Monday, August 29, 2016

The Amazing Dive Sites Of Phuket Thailand Part 2. King Cruiser

The Amazing Dive Sites Of Phuket Thailand Part 2.  King Cruiser

The dive sites of Phuket Thailand has always been a big draw for scuba diving and for Phuket snorkel tours alike. What makes Thailand Phuket especially popular is the diving is easy with mild currents and shallow depths. Ok there are many other places with shallow diving but very few are as stunningly beautiful with such a varies sea life as when scuba diving Thailand.

When diving Phuket there are many choices. Do you dive the east side in the gulf of Thailand or the west side in the Andaman ocean?  What will follow will be a guide to let you know the best dive sites, the most popular dive sites, when is the best time to dive them to help you get the most out of the scuba diving Phuket has to offer. It does not matter if you have never tried it before or are an experienced diver diving in Thailand will will impress you.

For those people who love wreck diving there is a collection of wrecks now around the eastside of Racha Yai to the south but these have all been put here for the scuba divers. When diving in Phuket there is one wreck that far out does all the others. The wreck of the King Cruiser car ferry. There is just so much to see here. There are literally tens of thousands of fish covering the wreck. Phuket scuba diving as mentioned in other blogs is not difficult but this is the only real advanced dive and thats due to the depth.

The King Cruiser wreck is the wreck of the car ferry of the same name that sank off the West Coast of Southern Thailand on 4 May 1997. The ferry was operating between Phuket and the Phi Phi Islands in southern Thailand when she hit a submerged collection of rocky pinnacles at Anemone Reef 10 miles off Phi Phi Island. The impact split the reef in two and also tore a large hole in the hull limiting its seaworthiness to a further thousand meters. The vessel sank within 2.5 hours. 561 passengers were rescued included Thai and foreign tourists. They were safely taken to two police patrol boats and 4-5 fishing boats, which had raced to the rescue in response to an emergency call. Causes Of The Sinking The ferry was on a regular crossing in normal conditions and the Anemone Reef was charted and well known by captains in the area. This has led to various unproven theories as to why the accident occurred. Theories include insurance fraud due to the owners experiencing financial difficulties on the unprofitable route and also that local dive companies paid the captain to sink the vessel as, up until that time, there were no wreck dives around Phuket. The captain was found to be negligent. While the debris and rubbish has since been cleared by co-operative activities by locals, divers and aid organisations, you will still see the scattered rocks nearer to the shore. At depths of 4 meters, you will see coral reefs, extending from the shore, mostly consisting of brain corals and pore corals, streaching to a depth of about 12 meters.

Dive Site Information

The vessel is now a popular recreational dive site  for many divers who come scuba diving in Phuket and acts as an artificial reef to compliment the Anemone Reef. The vessel sits upright on a sandy bottom in around 30m of water rising to ~10m at the top of the wreck. The wreck remains in one piece although the foreword upper deck has collapsed. The simplest and safest point of entry is through the vessels stern where divers can explore the once active car decks.

Machinery still sits on the deck. Inside the car deck are a couple of vehicle tires and an engine trolley. Rows of passenger seats and low coffee tables fill the inner recesses. The collapsed foredeck is at 16 meters where there is a stack of plastic picnic tables and chairs often surrounded by a cloud of Snappers. The upper deck is split from front to back.

As well as the wreck there is lots of coral growth and an abundance of fish. sea fans and soft coral can be found growing along the sides and top of the wreck. Schools of big eye trevally are often spotted circling above the captain's cabin. Large schools of snapper hang around the entrances to the car deck and along the remains of the upper deck, plus lionfish can be seen dotted around the wreck. There are also occasional encounters with leopard sharks and blacktip reef sharks, great barracuda and turtles. If you are really lucky then there have been whale sharks spotted on this dive location.

The King Cruiser wreck dive trip can be booked in most Phuket dive centers. As mentioned before it is an advance dive so if you are an uncertified diver then it is out reach for the PADI Discover scuba diving in Phuket but there are other better locations for this.  But that does not mean its out of reach for other courses. This a great wreck to dive if you complete your open water course Phuket and want to directly go onto your advanced course. Its only the depth that makes it and advanced dove as the top is 16 - 17 meters but the deepest point is around 32 meters. For those wanting to learn to dive in Phuket this is a great follow on dive. The viz in high season can be awesome but during the months of July to September there can be days when its drops and it can be a bit bumpy during this time of year.