25 May – 3 June 2009
S5 09.428 E150 17.931 – Brandford Shoal, Kimbe Bay
S5 02.328 E150 56.122 – Kilibob’s Knob, Father’s, Kimbe Bay
S4 41.825 E149 26.761 – Dickie’s Place, Garove Island, Witu Islands
Alan Raabe is the well loved captain of one of the world’s best known liveboards. He is Australian and has been operating in Kimbe Bay for the past 17 years running a wonderful boat named FeBrina. It comfortably fits 12 divers with each of the seven rooms complete fitted with ensuite toilet/bath. The solid support brigade of Alan are seven incredibly wonderful Papuans who help run each FeBrina trip seamlessly. When someone tells Alan how great FeBrina operates, he simply says, “I have the best crew in the world!”
So what’s the fuss about FeBrina? Anyone who goes on a dive liveaboard are after one thing and one thing only – to have a great diving experience – to dive as much as possible and to go to as many dive spots in different locations as physically possible. A dive boat is the only way of getting these tough requirements in and having a great skipper with local knowledge of the dive sites and a motivated crew is the main key to one’s fabulous diving experience. To have flat calm seas, sunshine, brilliant 50 meter visibility, 30 ℃ water temperature and superb reefs and animal encounters is just a bonus.
To go long distances to try to do 5 dives a day is not an easy task. On the FeBrina, it works like clockwork magic. At 6:00 every morning, the tough but loving Josie knocks on your door to tell you it’s time to prepare for the early morning dive. After a quick cup of coffee and several glasses of water during Josie’s dive brief, Yogi and I are dive and camera geared up by 6:30 and soon in the water along with our other dive companions.
We have a warm breakfast after the first dive and by 9 am, it time for the second dive. A good hour interval after, by 11:30 it’s time for the third dive. Lunch is served soon after we shower and towel dry then we get a long siesta until 3pm. By 3:30 we’re back in the water and for those who still have the energy, a night dive by 6:30pm. A lovely dinner is served with wine of your choice after all night divers are showered and dry. My God! How could we not rave? The thing with all these diving is, we all couldn’t wait to get back into the water. It was just so very, over-the-tops FANTASTIC. But let me shut up and just show you some of Yogi snaps during our 10 day dive adventure!
Everyone on board teased Yogi for his untiring attention to photograph the schools of batfish. They were simply everywhere. In almost every dive site in Father’s Reef, there were 50+ batfish tailing us and totally unafraid and unashamed. There was a dusk dive when Yogi saw all batfish on the reef huddled together on top of the reef seemingly ready to go to bed!
One thing that was really interesting, attached to the mooring line at Bradford Shoals was a temperature gauge that is linked to this website. The solar powered gauge from NOAA sends time series temperature data and you get almost real time temperature of Kimbe Bay everyday.
So back to our animal encounters. This time for some marine mammals! We had an absolute ball driving around the dingy with hundreds of spinner dolphins jumping all around us. They were so happy and so very many! I kept screaming and Yogi kept shooting.
Now I haven’t started with the critters yet. Watch out for my next blog installment with the “Critters of Kimbe Bay”.