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Dive Review of SS THORFINN in

February, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Ronald Dion, Ca, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (7 reports)
Report Number 3258
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Fiji, Barrier Reef, Cocos, Solomons, Florida, New Zealand
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

windy, rainy  
Water Temp
82   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 75    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
2 stars
1 stars
Service and Attitude
1 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
3 stars    
[None]My dive trip on the SS  Thorfinn.

By. Ronald W. Dion

I find myself  crunching down and just doing the job at hand to make a
full report on our trip aboard the Thorfinn , a live aboard dive boat in
the country of Chuuk Truk Micronesia.  My wife and I are in our 60s and
scuba dive off live aboard boats up to 8 times a year. I have wanted to
dive the WWII wrecks of Truk for a long time. The idea of a big (170 ft)
steam powered live aboard sounded great.

It is a long and difficult trip to Truk , but we held up well to spend two
nights at the Blue Lagoon resort before boarding the Thorfinn , a 50 year
old steam boat.  We observed that Truk is a very poor, dirty, backward
country. Our first hint that things might not going smooth came when we
were awakened by the crew from the Thorfinn wondering why we were not
ready to board.  They had sail dates all mixed up as revealed by our paper
work, so we became the only guests on the boat.  Captain Lance was quite
nice as he showed us some Thorfinn features.

He informed us that the water maker was not working properly and we would
have to live with bad tap water that was very salty.  He insisted that the
water was fine to drink, it just tasted bad and that parts should be in a
few days. We later learned that boat has had bad water for a long time. 
The water was used in tea and coffee and food and it all tasted so.

Drinking bottled water in the lounge was a surprise as the bottle had been
filled from the tap and was just as bad. The water made me ill on the third
day.  Consider that the entire country and all the boats dump their waste
into the lagoon.  The safety of the water was much in doubt, in spite of
Captain Higgs assurances. At last some bottled water was brought aboard,
and diet coke was brought aboard all was kept locked up and given out a
bottle at a time.

Our cabin was large and well laid out but the air conditioner never was
cool enough.  The captain, by now a bit cranky, said the European guests
liked the cabins warm and never explained why we Americans had to suffer.

One of the selling features of the boat is a huge plasma TV in the lounge
for movies and dive pictures.  This, of course, was broken the entire trip.
 The hot tub worked but was filled with raw sea water.  Incredibly, there
is no dive deck on this boat. One has to put on equipment and wet suits in
the skiffs where all the gear is never dry as the crew puts it into small
under seat lockers that have bilge water running through them. Getting into
the skiff is never easy but worse in rough weather, climbing down a narrow
ladder on the side of the boat. Then we suited up as the boat bounced

We were on the boat 7 days (we paid for 12 but just had enough after 7. 
During the 7 days the boat moved once to get fuel.  It takes 2 hours to get
up steam.  The docking at the fuel dock was a carnival with lines breaking,
the captain yelling at the crew and the boat crashing into the dock,
leaving a 25 foot black mark on the boat.  After fueling the boat was moved
a few miles, anchored and stayed for 7 days.  No steam till the last day.

The 70 year old captain lives on this boat with his 24 year old native wife
and their 2 young kids 2 and 4.  The rest of the crew of 22 seem to be
related to the wife and most are not trained.  Two were fired for stealing
on the 3rd day.  The kids are all over the place and never wear life
jackets. The 4 year old climbs all over the skiff and goes to dive sites in
rough weather without a life jacket.  

Then there is the food.  As bad as it can get.  We are vegetarians and were
told when we booked that we would have all the food we needed.  In fact
vegetables were not to be had.  Grease was the byword no buffet style small
portions with the captain sitting there just waiting for someone to
complain.  We were made fun of by this jerk who by now had the Bligh

Now we should talk about the diving.  Chuuk  Truk has the worlds best
wreck diving, no doubt.  Diving from the Thorfinn is strange to say the
least.  Our first dive briefing was by the captain as there was no dive
director, just him.  We were told that there was nitrox available, but, the
first dive would be as deep as 160 feet, well below nitrox limits ( for us
105 Ft).  Captain Higgs said that these were not decompression dives but we
should follow his safety stop rules.  There were many dives thereafter well
below Padi recreational limits, over the next six days.  Many of these
dives were, of course, decompression dives.

 I refused to dive that deep as I am 67 and want Nitrox for repetitive
diving.  One day they were out of nitrox and at times they used tanks for
nitrox where the nitrox label was worn off.  The tanks in general were in
scuffed shape, looking very old. The nitrox did test well, however.

In general, the entire Thorfinn experience was just awful. It was so bad
that it sounds like fiction but this essay is the truth.

Ronald W. Dion
San Francisco, California
March  2007

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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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