After an evening flight of 1,5 hour, which was just enough for a light meal, we arrived in Male airport. After customs the Emperor liaison was waiting for us and arranged our transport to the place the Voyager was moored. Once out of the taxi, a small bathtub sized boat was waiting to pick us up and bring us to the floating hotel, the Voyager. Later I learned this boat was the Voyagers ‘Dinghy’, a small boat to travel between shore and the boat, to get people and food. Once on the Voyager we appeared to be the last guests arriving, so they kindly asked me to quickly set-up my diving kit on the ‘Dhoni’, which traditionally a fishing boat, but nowadays al lot of them are build for divers. You set up your gear once and they fill the bottle over and over again between dives, nice and easy.
After setting up the kit we hit the bed in our cabin. Our bed being 1,5m high a nice little closet for clothes and a bathroom of two square meters including toilet, washing table and shower. The Voyager is not a new boat, but is refurbished a couple of years ago and is a very nice boat with an even nicer crew! Ten divers and four dive guides, do I need to say more? Arif, Patrick, Eva and Stina all did a marvelous job! Although the diving is quite different than the Rea Sea local boat dives I had been doing over the last couple of years, I enjoyed every second of it! The aquatic life is so diverse! Hunting reef sharks, spotted eagle rays passing by, clown triggerfish, Indian sweetlips, an evening dive with at least hundred nurse sharks a dozen of Jenkins rays. Later on when we went to visit a manta cleaning station it was really incredible, one manta after another passing to be cleaned und the supervision of a large groups of Indian sweetlips, it was f*cking awesome. At that point I thought ok now we have had the climax of this trip, boy was I wrong!!!
In the evening moored in a bay the crew put on the big back lights of the boat attracting plankton, the plankton attracting manta’s there were four or five of them constantly rolling in the light and eating, if that was not crazy enough we went down with our scuba gear on and went to lie behind them, lighted our torches and watched the show from very nearby for 70 minutes. Manta’s really rock!! They were just like stealth bombers, flying really close over our heads.
Besides the dives, also the food on the boat was very much ok! Rice, pasta, pizza, meat, vegetables, fruits, cakes, … good coffee and eggs for breakfast.
On top of that our friends, I think I can say friends by now, Bernie and Stina joined us on this trip. Stina was guiding me, and took some weight off me again, and Bernie to dive along and have some beers.
I honestly say the trip on the Voyager was BRILLIANT!