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» Newsletter » Letters from the past » Singapore Diving 1993
........Thought I would keep you up to date on what's been happening over here and what (little) diving I have managed to accomplish so far, which is few and far between. By now all of you will know that I moved in early April over here to Singapore to take up a position with Holiday Inn Park View. If anyone is looking for my address, then Chris Brown or Jeff Mathews will be able to pass it on to you, if you contact them at Grand Mirage Hotel for Jeff or at Permuteran for Chris. Both Margareth and I have settled into our respective jobs quite well. Marg is now working at the Australian Consulate in the Visa Section and having to get used to getting up at a normal hour (seven), instead of the leisurely approach she has been lucky to have over the last couple of years! I certainly miss the relaxing days of Bali and my afternoons are no longer taken up with Squash, Tennis, Swimming or Diving that I was regularly seen heading to, and being commented on, by my fellow Chef's in Bali!

On the local diving scene, you can forget it! I went once out to one of the small Islands out past the harbour here and had what was classed as a good dive, as the visibility was good that day. Luckily I knew my equipment by then and was able to put my fins on and adjust my BCD by feel! Actually it wasn't quite that bad. I was able to just make out the shape of my fins by looking hard, - and they were not quite two meters away! The coral we were diving on? Well, forget about colours, for all I remember is a monochrome of grayness about the whole place with a few small fish darting in and out. Anyway, it was good to be able to get out and see it once and it did get my gear wet and out of storage, so as the saying goes, - count your blessings! Most of the trips here for diving are taken over the weekend, and the sport is becoming quite popular here with a lot of diving clubs operating. I joined the Singapore Club Aquanaut when I arrived here, and head in every second Tuesday of the month for their Club night where quite a good crowd gathers for a bit of a social. They put on quite a few diving trips to Malaysia and Thailand but most leave on the Friday night and get back on Sunday, which is great for people with "normal" jobs, but not so great for these six day a weekers! Oh well, that's the Hotel trade for you. The best we can do is to save up a few days and then two or three times a year do a slightly bigger trip of three or four days. Worth looking forward to!

The other serious side of the diving here is with the National University, the Marine Conservation part of it. One of the good things of Singapore is the Associations and Clubs you can join, and we have taken full advantage of this with joining the Nature Society, the Friends of the Museum and various Australian and New Zealand Societies among others. The Marine Conservation Department, in conjunction with the Nature Society, is coordinating a "Save the Coral" scheme which called for volunteers and so I jumped in! There are several Islands near the Oil refining facilities off shore from Singapore which will be reclaimed in two or three years time. So every weekend there are various groups of volunteers who go out and "pick" the Coral for transporting in water tubs to a new location at Sentosa, where a beach has been made and a rock barrier placed to stop erosion. The work is divided amongst the various dive clubs and other associations, so most people only go out every five or six weeks during their clubs turn. The work is expected to take about two years to complete, and about a 70% survival rate is also expected. The Corals we move are only hard corals with a good base on them, and due to the location where they are going Fan Corals are not moved as there is not enough flow of water for these Fans to get all the nutrients they need to survive.

The work is actually quite hard as some of the pieces of Coral weigh "bloody heavy", and the only way to get them to the surface is to roll onto your back with the Coral on your chest, then inflate your BCD and kick like hell and hope you are not too far away from the boat! Once there you hope the people on the boat have good hands otherwise you see your Coral slowly disappearing back under the waves, never to be seen again in the murk that is kicked up on it's landing. On moving a piece of the Coral, such a cloud of silt is sent up, that you cannot then see what is underneath it, or even if it is actually as a good piece as you first thought! The next piece is then taken from a different area. The dives are only to ten or fifteen feet, but even going up and down these shallow depths in repetitive dives takes it out of you, or maybe I'm just getting old! Once at Sentosa the conditions are even worse. The water is clear enough for the first two or three feet, but the Corals have to be planted firmly, so this means moving a couple of rocks to create a good depression and the firmly placing the Coral in so the tides and waves will not create any movement in them. The only problem is, once you even think about moving a piece of rock, the silt flies up and visibility is cut to 3 inches! Quite literally, I had a bright red basket down there that I was holding against my mask and I could hardly see it, and definitely could not make out it's shape! Very frustrating and hard work, but definitely good training for diving blind! I hope our hard work pays off and in the years to come the Corals regenerate and give future Singaporiens and the fish life a place where they can take full advantage of Mother Nature, (with a little help of it's friends!) The weekend I went out we ended up waiting for over an hour as the truck with the tanks had broken down, then we couldn't get back from Sentosa on time as the boat also broke down for another hour, - same owner and driver by the way. What should have been about a six hour day turned into a long eight hours. I miss the next dive in August as I will be in Phuket for the weekend (business of course!), but will see if the back-up improves by the time I do my next dives in September and December.

Well my friends, that is about all concerning the diving scene here and what has been our part in it, and so with that I will sign off and wish you all the best in your own diving and comradeships over there in the sunny Isle of Bali....

With all my very best

Willi