Main Menu
Join Undercurrent on Facebook

The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975 | |
For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes
August 2008    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 34, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
What's this?

The Finest Dive Boat in Papua New Guinea? Not Yet

from the August, 2008 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The Spirit of Niugini, owned by Oceanic founder Bob Hollis, has been booking plenty of customers for its Papua New Guinea tours, but it hasn’t been operable and divers have been passed off to other boats or land-only arrangements – and not happily.

In May, the Golden Dawn picked up 15 Russian divers who were transferred by Hollis on short notice because the Spirit wasn’t operating, but with some cabins already booked, accommodating them all wasn’t easy. They weren’t happy campers. Worse, 18 divers arrived the following week to find no Spirit operating, and they spent more than two very unhappy weeks on land at the Tawali, also a Hollis operation.

The Spirit is the old Aqua One, and our PNG eyes and ears says that although the claim is it will become the finest dive boat in PNG, “the boat is being fixed in PNG and not being sent to Cairns, which most operators here recognize as the nearest place for professional shipworks. . . .the biggest giveaway is that the two main engines are 1,320 hp each. Most vessels of this size run with 550 hp max. This means the boat will have an enormous fuel bill - - the thing that will drive some operators out of the business,” or ensure that it won’t travel to distant sites.

Undercurrent talked to Ronda Friend, managing partner at Tawali Adventures. She says the boat was a dud when the company bought it, even though so-called experts had told her otherwise, but Tawali takes full responsibility. “It was a breach of contract, but we should have caught certain things we didn’t. Once we found them, we did everything we could to repair them.”

The boat has undergone three months of major renovations, from engine room and sewer system revampings to new carpeting, and is expected to be operable this month. As for the new engines, Friend says they came with the boat and to take them out is incredibly costly. “That will take a year because we’ll have to pull the boat out and cut out one side of the boat. In the meantime, yes, our fuel costs have increased 70 percent.” She says the Spirit will not cut back on traveling to remote dive sites. “Even those these suckers can do 22 knots, you only need 10 knots to get to the outer reefs.”

As for sending customers elsewhere, again, no other choice. “We could have sent the boat out and it would have met PNG standards, but we wanted to do what was right in a wrong situation. It cost us $15,000 per lost charter to place the divers elsewhere, but we were willing to pay that instead of fudge it.” Still, when some divers threatened to sue, Tawali paid them off with the promise that they were not to talk about any trip details or their experiences. Doesn’t sound like spirits are high at Tawali right now.

I want to get all the stories! Tell me how I can become an Undercurrent Online Member and get online access to all the articles of Undercurrent as well as thousands of first hand reports on dive operations world-wide

Find in  

| Home | Online Members Area | My Account | Login | Join |
| Travel Index | Dive Resort & Liveaboard Reviews | Featured Reports | Recent Issues | Back Issues |
| Dive Gear Index | Health/Safety Index | Environment & Misc. Index | Seasonal Planner | Blogs | Free Articles | Book Picks | News |
| Special Offers | RSS | FAQ | About Us | Contact Us | Links |

Copyright © 1996-2023 Undercurrent (
3020 Bridgeway, Ste 102, Sausalito, Ca 94965
All rights reserved.