11-Apr-2005 -- Every year my father and I go on a dive trip to someplace exotic. This year we planned our trip in November for a trip to Irian Jaya. An area of Irian Jaya called Raja Ampat is supposedly one of the best wild places to scuba dive in the world. By chance there are also a few confluence points around there as well. I was hoping we would be able to get near one and I could convince the captain to rent me the tender for an hour or so to go and visit one or two confluence points depending on our travel plans.
Upon arriving on the Sea Safari II on April 04, 2005 (run by Kararu Dive Travels Kararu Dive Voyages and Sascha Dambach) we had a dive briefing where one of the dive guides said they would do “anything” to make our trip memorable. I replied with a questioning “anything”? An hour later I was with Sascha, the captain, and crew explaining what a confluence point is and why I wanted to visit it. I had also brought 20 Canadian T-Shirts as a bribe and had printed off the permission letter in Indonesian hoping these items would make a visit to a confluence possible. Sascha Dambach who owns Kararu along with his wife Lisa (another Canadian) and Tony thought this would be a great idea if it didn’t interrupt the travel plans of the other guests. He said we would be going very close to 130° and the equator anyway so it was definitely a possibility.
I was excited but still a little questioning about whether or not I would get to this Point. We moored in a remote location near the island of Wayag for some great diving the day before we were to go to another island Wiega and some diving near a pearl farm. Unfortunately that day the motor broke and to make a long story short we couldn’t leave the area putting my chance at this visit in jeopardy. Then we lost the anchor in a storm and almost crashed into a small rock island. The crew worked exceptionally hard under difficult circumstances and saved the boat from the rock island. The tug boat from Sorong finally arrived on the third day to tow us back to Wiega for a day of diving prior to towing us back to Sorong. Sascha once again talked with both captains and got them the tugboat captain to tow us along 130° E and to stop shortly before the equator.
Finally on the morning of April 11, 2005 I got all gear ready, I loaded E 130.00.00 and S0.00.00 in as a geocache location so I could use the “goto” feature so we could get as close as possible in the water. As we got closer to the equator, the tugboat slowed down and the crew quickly dropped the Sea Safari III tender boat driven by Mr. Eli Purnawan from East Java into the water. Then Eli came around to pick up Sascha and I to go the rest of the short distance in the tender. The Indonesian crew thought I was a bit daft for wanting to go out in the middle of no where to take pictures but they were all helpful and energetic.
In the tender on the way to the point Sascha and I watched the GPS and gave directions to Eli in the direction we wanted to go. It was difficult to get to the exact location of the confluence due to currents and drift, and the GPS accuracy itself. In the end the closet closest we got to the confluence point was 38.4 meters at approximately 10:33 AM local time (One hour ahead of Bali time). At this point the GPS read 130.00.000E 00.00.019S with an elevation of 4 meters. I quickly took pictures of the GPS and then took 4 pictures of the 4 points S, W, N, E. And then switched back to the goto screen to show we were now 64 meters from the confluence point but still within 100 meters. I took some pictures of us on the boat, and of the tug towing the Sea Safari II. Unfortunately, I was using my underwater camera in its underwater housing and I couldn’t see the display on the camera. I guess because I took all of the pictures the camera had to stop for a couple of seconds and write the data to the card. So I missed some of the better pictures like Eli giving me strange quizzical looks while I jumper for joy, and of the tug and Sea Safari II about 300 meters away.
We quickly went back to the main boat so we could get the tugboat back towing all of the divers to the next dive site 90 KMs away in Weigo. I was excited and “high fived” the crew who still couldn’t figure out why I was so happy. This was definitely one of the highlights of the dive trip for me along with finding a Knobby Pink Pygmy Seahorse, a Tomezuma Shrimp, and an Alemeda Ghost Fish. Sascha was exceptional and even though we were broken down and almost smashed to bits he never lost his cool or forgot about getting me to the confluence point. I know Sascha will visit more of these points in his travels around Irian Jaya and the Indonesian archipelago, I think he has the bug.