Just got back to Singapore today from Trang via Hat Yai (Thailand).
Was on the LOB from 24 - 26 Dec 04. We had 9 divers from Malaysia and 2 from Singapore, supported by the Dive shop owner (an Instructor) and a crew of about 10.
I was in Trang (South of Karbi) doing my last dive of the 3D/2N LOB. We were at Koh Ha at about 12noon on 26 Dec, about 2 hrs from mainland/
During the last dive, there were unusually strong current, 4++ knots easily. The type that could sweep your mask and mouth piece off. I was holding on to the reef with a reef hook at 1st. It was about 1/2 way into the coral. The current onto me so strong that the coral broke !
Then had to hold on to the rocks with 2 hands...... and hang on tight. Much like the handle bar of a roller coaster....
Subsquently, the current change directions and repeated it's wrath. Added a very very cold thermocline and sends the shivers to my spine at 25m. The fishes were fighting the currents for dear lives, with one school which was ahead of me, passing by me later.....still trying to swim .... Was holding onto the rocks for dear life, arm was feeling tired but still cling on.
Looked around and saw most of my dive mates did the same. Was worried for the 2 newbies in the group but they were ok and was taken care of by their more experienced buddies nearby....
Already hit deco mode by then, did a longer than usual safety stop at 10m were I still can anchor to the reefs for support if any surge comes my way... For some miricle reason, I still have enough air
We were having lunch while enroute to Emerad Cave for some sun & sand, when the news broke at about 1.10pm(?) about the earthquake in Indonesia. Later reports stated that there were 40 person traped or dead in the cave. These are likely to be day tripper, snoklers.
While we were near the coast, we were hovering nearby but not allowed to dock. The captain order everyone to don our life vest . This wait lasted about 3 hours and seems like eternanity. Some when to catch a nap, other pack their gears, and a few jokers like me trying to lighten the mood with a few stupid joke.
We were finally given the green light to dock at Pak Meng Pier. The path leading into the dock were littered with what looked like a few sunked fishing and long tail boats, smashed wooden jetties. At the dock, there was a contingent of ambulance, police cars, priest, hearse and people waiting. They were are looking at us anxiously. But look reliefed when they heard from our crew that we were ok.
A senior policeman told us that Karbi, Phuket, Ko Lanta and Phi phi were "gone". The group made plans to return to Hat Yai immediately, away from the danger zone
As we are out in deep waters, did not meet the tidal waves are seen on TV (later). It was only when we reached Hat Yai at about 1am that we got to see the tv reports that it was a 9 on the Ritcher scale !!!
I thank God for being alive today. If you can, please contact your local Red Cross Chapter or society to support their relief efforts to the affected areas.