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Dive Review of SS THORFINN in

SS THORFINN, Feb, 2007,

by Ronald Dion, Ca, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 7 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 3258 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 1 stars
Service and Attitude 1 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments [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 60’s 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 around.

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 Syndrome”.

Now we should talk about the diving. Chuuk “Truk” has the world’s 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

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

Weather windy, rainy Seas choppy
Water Temp 82-86°F / 28-30°C Wetsuit Thickness 2
Water Visibility 30-75 Ft/ 9-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Noimits
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 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 N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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