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BIKINI TRIP REPORT April 3-19 2006

Discussion in 'The Pacific Islands' started by PacificFlyer, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. PacificFlyer

    PacificFlyer Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Texas
    17
    0
    This trip was originally planned for 8 days in Kwajalien aboard the Oleanda followed by 7 days at Bikini Atoll. About 10 days before scheduled departure I received an email from Rongelap Expeditions saying Kwajalien operations were being suspended for the rest of 2006. They offered a full refund or credit toward a future booking. After a few days of emails back and forth I decided to take the refund. Now I had to work on filling the time scheduled for Kwajalein or make a complete change to my air travel. I considered diving a week with Bako Divers in Majuro run by Jerry Ross, which I had dived with back in 2002. I also thought about another week at Bikini so contacted Lani Kramer at Bikini Atoll Divers as to availability the week prior to my scheduled reservation. I had an immediate reply saying “Absolutely”. Lani did a great job re-coordinating my tickets with Air Marshall Island Air and booking me a room for one night in Majuro. I then only had to change the itinerary of my Continental ticket out of Honolulu. Originally I booked HNL-KWA, which has a stop over in Majuro. Therefore I only had to drop the MAJ-KWA-MAJ legs and no change of dates for departure and return to HNL.

    Lani met me on arrival in Majuro and took me to the hotel she had booked for me, Marshall Islands Resort. The hotel used to be managed by Outrigger and was very comfortable. I took a nap walked around and had dinner at the hotel. The next morning the hotel bus took me to the Airport where I met up with Lani and the other divers going to Bikini. Since I had a short notice change in my booking with Bikini Atoll Divers and there was not enough time to wire funds for the extra week, Lani accepted a personal check from me the morning of departure for Bikini.

    The flight to Bikini was on a Dash 8 operated my Air Marshall Island. We had a stop in Kwajalien on the way. This is where I would have boarded following 8 days of diving Kwajalein aboard the Oleanda so you see these two locations would make a very good package and I hope Rongelap Expeditions is able to get this operation at Kwajalien going again. We arrived in Bikini just before lunch and were met by the departing divers, who had been there two weeks and some of the staff. We got our bags and gear and it was loaded on two skiffs for the trip across the Lagoon. You actually land on Eneu, which is a small island just south east of Bikini Island and only has the runway and a couple buildings for flight operations. There are about 23 small islands that outline the lagoon. The flight from Majuro via Kwajalein and trip across the lagoon was beautiful. On arrival all our gear was transferred to out quarters and we gathered for lunch. After lunch we were asked to put all our dive gear in one bag for pickup and it would be delivered to the dive boat by the staff while we had a dive briefing.

    Dive Staff consisted of the following:
    Dive Master Jim Akroyd
    Asst Dive Master Gennifer Akroyd
    Asst Dive Master Chad Smith
    Dive Guides Eddie Maddison & Ronnie Lokiar
    Boat Handlers Brown, Clanton & Car

    Our first dive was a checkout dive to about 105 feet to the deck of the USS Sarratoga. The rest of the week we did two dives everyday, one in morning and one in afternoon, had about 4 hours between dives. Every dive is a planned decompression dive using surface supplied mix of 74% Oxygen at a fixed deco bar suspended to 30 feet with 10 foot increments. Everyone had to follow a set minimum ascent protocol no matter what your dive computer said. The standard protocol is a 2 minute stop at 80 feet, 2 minutes at 40 feet, 2 minutes at 30 feet, 5 minutes at 20 feet and 10 minutes at 10 feet followed by a slow ascent to the surface. If you determined you needed more time or stops at additional depths, then you followed that, but in no case could it be less than the set standard. The dive schedule we had for the rest of the week was as follows with my max depth and time in the water except for dive 1 on day 2 on the Lamson, which I aborted due to 1st Stage Failure and Day 7 dive which I did not accomplish due to ear problems. Depth & Time for these two dives are what I had on the same dive the second week I was there:


    Day/Dive Dive Site Depth Time
    2/2 Lamson 142 0:50
    2/3 Saratoga-Hangar 132 1:01
    3/4 Arkansas 176 1:01
    3/5 Nagato-Stern 166 0:57
    4/6 Carlisle 173 1:00
    4/7 Saratoga-Bow 168 0:59
    5/8 Nagato-Bow 171 0:58
    5/9 Saratoga-Penetration 143 0:55
    6/10 Anderson 172 0:51
    6/11 Apogon 163 0:52
    7/12 Saratoga-Stern 168 0:57


    The second week I was the only customer and received absolutely outstanding service! Jim was completely flexible with my desires and offered me the opportunity to do some penetration dives on the Saratoga. This was a real treat for me as I am not a Technical Diver only a recreational diver with about 170 dives at the time with some previous wreck experience on two previous trips to Truk Lagoon.

    The one thing that really hit home to me was that this place is setup for experienced recreational divers. That is those who have at least 50 dives with a few between 100-130 feet and have good buoyancy control. If you are a recreational diver with this kind of experience and like diving wrecks you will love this place. You do not need to be a Technical Diver to appreciate this place, in fact you could be a little disappointed if you are and think you can go off on a penetration dive without one of the Dive Masters or Guides. This is not allowed by local law. Just come here use the equipment configuration you are used to using be it singles or doubles. But you really need a computer, preferably two, capable of monitoring at least two different gas mixtures on a single dive. They have Dive-Rite HE’s available for rent and they are easy to use. I brought a Dive-Rite Nitek 3 and Uwatec Smart Tec wireless. I also had a mini SPG for backup pressure readings. The tank I used was a single High Pressure Steel 119 Cubic Foot, that usually had 3500-3600 PSI. If you feel you would rather have doubles while here then get the training and experience before going. By experience I mean going out and diving 15-20 dives after training so you are totally comfortable with the set-up.

    The food and accommodations are good, especially for a place so remote. We had steaks, roast, baked turkey and desert with every meal. Breakfast is pretty much your choice of how you want eggs along with pancakes, waffles and French toast on some day. While the rooms are good they are spartan with only a bed, table/desk, chair, wall closet and chest of drawers. The bathroom has the usual, but only a shower no tub. Outside on the end of each building of rooms is a dunk tank and place to hang gear for drying. For those with cameras there is no rinse tank on the skiff but I just brought my camera back and forth and rinsed it off in the room. There is a mini home theater with some DVD movies but recommend you take some of your later fare with you. Other than diving, eating and sleeping there is not much to do. They do not recommend snorkeling in the early morning or evening due to the abundance of sharks at that time of day. You can walk around the island and one day during the week we went to another island where a large concrete bunker was built for the A-Bomb tests.

    On Monday evening at dinner during my second week Jim told me that Air Marshall Islands was having a problem with their Dash 8 and may not come and pick me up on Wednesday. That and the fact there were no customers the following week and me the only customer needing a flight out, I thought I would be doing a third week. Only problem was my ears again. Well I did not dive on Tuesday or Wednesday but was ready on Thursday but found out I would be picked up on Friday so decided not to dive on Thursday since all my gear was dry and ready to pack. I really wish they had left me for another week. What a grand time that would have been. This was definitely the best dive trip I have ever had and having been to Truk, Palau, Indonesia, Marshall Islands and all the Hawaiian Islands that is saying something. My Mahalo really goes out to all the folks at Bikini Atoll Divers. I highly recommend a trip there and when you go be sure and take some goodies for the staff. They really like getting current newspapers and magazines, the latest movies on DVD and dark chocolate. All in all I want to go back and will a year or two.
    Pacifichiflyer
     
  2. Jason Ooi

    Jason Ooi Scuba Instructor

    7,692
    3
    Good report! thanks for sharing
     
  3. Mike Veitch

    Mike Veitch Contributor

    12,491
    460

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