I'm once again back from hollidays! My girlfrend and I went to Helengeli, that's a small island on the Maldives in the North-Male atoll.
To give you a small impression of the island... this is how Helengeli looks from above:
Helengeli really is a nice place to stay. It's a wonderfull marvel of a classical Maldivian island with a lot of trees and bushes and wonderfull clear beach with white sand and blue water.
This is a small plan of the Helengeli island itself:
My brother already visited the island some years ago and he told me that it's a nice place for diving! Staying in the hotel managed by Manta Reisen, we visited the Ocean Pro Dive Center there and went diving for 12 days.
The dive center manager is called Uwe. He's a very experienced diver who knows the place and the sea very well and he was able to show us really nice places!
I should not forget to mention Line, Manja and Gio, all dive guides of the Ocean Pro dive center, who organized the dive excursions besides Uwe. Line was with us when we all saw our first waleshark... ... but let's start at the beginning.
When we arrived we were quite tilt. Neighter Kathrin nor I could really sleep in the plane and so we were up for 30 hours or so. First thing we did was to check in everywhere and then drop dead to bed.
The next day and the following two days we did some refresher dives where we did not see a lot of stuff. I have to mention that I had a new dive computer with me, an UWATEC Gallileo, which i wanted to test during the hollidays. It lit up like a christmas tree under water... ;)
Luckily I had my old dive computer with me as well and so I was able to dive as always using my old one while exploring the new and shiny one which shows so much more information under water that you're simply confused at first... :D
Anyway, after some dives I had found out that I needed to activate Profile Dependend Intermediate Stops but change the air integration to accept 30 bar as reserve for the Remaining Bottom Time calculation instad of calculating with a 80 bar reserve, which I anyway don't have and don't want. Having changed that, it suddenly was quite a lot of fun to have beats per minutes of your own heart, remaining bottom time approximation, microbubble protection and profile dependant intermediate stops. It also plots very nice profile graphs overlayed with bpm or temperature at which you can look live under water. It would even support multi-gas features like adaptive microbubble predictive multi-gas algorithms but that's nothing I can use atm. since you need to have multiple tanks with different gases for that.
Here's a small map of the dive spots around Helengeli (the upper right part):
Anyway... having mastered the new computer and having made some easy dives we started off for Bodu Thila, a dive place near Helengeli where some current has to be expected. Now, to be true... it was a lot more than some current and having never experienced that much current under water, using up my air in exorbitant rate, I aborted the dive and Kathrin and I came up after 19min, which probably is our shortest dive ever... :)
Needless to say that my girlfriend performed more than great and was not half as stressed as I was... hide Kathrin is starting to become a really experienced diver!
After that crazy dive at Bodu Thila, everything started to normalize. And from then on we had wonderful dives! Check out these nice corals:
Sometime in the first week we finally visited Farytale. That's a place where Mantas can be found often in this time of the year. And we were lucky! More than 6 animals came by in the time we digged us in on the ground and we had wonderful 74 minutes under water!
I made as many pictures as possible... ... at first we only saw them from afar...
Then more near...
But then the next ones flew directly over our heads...
And you won't belive it, there came more and more of the huge animals...
And they did not shy in any form...
But behaved, as if they own the sky, the land and the sea...
... and nothing on earth could ever change that!
It was great! Can't say more... simply great, great, great... ;)
When we visited the place a second time, two days later, we did not find the mantas again. On the other hand we swam into a pack of White Tip Sharks hunting on the reeftop we were drifting over. The pack consisted of 6 very active hunting White Tip Sharks, which swam around us for more than a minute!
Some days later we visited the Trix Caves. Another famous dive spot, where big open caves are carved into the 40m deep dropoff at the outer reef. Here's a picture where I look from the Trix Caves out into the blue, where we saw a Waleshark some minutes after I made this picture!
Directly out of the blue you see in the above picture a gigant 7-8m long waleshark appeared, swam parallel to us for some seconds and then disappeared again into the blue again! You can't belive how shocked we all were, suddenly seeing such a huge monster (it looks very shark-like!) appear out of the blue!
Our guide - it was Line on this day - did not yet have seen a waleshark near Helengeli eigther and was very happy when it suddenly happed! This is how she looked afterwards... do you see how exhilarated she was? ;) We all looked similar...
And I should not forget to mention that we saw two Spotted Eagle ray immediately after the waleshark... we could not belive our luck!
Kathrin had loaned a lamp in the dive center and had a lot of fun exploring the Trix Caves with it! There are so many colors down there, if you only have light to show them! It's like Alice's wonderland... you just have to open it up with a light-thrower... ;)
Kathrin also found her first slug by herself! And I even was able to make a picture of the second one she found! It's a Wart Slug becoming up to 7cm in size!
Some days later we finally were able to visit Bodu Thila a second time! This time the current was very easy and we saw several white tip sharks near the Thila...
On the same dive we also saw a Yellow Spotted Burrfish, which looks very strange and nearly alien!
On the third to last day we did another dive at Bodu Thila. This time we had a bit more current, but it was still easy going. No comparision to the first dive we did there. This time we found some more sharks...
All in all it were wonderful hollidays and we had a lot of fun! We saw nearly everything we wanted to see and some of it even in abundance!
The new dive computer also performed very well and if it would not be so expensive (it costs EUR2000 with all sensors) I probably would buy one for myself. Let's see if I can simply loan it, next time I go diving...
Let's hope it does not take long until we find the time for the next dive hollidays!