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Dive Review of Grand Komodo -- TemuKira in

Grand Komodo -- TemuKira, Oct, 2011,

by Rickie Sterne/Chrisanda Butto, AR, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 6309 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Our two-week cruise aboard the TemuKira took us from the muck sites of Ambon, through the beautiful walls of the Banda Islands, to the slopes of Alor, and the coral heads of Maumere Bay. Beyond the great variety of diving, we enjoyed cruising through much of the eastern archipelago. On several occasions, the captain raised the sails and we felt like explorers in the Spice Islands rich with topside beauty and history. We had read a couple of books on the spice trade before our trip and enjoyed seeing the very islands where fierce and brutal battles were fought over condiments we now take for granted. And for a lover of Renaissance literature, it was fun to dive Run Island, which figured in Elizabeth I's list of majesties. At Banda Neira, Grand Komodo treated us to a land tour. A local guide took us to the museum, where he presented interesting talks on both the savage European subjugation of the island and nutmeg culture. We then strolled up to Fort Belgica, an eighteenth century Dutch installation, and down through the ruins of Fort Nassau, an earlier Dutch fortification. We ended our walk in the local market, where we bought candied nutmeg. Candied nutmeg is a pungent and tasty sweet, although not, in my opinion, a substitute for Godiva chocolates.
No itinerary could have offered a greater variety of diving. In Ambon we swam over black volcanic sands to see two Rhinopias aphanes side by side. One was cream colored, the other purple. On the same dive we spotted a very robust robust ghost pipefish and a threesome of ornate ghost pipe fishes. Other Ambon dives revealed Coleman shrimp, three other species of pipefish, numerous nudis, stonefish, several species of morays, many tiny juvenile fish, seahorses, and a great deal of floating garbage.
On to the Banda Sea! There we enjoyed great viz and very healthy hard corals inhabited a many species of fish. The walls at Hatta Island and Lucipara were on a par with those at Misool. The walls were shear and richly covered with corals both hard and soft, huge sponges, and gorgonians. Schools of barracuda, fusiliers, unicornfish, jacks, surgeonfish, and triggerfish swam up and down the walls. Some of the prettiest Chaetodons were seen on every dive in the Bandas. Dozens of fire dartfish and hawkfish teased us as they darted in and out of their burrows or gorgonians. We saw H. bargibanti and H. denise in groups on seafans on several dives. At Gunung Api we dove with dozens and dozens of sea snakes of three different species. The hard corals were dull and there were big areas of rubble at this site, but who cared? We were there for the sea snakes, which approached us closely, brushing against us and swimming between our legs and through our hoses. One diver, made a bit uneasy by a group of three kraits examining him closely with their forked white tongues protruding, did not realize as he swam away from them that two other sea snakes were swimming right above him. A really fun dive!
A long night's sail brought us to Alor. We did our first Indonesian diving in Alor several years ago aboard the Nusa Tara. We had wondered if we would still be as enchanted by Alor as we were on our first immersion there. Answer: a loud affirmative. The water in Alor is much cooler, and we wished for more neoprene, but we certainly enjoyed our chilly dives. Our first Alor dive at Faultline brought out a free-swimming ribbon eel. School's Out is as beautiful a dive as we remembered. This sloping wall is densely covered with acropora corals, colorful dendrophyta, and anemones. Clouds of colorful small fish floated over the slope, and a number of nudis fed on luminous tunicates. Next dive we moved down to Clown Alley. At a depth of just 12 feet, we found healthy hard corals, but our dive guides urged us downward. Below thirty feet the entire slope was literally carpeted in anemones of every species and hue. As one would expect, hundreds of anemonefish of several species and numerous dactylids hovered over their residences. When we could tear our eyes from the large view, we noticed a variety of nudis, some neat crustacea, and one shy octopus. The current was so strong we were scarcely even chilled. At the three sites on Beang Abang we were definitely cold, but the diving was so good we stayed down well over an hour each time. The first site was a black sand slope that was rich in critters. The other two sites were coral slopes where we saw numerous nudis, several species of ghost pipefish, frogfish, and even a couple of sea apples (as I said, the water was cold!) Night diving in Alor was the best on our trip. Sailing southward, we reached the mercifully warmer waters of Ileape. Here the sloping walls and white sand slopes had a good coral cover inhabited by many critters and fish. We watched a tiny winged pipefish scurrying around the top of a wall and found a nice-sized Phyllodesmium longicirrum sunning itself.
The diving in Maumere Bay was presented to us by our guides as "not so good." But we had to return to Maumere to disembark, and we certainly did not want to stop diving. Actually we enjoyed several of the dives on sand slopes with small coral heads and regrowth soft corals that were small but luminous in the filtered sunlight. We saw a number of nudis, ribbon eels, morays, and lobsters on our dives in Maumere Bay. The shrimpgobies and bulldozer shrimp there were huge.
What makes the TemuKira our favorite liveaboard is not only the excellent diving we have always enjoyed from the boat, but the smooth diving operation and wonderful crew. With eleven divers on board, the boat operated two dinghies. We went out in groups but were allowed to come up in pairs. The dinghy drivers were aware of how many divers were still down and where we were. Although the briefing board always listed 60 minutes as the dive time, most of our dives were 70 minutes plus. On two occasions only we were asked to surface at sixty minutes because we had to make long crossings to our next island. Both our dive guides, Joni and Wilson, spoke English well and gave thorough dive briefings. They always checked the currents before we entered a site and on a couple of occasions defaulted to a different site because currents were fierce. The guides are amazingly sharp-eyed and frequently pointed out tiny or well camouflaged creatures we would never have spotted ourselves. The guides were constantly aware of where all we divers were without being controlling. All our tank fills were 2950-plus. The dive deck is well set up. Each diver is assigned a station with under bench storage in two baskets. Tanks are filled in the stations. When we were gearing up for dives, crew members were always at hand to zip our wetsuits and help us into our BC's. Crew carried tanks to the dinghy for several divers who requested that service. Two crew members steadied me as I stepped into the dinghy with my gear on. At dive's end I generally handed up my gear before climbing the ladder back into the dinghy. The dinghy ladders are good ones, and I can climb them with my gear on, but we little old lady divers need to protect our knees. Crew members schlepped our gear from the dinghy back to our stations. While the crew was dealing with our gear, we enjoyed the warm deck showers. Both the dive deck setup and the crew make diving from the TemuKira easy.
We consider the TemuKira, a traditional wooden pinisi, a very pretty boat. Our cabin was spacious and comfortable with plenty of storage space under the slightly elevated double bed and in a closet. There was a small Balinese settle and a small desk in the cabin as well. The floor space actually lets us walk past each other. A porthole provides natural light and a view. The air conditioning is individually controlled in each cabin by a remote control, no less. There is a good reading light over the bed. The ensuite bathroom is spacious for a boat. It contains a small sink, a flush toilet with a bidet spray, a handheld shower, and a drying rod. The shower is cool to tepid. Steward Alwy cleaned our cabin well daily and changed linens intermittently. The air-conditioned salon was where we ate our buffet meals. The food is very largely Asian and very good. I must admit, though, that Indonesians fry chicken a well as we do in the South. Breakfast always began with a smoothie. Breakfast menus included mie goreng, banana pancakes (Indonesian pancakes are more like crepes), mie kwah, and bubur. We also enjoyed more familiar French toast. Our two Western meals, hamburgers once and pizza once, appeared at lunch. Otherwise we ate various fish and chicken dishes with fresh veggies and rice. Dinners, served after the night dive, always began with hot homemade soups. Main courses centered on fish and seafood, but there was always a chicken dish as well. Again we were offered plenty of fresh veggies and rice. Desserts at both lunch and dinner usually consisted of fresh fruits. Afternoon snacks were substantial (club sandwiches, cakes, fried bananas) and tasty. The boat's captain loves to fish, so we enjoyed generous platters of tuna sashimi on several afternoons. We enjoy eating Indonesian food when we are in Indonesia and consider the fresh-caught fish a luxury. I spent many of my surface intervals on the covered upper sundeck, admiring the passing islands and reading at my leisure. Even with a full boat, we could always find a place to relax.
The crew of the TemuKira are one and all gracious, hardworking gentlemen who are unvaryingly helpful and friendly, language barrier notwithstanding. The staff at the Grand Komodo office in Sanur is equally helpful. A few weeks before we left, we emailed Tian querying about airport taxes and overweight charges for our trip. In less than twenty-four hours, she had replied with all the information we had requested.
Several years ago we read an interview with the late Larry Smith, in which he suggested that any diver who could spend a full two weeks in Indonesia should dive the Banda Sea itinerary. Our experience aboard the TemuKira justified Mr. Smith's suggestion.

Websites Grand Komodo -- TemuKira   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, BayIslands, Belize, Bonaire, Caymans, Cozumel, Turks&Caicos, Australia, Micronesia, Fiji, Sea of Cortex, other areas of Indonesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy, dry Seas calm, currents, no currents
Water Temp 75-84°F / 24-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40-75 Ft/ 12-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Return to the boat with air and no deco obligation. We were encouraged to dive safely due to the remote locations and variable currents we were diving.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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 10 of 11 divers on board carried cameras. Three were very large DSLR rigs. Three were upper-end point-and-shoots with strobes. The remaining five were small cameras in lexan housings. All of our cameras fit onto the table on the dive deck, and we were always able to find on open outlet for charging our batteries on the table in the salon. The crew not only handled cameras carefully, they actually helped take care of our photographic equipment. Igo, the "compressor man," carefully dried each camera setup with towels and compressed air after every dive. The dive guides helped spot interesting subject matter, often more macro than my diopters could photograph.
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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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