Mark Twain famously wrote the following:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
By sheer coincidence, this story starts twenty years ago in 1997, when I had just become an expatriate in Dubai and decided to learn to dive. It was new, interesting, the water was warm, and I obtained my PADI Open Water certification.
Six months later, I’m doing my Advanced Open Water in Comoros and two things happen; first, the diving is spectacular and I fall in love with diving. Second, and probably over a beer, an idea forms, the dream of “doing something” with diving, perhaps owning a dive centre with an attached bar on a beach somewhere.
I’m sure that every recreational diver has had the same dream. But this is how and when mine started.
Between 1998 and 2015 life goes on, marriage, two wonderful children and divorce, but throughout it all, there is still the dream nestling somewhere in the recesses of my mind. Sometimes it comes to the fore, always with the same catalysts, namely vacations, around sunset on a beach after a day’s diving with a cold beer in hand.
All this time I’m still continuing with my “normal” job, albeit now in South East Asia, and I’m still an Advanced diver, diving regularly around the region. Then in December 2015 something changes; an epiphany.
Exactly why, I can’t say, but maybe it’s the milestone birthday in a few years, or just simply the realisation that there is still the unfulfilled dream that somehow gnaws like an unscratched itch. Whatever the reason is, I start looking at dive centres for sale, some even come complete with attached bars and beach frontage but none really tick the boxes. Then a friend, Cecile, joins the search and the notional “business”, as a partner, and she raises the idea of liveaboards and Indonesia.
A liveaboard diving boat in the Coral Triangle! Ta Dah! This is the Eureka moment!!
But not just any boat, we settle on the idea of a traditional wooden sailing boat build by local tribesmen on a beach somewhere in Indonesia. This may not seem like a logical first step into the world of boat ownership/liveaboard operating and it isn’t! The arbitrary way that we made this decision still makes me question my sanity.
But, as a friend of mine used to say; “If you’re going to be a bear; be a grizzly!”
2016 is spent searching for, and surveying, what appear to be hundreds of liveaboards or potential liveaboards. Some are great, others would make the Black Pearl look like a luxury option, but finally, in June we have an offer accepted on a boat. Lawyers are hired and due diligence begins. Then in August 2016, we have devastating news; the owner had accepted offers from numerous parties and we lose the boat (and not an insignificant amount of lawyers’ fees too).
This is a low point and a real body blow but then we get a sniff of another boat for sale. Travels plans are hurriedly made and a viewing is arranged. And there she is in Serangan in Bali, the 34m Carpe Diem Phinisi.
It’s love at first sight.
Offers and counter offers are made, surveys conducted, sea trials and a dry-docking, and finally the sale concludes in February 2017. In the meantime, Cecile has moved to Bali to set up the new company, obtain operating licences and generally navigate the tricky waters of Indonesian bureaucracy. I use my spare time to obtain my Rescue Diver and Emergency First Responder before moving onto Dive Master, which I obtain fourteen days before my fiftieth birthday!
Now that the boat is ours, we can embark on upgrades and modifications. These include all new diving equipment and compressor, new diving tender, new cabin layout, new diving area, new safety equipment, new furnishings etc. Aside from the boat, we made our own website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages and started marketing the boat. Routes and itineraries are developed, business plans made and remade, agents met, crew hired (and some let go), the number of things to do never ends (nor it would appear does the spending!!)
And then a miracle, bookings start, initially some friends to whom we are eternally grateful for trusting us with their hard-earned cash and their precious vacations and then bookings from agents.
Like Kevin Costner said, “If you build it, they will come.”
Now it’s full moon April 2017, I’m drinking wine and listening to music with a bunch of friends, sitting on the deck of my 34 m long phinisi in Bali. Somewhere in the background Coldplay are singing about a head full of dreams. I take a moment to pinch myself and smile.
Carpe Diem Phinisi will be operating from June 2017 with scheduled diving trips and full boat charters in the heart of the Coral Triangle.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
Learn more at http://www.carpediemphinisi.com or on Facebook and Instagram