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Dive Review of Pindito in
Indonesia/Banda Sea

Pindito, May, 2014,

by David E Reubush, VA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 62 reports with 30 Helpful votes). Report 7672 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Edi Frommenwiler is one of the pioneers of live-aboard diving in Indonesia, having supervised the construction of the Pindito and started operation in 1992. As such, he and his crew (some of which have been with him for many years including the cook, who is also his sister-in-law and has been with him since the beginning) are some of the most experienced and the boat is one of the most sea-worthy of all the live-aboards currently in operation. The boat accommodates 16 divers. I was onboard from mid-April through early May for 2 back-to-back trips with Burt Jones of Secret Sea Visions and Hergen Spalink of Got Muck. The trip started in Ambon and the first leg ended in Saumlaki. The second leg started in Saumlaki and ended in Maumere. We basically covered most of the periphery of the Banda Sea.

This was, for the most part, an exploratory trip as most of the sites we visited were either rarely dived or had not been dived at all (to Edi, Burt, and Hergenís knowledge). They studied charts and used rumors and comments from fishermen and locals to pick the sites.

In the first leg of the trip we found, mainly, pristine hard coral gardens, some with very large schools of fish. However, we did, on occasion, find spots where dynamite fishing had occurred which resulted in stretches of just coral rubble. On one occasion we attempted to dive on a seamount that was indicated on the charts. It turned out that we couldnít find the seamount so we drove the zodiacs to the nearest island and found a great dive site by chance. On the way out of the area that evening the Pindito found the seamount several miles from where it was indicated on the charts. Generally speaking, the first leg of the trip was a wide-angle photographers paradise. Water temperatures were typically 84 Ė 85, visibility varied from as low as 20 feet to well over 100 feet, and currents ranged from none to ripping.

The second leg of the trip had more pristine hard coral gardens, but also some really great muck sites, particularly around Alor. Near the end of the trip we did a dive at a site called Shark Wall at Kawula. The current was ripping, but there were white tips, lots of big Napoleons, big trevally, big barracuda, big turtles, and a large school of smaller barracuda. This site was very similar to the Blue Corner of Palau. My reef hook came in handy. This leg of the trip was great for both macro and wide-angle. The water conditions were very similar to those of the first leg, except on the south side of Alor where the water was much colder (from 75 Ė 80). I took a 5 mm suit and was somewhat warm for most of the trip until I got to Alor and was then very glad I had the thicker neoprene.

The daily schedule on the Pindito was very similar to the rest of the Indonesian live-aboards. First breakfast with cereal, toast, etc., followed by the first dive of the day, followed by second breakfast with hot entrees and a surface interval, followed by the second dive of the day, followed by lunch and another surface interval, followed by the third dive of the day with a snack and surface interval after, followed by either a dusk dive and then dinner or dinner and then a night dive (if the boat did not have to leave early to make a long crossing). Edi is a German Swiss and the German attitude showed through in a number of aspects. Most Indonesian live-aboards I have been on allow you to dive until you either run out of air or bottom time on your computer. The Pindito policy is to limit dives to approximately an hour, no matter how much air you have left. Keeping to a schedule is important to them. The dive masters also want you to stay close to them in contrast to most other operators which allow photographers great latitude. For the first leg of the trip the dive masters would not bother to come find you to show you something they found unless you were close. It appeared that Burt and/or Hergen had a conversation with Edi at the break in Saumlaki and the dive masters were much better on the second leg at coming to find you to show you stuff that they had found, even if you were off looking for stuff on your own.

Food on the Pindito was very good, if you like Indonesian food. I got tired of it quickly. Hergen and Burt took pity on me and had Hergenís wife Kerri, who came out from Bali for the second leg, to bring some hamburgers along. She had to teach the cook, who had never cooked a burger before, how to do it, but I was much happier with burgers for lunch every day after that. The German schedule priority also affected the meals. At the beginning of the trip they offered a wide variety of breakfast items, this resulted in breakfast taking a very long time. The fix to this was to cook the food while we were diving, but that resulted in a lot of it being cold by the time we got to eat it. For the second leg of the trip they greatly reduced the number of choices and this resulted in a much better compromise in terms of hot food and compressed schedule. Dinner on the days we had a dusk dive instead of a night dive was also impacted by the German schedule priority. I like to take a shower and get cleaned up before dinner when the last dive of the day is before dinner. Even though there really wasnít anything driving the crew to need to serve food early and I asked that it be delayed until everyone got cleaned up I would typically arrive to the dining room to find the food on the table getting cold. The dining room/lounge was not air-conditioned. If you wanted to cool off you had to go down to your cabin.

As the boat is currently configured it takes 16 plus any cruise directors. The cabins have a double bed down with a single bunk up. To climb into the upper bunk there are 2 about 4Ē x 4Ē blocks of wood bolted to the side of the lower bunk. Getting up into the top bunk isnít too bad, but trying to find the blocks of wood in the dark in the middle of the night in order to go to the head was not fun. I shared a cabin on both legs of the trip and we swapped bunks when they changed the sheets every 4 days. That made life a bit more bearable. There is also no head on the dive deck so that you have to rip off your wetsuit and run down to your cabin after a dive if you are not in the habit of peeing in your wetsuit. While it was not noticeable on the first leg the second leg must have had a lot of people who did as the wetsuit rack area started to stink partway through the trip. They finally broke out a big plastic trashcan for people to rinse their suits in, which solved the problem.

Diving is done from zodiacs. The boat has 3. While the picture on the website shows only 4 divers in the zodiac, we typically had 6. Six is too many. The zodiacs were crowded and it was difficult to put your gear on jammed up close to the next diver. The steps going down to the zodiacs were also steep and narrow. The boat appears to primarily cater to European divers as all the tanks had DIN valves so they had to use adapters for this, primarily American, group of guests. The boat had adapters with 2 different sizes of O-rings. As it turned out the ones with the larger O-rings didnít work very well with a lot of our regulators and, until they figured out the problem, there were a lot of blown O-rings. One diver had an O-ring blow on the Pindito, another blow in the zodiac, and a third right after he back-rolled into the water. The boat also does not have in-place tank filling. After every dive your BC comes off the tank and gets thrown into your storage bin while the tank gets carried to the back of the boat to be filled. (The fills were generally quite generous, but the 1 hour time limit on the dives really negated any benefit.) The tanks, then, get carried back to the dive deck when it is time for the next dive. You end up with a lot of tanks standing vertical as people move around to gather up their wetsuits and re-rig their gear. Itís an accident waiting to happen. The constant handling of gear is also very hard on it. Another diver and I were using old BCís and both had one of the vent valves to the bladder break so that the BC would not hold air. I was lucky in that mine broke near the end of the first leg and Kerri bought me a new BC in Bali and brought it out to me when she came for the second leg. The second one happened in the middle of the second leg and that diver had to make do. The dive deck is covered with a non-slip mat, which is great for not slipping, but the mats they have are very hard on your feet. My feet felt like they were burning for the whole trip and have only recovered weeks after I got home.

The boat has 2 rinse tanks for cameras, one on either side of the dive deck. While the tanks were good sized the number of photographers on the trip made it such that there was not room to allow you to leave your camera in the tank for any long-term soak. The camera room was relatively small, but had ample power outlets, and my fellow photographers were very good about doing what needed to be done to their outfit and then getting it out of the way for others. My only real complaint is that it would have been nice to have more towels in the camera room. The ones they had quickly became very wet and never really totally dried out from day to day.

To end on a positive note - The Pindito is significantly cheaper than many of the other live-aboards in Indonesia. All the Bin Tang you can drink and a limited selection of hard liquor is also included in the cost of the trip (wine is extra). In deciding which one to pick you need to evaluate your personal tolerance to annoyances to decide whether saving money is worth the hassles that accompany it.
A final note: The Pindito is definitely a live-aboard, but the Undercurrent report website would not let me change the no to a yes in the dive operator block above.
Websites Pindito   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Australia, Belize, Bimini, Bonaire, Caymans, Curacao, Galapagos, Indonesia (Wakatobi, Raja Ampat, Komodo, Lembeh, Bali, Banda Sea), Philippines, Red Sea, Southern Bahamas, St. Thomas, Turks & Caicos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, surge, currents, no currents
Water Temp 75-85°F / 24-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 20-100 Ft/ 6-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Max time approximately 60 minutes, come up with 500 psi
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales 1 or 2
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments 2 large rinse tanks on the dive deck for cameras only. Camera room was pretty small, but had lots of outlets and people were very good about getting done what needed to be done and then getting out of the way for others. Camera room could have used more dry towels to wipe off gear. There was a scuba tank outside the camera room with an air hose to blow water off your housing.
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Subscriber's Comments

By Dave Eagleray in Ubud, ID at Jul 24, 2014 05:25 EST  
Pindito is now listed as a liveaboard, as is this report. Thanks for reporting the problem -- DSE
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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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