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Dive Review of Ondina - Deb Fugitt Charter in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Ondina - Deb Fugitt Charter, Nov, 2006,

by Peter J Maerz, FL, United States . Report 3171.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Bimini, Bonaire, Cay Sal Bank (Bahamas), Dominica, Fiji, Guanaja(Bay Islands, Honduras), Little Cayman, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, St. Lucia, St. Vincent
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 78 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 30 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None--follow computers
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Sturdy, lighted, mostly protected camera table with thick, perforated rubber mats. Storage underneath for personal plastic baskets. Two dedicated, rubber-lined rinse tanks. Crew very knowledgeable about and careful with cameras.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments PRE-TRIP: Fantastic customer service from Deb Fugitt who was in constant communication and helpted to plan every leg of our individual journeys. Almost every email query of the dozens sent by me were answered within minutes!
TRAVEL: All connections were smooth. As Deb suggested, I carefully packed camera gear in home-made high-density foam-lined cases that made it easy for TSA to unpack and repack. No damage or concerns there. Also at Deb's suggestion, I politely but firmly insisted on checking my bags all the way through to Manado from my embarkation point in Ft. Lauderdale. This required the services of a manager at the reservation desk, since multiple airlines and lengthy layovers were involved, but my bags showed up on schedule almost three days later. I kept my two bags just under 40lbs. There was only one nominal overage charge, from Manado to Sorong.
THE SHIP: The Ondina, an all-wooden Pinsi-style schooner, was designed; from scratch for divers. Cabins were cleverly designed to provide plenty of storage, lighting, and overall comfort. Ensuite heads feature a fairly large vanity/sink, a shower and a hand-pumped marine head. While not "deluxe" by 5-star resort standards, the accomodations were very appealing with lots of hand-made touches.
The enclosed dive prep room provided more than enough room to gear up in comfort without slugging fellow divers. In typical liveaboard fashion, each of us was assigned a space and tank on a bench with personal storage in a basket underneath. A separate room housed wetsuits, a large rinse tank and two very efficient tankless hot water shower units.
A fairly spacious salon housed two large, heavy wooden tables with continuous booths surrounding them and large chairs in the space between them. As usual, this was the social center for dining, laptop editing, movie watching etc. The food was fantastic, for my taste. There was never a duplicate lunch or dinner. The food was healthy, wholesome and delicious, often surprising (such as soups for breakfast that were delicious and fit perfectly with the first meal of the day). A large, partially shaded sundeck topped the ship.
THE DIVING OP: Extensive and entertaining briefings took place in the prep room. We were permanently assigned one of four "tinnies" (tenders), two "red" and "blue" on each side of the mother ship. Red 1 and Blue 1 alternated boarding with Red 2 and Blue 2 each day. Short rides to the sites culminated with the divemaster and tender driver helping us gear up, a coordinated back-roll, quick swim back to the tinnie and then a headlong bolt to the bottom to avoid being swept over the top of the reef by currents. Some sites did have plenty of push, but there were a good many that were easily manageable or calm.
THE DIVING EXPERIENCE: Absolutely thrilling. Coral gardens at a number of sites, most notably Melissa's Garden, stretched to the horizon, absolutely brimming with every size, texture and type of coral, all of it pristine. Critters abounded ("Waterlogged" the best macro site), from Orangutan Shrimp to Coleman shrimp to wire coral crabs to Zebra crabs to every size, shape and color of nudibranch immaginable. Forget about the fish... Clouds of anthias infested fields of elkhorn corals. Huge, glittering balls of silversides flitted in unison. Tropicals? Dance troupes of Moorish Idols, glowing Coral trout, and entire chapters of ID books worth of butterfly and angel fish. Brilliantly striped and polka-dotted Sweetlips in tight packs. Otherworldly Wobegong sharks. Bumpheads in battalions, stoicly facing the onrushing current. And all this on a trip that Deb said was not the best they'd taken!
As noted above, the photo facilities were excellent (though E-6 is fast becomming a relic!-no processing was available on this trip of almost all digital photogs).
The area is quite lovely, with many lush, uninhabited rock islands dotting the horizon and typically gorgeous Pacific sunsets.
All in all, a fantastic trip, easily on a par with, if not a cut above PNG and the Solomons.






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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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