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Scuba Diving in Perhentian, Malaysia
Dive Site: 'Viet' Wreck (Vietnamese wreck)
Location: Perhentian, Malaysia
Description: Wreck dive
Depth: 15 - 23 metres (50 - 75 feet)
Visibility: 15 metres (50 feet)
One of the few wrecks around these islands and rocks is the Vietnamese wreck, a short boat ride away from PIR. At the southern end of Perhentian Kecil the wreck lies in 15-23m of water, depending on tidal height and is subject to currents both on the surface and below. It rests through a thermocline at 18m, and thus the visibility can be much reduced in the colder water.
On our dive, a strong surface current existed to 15m and the dive guide had to retrieve the permanent shot line from a few metres underwater before tying off. Less current was found on the wreck, and this crossed it at right angles to the structure. After a backward roll off the boat, divers make their way to the shot line as best they can, staying on the line all the way to the wreck. On the dive we made the visibility to 15m was 20-30m, with bubbles glistening in the clear bright blue water. Deeper, the water temperature dropped from 28°C by at least 5°C and became cloudy. Later the dive guide explained it's likely to be currents stirring up the bottom sediment into the first few metres of water above the bottom.
Keeping a group together cannot be easy in a current, and the brief is that everyone must return to the permanent shot line. Luckily, the wreck appears to be upturned and rectangular in shape, and experienced divers will find it easy to swim around as its rough dimensions are 20m long by 7m wide. The current in our case was across the wreck, so we stayed on the lee side at all times.
Towards the bow end a swimthrough of sorts exists and can be explored with care. Within are usually dense shoals of large grunts and snapper. The wreck sides are covered in white barrel sponge types and the seabed is of fine sand holding many marine creatures, where interesting and colourful nudibranchs may be found traversing it. The stern area has pieces of wreckage lying off it, perhaps remains of rudder and deck works, and two cowlings are fixed at the stern which may be exhaust ports. It is advisable to have an idea where the shot is at all times, monitoring depth and bottom time frequently. The dive is square profile in nature, as the wreck stands a few metres proud of the seabed, and its shallowest point is at the bow. In our case the shot was towards the stern. If current permits a peek on to the top reveals a fantastic garden of lilac and purple soft teddy bear corals. These are quite densely packed and have obviously taken advantage of the currents sweeping it. Often shoals of larger fish such as trevally jacks will pass by.
As the wreck is small, if several dive boats are visiting (around 20 divers), it can become quite crowded. It is best to start up the line with plenty of air remaining as it's likely you'll become in a queuing system, perhaps even doing a safety stop at 8m! On our dive we had 16 divers on the line of which 8 were above us, all of which exuded bubbles horizontally! On a 10 litre aluminium tank my profile was to 23m, average 17m deep, 200 bar in, 90 bar out and 42 minutes dive time. I am pretty good on air so those who know they use more must take their supplies into account more closely.
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