By DIANE MCMANUS
LAST Saturday was a special day for Port Moresby Sub Aqua Club (POMSAC) with the launching of its new dive boat.
The acquisition of the eight-meter plus fibreglass, boat, custom built by local company Coastline, was made possible by major sponsors BSP, QBE and Boroko Motors.
This, along with its relatively-new association with the Royal Papua Yacht Club (RPYC) is a huge step forward for the club which, in the past, always seems to have gone from ‘boom to bust’ when buying boats.
The boat has been built for off-shore conditions and is very safe.
It has a much-higher cruising speed than the current craft made available by the RPYC, and has a much larger range.
It is now possible to do day trips to Idihi Island or to Bootless Bay and to explore a whole lot of new dive sites which have previously been inaccessible.
The idea that divers can discover world-class dive sites right on our doorstep is an incredibly exciting prospect.
Exploration is essential for adding a sense of adventure to these excursions.
This boat enables weekend trip to Gabagaba and beyond; for example to the Rigo Coast or towards Yule Island.
The boat gives rise to many possibilities for its use.
The new association with the RPYC has enabled the club to focus on its core business of diving, and when it is not being used will be available for the RPYC to use to support its sailing division rescue operations or any other club activities.
With the support of the sponsors, the boat can be made available for community projects such as marine or mangrove research or reef clean-ups of the notorious Crown of Thorns starfish.
The club has in its charter the objective to protect the environment, and it can now participate in the establishment of permanent mooring sites, using steel cable, on reefs so that coral doesn’t get smashed and damaged through anchorage.
It offers opportunities for training programmes for people interested in entering dive-related occupations: programmes for skippers, boat handling, people skills, opportunities to train as dive leaders, and to be trained in first aid to deal with decompression sickness and become aware of the hyperbarick chamber at the clinic in East Boroko.
Historical expeditions and discovery of PNG’s past are other exciting prospects which can now be offered to divers.
For example the discovery of the ‘skipping bombs’, as in The Dam Busters, which were dropped along the coast during World War II.
There have been prior test runs out to The Pruth, the remains of a 1920s ship wreck on Moresby’s off-shore reef, much of which was removed during WWII so that Japanese aircraft couldn’t use it as a navigational point to locate our city.
These trips have demonstrated that the new boat is clearly handling very well, with a cruising speed of 28 knots.
In layman’s terms this means that it is possible to get from the RPYC to the outer reef in less than 10 minutes.
The boat’s facilities, custom designed for divers, worked beautifully, including the specially designed stainless steel ladder guaranteed to get the biggest, heaviest or most cumbersome diver aboard comfortably.
All in all, POMSAC’s new boat marks a new phase in the club’s life and has ushered in a new era of excitement and possibilities for divers and community alike.