Nobody checked our logbooks on arrival. This task usually
fell to the dive guide on duty. In our case this was a guy named Samarand.
We arrived on Derawan in the middle of the afternoon, and Samarand wanted to
do our check dive straight away so we could get a fresh start the following
Our check dive went well. We drifted slowly along the reef, and Samarand
found numerous small and interesting stuff like stonefish, nudibranchs,
ghost pipe fish, crabs and so on.
Back on the boat we realized that the reason he hadn't checked our logbooks
was most likely that he was more or less blind, i.e. he was incredibly
long-sighted and didn't own a pair of glasses. But he knew where to find all
the things we wanted to see.
There were three dive guides, and they each took duty turns every three
weeks. Our first day of diving turned out to be Samarand's last, and the
next day we were handed over to Eddi, one of the best guides we had ever
Eddi was born and raised in Balikpapan, and like the other dive guides he
had signed a five-year contract with Derawan Dive Resort. During the course
of the contract period (usually at the end) DDR was obligated to train the
dive guide to become a PADI Divemaster.
Unfortunately for future guests Eddi's contract expired a few weeks later
but I'm sure he wouldn't have any problems finding a good job elsewhere in
the Indonesian archipelago.
Eddi's briefings were very thorough. He included neat
drawings on a whiteboard very accurately specifying where to find all the
cryptic critters that indeed turned out to be the hallmark of Derawan
Island. Naturally, he included maximum depth, 50 minutes or 50 bar.
Although standard dive length was 50 minutes (and with five dives a day that
seemed fair) we often stayed down for up till 70 minutes because we quite
simply couldn't tear ourselves away from this paradise below the surface.
When we went night diving, full tanks had been placed at the end of the
almost 200 metres long jetty, so we didn't have to drag them all the way
from the dive centre on the island.
The whole attitude towards service and safety was radically different here
than on Nabucco Island. We had barely taken our equipment off in the boats
before some one pushed a small bottle of mineral water into our hands.
Everybody asked us what we wanted to do and see, and we didn't feel at all
that we were any trouble as quite often was the case on Nabucco. The crew
was nice and friendly and attentive and quick to help out.
Most dives took place 10-15 minutes from the dive centre. They had two oxy
boxes but since we stayed so close to the island, they were only placed
onboard on longer trips for instance to the other side of the island or to
the islands of Sangalaki and Kakaban. And we were assured that everybody
knew how they worked and indeed were trained in medical first aid.