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Dive Review of MV FeBrina in
Papua New Guinea/New Britain Island

MV FeBrina: "FeBrina, Lots of Positives in Spite of a Unique Set of Circumstances", Mar, 2018,

by David E Reubush, VA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 62 reports with 30 Helpful votes). Report 10255 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Almost since I got certified 25 years ago I have read/heard about the MV FeBrina; its captain, Alan Raabe; and the diving in PNG. So, when Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock (Secret Sea Visions) advertised a trip on the FeBrina for March of 2018 I signed up. While the FeBrina for most of the year uses Walindi Plantation Resort on the north coast of New Britain as a home port and explores Kimbe Bay and the surrounding area; due to the weather conditions in the Kimbe Bay region in March (the end of the rainy season) the particular trip we would be going on was scheduled to leave from Rabaul at the northeast point of New Britain and we would dive our way across the Solomon Sea to Milne Bay and end in Alotau at the southeast point of the main body of PNG. As I am a macro fan and Milne Bay is renowned as a macro destination I thought this would be a great trip. Unfortunately, about a week and a half before we were scheduled to leave, Burt and Maurine forwarded an email from Alan that told us that it was too dangerous in the Alotau region so the itinerary had to change. It turned out that we would now be doing an exploratory trip along the south coast of New Britain. After getting over there and reading some of the newspaper reports of what was happening around Alotau we all agreed that Alan made the right decision.

The FeBrina is a fairly small boat, and I initially wondered how things would work with the number of divers in our group, especially since there were lots of cameras. I was pleasantly surprised. Alan and his crew have been doing this for long enough that things just work. There were bins on the dive deck for gear, a rack for hanging wetsuits, and enough other space for the cameras. One of my favorite things about the FeBrina was the food. Considering the small size of the galley the cooks did an amazing job. As with most liveaboards there was toast, cereal, etc. available before the first dive, a cooked-to-order hot breakfast after the first dive, a buffet with a variety of meats and vegetables for lunch, and a plated dinner with wine after the last dive of the day. The food was all very good and plentiful. Another benefit of having a smaller boat is that the boat can get close to most of the sites so that almost all the diving was done off the back of the boat. After back-rolling off one too many zodiacs it was a very pleasant change to be able to just jump in, and, at the end of the dive, just climb the ladder and get back on the boat. Josie, the cruise director, was dealing with a sinus infection while we were on the boat so she did not dive, but Digger, Zebulon, and Ben; the dive guides; were all better than good at their jobs. While the diving along the south coast of New Britain was not bad, it was definitely not up to my expectations. At the southern-most point in the trip (even though Alan had cleared our diving with the local chief) we got run off by a local who showed up on the back of the boat with a spear threatening bodily harm for our diving on his reef. After this happened Alan gave up on the exploration, we returned the way we came, and dove many of the same sites we had done on the way down. Id comment on some of the sites, but we ended up with the itinerary due to a unique set of circumstances and I dont expect it to become a standard for FeBrina. At the end of the trip Alan apologized for all that had happened and told us that we could return at any time in the next 3 years for free. I think he made the best of a bad situation that was out of his control and, with the offer, went beyond what I expected. I will note that, after we got off the FeBrina, my dive buddy and I transferred to Walindi and spent most of a week diving there. I will discuss that part of the trip in a separate review, but will note that we were told the diving in Kimbe is best in September, October, and November, before the start of the rainy season. In the future Ill plan on doing a joint Febrina/Walindi trip during those months.
Websites MV FeBrina   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Australia, Belize, Bimini, Bonaire, Caymans, Curacao, Fiji, Galapagos, Indonesia (Wakatobi, Raja Ampat, Komodo, Lembeh, Bali, Banda Sea), Philippines, Red Sea, Solomon Islands, Southern Bahamas, St. Thomas, Turks & Caicos
Closest Airport Rabaul Getting There Fly to Brisbane, Australia; fly from there to Port Moresby, PNG; fly to Rabaul

Dive Conditions

Weather rainy Seas calm
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 10-80 Ft/ 3-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Don't do anything stupid, don't empty your tank
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments While there wasn't a camera room on the boat there was sufficient space, if we all took turns, to make working with our cameras not an issue. There were fresh water rinse tanks on each side of the boat so that everyone's camera got rinsed before it was returned to above your bin.
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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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