The birth of a Dragon!!
As it's "monsoon time" again, and i realised i haven't really added (m)any photos of The Dive Inn's boat to the website gallery, i decided now would be as good a time as any. In fact, i created a new gallery dedicated to our beloved Ocean Dragon...
Back in April 2013, and as a direct result of the lunacy gripping the dive community on Koh Phangan, we decided to take the bold decision to purchase and run our own dive boat.
Prior to this, we had preferred to pay our way and book our customers onto boats owned by other dive centers on the island.
This had generally worked well for us over the previous years as it allowed us to operate a more flexible schedule due to different boats going to different dive sites on any given day.
It also removed the inevitable cost and hassle that goes with operating a dive boat, although we did have to pay substantial amounts for these benefits.
The downside of non-ownership of a boat were also quite considerable. Trips could be cancelled on a whim, the standards of some boats, not to mention the level of "service" some of them provided, was all beyond our control, so a big decision had to be made...
After searching the internet and following up on tip-off's we finally came across a boat moored in Suratthani province. Although not an operational dive boat, it had been somewhat converted from its former role as a fishing trawler and had been used as a tour boat of sorts. If even had some basic tank racks, although these weren't of much use to us.
We purchased the Dragon Ocean, as it was named then (English to Thai translation often reverses the words) and made the short journey up river to the nearby boat yard.
The Ocean Dragon in a previous life!
The "Dragon" was pulled from the water into the dry-dock and work immediately began on fully converting her. First of all the original garish colour scheme of black and yellow was stripped away, followed by re-caulking the hull and servicing the propeller, engine and shaft.
Meanwhile, on deck the tank rack benches, food counter, galley, upper deck tables and stainless steel work (ladders, tank racks, safety railings, etc.) was progressing well.
Work begins on the main tank racks and benches
After a full 3-4 weeks at the boat yard, the (slightly) renamed "Ocean Dragon" made her first full journey overnight to Koh Phangan, arriving at Chaloklum pier in the early morning.
A year later she returned to the same boat yard for her first "refit", at which point some minor modifications were made. The rear platform was shortened slightly to ease the upward pressure of waves when the sea was less than calm and a few additional tank racks were fitted in underutilised areas to ease congestion at the front of the boat during busy trips.
The main paintwork was also changed from the orange that the boat yard had sneakily used the first year (they claimed it was red!), to the red we had requested. Also amended were the inevitable spelling mistakes on the signage!
The Ocean Dragon has now been in service for a year and a half and, with a few "hiccups" here and there, has proved to be a brilliant decision that, with the benefit of hindsight, we probably would have made a few years earlier.
The gallery i've created can be found at this link:
Ocean Dragon gallery
Simply scroll down to "The Ocean Dragon Dive Boat" and click on the title. From there you will find the photographs i've uploaded and their descriptions (if you click on a photo).
The Ocean Dragon!