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January 27th 2014

27 Jan 2014 ="post-tag" > Written by  ="post-tag" >

Getting wrecked
htms-sattakutAs a comedienne once asked Debbie McGee, “What first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?” I shall ask you a similarly loaded question; what attracts you to dive in oceans that are abound with beautiful, eerie and historical shipwrecks? Did you say wreck diving? Thought so. Then allow me to tell you all about the more prevalent wrecks that litter the sea bed around Koh Tao. Today it’s the most common one that we dive, the HTMS Sattakut (HTMS- His Majesty's Thai Ship). It’s an ex-US Navy landing craft infantry vessel that was donated to Koh Tao by the Thai Navy in 2011. The Sattakut was involved in a number of battles in World War 2; the battles of Okinawa and Iowa Jima, and the liberation of Peleliu/Palau. After WW2 it was purchased by the Thai Navy, where it lived out its service as a patrol boat before being committed to its current resting place. As well as being its own dedicated dive site, it also happens to be the closet dive site to Big Blue diving, positioned just 10 metres to the North of Hin Pee Wee. It lies on the sea bed with the bow facing North on a sloping sandy bottom. The bottom of the bow is at 27-ish metres, the top of the bow is at 20-ish metres. The stern sits at 31-ish metres on the sea bed, and 27-ish metres at the top. The vessel is 48 metres long (no-ish this time). To visit the Sattakut you’ll need to undertake your advanced course- easily done if you allow yourself another couple of days on Koh Tao after completing your 3-day open water course. If you’re already an advanced fun diver you will be good to go.
The Sattakut is about as safe a wreck as a wreck can be; no fishing is allowed on it, so it’s not littered with fishing nets, all the furniture, the engine, and electrical cables have been removed from the inside, and the current is not usually very strong around it. Having been sitting on the sea bed for almost 3 years, marine life is abundant all over it, and providing the thermocline is not too bad there is lots of stuff to see as you swim around the outside of it. I say outside because even if you have your wreck speciality, wreck penetration is not something recreational divers should be doing. The PADI and SSI wreck specialities are not designed to teach you what you need to know about going inside a wreck. To do that, you need to be a tech diver and undertake the advanced wreck course. I’m not going to drone on about how dangerous wreck penetration is, but it is, so there… So as long as you don’t touch, and don’t even think about penetrating, you can swim around it to your heart’s content, or at least until your NDLs or air require you to ascend. It’s an amazing thing to see this object that we’re so familiar with on the surface, just lying there slowly being swallowed by the ocean, with hobo fish using it as a drop-in shelter. It’s the reason I love diving; I get to see a bit of history, with marine life thrown in for free. It’s also common knowledge that whalesharks are amateur naval historians, and will occasionally drop in for a peek of their own.
If you want to come to Big Blue to dive the Sattakut, look on the rest of the website and make a booking for a course or to fun dive- you won’t be disappointed.

Now this is probably going to sound pretty random, but I know somewhere that sells amazingly tasty samosa on Koh Tao. Granted, it's not your traditional Thai fare, but they are damn good nonetheless. The place is all over Sairee- it's a guy that wanders round with a tray reminiscent of the ice cream seller in cinemas of old. They are home made, when and where, I haven't asked- presumably at his house. Either way, you'll see him in the daytime wandering up and down the beach until the tray is empty. Don't worry though, I know you're all dying to try one now, and instead of chasing around the yellow brick road searching for him, you can easily find him outside the Big Blue office at 12pm on most days. He's always got a smile, and a straw hat- he's a bit of a dude.. probably enjoys bowling and plays jazz music while baking them. They sell for the grand price of 20 baht. If you think that's expensive, you are clearly not worthy to try one.


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