for the photographers to finish. On at least one night dive in murky water he moved on with me shooting a subject and when I finished he was far enough away that I couldn’t see his light so I couldn’t catch up. As it turned out that was not a bad thing as I found only the second Bearded Brotula that I have ever seen. The only issue I had with Salim was that I could find something of interest and show it to him, but he wouldn’t show it to the other people in our group. The only exception was on a night dive when I found a starry night octopus which he did show to the others. Daniel had a tendency to go deep and do his own thing. I had no interest in going deep and burning through my air so I typically did my own thing, which wasn’t a bad thing as I generally found enough stuff to keep me busy photographing for the whole dive.

This was my third trip to Komodo and I found conditions to be somewhat worse than the other 2 times. The water was murkier and colder than I was expecting. I wore a 5mm with a 7/5 hooded vest on most dives. Plus, at Manta Alley and at least one of the sites in Horseshoe Bay we had significant surge, even at depth, so a reef hook didn’t do you much good as you got swept back and forth. At Manta Alley there were no mantas at the deep cleaning station, no mantas feeding in the channel, and only a few that stayed near the surface. At Cannibal Rock in Horseshoe Bay I was amazed at the coral growth that had taken place since I was there last in 2009. I was also amazed at the lack of sea apples which were abundant in 2009, but we found very few this year. At Crinoid Corner near the mouth of Horseshoe Bay I was also disheartened by the amount of plastic trash in the water. All that said, I was generally very happy with the other sites we visited. At Techno Reef we had more ghost pipefish than I could count. At Pasir Putih I loved the macro creatures. Wainilu was another site with great macro life. Pulau Batu Pengah was a beautiful reef with great fish life. At 3 Sisters Yanto found a cat shark that Gerry and Mark believe is a new species. They are planning on returning in the future to be able to capture a specimen. All in all, I was glad I went and plan on returning to both Damai I and Komodo.
Websites Dive Damai   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Australia, Belize, Bimini, Bonaire, Caymans, Curacao, Fiji, Galapagos, Indonesia (Wakatobi, Raja Ampat, Komodo, Lembeh, Bali, Banda Sea), Philippines, Red Sea, Solomon Islands, Southern Bahamas, St. Thomas, Turks & Caicos
Closest Airport Labuan Bajo Getting There Fly to either Jakarta or Bali and then get a flight to LBJ. Jakarta is generally cheaper than Bali. On this trip we were at Lembeh and there are no flights directly from Manado to Bima where we were to get on the boat we flew from Manado back to Jakarta, then to Bali, spent the night and then flew to Bima. LBJ is generally the gateway to Komodo, but depending on where the boat is coming from you might start at Bima or somewhere else.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas surge, currents
Water Temp 69-78°F / 21-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 20-100 Ft/ 6-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Don't run out of air
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 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 A camera room on the boat with enough space for all the photographers. Individual rinse tanks at your station on the dive deck. Crew handled cameras very carefully. Lots of good subject matter.
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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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