by Jeni Bone
At 57, Don McIntyre is still an avid explorer. Here he shares some vivid experiences taken from his latest adventure to Tonga - 'Chasing the Blue Dream' - where he and his team are diving and discovering significant undersea wrecks and their treasures, and how through FindACrew, he found the ideal mix of adventurers (and they found him!)
Don gets into the good grub
How did you hear of FindACrew?
It was so long ago I forget but probably just Google. I often tell budding adventurers to jump on the web and list with the crewing sites as there is a lot of adventure to be had out there and I just find Findacrew to be the best operating system and some good talent for the boat owner that is easy to check out.
When have you used it?
Most recently last season. I got two really good ladies onboard for eight months across the Pacific from Philippines to Fiji and this season I have Amit from Israel and Kylie from Australia, both onboard now for a few weeks and REALLY good! They are both very interesting which is why I chose them.
Making friends in the Phillippines
What vessel were you on and why did you want additional crew?
ICE is a 50ft x 40 tonne motor sailer with the works. We are now a livaboard dive support vessel and we are off treasure hunting. We have a few virgin wrecks discovered in Tonga and now working with Tongan Govt. permits to reveal the heritage of those sites in a responsible way.
It may be a five year project. This is the discovery phase and very exciting. I always look for interesting crew to join me on all my expeditions – new blood adds to the fun. My crew all contribute $2000 a month to assist with a real share of operating costs for the expedition, so they feel a part of what is going on and I know they are passionate about really wanting to be there.
I like crew who have their own agenda: want to learn, increase experience, face the unknown, explore. This is not just an island cruise, anything could happen. I had heaps of waves from everyone wanting to join, but only about six who were also prepared to find the crew $$ contributions. But of those I only decided on Amit and Kylie as they both have something to offer..that special spark!...if there was another as good as them I could take them but I always look for fun interesting characters. We become family and close friends through experiences shared.
Did they have previous experience?
I always pick people with 'Life Experience' first priority, then consider other aspects. Last year yes. This year, yes. Amit has a skippers ticket to 24m, is a kite surfing instructor and Dive master, Qualified science diver, underwater videographer, masters in Marine Biology, spent six years in the Israeli army as a combat training specialist and sniper. So he is fun! And Kylie is a free diver, surfer, masters in Photography and well travelled working on White boats too.
How did it all go?
Last year the crew were great fun and everything I expected, so very happy. This year is shaping up even better.
What were some of the advantages of using FindACrew?
The software package using the web site and user systems for boat owners and crew is great. I find it simple and convenient. You can really look the crew over before contacting and you can pick the enthusiastic ones. Not everyone wants to pay $2000 a month but I don't do normal things, so it all works out fine.
The crew have their hands full with lobster
When I sailed 4000 miles across the Pacific in a 23ft open whale boat, retracing Bligh's Mutiny On the Bounty voyage, my crew paid $20,000 each for 48 days of sheer deprivation! Everyone is different. nNow ICE is sheer luxury. I have been doing professional expedition since 1993, sometimes with up to 10 crew. But now I am a lot more relaxed, sort of retired and this expedition is unique, more personal fun. So just a few quality crew makes all the difference. Still looking for one more good one! There is a lot of fun to be had!
Why would you recommend FindACrew to skippers and owners?
If you need delivery crew or fun crew you take your pick - simple as that. You can pay them, or get them for free or they may pay some costs - too easy! You can all make the first contact and see what you think.
What are some of the comments from your crew about their experiences with you?
Not what they expected but great fun. Life changing experience and happy to be part of the team and really live! Found by 'blue treasure' in one day of surfing!
Not all hard work onboard ICE
Don's venture is known as 'Tonga Blue' with the sole objective to undertake legitimate, Government endorsed efforts, to recover the hidden maritime past of the 'Friendly Isles' and bring to life the many stories lost. McIntyre and his partner, Mark Belvedere have a high level of collective experience in this area and a proven track record of managing similar projects. They come prepared and equipped to act and are excited about the opportunities.
The Tongan Government will be active partners in any find. Tonga Blue recognises that the historical significance of any discovery is more important than the value of the find and over rides all other considerations. The correct archeologically responsible recovery plans will be employed together with appropriate conservation processes.
As a 'team', McIntyre and Belvedere can bring together contacts and known associates in specialist fields. This will ensure all delicate recovery operations are not only 'responsible and accountable', but to world’s best practice.
More at www.bluetreasure.me and www.findacrew.net