With my Nomadic tendencies twitching and approaching the end of my contract in PNG I found myself looking back towards the land of smiles that feels like home, Thailand. After putting out some feelers I received a couple of job offers and who could resist the temptation of working in a Big Blue T-shirt again, on a beautiful boat with amazing people and some cracking diving. Decision made; Thanks Chris I’ll take the job!
So here I am, back in Thailand and working alongside good friends as one of Big Blues trip leaders operating 4 day live-aboards in the Similans. Over the coming months you will hear plenty about the diving and even more about sightings of specific animals; but what about the element that makes all of our diving experiences occur. The unsung hero’s of such an excursion that work tirelessly to achieve the main objective in providing excellent service to the guests on board. Of course we have great dive guides and 2 fantastic trip leaders but the ones that count are the Thai staff that deliver time and time again.
It’s fair to say that I have worked on many vessels and for quite a number of operators too and albeit the majority of people who work in the dive industry have similar traits which create a great experience, these guys and girls have that little bit extra that you just cannot put into words, so, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the gang in anticipation of your decision to visit us for a great experience with a large dollop of luxury on board MV Hallelujah.
Captain Sutan is undeniably your quintessential Thai Captain, very rarely seen off the bridge or out of his cabin Sutan has no interest in running around the boat checking on his crew (he has the Chief Engineer for that). The skill that this man has when it comes to drop offs and pick ups is fantastic, many a time I have to call guests back to my position as they shy away from the 38m vessel steaming towards them at a rate of knots, only to witness the hand brake go on, the tail slide around placing the rung of the ladder at my finger tips. If Hallelujah had wheels then Sutan would be the world drift champion.
The Chief Engineer
One of the busiest guys on deck, Banana is not only in charge of any mechanical issues onboard but he overseas the dive deck when preparing for drop-offs and pick-ups, monitors tank refills, liaise with the Captain, Skippers the boat when the Captain needs rest and he’s also a dab hand at maneuvering our 2 chase dinghy’s.
Banana is one in a million and 99% of the time does it all with a smile on his face, his favorite time seems to be pick-ups as he gets the opportunity to throw out the trail line for staff and guests to grab onto as Hallelujah comes to a halt (I think he aims for the staffs head as entertainment as he’s always chuckling away or giving a loud “Oooooooh” as it narrowly misses). A great guy to have onboard.
Team Gangsters – The boat boys
Bananas team comprises of G’App, Don, Mad & Joy, an awesome team of comedians and hard workers.
These boys are ridiculously quick on the dive deck. Having had a few trips to stand back and observe before taking the reigns, I have (on a number of occasions) remained on the upper dive deck to watch the operation as it unfolds. These guys can spot a problem from a mile away, through a jostling gaggle of divers, following it up with the stealth of a snake hunting through blades of grass and pouncing on the unsuspecting diver busily donning equipment. Before you know anything about it he’s by your side and resolving that twisted hose or loose tank strap that you where oblivious to. The speed at which the boys work is magnificent, like a well oiled machine these guys have no hesitations in jumping in the water to assist older divers struggling to remove fins post dive; an excellent example of customer care and teamwork. All done with the usual broken Thai/ English humor and smiles commonly found within an exceptionally good team.
The Steward & Stewardess
We have 2 members of staff that constantly clean up our mess, clear & wash plates, mop wet floors, prepare cabins, serve at the bar and keep the coffee machine well and truly topped up to the gunnels.
Bow and his wife Ooy (the camera-shy one) work as a great little team ensuring the cleanliness of MV Hallelujah is second to none and when you get the munchies, they also have a little store providing snacks between the plethora of food served by undoubtedly the most important couple on the boat, the cooks.
We all know that the real boss of the boat is the cook, well we have 2, Rat & Ann.
From their tiny little kitchen down in the hull they provide an inordinate amount of food for all on board. Most meals come with 7 dishes ranging from Western, Japanese & Thai cuisine and all to a standard that can only be described as sensational. Rat usually operates the buffet style serving area and speaks Thai, Japanese and English, she also offers massages later in the evening should you wish to scrub away those aching muscles after a long days diving. It’s safe to say that no guest will lose weight during any trip with these two ladies cooking!
Thai Team Awesome
In a nutshell these guys and girls are simply awesome. Big Blues owner believes that looking after his staff results in an effective and happy team, bravo boss man, I couldn’t agree more.
Come and see for yourself, enjoy the diving and have a little bit of luxury on board MV Hallelujah with yours truly and Big Blue Diving Khao Lak.