Mike B (DO - Diving Officer)
The title is one of my favourite sayings which I use as a reminder every time I go diving. It is appropriate to be reminded of this phrase as we jump start the dive season because you might be a bit rusty and your gear hasn’t seen day-light for months. If you do not spend time preparing for your dives, visualization of the dives and preparing your equipment, there’s more chance something can go wrong.
The Club Committee has asked me, the Diving Officer, to pen some reminders which I hope you will find useful. So here is a list of things I have seen, experienced or heard about so far in 2020:
Hong Kong’s temperate waters make for variable conditions year round. The cooler waters in the winter months often give higher visibility but require significantly more thermal protection than usual for Asian diving. The waters warm up gradually throughout Spring, with May and June offering the best diving conditions of the year. Summer brings balmy temperatures on deck and sunny surface intervals. With warmer waters, this is the most popular time of year for diving and the club heads out almost every weekend to keep up with the demand. Visibility can drop a little during this period but there’s still lots to see and as we head into Autumn the visibility usually starts to improve again.
We choose our sites carefully, dependent on the prevailing weather conditions and the type of boat we’ve commandeered for the day plus any training requirements on the agenda. The sites around Hong Kong do not offer the deepest of diving and typically the majority of things to see are found above 18m, often shallower. In Sai Kung, the bays and islands are home to some of the most resilient hard corals in the world and the South side islands have some beautiful soft corals that can be admired when conditions allow. A club favourite are the lesser dived waters around Tai Po, which have the best of both worlds with sites such as Breaker Reef and Tung Ping Chau. Other sites around Hong Kong mirror the rocky terrain that can be seen above sea level and can keep you entertained for hours searching the crevices between rocks for the critters that call them home.
Other local marine fauna include reef fish such as colourful butterflyfish, boxfish, filefish, wrasses, cornetfish, sergeants, morays, gobies, bennies and damselfish in abundance plus, of course, anemone fish with a special Hong Kong attitude. There are also several species of rays that can be spotted, the largest and most common being the Ribbon tail stingray which are found around areas with sand y bottoms. Larger fish such as barracuda and grouper can also be seen if you happen to find yourself in the right spot at the right time. For macro enthusiasts, Hong Kong has a thriving community of nudibranchs and crustaceans that can be found on just about every dive. And last but not least, it’s not unusual to spot octopuses, squid and cuttlefish with the highlight here being the beautiful but deadly blue ringed octopus.
So to sum up Hong Kong diving, while it may not have the pristine reefs like some other spots in Asia, our temperate waters are full of life and do offer something for everyone if you know where to look for it. Come join us and we’ll show you...
When the lure of clear blue waters gets too much for us, the club will get together and venture out to oceans new. This is always a great experience for everyone who joins and the tales from past trips create ongoing entertainment for those that join the club nights at Aberdeen Boat Club each Thursday and that’s before we even mention the Photo Competition. Past expeditions have included visits to Christmas Island, Malapascua, Raja Ampat, Tubbataha and beyond. Each trip is organised in advance and is a great way to get to know your fellow members better whilst ticking off some of those diving bucket list locations! For more information, just check out our Gallery as the photos speak for themselves!
We have access to up to 3 fast boats from Sam Mun Tsai. These vary in size and passenger capacity, but typically take 6-8 depending on the boat. They have large outboard motors and can do 20 knots plus in good weather. Tanks can be hired through Mr Tsui. We load tanks and gear at the fishing village/jetty at Sam Mun Tsai and head to the floating fish farms and restaurants to change. Toilets and changing is available on the floating restaurant. There are no toilets on the boat and there is little shade/shelter in the cold. These are diver only boats. You need protection for the weather and need to consider the limited facilities. After a speed through the police check at To Lo harbor we can access the sunken fishing boats and fish hides. There is also access to the many islands in the bay, including some of the best preserved coral in Hong Kong. The diving is weather dependent, but there is a wide variety of diving with mixed visibility. It is also possible to take a look at the gas terminal, if it is really windy. Lunch can be ordered on return. Boats depart from Sam Mun Tsai village (After the Beverly Hills development).
DIVING ADVENTURE JUNK
These are traditional junks around 15-20 metres depending on the boat on the day. The boats can take 24-30 divers at a squeeze. They are set up with most dive gear and tanks onboard, which saves some lifting. They have an open back area with seats and tanks set up around the sides and back. Some boats also have central seating with tanks also. There are toilets and a sun deck. The boats cover Clearwater Bay and around the corner past the Dolos and as far out as Nine Pins on a good day. Again they are slower boats chugging at a stately 5-7 knots and are not the best sea boats. Not as comfortable for passengers, but a small number is fine. Hot water is available on request. Departs from Sai Kung public pier.
The same party junks seen all around Hong Kong. We can cater for up to 30 divers/passengers depending on the boat. These are traditional teak junks with a large covered deck leading to a ladder and platform on the stern. Up at the bow there is some seating and room for tanks, gear is stowed in front of the bridge. There is a sun-deck upstairs. Changing and toilets below together with hot water for food/drinks. The boats are slower moving at 5-7 knots and not the best sea boats. We generally head towards Waglan, Po Toi, Beaufort and Cape D’Aguilar. The boat has a sound system and is ideal for both divers and passengers who fancy a day out on the water. Departs from the ABC.
“The smell of fish” in Swahili – The boat is a twin diesel offshore game fishing boat. It has a flying bridge and wheel on the upper deck, with seating for 6. Downstairs is a 3.5 x3.5 Metre open deck with a small platform and ladder. Inside is a long sofa, a ton of fishing gear and steps leading to a small galley area and toilet/changing in the cabin down below. The boat is around 12.5 metres in length and can hit speeds of 25 knots in good weather. Space on the boat is limited to 8-10 divers depending on the day and requires some organization making room for gear as well as divers in and out. Depending on the weather we can travel a fair distance on the boat which is ideal for some of the more remote sites in Hong Kong. We have made Victor Rock, one foot rock and Breaker reef in the past. We may get to the Rigs sometime also. Departs from the ABC.
LITTLE PALM BEACH
This is the boat ramp at the sailing school at the end of Hang Hau Wing Lung Road. From the round about at Silverstrand, head along Clearwater Bay Road. It is the third left. Pass the shops and pedestrian crossing, up the hill past Pik Sha Road and another 500 metres take the left turn and follow it all the way to the sailing club. Parking can be busy. There is a small round about at the bottom than can take 6 cars. Then there are spaces for maybe another 5 at the road side. On a busy day you need to be early. The ramp is offset east in the bay. There are rocks in the shallows which run to the end of the headland on the east side. There can be some variety, even in a few metres of water. This continues all the way around to the next bay. The bay has small rocks in the shallows which gives way to some sand at around 2-3 metres. It takes a while to find any depth and the sand gives way to rocks and boulders further out, eventually course sand at about 5-6 metres deep. To the west there are rocks and boulders extending from the headland on the opposite bay. Generally used for training, it can throw up some surprises. There are sailing boats using the ramp and heading to and from the club, so you need to be aware of them zooming along and use a DSMB.
There isn’t much of the ramp left now, but there is a sheltered bay down towards the riding school. The parking can be difficult on the side of the road, with maybe 6-8 cars maximum. Head along Clearwater Bay Road, then take a left at the roundabout at the end and left again on Lung Ha Wan Road. If you turn around at the riding school, you are pointing the right way to park on the road. There is a stony beach and the remains of the ramp at Lobster Bay. To the west side of the bay are rock that lead north and onto several cages/hides for fish and coral. There is an isolated rock this way which attracts fish. Across the middle of the bay is rough sand and the odd boulder and pieces of coral. To the east are more rocks and some areas which attract fish. To the north is a lot of course sand and a longer swim to get to 14 metres. The site is relatively shallow and is normally 8-10 metres. You may find a sea horse, different species of fish, an odd piece of ammunition and the final remains of a Mercedes that was dumped by smugglers some years ago.