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January 1998 Vol. 13, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Aboard the Reef Explorer

from the January, 1998 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Just the way some divers equate Halstead and the Telita with PNG, others equate Kim and Allan Payard, owner-operators of the Cairns, Australia–based Reef Explorer, with diving the far northern Great Barrier Reef. Last August they sold their boat. Their presence was missed by Undercurrent subscriber Alan Hutchison (Reno, Nevada), who was aboard the Reef Explorer in October: “Unfortunately, at the last minute the new captain (Allan and Kim’s former mate, with five years’ experience in the far north) left the boat for personal reasons. All in all, I had a good trip, but anyone who has been on the boat previously would be disappointed. We had great difficulty finding the designated dive sites, little effort was made by the new owner and three divemasters (whom I would describe as competent, affable Cairns cowboys) to explore the sites when we did find them, even though it was their first time there, and there were virtually no dive briefings or leadership. However, the Swiss chef was excellent, the crew and relief captain tried hard, and there is no denying that the diving is good in this part of the world. Despite the fact that our difficulty in finding the sites kept the number of dives down to only 26 on the 12- day trip, I had many wonderful dives. I encountered an enormous Queensland grouper who probably had never seen a diver on his reef before; the sea was full of mating green turtles, and coral and pelagic life was prolific. As much as I would like to return, I will probably wait another year until the new owner develops the degree of professionalism of Allan and Kim.”

Editor’s note: In November, 10 divers were rescued from rough seas out on the far north Great Barrier Reef. The divers, who were diving from the Reef Explorer, were on their way to Bligh Reef when large waves overturned their inflatable. The Reef Explorer, which was about three kilometers away, was unable to rescue them because it was too shallow on top of the reef. However, a nearby game-fishing boat heard their mayday call and reached the stranded divers within half an hour.

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