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Papua New Guinea aboard Febrina
with Captain Alan Raabe, May 16-29 2011 Trip Report

Kimbe, Witus, New Ireland/Kavieng & Fathers Reefs

Happy to revisit my beloved Febrina live aboard in PNG, docked at the friendly dive resort Walindi Plantation. Febrina dives the Bismark Sea out of Hoskins, in New Britain and Captain Alan Raabe has been at the helm here for over 20 yrs. The operation hums, the crew are all local Papuan people from all over PNG. They are some of the hardest working crew I have seen, they are mostly women on this boat as opposed to men. Josie has been head of the dive deck for about 6 or 7 yrs now and does a spectacular job, Digger is back again as Dive Master, between the 2 of them, they can uncover even the most camouflaged obscure creatures under the sea.

The galley chef Jane and helpers all work very hard to create some of the best food I have had in PNG! This is the finest food the boat has produced in all the years I have been on Febrina; simply divine, cooked to perfection and an assortment of fish and meat and a variety of vegetables and salad items, the presentation is wonderful, each night new place settings and cute napkin arrangement. Wine from Australia is served at dinner and Alan is very generous with the brand names and the wine flow! The 2nd Breakfast is cooked to order and lunch is a huge buffet with loads of variety to choose from. Baked snacks after the 3rd dive and some sort of savory before dinner, always something to nibble on if desired.

Alan has done a complete and beautifully done refit and gutted the back cabins which were share bath. All cabins are now ensuite with 2 cabins for 2 people that can accommodate a couple and or 2 singles. Plus the 2 aft single cabins are now ensuite. The boat now has a convertible canopy on the bow for those that want to read in betwen dives and be outside, with a couple of deck chairs and cushions on the locker holds. A very nice addition to the Febrina which is only 72 ft long, this makes good use of the open space. We were all very comfortable and happy with the new upgrades.

As always Al offers 5 dives a day for those who want that many dives. 6:00am wake up, and in the water at 6:30am for first dive, 3 morning dives in all and a longer siesta then the afternoon dive at 3;00pm. Night dives offered at about 6:30pm however we had no takers on our trip.

Some of us really wanted to get a picture of a boxer crab, I have never seen one except only in books, and low and behold they found us several, they are so small!!! That was the new highlight for me, to see and photograph the cutest crab underwater! Not to mention all the other amazing soft coral crabs, so many types of crabs, all sizes and colors, shrimps of every assortment, cowries on soft coral, orangutan crab and squat lobster on huge barrel sponges just to name a few.

Papua New Guinea aboard Febrina May 16-29 2011 - Trip Report- Dive Discovery PNG
Papua New Guinea aboard Febrina May 16-29 2011 - Trip Report- Dive Discovery PNG

The normal broad assortment of clownfish and anemone and the not so usual Melanesian Percula Clown, only found here in PNG, the true clown fish. This is also my fav, the black lines are very dark and thick surrounding the bright white lines on the side of this adorable fish, very dramatic!

Papua New Guinea aboard Febrina May 16-29 2011 - Trip Report- Dive Discovery PNGThe water was a bit warm at 86F however it was warmer and the temps have started to come down, there was some bleaching but not as bad as I thought with the temps being even warmer than 86. The rain ended a bit late, I think by the 2nd day on the boat, it was done and we went right in the lovely doldrums of flat seas and sunny skies.

I was pleased as usual to see so many big fish and sharks still around, yeahh! A lovely assortment of schools of jacks, chevron barracuda, bat fish, snapper, rainbow runners, doggie tooth tunas, giant barracuda and bumphead parrot fish to keep us happy and the water busy. Fathers Reef still outshines them all, I always find in my log book, 5 stars when I dive at Fathers! This is where the sharks live and even without baiting for them, you can jump in and find gray reef and white tips and my favorite shark, the silver tip sharks! Giant Travellay's, blue tail jacks, schools of surgeon fish, unicorn fish with lots of cleaning stations to get good fish pics!

Also which still amaze me are the giant black coral bushes, they are everywhere along with the fans and red whip corals. The scenery is never dull, all very colorful and vibrant, and the hard coral is in very good condition with Alan and his never ending job of permanent moorings at all the dive sites. One of the sites at Fathers they have made friends with 2 baby hawksbill turtles, they are like a puppy as soon as they find Digger and Josie, they come up and nudges and wants love and attention and sponge! They loves everyone and just happy to get all the attention, loving pets and scratches, just adorable!

Heading back to Kimbe, and some amazing sites here with huge schools of 3 sizes of rainbow runners, I had not seen that before, they wanting to make like a Jack and so had thousands of fish to play in and be one with the fish. Ahhhhhhh nothing like busy water full of fish! Also here was a big school of baraccuda and they made that perfect circle so I could get a good picture of it!

Lovely to see the splendid varieties of hard corals with schools of red snapper, different types of fusiliers, surgeon fish and there is digger, digging in the ground to find something, anything and he normally does. He and his trusty screw driver, amazing how he finds the wildest creatures as he sees where they go in and will find where they come out. I think he must have been a sea critter in a past life. He found me a very unusual 'boring type shrimp with sharp spikes at it's rear end to bore into the hard coral, wild.

Our last dive was at Susan's Reef on the last day, always sad to me after so many fantastic diving days and being at sea, you would think that 12 dive days would be enough,,, never. This was a very pretty shallow reef dive for those of us saturated divers, covered with staghorn coral and the beautiful colorful anthias fish darting in hypnotic fashion that only they know why. Beckoning me…. to come back over and over again.

Thanks Captain Alan Raabe, you continue in your quest to be the finest dive liveaboard in PNG, thank you crew for working so hard to make our long awaited trip back a wonderful memorable experience.

As I have always said and will always say, I will be back!!! Love you guys!

Thank you again,

Papua New Guinea aboard Febrina May 16-29 2011 - Trip Report- Dive Discovery PNGPapua New Guinea aboard Febrina May 16-29 2011 - Trip Report- Dive Discovery PNG