Diving Father Islands and Kimbe Bay....pretty impressive!

Published: July 12th 2012
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"Diving is only as good as your ten best diving pics"...coming back on this...

So where do you start writing such a blog....the words won't do it, and the pictures.....just half of it...so let's jump in the water...

Before joining the MV Febrina I spent my two last days diving out of the Walindi resort. First day two pretty average dives. It was like, ok, is this it? I hope not. Second day, two more dives and PNG started to honor the reputation it deserves!

The next step was joining the MV Febrina for four days and a half of diving. In total, I did 21 pretty cool dives. How do you rate a liveaboard (and this is my 12th)? It depends on few important things. First, the diving...I know, this is pretty obvious...second, the crowd, third the weather...very related to the diving...fourth, the boat, because we all love a bit of comfort...and finally the crew...and obviously, the food!

Let me start by the crowd! Because fishes do not speak! The Febrina can take 12 divers, with a crew of 9....and we were a grand total of 4! This is the best way you can enjoy a "yacht" experience because it guarantees space for everybody...and I could have my own cabin too! But at the same time....3 other people may be a dangerous thing...less people means if the mix doesn't work, it could be a less than fun experience.

Well, it was a pure success. On board were 3 americans and myself...americans love liveaboard! We first had Jeanne from Missouri, a former forensic psychologist, author and currently a young diver around her seventies. Next, Ed from Maine, another youngster in his seventies, diabete researcher and doctor...diving since the mid sixties...and doing underwater photography...but hey, on film....yes, it still exists! Last, the benjamin of the happy cruise, Chris, from Palm Beach, Florida...Chris is a pro underwater photograph, artist, and diver cum surfer...just to name a few...Fun to have seen some of his latest pictures of Tahiti in Conde Nast Traveller...if you read GQ...his work on PNG should published in a few months....and yes, he got the equipment!

We had a week of happy diving. Don't know who had the lower count on dives, but it could actually have been me with around 450 dives! No need to buddy with those guys, it's every body enjoying his own fun on the sea mounts of the Father reef.

Febrina has a crew of 9....don't think we would have enjoyed much that boat trip with 12 divers. The food was ok, but knowing we are in PNG, they did a pretty impressive good job. This place can see shortages on everything and anything....speak of no cheese for up to 3 months...and that all lot...

The dive crew was also a pretty fun lot of locals....each time with at least two DM witth us in the water to show us around...

The boss...captain...and host, Alan is often call a" character"...well, not my cup of tea...and a truly terrible host....that was the only bad point of the liveaboard....but the guests were such a bunch of fun people that we made a good laugh out of it...

The weather...hey, this is the start of the rainy season, so we had to have some rain....well, that was not easy as we may have max maybe 10 minutes rain in 5 days....another sunny ride!

To the diving....PNG is high on the list of many divers...so expectations were high. The previous week they had rain and not that great visibility, so we were ready for anything. The previous week they also saw killer whales out of the boat, but nothing while diving.

My itiniery was on the short side....4 days and a half diving, which means we would not do the Witu Islands. The Witu are well known for muck diving. Some of you are going to ask what is muck diving...it's diving into mud trying to spot little creatures out of this world...not my favorite diving option...as you know, I like the big stuffs....

We did 21 dives on this trip....that's 4, 5, 5, 4 and finally three on the last day. How was the diving? Look at the pictures. My point of view on this subject is pretty simple. If diving is amazing, just look at the ten best pic of the underwater...even an average photographer will give you pretty amazing pics on an amazing site....on the same line...average pictures...are often a sign of pretty average diving...

I still have to reply to Chris & Nikki question on my equipement. Chris, I'm on the cheap side. My last housing has survived 250 dives. No flooding, but with so many dives, the camera freeze every time I go below 20 meters...which meant no more macro, no more zooming...less than ideal! It was time to upgrade the all lot. For info...for each camera model, you've got a housing model...meaning...if your camera is down...and they don't sell anymore your old model, you are on for getting hit twice, as you'll need a new housing too!

My new model is an Canon IXUS 220...actually not that of a new model! 190usd in Bangkok. The pairing housing was bought online in Hong Kong, 180usd....total...370usd to keep all these moment of fun...not cheap, but not expensive either. So if you are wondering...I can tell you that with 15,000usd worth of equipment you can do way better underwater pictures!

For info, I do not use a filter, and I don't photoshop my underwater pics beside cropping few of them...so what you see is actually below par to the reality! Interstingly enough, the videos are most of the time of a way better quality.

We had few great diving moments during those five days. The best must have been the sighting of the pod of 15 dolphins....between 5 meters and 15 meters deep! I was with Chris....it was the end of the dive, and my tank was left with just under 50 bars. We heard them first...and they show up...5 or 6 of them, but too far away for any picture....than they disappeared....we stay, and waiting, at 8 meters...and then suddenly, they came back....15 of them at least. I was ready, and follow them for a good 25 seconds. Sadly the picture quality is not really good, but the video is pretty nice. It was either pictures...or video...I went for the video! By the time they left, my tank was close to fully dry...went back rushing to the boat...great idea they have a tank down there at 5 meters....this one was seriously needed. As mentioned above, not really buddy diving around here, I would not have been able to stay much further down there. On my way back to the boat, I signaled to Digger, one of the DM, our little find...he was playing with the turtles....seems he got a nice sighting too, but this was it....one more time, just at the right place at the right moment!

They also love to play with the sharks on the Febrina. Look at the white box with few holes on some of the sharks pics and on the last video. This one is packed with morsels of fish few times during the trip....twice we had two silver tips, and the other time grey reefs and white tips. Well, it was fun, but far away from natural. I prefer to play with my own toy to attract the sharks. One one occasion, I did pretty well, 2 silver tips, 1 white tip and one nice grey reef shark...all of those right next to me, at the same time. Fun...fun...fun!

After the trip, we found out that you can also "rent a crocodile" to do few pics underwater. The Walindi is pretty often packed with professional photographers, and one of them paid 200usd to rent a croc...no kidding...the craziest thing...the poor croc died during his little outing....so if you see nice pics of crocs underwater in PNG...these may simply be a set up...and the poor croc...is now dead!

Visibility was pretty good on most days. Sadly for us, we had some white particules in the water on some dives. This clearly doesn't help for the quality of the pictures.

On our way back Air Niugini decided to cancel...or let's call them their way...to postpone our Hoskins-Port Moresby by 7 hours. This resulted in missing the connection to Brisbane...and I was on for one more night stay in Port Moresby. One more time it was arrival after dark, leaving before sunrise, so not much of an idea how Port Moresby looks like!

This is it for PNG...what a week! More blogs coming soon, with another very good surprise for divers around...

Additional photos below
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30th August 2012

Wow very different than I thought!
Pierre your pics are as usual amazing - was very interested in hearing your experience of Walindi's habit of luring in crocs and sharks with bait..this is the third time ive heard of this happening there, perhaps somewhere else for me but I hope you enjoyed PNG..and you are lucky to have had such good weather..i find PNG to be the rainiest place ive visited so far. Always love your blogs :) We must meet up for a dive some where some time
30th August 2012

diving...always diving...
Thanks for your nice comments Cindy! Don't worry, one day we'll dive together...if you ever come back to Thailand between November and April, I need to introduce you to my friends who run a liveaboard out of Lipe...really basic...but really great adventurous (well sometime a little extreme) diving... But one day you'll show me around Exmouth in beautiful Western Australia...it's one my list down there somewhere...just have to find a sport...maybe april 2015 or later...lol! Getting sorted for two dives in 3 weeks with Leslie...17C degrees...high chances to see whales under water...as they are all over the place at that time in Argentina. Seems we won't dive with the sea lions..just swim...as the colony is on a beach area...3/4 meters deep...sand...swimming may be more suitable...it's ok...as long as we see a whale underwater before this...I can always dream!

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