Living the Life of a Divemaster Trainee in Khao Lak Thailand: Dive Guiding The Boonsung Wreck From A Long-Tail Boat

  • Updated: November 15, 2019
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

November 2019

Since arriving in Thailand and starting my divemaster internship all of my dives have been out in the Similan Islands. While that is the local diving hot spot (and it is quite spectacular!) there are a few other dive spots around and thanks to a client booking today I had the opportunity to shadow my instructor Peter while he guided the Boonsung Wreck!

The Boonsung Wreck is an old tin mining vessel that sank in 1985 about 5km offshore. In 2004 when the tsunami hit it was broken into four main pieces leaving a rather extensive wreck site to explore.

It sits in about 45 to 60 ft of water and it's known as a fish soup dive thanks to somewhat limited visibility and the high density of fish. And since the wreck is a relatively short ride from the shore it is often done via long-tail which are traditional southeast asia watercraft that use car motors for propulsion.

I'd spent the last few days bed bound after getting slammed by some local bug. I'd been warned that it's not uncommon to get sick when you travel to someplace new for an extended period and sure enough I went from bounding around full speed to bedridden in a few days. Three days and one clinic visit + blood test later I was once again amongst the living -ish and ready to get back to diving!

(Also the whole clinic visit / blood test / medication experience out here was so amazingly simple compared to the bloody US. But don't get me started about that...)

Jumping back into the swing of things Peter and I had the our usual frantic morning seeing the speedboat off to the Similans and then it was off to a local hotel to pick up the guests.

Finding the departure beach turned out to be a bit of a challenge since it involved multiple unmarked turns that soon became double track dirt roads with the occasional iffy mud pit. Eventually with some directional assistance from a local we pulled into a small clearing just large enough to fit a few vehicles and started to unload the gear onto the beach.

The longtail was fairly limited in what it had to offer so we were doing this old school. We carried everything out to the beach, signaled the boat which came forward to the shallows, then we had to wade up to our mid thighs lugging the gear along and handing it up to the captain.

With 4 divers, plus the captain, plus one of the thai staff from the shop things were comfortable but there wasn't a lot of extra room. We had to bring along all 8 tanks to cover the two dives since the boat didn't have a compressor.

We arrived at the wreck site and found a few other boats of various sizes already tied up and in various stages of their dive activities. Our captain just pulled up along another longtail and tied to them.

We kitted up, did backwards roll entries off the boat (which I always find more entertaining than the traditional giant stride), swam over to the buoy line, and made our way down.

So how was the dive itself? Sadly since I was working I'm not allowed to carry a camera since it could distract from properly caring for the clients. So no pictures from this one I'm afraid.

Visibility was on the poorer side based on videos of the site I've seen on Youtube and would best be described as mucky. In fact it was more on par with what I'd expect from an average California beach diving day meaning I couldn't see enough to really get a sense of the wreck.

What I could see was just covered in fish and I see where the fish soup dive term comes from.  I don't think I've ever seen that many puffer fish on a single dive and we also saw giant cuttlefish, several awesome nudibranchs, countless moray eels and rays, and giant schools of medium sized fish.

We had two dives with about an hour and a half surface interval in between that was needed due to the depth of the wreck. Since the wreck is down below 45 ft there really isn't anything to see in the shallower water so you spend all your time down where you need to keep an eye on your NDLs.

When we came up from our second dive the weather had changed pretty significantly and we could see we were about to get hit.

We quickly packed up and the captain made a beeline for shore. But sure enough...

We spent the last 10 minutes of the trip getting splattered by varying amounts of rain which is something I've been getting rather accustomed to in my time here. And getting wet wasn't that big of a deal since once we were back on the beach we just had to wade into the water anyway to unload all the gear.

We dropped off the guests and returned to the shop to find a storm of activity due to a large group that had arrived and were heading out to the Similan Quest the following day. I was told I would be tagging along and spending another 4 days or so diving out in the Similans.

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