Rudder remains of HMS BOUNTY from Pitcairn Island!

Hard to believe Jane and I have been in Fiji a week already. ..So good to be in the tropics again and amongst all the smiles and beside old friends. Vuda Marina is a great place!! Wow..time is rocketing by and still no “IkI” on the ship yet.shipping quotes not only doubled in price, but now there are a lack of ships!..so I have three brokers hunting for me now….

I was not able to say much last year, but it is now official. Unfortunately the Tongan boat builder that Mark ordered our previous Fast Dive boat from (and paid out a considerable amount of money) finally went into bankruptcy. So that was a total disaster and bad luck all round! WE would have preferred a local boat but the Trophy 2395 is a good platform.

Our work list seems to grow here in Fiji rather than get smaller and only now, are we starting to get things moving on ICE. She is looking OK after 6 months on the Hard. In Tonga, Joshua is about to start a round of briefings for the Island committees we work with, updating our rescheduled timelines.

Paul is arriving in Fiji a little earlier than planned on the 26th, so that will be fun, as we will still be on the Hard and YauMing will get here on the 12th May having set off on another diving adventure for now. I have been ordering parts in the USA for IKI and ICE, creating the usual frustrations, so I never seem to get off the Computer. We did get to drive to Suva for two days last week. Had some meetings with my friend Rodney on his Antarctic expedition ship “Spirit of Enderby” and managed to check out the actual HMS Bounty Rudder, or what is left of it, in the National Museum. Previously in England, I managed to visit Bligh’s Grave, but being beside the rudder was even more spooky!!..it evokes some serious emotions for me and now I need to get to Pitcairn and visit the last resting place of that ship!!

So our intention now, is to sail for Nuku Alofa in Tonga, once we get ICE sorted and all the gear from Aust. China, USA on board. Then we will get organised with our permits again and all the other Govt. business. After that we head out to Nomuka to start some Mag work and testing, while we await the arrival of IKI. We will not fully re-establish BLUE BASE, as we only need a few people for the mag work. The Priority this season, is to find and pin down site locations. No Small task! I have advised the three crew on standby for Blue Base (due to open end of July) that we will not need them now. I gave a commitment to make a decision three months out. I still have some key players visiting later this year, to help, but we will not have a big team this season. Next year “should” be a different matter!!

Towing the Mag is termed “Cutting the Grass” and will hopefully be a fruitful endeavour. When IKI finally arrives, we will return to Nuku Alofa and prepare her for the hunt out at EUA. Once fully operational, we then plan to be on EUA for about 5 or 6 weeks, or as long as it takes to do a comprehensive Mag Search to finally answer the question once and for all…how many wrecks are there around that island?…some say 5..some say as many as 8!!!…but we may find..NONE??? and I would be happy with just one good one! There is one confirmed site of interest already, on a sandy bottom in the shape of a ship, but it is “completely and totally” covered in coral. It sends metal detectors off the scale!!,but you cannot get to it. The coral is thick! In the good old days they would have used explosives!! But not anymore. The only thing to do with that site is core sample drilling, which will cost a lot of $$$ to set up..It would however start the discovery phase of that site and then we may get some answers, but for now that can wait. Our efforts over the past few years on EUA have come up with no conclusive evidence at all..just plenty of leads…lots of stories…but little in the way of proven facts….so it may prove to be an interesting time. There is great anticipation however at the potential, so stay tuned.

I will post here each week now as things start to ramp up!! Happy Easter !!….Don

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Shipping Challenges??

Jane and I are in China now. Our shipments from China and Australia to Fiji are looking good and on their way, but our efforts to get “IKI” (our new fast dive boat) sorted and onto a ship on the East coast of the USA, then to Tonga, Via New Zealand are NOT! My original time line had the boat leaving USA mid March, arriving Tonga mid May, ready for work early June out on the island of EUA. Hmm?? Unfortunately ‘IKI” is still not on it’s new trailer, the work on the engine is still not done and we have not loaded it yet…worse still, the shipping agent is still waiting to confirm to me a ship schedule and a loading date! Why am I not surprised?? I am hoping to have some definite dates by the end of next week!! But by the look of things it may be up to two months late!! Oh what FUN!! For those Blue Base Crew on standby waiting??..I cannot yet confirm a date to open operations on Nomuka IKI..so have not selected/confirmed any crew for Blue Base for now. As soon as I confirm a shipping date from USA, I can work up a time line from there….I will then know when Mag. Operations in EUA can commence and then can make plans for when Blue Base will open??. .. the clock is ticking…So it is more “hurry Up waiting”….

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Mag on its way!

Jane flew straight back to China and I have spent the last few days in Australia sorting more gear to ship to Fiji including the Magnetometer…It is in a large Blue Box and a big Black Pelican case with the 150mtr cable and accessories… also sending another big anchor and ropes, safety gear, including a 6 man liferaft for “IKI”, plus a Chart Plotter and small Down imaging, scanning sonar to install….I will head to China this weekend for some last minute preparations. Jane is already there now and has loaded -dispatched all our shipment from there , which included another two Inflatables and extra tents etc. I hope it all arrives in Fiji On time…

“IKI” has not been loaded in America yet, as we are still waiting for some mechanical upgrades to be completed etc…so?? HMMM…looks like we are chasing the clock again…this season will be mostly spent exploring with the Mag and attempting to locate new wrecks, so the anticipation is building..we have been given some information/clues from the locals, but it is never quite spot on..but that is pretty much the norm. If it was easy everyone would be doing it!!

We will also have to do extra modifications to “IKI” when it arrives in Tonga, including the installation of an auxiliary motor and plenty of trials with the Mag to get it tuned and us experienced with it’s operation..it is state of the art equipment and I only like computers when they are working!!

Pic..I am sitting on the Mag in the van ready to send to the shipper!!


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All Fun!!


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A short holiday!!

Three days driving New Zealand for a rest after the ship and look what we found!! A RED Grumman AgKat..Hmmm..Turn out the owner used to manage the NZ Antarctic Flying program 30 years before so we just had to go up with him..we had a few common friends and all loved flying!!


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Another expedition TEAM!!

Been a busy summer with two sub Antarctic Expeditions and two 21 night Ross Sea Antarctic trips, as expedition leader with 100 Passengers each trip…all very successful and we sailed as far south as you can and still stay afloat.. 75.25 South!! Happy to be off now and busy with our Plans for Tonga..the expedition team from the left.. Brad, Rich, Brent, Kit, John, Adrian, Ashley, JANE!, Me, and Alexander..it was all fun!


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Second visit for Jane to Macquarie Island!

It was a 14 day working holiday as part of the expedition Team on National Geographic ORION. My last voyage for the season and probably the end of Nine years onboard this great ship leading every Antarctic voyage it ever made. WE have new plans for Next summer south!


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