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· The Artist formerly known as 'Kirky'
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OK - the annual long haul jaunt took us to Kuredu island in the maldives. Details of the island can be found at www.kuredu.com. Flights were with Emirates from manchester to Dubai, Dubai to male and then the seaplane from male to Kuredu. Firstly - if you go to Kuredu you MUST use the seaplane transfer (45 mins) or else get saddled with a 5 hour boat transfer (not what you want after a long flight !!)

Emirates are very civilised - they allow an extra 10kg of baggage for divers free of charge and they dont even check you are a diver !!!

The dive outfit on Kuredu are ProDivers (www.prodivers.com) - very professional, safety conscious etc and dont mind if buddy pairs do their own thing. They are a big outfit and as such the personal touch is lacking, they try but are just too busy. They offer up to 6 dives a day (early morning, mid morning, afternoon, sunset, night and day trips) Dive prices are OK but watch out for the additional $10 per boat trip in addition to the dive fees. Kit is transferred to and from the boats (dhonis) via a team of `boys`

Generally, air temps were about 35 degrees and water temps @ 20m about 28 degrees - glad I forgot to bring the drysuit !!. Vis averaged about 15m due to the currents. Finally, nitrox was free and in 12l tanks as opposed to air in 10l tanks - no contest.

So - to the dives:

Dive 1 - checkout dive on the house reef, this is obligatory so the instructors can check you out. Max depth was 22m, saw stonefish, lionfish, octopus, Napolean wrasse and loads of fish life. The reef (indeed all reefs) were in poor nick, not a lot of soft corals and some hard corals - they still dont seem to be recovering from the 1998 el nino. Fish lif is amazing though. They have also sunk a boat on the house reef which is starting to become overgrown and resided by loads of lionfish and a huge moray.

When we arrived on Kuredu there was a full moon and as such the currents were ripping - this ruled out a lot of dive sites for a few days.

Dive 2 - Drift dive, max depth 21m, loads of fish life

Dive 3 - `Zafari` - mega drift dive watching the world fizz past - did not enjoy due to sinus probs, overexertion against the current and camera decided to shut down

Dive 4 - `Kalifushivaru corner` - mega drift dive - aborted after 3 mins due to inability to equalise - boy was I pissed !!!.My sinus problems that I had in the UK prior to departure had not been resolved.

Off to the doctor for some antibiotics and stopped diving for 4 days !!!

Dive 5 - House reef - test dive to check sinuses - woohoo - no probs !!. Again max depth 22m, took the opportunity to get some pics

Dive 6 - `The Peak` - slow drift dive to 23m. Saw some morays, boxfish and loads of other fish but in reality the reef was boring - that was until we were doing our safety stops at 5m when a huge manta ray circled us once and disappeared into the gloom - this now became the best dive ever, particularly as the Manta season had passed

Dive 7 - bimble on the housereef

Dive 8 - `The caves` - large caverns/undercut reefs. Saw huge napoleons, turtles, tiny puffer fish and great scenic dive.

Dive 9 - Night dive on the house reef. Great !!! You descend at dusk and it goes dark while you are down. Wonderful relaxing dive with Napoleons, marays and the awakening of some soft corals. The wreck was teaming with lionfish

Dive 10 - bimble on housereef (by the way, these house reef bimbles allowed me to have a ly in - well it was all inclusive and I had to get my moneys worth!!)

Dive 11 - `Kuredu express` - reputedly the best drift dive around - err.....there was no current!!! So off we bimble, turn a corner and find a huge moray, napoleon, Grouper and Stingray scrapping over something. It all happened so fast that I didnt know what to take a pic of first - great fun, max depth 27m

Dive 12 - bimble on housereef

Dive 13 - Kuredu express again, this time with a mini current. Loads of life including a leaf fish. Max depth 21m (funny how you learn to get shallower so the dive lasts longer !!)

Dive 14 - Kalifushi - bimble to 20m, average dive with poor reef and lots of fish life.

Dive 15 - night dive on house reef - again just for the hell of it.

At this point the diving ceased due to external ear infection - very common in diving in the Maldives, despite the use of olive oil and flushing out ears with bottled water after every dive.

Overall a great trip but the diving was a bit disappointing (yea - I know this sounds a bit daft but I wanted to see a lot more.) Not many sharks were seen by most people and I think the currents/moon situation caused a bit of disturbance. All the reefs were patchy - indeed, in my opinion worse than my previous visit to this island

Having said that, I got loads of pics and will upload some to YD and my homepage.

If anyone wants any info, contact me

Dive safe
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