Hello October: from Stormy to Clear

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Sleep, food consumption and overall lifestyle play a major factor in a freediver’s performance out in the open ocean. I made it to the dive meet-up point with a bit of apprehension as I had to rush from my 7.30-7.45am radio news duty to the agreed 8.30 arrival at Pengkalan Sibabau (boat drop-off point in Mentiri area) on Sunday morning. Mind you, I had a LONG day – 2 news shifts and 2 separate meet ups with my good friends on Saturday.  So I got home late and was in and out of sleep, conscious of how to manage the next day’s agenda.

About an hour out to sea by boat from the Muara coastline brought us to Oil Rig.  On Cekli’s boat were 4 of us freedivers (Sur, Faiz, Nana and I) and 3 scuba divers including The Man himself.   From a helicopter view, it’s apparent that the Brunei freedive community is growing.

Freedivers dominating the start of a Cekli October dive

The swells were manageable and visibility was next to crystal clear from the top, but the current was very telling as each of us were swimming at an angle to the bottom, often converging close to one another as we equalized down.  Oh well, guess you can’t have everything.  We adhered to our buddy system where Sur and I partnered each other while Faiz oversaw Nana’s freediving training.

I could get down to the top of oil rig at about 10 meters but the lack of sleep and exhaustion really had an effect on my performance.  My breath hold was very minimal and my mind was racing with all sorts of nonsense.  I really wanted to take as much in though, so I went up and down as many times as my mind and body would allow.

On the plus side, the scenery at Oil Rig was breathtaking. I had been to Oil Rig a number of times but this was another part of the wreck that was very much intriguing, with schools of fish swirling around in tornado-like formation.  Sur caught some great footage of the wonder of what was happening down there.

Courtesy of Sur and her TG5. A school of fish surrounding our every view.

Cekli then introduced us to Ribut Reef.  Ribut translates to “storm(y)” in Malay so we were perplexed at the thought of whether it’s named after a characteristic of the reef? Cekli assured us that the reef is beautiful, but it was a short survey of the visibility and all other sea factors in the area first before we decided to give Clear Reef – less than 10 minutes away – a go instead.

And oh my… did Clear Reef live up to its name.  Yes it’s only maximum 8-10m in depth but the view from the top definitely did justice to its name.  Had there been no current, we would’ve probably stayed longer.  Strong winds also started to come in to the area and raised the swells so we made our way to Pelong Rocks for some snorkeling and relaxation. For Sur, that meant really utilizing her Olympus TG5 camera in what seemed like a never-ending photo shoot session.

Ending the photo session with a wefie (Sur and I) at Pelong.

Despite some of the personal challenges I had, I always try to see the bright side of things.  We had some good company on the boat with all sorts of laugh and antics.  The highlight was when we got some free catch from fishermen who Cekli just happened to know and were docked at sea.  Something you don’t see every day.

Cekli Dive Crew and barracuda. And me making Sur smell the catch.









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