Day #9 New Guinea Adventure

Madang, Papua New Guinea

Today we are in for a couple of great adventures, the first will be our scuba dive in the waters off Madang and the second will be my presentation “Shooting, Stitching and Virtual Tours” in the lecture theatre onboard Orion.
Early morning arrival into Madang

Once again it’s an early morning rise and up to Deck 6 for the sunrise and the arrival into Madang at 07:00. The regular crew are already setup and shooting by the time I arrive. Nick has set up his Canon 5D and is shooting a time-lapse of our arrival.
Map of the region showing our headingGoogle map link

It’s an early breakfast this morning and we are really excited about our scuba dive expedition.
We are ready with all our gear at the disembarkation point near reception on Deck 4 at 08:45. There’s a small cultural welcome taking place on the dock below but it’s really not anything like the fantastic welcomes we’ve experienced in the small villages and islands we have already visited. This group’s costumes look a little makeshift as you can see from the headdress worn by this dancer.
Symbolic Headdress

Finally we are cleared to disembark and eight of us head down the stairs to the waiting minibus. The plan is to head to the Madang Resort, where Niugini Dive is located, get our gear and then head out for two dives.

It’s only a ten minute drive to the resort and in no time we’ve signed our indemnity forms relinquishing the organisers of any responsibility for our wellbeing and have had our BCD’s (Buoyancy Control Device) assigned. Now we are walking down to the local dock where the small dive boat is waiting for us.

We climb aboard and take our seats, aside from the eight of us there are three other guys diving today.
Fellow passengers from the Orion

One of these other guys joining us has a very impressive piece of photo kit with him. It’s a Canon 5D Mark2 in a special waterproof housing. I’ve never seen one before so I have a bit of a chat with him and he tells me he’s never dived with it before.  He rented it to try it out and he’s a bit concerned that it’s going to be completely watertight.

We arrive at our first dive site, a reef about 30 minutes from Madang. The chap with the camera doesn’t waste anytime and he’s one of the first in the water.
Young guy with camera
Waterproof camera housing

During our initial setup at the Madang Resort we had spoken to the dive masters and told them that we hadn’t dived for about 17 years but that we’d done a refresher course just before we left Sydney.

Once we reached the reef one of the dive masters made a point of staying with just Kelly and myself to make sure we’d be okay and to gauge how well we could cope with different depths. The other guys in our group had had quite a bit of experience so they went in before us.
Bruce waiting for everyone to join him

A few minutes later we were in the water and descending toward the reef. I was a bit concerned about Kelly as she’d only managed to complete the first day of the refresher course, but I needn’t have worried as she was having a great time and had no issues diving at all.

We spent a great 45 minutes or so diving the reef, the conditions weren’t the best, but it was still a great deal of fun. We’d been told to leave a bit of air in our tanks but I seem to be a heavy breather under water and toward the end of our dive the dive master gestured for me to take his auxiliary regulator and use his air to conserve mine. So the last 5 or 6 minutes while we stopped for decompression he and I were very close!
View back to mainland from the dive boat

After we’d all climbed back on board, there’s quite a bit of discussion as to the tide, diving conditions and dive locations we could go to next. The dive master say well go look at a couple of spots and we head off across the bay. At each stop he puts on some goggles and dives overboard to check out the conditions. Unfortunately it’s not looking good as the tides are bringing in quite a lot of stuff in the water. In the end a vote is taken and we all opt for the B25 bomber dive.

The dive is an old World War II wreck of a B-25D-5 bomber “Green Dragon”. During the war it took off near Port Moresby on a barge sweep and strike against Madang Airfield. It was damaged by anti-aircraft fire and it ditched between Wongat Island and the coast of New Guinea.

Of the crew, the Engineer died in the crash. The rest of the crew swam to Wongat Island where they were captured by the Japanese. The Command Pilot Major Cox was separated from them and flown to Rabaul then transported to Japan where he spent the war as a POW. The other four crew members were blindfolded, escorted to an execution ground, bayoneted, then beheaded!

A chap named David Pennefather discovered the plane in September 1979 while snorkelling off Wongat island.

It took us about 20 minutes to get to the wreck site and we suited up again. The other guys would go first and we would go with our dive master. The main body of the plane is in about  18 metres of water while the starboard wing is at 25 metres.
Our dive master

After the initial group descended it’s our turn and over we go. It’s pretty poor visibility but below us we can see the shape of the plane. We descend down to about 18 metres and follow our dive master as he takes us around the wreck. I have to say it’s pretty cool, the plane has lots of sponges growing on it and there are fish all around. It’s also quite crowded down there with everyone diving around the same spot. At one point the dive master manoeuvres Kelly toward the cockpit, which is completely open and where you can still see the controls and joysticks, and helps her get right into it, very cool. There are some very good photographs in the forum at Scuba.com.


Top Turret Machine Guns
Kelly framed by a window in the fuselage

After another 45 minutes diving, this time I was much more careful with my breathing so I didn’t need to use anyone else’s air, we made our way back to the surface. As we talked about our experience on the way back to the resort we both realised that it had rekindled our desire to do more scuba diving.

Arriving back at the resort we dropped the gear, thanked the dive guys and headed back to the Orion. Now my presentation is at 14:00 and we had only arrived back at 13:00 so Mike Fogg was a bit concerned I wouldn’t have time to set up but I assured him everything was okay and Kelly and I dashed off to get all the gear ready for the presentation.

I’d prepared a presentation and all the files the night before so I was in pretty good shape. It was primarily a matter of setting up the laptop and having everything ready to go.

At 14:00 I had an audience of about 27 and was ready to go. I’d planned the presentation to cover the three main areas that creating 360 Panoramas require you to work in. That is shooting panoramas, stitching panoramas and delivering those panoramas in Virtual Tours.

I talked about what a 360 Panorama is and showed examples taken while in the Tufi Village tour. The different types of Panorama images such as Circular or Cubic and the equipment you need to shoot them.

The next step was to discuss composing Panoramas to maximise the effect and I followed this with a real-time shoot within the lecture theatre.
Lecture Panorama (everyone was paying attention except the old guy asleep in the front row!)

After the presentation, there was a two hour break until Peter Eastway’s presentation “Photoshop and Layers” at 17:00. One of the guys from the dive shop who was working on the boat had been showing some artefacts that we really liked. When the boat got back we couldn’t find him and we were a bit sad that we’d missed out on them.

There was still a shuttle bus running between the Orion and the Madang Resort so Kelly, Peter and myself decided to catch the last bus back and see if we could find the guy from the boat.

At the resort they told us he was actually down by the docks where the Orion was berthed hoping we would see him there. As we had plenty of time before Peter was on call next we decided to walk back to the ship.

In the resort there was a sad sort of zoo with some caged animals including some very sick looking tree kangaroos. Not a great spot to visit.
Black Cockatoo at Mandang Resort
The weather was beautiful and being a Sunday the town was almost deserted.  We walked back along a wide avenue flanked by trees past an old club and back to the dock where we caught up with the guy from the boat and bought our artefacts.
Avenue of trees
Coca-cola stand

Near the docks is the ubiquitous Copra works and the large silo that contained the refined Copra.
Copra Silos
Stack of bags in the Copra works

Back on board we had time to grab a coffee and get settled in for Peters lecture on Photoshop and how he uses layers to bring the image back to what he saw when he was shooting it. Once again a great presentation and more grist for the mill.

The day wound down with another recap from the Expedition Team and we finished the day with a bit of room service.

Tony Redhead

93 Maud Street, Unley, SA, 5061, Australia