It's only taken 5 years to get my shit together and finally do this, but I've finally booked the boat. I was going to keep this very intimate with a local group in SEA but life got in the way and people dropped out, so I'm opening up 4 spots on here, if that's ok with the Forum rules. There's no money in this, all costs are transparent and shared between the divers.
The Princess of the Orient is a one-of-a-kind wreck and the dive of a lifetime. I've been practically obsessed with it for years and being the first person in has been the reason for me getting into tec and CCR diving. She's majestic, she tells a sad story and she is MASSIVE, at 195m long.
Over the past five years I've taken the time to gather information on the wreck from numerous sources and talked to those who've dived the POTO to get a deeper insight and some data to plan around... The history of how she met the ocean floor I'm sure everyone has already read - and if not it's on Wikipedia, so here are some more “under the bonnet” details from chatting to 2 separate teams who've dived her in the past:
AFAIK she's only been dived five times, all on the exterior. First time was when John Bennet and Ron Loos found her in 2001 and dived her stern. I spoke to Ron about it and they did 25min bottom time on OC and were out of the water in just over 3h. The second time in 2002 when Paul Neilsen and Rob Jacobs dived her on CCR (I believe Paul was on a Mk15) and took the first ever footage of the wreck. There's some old undated footage of a team doing 10min BT, probably sometime after that. Then in 2008 Roger Ingebo, Mike Taylor, Matt Reed and Paul Neilsen - who were the first to explore the whole length of the ship on scooters and see the stern. Then last year by a GUE team.
As far as I am aware from all four dive reports available, nobody has ever penetrated her - yet.
Here's the itinerary I put together:
4th Apr (afternoon/evening): Embark at Puerto Galera
5th Apr: 70m warm-up dives on M/V Coral Island or Maricaban Island
6th Apr: POTO Dive 1
7th Apr: POTO Dive 2
8th Apr (morning): disembark at Puerto Galera.
Puerto Galera also offers some of the best diving in the world, both in the recreational and technical ranges. Accommodation, food and diving are incredibly cheap and there's full CCR support, making a week-long trip a great and very affordable option.
POTO Dive 1: we'll do a quick 15-20min recce (preferably on scooters) over the starboard side and superstructure of the wreck to find and mark potential penetration points. I have some drawings of the ship which I've cross-checked with incident reports to give us a good starting point on where to look.
POTO Dive 2: To make the second dive worthwhile we're looking at 30min bottom time: 6min descent and 24min on the wreck with a 10min each way penetration.
Conditions: the dates I've booked are the most ideal window weather-wise and see next to no tidal coefficient, which is great news as conditions can and have turned bad in the past, making for a difficult decompression for some of the previous teams.
Dive plan: I've run some numbers and we can get out of the water in a tad under 4h of deco whilst still keeping within safe margins. Dive plans are open to discussion within reason wth those who have confirmed their spot, but keep in mind this is for a penetration dive with extended bottom time.
Due to the amount of kit on the boat and to avoid being cramped I'm inclined to cap the number for this at 6 divers only. Boat costs are as follows:
Charter rate is 7080 US $ (8 divers maximum and three diving days). All meals and soft drinks while on board are included.
5 Oxygen storage tanks free (50 l 110 bar), additional tanks @ 40 US$ each.
Helium US $ 0.06 per litre.
Absorbent US $15 per kg.
Rebreather Tanks (2 and/or 3 litres) 15 US $ per day.
Booster pump rental for 40 US $ per day (Please check well in advance for availability of tanks and booster).
To secure a spot a 50% deposit is required by 1st Feb with the balance cleared 30 days before the trip.
Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch.