• Gotong Royong gets Big Boat to the Beach

    Boat in the Jungle Puzzle

    All the way through the build, there was one nagging thought that kept running through my mind.   “How the hell do you move a five tonne boat from the jungle Boat Yard to the sea?”

    Pak Nyoman just kept on smiling every time we asked the question and murmured,  “Gotong Royong…..gotong royong. It will be all right.”

    I was rather hoping that Gotong Royong was the name of a large vehicle that would lift Big Boat out of the canopy and carry here safely to the water.  Boy was I wrong.

    Gotong Royong gets it Done

    So the day of the launch arrived, rather inauspiciously the 1st of April, and on a damp drizzly morning we gathered at the boat yard. Ibu Ketut made the last blessing, Pak Lombang and the divemasters wandered along and we waited. And waited…. Then the villagers started to arrive. First of all in dribs and drabs. Then all of a sudden in a great rush we had nearly a hundred and fifty hardy souls ready to lift, haul, rock and roll!

    That is Gotong Royong, all the villagers doing a favour with the guarantee that at some stage, the favour will be returned. Especially if you include a nasi bungkus and sprite to sweeten the deal.

    Riding the Beast

    The next thing we knew, there was Made D’Licks riding on the roof of Big Boat like some ancient Egyptian slave master, directing the pushing and pulling to get the boat out of the trees.  Huts were picked up whole and moved to clear the way.  Coconut logs were laid down as rollers and ropes lashed to the mooring posts and foot by foot our jukung crept from her lair and lurched off down the road.

    The final hurdle was getting her from the road and down the beach.  At that stage, so many people had joined in that they just slid her down the slope and into the water she went with barely a ripple.

    Bobbing and Blessing

    Finally Big Boat was in her element.  The outriggers were re-attached which got rid of an alarming list to port, the engines were mounted and the only thing left was the blessing the next day.

  • Slap on Some Paint!

    Slap on the Paint.

    The building work was completed, ladders fixed and the toilet door hung.  Now came the crucial part.  Protecting all that beautiful wood.  What to do?  A clear epoxy finish so the craftsmanship could be seen?  Very appealing for a piece of furniture but this was to be a working boat with roughy toughy divers, tanks, weights, anchors and lots of things that go bump, so we needed something tough and durable.

    Bring on the Experts

    Once again we turned to the experts.  And here was the shopping list. Cans of paint, white, blue, yellow and grey. Epoxy glue, the first coat for pre-treating the timber.  And talcum powder! Sacks of it.  If you have ever seen World Diving’s Big Boat, you will notice how smooth the paint work is. Not a hint of grain or any of the wood that is underneath.  That is due to coat number two.  This is a blend of paint, epoxy and talc.  It’s applied like thin plaster and literally sticks like the proverbial to a blanket!

    Grin Ders, Cigarettes and Thinners

    The other thing they needed were grin ders.  “What,” I asked “is a Grin Der?” Apperently they are made by Bosch, Matika or Kenmaster and we use them for grinding.  These angle grinders are the only thing that can be used to sand down the incredibly hard undercoat.  That and an awful lot of sand paper.  I was pleased to note that full safety equipment was being used to offset the danger of dust inhalation and eye damage.  The standard wool balaclava and sunglasses seemed to do the trick! Though I was slightly dismayed with the cavalier attitude used to thin the paint.  A vast amount of highly flammable cellulose thinners being sloshed into the paint tin and mixed, with a burning cigarette firmly clenched in the painter’s lips!

    Finally the last coat of high gloss was applied. And there she stood, a thing of beauty, gleaming in the sunlight. The ladders were bolted on.  The World Diving signs applied and the toilet seat fitted.

    We now faced the final hurdle, getting a five tonne boat out of the jungle and two hundred metres d own the main road to the sea…….Easy!


  • Our Out Rigger Big Boat Taking Shape.

    Taking Shape.

    So here is an interesting fact that came up from building Big Boat.  The trees on Nusa Lembongan have long been used by the local islanders for making their boats and the traditional design for the area is the out rigger.  This is a boat that has a very shallow draught but is kept stable by two bamboo floats held in place on curved wooden arms.

    They Grow Them!

    These curved wooden arms are specifically grown.  They get a young tree or new branch and weigh it down so that it starts to grow in a curve.  Once the wood has set to that shape, the weight is removed and the branch or tree curves back up again. These trees can still be seen as you ride around the island. Llook out for them as you go around the mangrove road.

    It takes about eight years for a outrigger to fully mature.  It is then cut and shaped to suit the boat being built.  Our Big Boat has six of these scarfed onto end of each arm. They were by far the most expensive pieces of wood on our boat!


    The other major pieces of wood on our boat are the mooring bollards. Again, these are from specific trees that the local use just for this purpose.  They are hard wearing and tough enough to take the day to day strain of keeping the boat secure on its moorings.  Ours are now over thirteen years old and the ropes have carved deep grooves into their surface.

    Re-cycle, Re-claim, Re-use!

    We also did a lot of recycling for our boat.  There were many parts of the old boat which were still in good repair.  We simply adapted them for the new boat.  There are still some parts of the roof on our boat that date all the way back to our original Big Boat!

    In the next thrilling instalment, we slap on the paint…and talcum powder!

  • Magic, Wooden Nails and a Very Large Hammer!

    Wooden Nails

    Building Big Boat was labour intensive, to say the least.  We had an industrious group of nail makers consisting of anyone who dropped by to have a chat. The rule of the shed  was that if you popped in, you were given a block of iron wood and an axe.  It seemed that everyone in the village just loved whittling! I was the only exception to this rule.  The thought of me wielding one of the axes made the crew a tad anxious!

    Magic Uri Geller Style!

    In another corner of the boat yard, Pak Gandy had started his magic.  He had lashed two boards together to a tree and anointed them with his magic potion, water and palm oil. A a smoldering fire was lit  in a pit beneath them. At the other end of the boards were palm logs providing the weight to gently twist the boards through ninety degrees.  The fire was kept going 24 hours and each day the planks would twist a little more. Our Pak Gandi was a regular Uri Geller!

    Screwing and Gluing

    Meanwhile the main crew were now fastening the hull planking to the keel, transom and main rib.  The edges of the boards were drilled at regular intervals, a generous dollop of epoxy was rammed in the holes followed by hand crafted nails. Corresponding holes were drilled and filled with glue.  Then the two parts were gently introduced to each other with the assistance of an incredibly large hammer!

    Noah’s Tool Box!

    The bit that floored me the most though was the tool box.  With the exception of an electric drill and a chain saw, they had the same tools that could have come from my great grandad’s shed! I think there may have been a tape measure somewhere, but I never saw it.

    Big Boat was starting to take shape.  The twisted boards were cut to shape and fitted up against the prow and all of a sudden, a mad collection of hewn trees and telegraph poles started to look seaworthy.

    Next time – “They Grow Them Like that!”


  • Boat Building in the Jungle

    Pak Gandy sketching in the sand.

    Meet Pak Gandy, The Boat Building Guru!

    Welcome to the third installment of boat building Balinese style!

    The wood had been cut, prime binkarai planks had been delivered, plans had been drawn and approved and the boat yard in the jungle constructed……Enter the boat builders with three lengths of old telegraph pole, gallons of epoxy resin and a tool box donated by Noah!

    The question had to be asked.  What were the telegraph poles for?

    Re-claim, Re-cycle, Re-use!

    I should have known.  These were to be the backbone of our boat, the keel and prow.  Why telegraph poles? Because they are old seasoned iron wood and nigh on indestructible.  Having explained these salient points to me, our magnificent boat builder then squatted down with a pointy stick in hand and drew a large semicircle in the dirt.  He then looked me right in the eye and said assertively,

    “Like This!”

    What does one say? It turns out that he had just drawn the profile for the main rib of Big Boat, right where the central outriggers are. This was the piece around which all the planking would be bent.  I just nodded my head and let him get on with what he did best.

    Handy With His Chopper!

    The next thing I knew, he had a great baulk of timber propped up and was wielding a razor sharp axe, forming perfect joints which when completed went snugly together like pieces of an incredible three dimensional jigsaw.  I had heard of craftsmen like Pak Gandy, but to watch him and his team in action was a pure pleasure.

    As we were about to leave the boatyard, I noticed a rather large hole in the ground just next to a tree stump.  Pak Gandy’s merry men were dumping all the wood chips in there.  Pak Gandy grinned at me, pointed to the pit and whispered,

    “That’s for the magic!”

    It seems that boat builders come from Hogwarts!

    Next time – Magic, deadly potions, wooden nails and a very large hammer.

  • Come Up With A Plan! Designing Big Boat.

    Come up with a plans
    Come up with a plans

    Grand Designs.

    Made the Mad Axeman and the Timber Haulers had done their thing so the next step was to come up with a plan! Some serious designing was required. Suggestions came thick and fast. A stronger, longer ladder. A loo with a view. A captain’s chair. Even a water slide! You name it, it was suggested.

    So after scrapping some of the less practical suggestions, out came the set squares, protractors and sharp 2H pencils and the drawing commenced. Now I may have mentioned that my knowledge of boat building was limited to something you could fold from paper and float in the bath, as a result, the task of designing a sodding great 15 metre wooden boat was somewhat daunting.  Nevertheless, after a couple of weeks and much head scratching, a reasonable facsimile of a set of plans were produced.

    Construction Crew Consultation.

    Meanwhile, Pak Nyoman had found our trusty boat builder, the incredible Pak Gandy.  We were formally introduced and I humbly submitted my design.  The boat captains, led by Pak Lombang, boat builders and various hangers on all peered at the plans and there was a long silence. The suspense was killing me. Cigarettes were passed round, cups of coffee consumed, various aspects of the design were pontificated over and, after what seemed an eternity there was a mass nodding of heads. At last the verdict was pronounced.


    Then the plans were neatly folded and …….never, ever looked at again!

    Boatyard in the Jungle.

    There just remained the question of where the boat would be built.  For some unfathomable reason, the location for our boatyard was in the jungle, nearly 200 meters from the sea!  I did question this choice but was reassured that this was a very fortuitous site, approved of by the deities of boat builders.

    There was one other slight problem.  Because rainy season was in full force,  workers, timbers and tools would soon end up soaking wet and like my wet suit, ever so slightly mouldy! So a suitable tent had to be built.  Therefore the greenery was cut back, bamboo sacrificed to the cause and a spidery structure was erected, covered in canvas and lashed to nearby trees. Finally the finishing touch was the installation of the temple and that was it, we were ready to go!

    In our next thrilling instalment, “Pak Gandy scribbles in the sand!”

  • Building Big Boat, “TIMBER!”




    Cutting wood for for the frame

    How To Build  A Boat!

    When we bought World Diving in 2005 we knew that the original Big Boat was getting close to retirement age and that a new boat would have to be found.  This was evident by a couple of facts.  First, the water in the bilge was slopping over the deck boards! Second, the daylight that could be seen through cracks in the hull!

    After much scratching of heads and long discussions we decided to build a new one!

    We consulted our expert in all things boat like, Pak Lombang and he said,

    “Kayu! Harus adah kayu kuat! Saya adah banyak!” Loosely translated this means, you need strong wood. I have lots in my garden. What he failed to mention is that it was still alive and growing!

    The Hunt for Wood!

    So, Pak Made was sought after as he had the largest chain saw on the island. This thing was a beast!  It had a blade over a metre long with the most vicious chain you have ever seen.  This was the Mad Max of island saws!

    So off we ventured into the jungle, also known as Pak Lombang’s garden. At this stage, Sue and I were having qualms about hacking down trees, but we were assured that these trees were on Pak lombang’s land and had been planted with boat building in mind.

    Suitable trees were identified and duly dispatched by Made’s rusty Stihl.  Then came the truly terrifying part. Making sure that he had his protective footwear firmly in place, flip flops with a thick sole, and his eye protectors on, copy RayBans from Kuta, Mad Made started sectioning the trees into suitable lumber.  This involved standing on the tree trunk and using this vast chain saw with a somewhat loose chain to saw thick baulks of wood with his feet either side of the cut. At this stage we walked away!

    Needless to say, everyone else was perfectly comfortable with the levels of health and safety being followed by our heroic hacker and Made even proudly showed off his ten toes at the end of the day!

    Finally, all the required wood had been cut and sectioned and was then stacked up to dry for a month. Then came the next challenge.

    “Pak John, we need a plan, design the boat!” an interesting concept as my boat building expertise to date had involved nothing more challenging than playing Pooh Sticks!

    In the next thrilling installment, “Shipyard in the Jungle,” Johnny Makes A Plan!

  • Dives course Lembongan

    Improve Your Diving By Keeping in Trim.

    Trim and The Mystical Art Of Buoyancy Control Part III

    Beautiful Buoyancy Control
    Beautiful Buoyancy Control

    When your instructor or dive guide suggests that you are not in trim, don’t slap them silly and call them out over body shaming!  All they are suggesting is that some of your floaty bits and some of your sinky bits could be slightly better adjusted! This is what they meant by “Keeping in Trim!”

    By now you have your weights correctly adjusted and you can operate your BCD without replicating a polaris missile but your legs keep sinking and you end up rolling onto your back like a stranded turtle.  This is where trim comes in.  It’s all about weights again.  But this time it is the where that is important.

    A couple of physiological facts.

    Men have heavy legs. Older women have legs that float. This will obviously affect the angle in which you attain when you are neutrally buoyant.  You want your body to be as horizontal as possible so here are some tricks to help.

    If you are finding that your legs are always sinking, put one of your weights onto the tank band.  A weight will hold fine if you thread it onto the band after you have secured your BCD.  The Velcro on the band will hold everything firmly.   If you are investing in a BCD, then look for one with trim pockets.  These are normally mounted on the back about level with the tank band. Another solution is to have the BCD mounted slightly lower down the tank, but this does result in a few collisions between your head and the regulator.

    On the other hand, if your legs are reaching for the sky, ankle weights are a solution.  These can be the training weights for joggers that you can buy from sport shops.  Alternatively you can buy heavy fins. The old style jet fins made from black rubber are great for this!

    What about always rolling over?

    Think about boats.  These are stable when all of the weight is down in the bottom of the boat. Look how you have your weights distributed on your weight belt.  If you have them arranged so that they are positioned either side of the buckle on your front then that is ideal.  If you have an odd number, then put the single weight on your tank band.  A lot of these issues can be sorted by buying good equipment.  A weight integrated BCD puts the weights exactly where they should be and generally come with trim pockets too.

    Final floaty bits that can upset the apple cart.

    There is one more item that affects your buoyancy and that is your exposure protection.  Wetsuits float, thick wetsuits float a lot and dry suits really float.  All of these items are affected by pressure too.  The deeper you go, the more they compress.  A number of our guests comment that they find getting neutral in our wetsuits harded than when they did their open water course.  That’s because we use 5mm full suits and they trained in 2.5 mm shorties.  With a thick wetsuit you have to be a lot more proactive in maintaining your buoyancy. Expect to add a lot more air to your BCD when descending and remember to let this extra air out on the way back up.

    Finally, don’t forget that empty tanks float too!

  • Penida diving Bali Indonesia

    The Mystical Art of Buoyancy Control, or How to Hover Like Guru! Part 2


    Well not really wind but trapped air. Similar really and pretty problematic! No one wants trapped air! Last month the mystical Art of Buoyancy Control was looking at the sinky bits. This month we are looking at the floaty bits, so let’s start by having a look at the main floaty bit. The BCD.

    PADI Courses with World Diving
    PADI Courses with World Diving

    BCD also known as a Stab Jacket!

    The BCD is your main way of changing your state of buoyancy. Remember back to those Open Water lessons? Positively Buoyant, good for hanging loose on the surface and having pre and post dive chats. Negatively Buoyant, the way to go down…. And then that mystical state.  Neutrally Buoyant, the condition your dive guide seems to attain with no visible effort while you are still using the inflator hose like a demented bag pipe strangler!

    The thing to remember about air is that it loves to float. So it will always rise to the highest point (the point closest to the surface) of your BCD. This means that air can get trapped in all sorts of silly nooks and crannies. BCD manufacturers have recognised this and have put dump valves and the deflator hose in appropriate places.

    Getting Rid of Wind.

    The standard way releasing air from the jacket is to raise the deflator hose and the left shoulder so it becomes the point closest to the surface and then let out the air. Sometimes water has got into this hose so keep the deflator button depressed until you see or hear the air coming out. This can take a few seconds. If you are swimming horizontally, roll so that you left hand side is upmost and point the deflator toward the surface.

    What about dumps? Most BCDs now have dump valves on the right shoulder and the right lower corner of the jacket. These are quick ways of getting that air out and loose buoyancy. If you want to dump then you must make sure that the valve is at the high point, i.e. closest to the surface. I have seen a number of divers attempting to use the bottom dump valve when in a head up position. The only way you can use this valve is in a head down position as when you are duck diving.

    Trapped air? Yes this can happen but it is minimised by having a correctly fitting jacket with all the buckles and clips correctly adjusted and clipped up. This keeps the BCD in the best position for air to easily find its way out. The best way of getting rid of trapped air is to get your body into a head up position. Raise the deflator, left shoulder high and be patient. Squeezing the BCD with your elbows will not do much except make you look like you are doing the funky chicken at some strange northern night club!


    So you’ve successfully descended, you have the right weights and your trapped wind problems are sorted. How do you get the buoyancy just right? The secret is in the word adjustment. With the right amount of weight on, it should not take that much air in your BCD to become neutral.

    As you descend, add small amounts of air every five metres or so. That will compensate for the compression of the air still in your BCD. While you are still getting to grips with it, get upright, find a visual reference, a bit of reef, a point on the shot or anchor line, but please, not a fish!

    With this reference keep adding small amounts of air until you can stay level with your reference. Remember….keep breathing! If you find yourself floating up, let out small amounts of air and breath out all the way. Don’t dump all of the air unless you are imitating a Polaris missile. If you do you will have to start the process all over again. Also remember that it takes time for the adjustments to take effect, inertia is a very powerful force and with all of your gear on you have a mass of around 100 kilos, so adding half a kilo of lift is not a big force. So be patient. Make your changes and then wait a few breaths.

    Contraction and expansion.

    As you go deeper you will need to add air to your jacket. There are other floaty bits that start to affect things at this stage but more of that in the next thrilling blog!

    So you have plunged the depths and are now heading away from the wonders of the deep. As you head up, all that air that you put into the BCD will start to expand as the pressure around you gets less. It is important to release a little bit of that air as you come up. As a starting point, make your ascent the same way as you went down, five metres at a time and then adjust your buoyancy again. You will soon get into the habit of automatically adding or letting air out of the jacket as you head down or go up.
    From this point on it is practice makes perfect.

    Do A Course of course!

    Remember that the PADI Advanced Open Water Course gives you the Peak Performance Buoyancy option.  This is a great course for ironing out all those ups and downs in your buoyancy control.  And it’s fun too! Get in touch with us to book your levitation lessons!

    Next month we will look at your other floaty bits and get you in trim!

  • Mola Bali Penida Crystal Bay

    The Mystical Art of Buoyancy Control

    Or How to Hover Like  Guru!

    Part 1 – Shake the Lead Out!


    We have all been there. You’ve made your pre-dive checks, jacket – check, lead weights – check, releases – check, air – check, final O.K and your in the water. The dive begins and, just like our instructor told us, you let just enough air out of the Buoyancy Control Device, breath out and slowly sink into azure underwater world to glide effortlessly among the fish.


    The reality is more like, let the air out of the Blasted Crappy Device and stay glued to the surface, or even more dramatically, trigger a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, inflates, deflates, hard finning to get down or flapping like a demented butterfly just to stop from sinking. Forget protecting delicate underwater life, all you want to do is stop yourself from becoming an addition to Davey Jones’ locker!

    So how do the pros make it all look so easy? Of all the skills that we learn in our PADI Open Water Course, buoyancy Control is the most dynamic.  There are so many factors that affect your positioning in the water; your wetsuit, your weights, your lung volume, the water you are diving in, the amount of air in your tank, what your tank is made from and not forgetting that Blasted Crappy Device!

    Hovering above the reef
    Beautiful Buoyancy Control

    A Weighty Matter!

    Let’s look at weights first.  This is probably the most misunderstood item of equipment. The amount of weight you need is just enough to counter the buoyancy of you, your wetsuit, the water that you are diving in and your tank when it is down to about 50 bar.  Anything extra will just make life so much more difficult.  When you are correctly weighted you will be negatively buoyant at the beginning of the dive and neutrally buoyant at the end.  There is no typical amount of weight and the lead that you had on your dive in the Cayman Islands in a 3 mm shorty will not be the same as those that you need doing retro hard hat dive off Grimsby docks!

    How to get the right amount of lead!

    So, how do you go about making sure you have the correct amount of weight?  First of all, just before you make your descent do a buoyancy check.  With all of your gear in place and your regulator in your mouth, hang motionless in the water.  That means no kicking!  Next let all the air out of your jacket and take a good breath in.  You should now find that you are floating at eye level.  Now breathe out and you should slowly start to sink.  If you are still floating, add a kilo and repeat the check.  If you sink like a stone, remove a kilo and repeat. Finally, add one or two kilos to take care of tank buoyancy at the end of your dive.  If you are using a steel tank you don’t need this last step.

    Next, have a think about what is happening on your dives. Floating around on the surface like a bobbing cork is the obvious sign that a couple of kilos extra would not go amiss, as is that exciting head down, arse up and legs kicking position while trying to do your safety stop,( though that could be to do with trapped air. More about wind problems in the next thrilling instalment!) However, if you find yourself dropping like an abandoned anchor, that would suggest a weight loss progamme would be beneficial.

    Get rid of the pounds!

    Another more subtle sign of overweighting is having to constantly add and release air from your BCD.  It does not seem to matter what you do, as soon as you start to swim you lose control and start the porpoise ride all over again.  The reason is simple.  Excess kilos on your belt means more air in your BCD, so any change in depth will mean that this air expands or contracts a lot and this has a big effect on your buoyancy. The less air you have in your jacket then the less effect it has on you when you change depth. Get rid of the extra weights and you get rid of the extra air.

    Next time you go diving, have a look at your divemaster’s weight belt and ask yourself, “How low can you go?”

    Do A Course of course!

    Remember that the PADI Advanced Open Water Course gives you the Peak Performance Buoyancy option.  This is a great course for ironing out all those ups and downs in your buoyancy control.  And it’s fun too! Get in touch with us to book your levitation lessons!