If you would like to read industry testimonials and press articles about Allan Power Dive Tours, please check out the links below.
TAKING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD, International Dive Centre - 1 February, 2006
International Dive Centre take up on the great opportunity to run courses along with an overseas trip. This is one of the KICK START 2006 incentives Allan Power Dive Tours and Deco Stop Lodge are offering to all dive shops.
Rubens Monaco writes, It’s hard to imagine taking yourself out of your comfortable surroundings when you are teaching dive courses. Most reputable dive facilities are equipped with all sorts of sophisticated training aids that make teaching students to dive easy and help to ultimately make good and responsible divers. However, as dive operators and instructors, we sometimes forget that although our students may be impressed with our facilities and the fancy equipment that we own, when learning to dive, they look at the overall package that they are getting for their money. This package includes more than just great training material and new hire gear, they want to have fun, enjoy their experience and be comfortable while they learn. So as a dive operator in Portsea, Victoria, trying to get divers enthusiastic about learning to dive in the middle of winter, those two simple words absorbed my thoughts, fun and comfort.
For the past six years I have run a good dive facility and trained many divers to not only learn to dive, but to continue their education in dozens of other courses. However, the winter months have always been a struggle. People just don’t want to dive in cold water!
3 years ago I ran a group trip to Santo and one of the clients on the trip asked me if he could do his PADI Deep Diver course on the trip as he had run out of time to complete it before the trip was departing. Not wanting to miss the opportunity I said, ‘No problems’, but later went into a minor panic as to how I was going to logistically do this. I would have no comfortable classroom, what about a video and TV and it meant I would have to take my instructor manual, which all instructors know, weighs half our luggage allowance!
All problems aside, I made it happen and in the end it was not a hassle at all. As all good PADI instructors do, they improvise, overcome and adapt and without breaking any standards I was able to provide my student with a great course and met those two pre-requisites of comfort and fun. As it turned out, one of the other clients on the trip got wind of the course running and decided on the plane trip over that he would also like to join in the course! Since then, courses on dive trips have been a major part of our promoting overseas travel. We offer all sorts of courses to our customers from an entry-level dive course, to specialties such as wreck, deep, photography and if the location caters for it, as is the case at Santo, we even do technical diver courses.
Santo, in Vanuatu, is by far my most favourite destination to teach people to dive and continue their education. As an instructor, I have the facilities available to me to teach my students well and ensure I meet all my standards. As a student, they are taught to dive in comfortable conditions and in a relaxed environment with the added benefit of diving on the biggest accessible wreck in the world, the SS President Coolidge. So having fun on a dive course in Vanuatu is not something I have to work hard on to promote and deliver!
In September 2005, I escorted a group of six divers on my tenth trip to Santo. All six travelers were going to complete some sort of course on this trip. I had a busy schedule in front of me. One PADI Wreck Diver Course, one PADI U/W Photography Diver Course, one PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course, one IANTD Technical Diver Course and two IANTD Advanced Nitrox Course students, just a slow week at the office! Having brought with me only the paperwork I required for each course and the relevant materials and training aids to meet all standards, I spent the first few days of the trip completing as much of the theory components of the courses as I could.
The Deco Stop Lodge has a great classroom facility with which to conduct theory lessons and if you want to take it to a new level, a table in front of the pool over-looking the harbour is not a bad place to conduct a theory lesson either! It was also comforting to know that if you forgot something, Allan Power Dive Tours has all the necessary training aids you need. Of course it is always wise to call or email ahead of time just to make sure. Tim, Allan and the boys are very helpful and really like the idea of dive operators conducting course dives in Santo. Their knowledge and experience of the Coolidge and the waters around Santo are second to none. The course dives are made so easy with both the wreck of the Coolidge and the magnificent coral gardens. The location is tailor made for conducting almost any kind of course. Whether it’s simple intro training or a deep tri-mix tech course, you have all the space and great conditions to provide your students with a safe, comfortable and enjoyable dive experience. In the case of my courses, I was able to get the depth and exciting diving for my Advanced Nitrox and Technical students, the easy penetration for my PADI Wreck diver and the impressive abundance of marine life for my photography student to indulge in. By the end of the week, all the courses were completed, no bad weather to holt my progress, no cold students, no bad vis and some very happy and content students already talking about the next course they will be going to sign up for. The most important feedback that I had from my students was how they would now be able to go back home and dive some of the sites that they had not dived before. Great feed-back, and a positive slant on our local diving meaning that just because we are taking our students overseas to learn to dive, we are not making them tropical divers, just enthusiastic travelers.
Here is what some of our students had to say: Stuart Webster: “Diving on the Coolidge and the coral garden made it the ultimate location for the photography course. The guides were more than happy to point stuff out to me. There was so much to see that I filled my memory stick on almost every dive.”
Steven Gymer: “The SS President Coolidge is a wreck that is a must do dive destination for any one that has an interest in such diving. The warm water and friendly guides make for a very enjoyable week away, and to complete the IANTD Advanced Nitrox and put the certificate to use on the Coolidge was absolutely fantastic".
Liz Allwood: “I completed my PADI Wreck Course on the Coolidge! I practiced reeling in the pool at the Deco Stop with some words of wisdom from Freddie. Rubens then had me reel through the rainforest before the dive giving me guidance on holding the reel and the torch correctly. Onto the Coolidge in Cargo hold 1, the reeling went without a hitch".
Phil Richards: “A little excitement and extreme adventure with 27 degrees at 45m, what more could you want than to do your IANTD Advanced Nitrox course on the Coolidge as the backdrop? I highly recommend it as the ultimate experience.”
Fredi Berger: “I have been waiting for a while to complete my Technical Diver Course on the President Coolidge. The water warm and the vis good. Good conditions for long deco stops.”
Nick Sketcher: “I was so proud to have completed my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course on the President Coolidge. The water was warm and it seemed so easy to get through the skills. It didn’t really feel like I was on a course but learnt a lot in the process. Good-O!”
So next time you are feeling that nothing is working and your customers are not diving because the conditions are not good or the water is too cold, why not take your show on the road and try running some courses on your overseas trip to Santo, Vanuatu. Your customers will love it, and you can continue running courses in the comfortable surroundings of a tropical location, just the way it was intended!
The embossed port of registration on the stern of the President Coolidge!
Allan Powers Dive Tours have uncovered the port of registration on the stern of this our majestic ship. One of the most accessible wreck dives in the world right here on the sandy shores of this paradise island, Espiritu Santo-Vanuatu. Allan Power, manager Tim Gilder and his passionate dive guides have been maintaining the ship and big brass lettering that grace the 654’3” long hull of this luxury liner for many years. After finding the 30cm letters, several years ago the search for the port of registration was prompted by a phone call from avid President Coolidge enthusiast Andy Andrews, he informed us that the port of registration should be situated under the lettering on the stern. This triggered the search and at last, for the first time since the sinking of the President Coolidge, can be seen again by divers. Imagining’s of her colourful history slip into the minds of divers as they dive the warm clear waters of Santo to a depth of 60 meters to cast their eye on a San Francisco registration that embellishes her stern...
Built in 1931 by Newport Ship Building and Dry-dock Co. Newport News. Launched on the 21st of Febuary1931, fitted and delivered to her owners on the 1st of October 1931, Mrs Calvin Coolidge christened her gracious hull, the President Coolidge. She and her sister ship the President Hoover were the flag ships of the Dollar Steamship Line’s fleet. When the flag bedecked new liner arrived in her home port of San Francisco, the whole city turned out to welcome her. A superb bravura of a ship. One of the largest passenger liners built in an American shipyard. she proudly represented the nations technological achievements in navel architecture and marine engineering and it’s continuing belief in the importance of Pacific traffic of passengers and freight. To the San Francisco chamber of commerce she guaranteed a prosperous future for the port and all those industries dependent on its economic well-being.
The proud ship President Coolidge served the commercial South Pacific for some time but her future was soon to change. As World War II approached she was occasionally used by the War Department on a part voyage basis. On November the first 1941 was on route home, equidistant between Manilla and Honolulu, on the fateful day of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbour. On Christmas day she safely entered San Francisco harbour. The following year she was hurriedly modified for the carrying of enormous numbers of American troops. She was with out delay put into service in the South West Pacific. On the 6th of October 1942 she immediately set sail for New Caledonia then set her course for Espiritu Santo entering the seemingly calm blue water of our shores on the 26th of October 1942. Little did Captain Henry Nelson know that they were on the brink of disaster. At 09:35 ships time, propelled by her turbo electric twin screw engine’s her majestic bow parted the crystal calm waters at approx 15 knots approaching the wrong entrance to the harbour of Espiritu Santo. In turn making direct contact with a U.S mine field strategically placed in the East End of the Segond Channel. Here the President Coolidge, Field Capt. Elwood. J. Euart and Engineer/fireman Robert Reed were to meet their fate. Impulsively the vessel was beached, by the master, listed over on her port side and 5050 U.S troops clambered down her progressively raising starboard side to safety, she gradually filled then slipped entirely of the reef and sank.
Here she lies today!
Come dive the President Coolidge and share the experience & stories. View Allan Power’s personal collection of artefacts. Allan Power, who has dived, photographed and salvaged the President Coolidge, has lived in Espiritu Santo since 1969.
Come and meet the famous 'Lady' that still adorns the ships walls and haunts the minds of divers all over the world.
David Doubilet , National Geographic USA - 18 April, 1988
The promenade deck is littered with equipment - rifles, gas masks, metal boarding ladders. The sea has coated the ship with marine growth and spread a veil of wet, brown-green dust over everything.
The 22,000 ton luxury ship was built to sail from San Francisco to the Orient. Her interiors were paneled in rare woods, draped in silk, lit by skylights of cathedral glass. All were ripped out except the Lady. The Lady is an Elizabethan figure with a unicorn.
Survivors, mostly men of the 43rd infantry division, of the Coolidge remember the bright October morning. Two lives were taken - fireman Robert Reid (killed by the explosion) and Captain Elward Euart (died trying to rescue his fellow troops).
The captain of the Coolidge tried to run the ship aground, but she listed dangerously to port. At 10.55 just one hour and 25 minutes after hitting the mine, the Coolidge settled onto the channel floor. Harbor boats picked up the oil-soaked men. The soldiers were treated for any injuries - mostly cuts or scratches from when they jumped from the ship. More seriously, the ship was carrying Atabrine which was used to treat malaria on the Guadalcanal.
The loss of the Coolidge delayed allied operations for months as it took until March to re-equip the soldiers. The equipment still lies under the water. Allan Power and I float into enormous holds, where we see a jumble of crushed jeeps mixed with piles of tires and body parts of trucks, artillery pieces and typewriters.
Off the promenade deck, Allan beckons me into another compartment, the men's starboard head. Ranks of toilets line the walls - marine animals are not growing on the porcelain.
We swim back along the starboard rail until the three-inch gun - here its breech is coated with red sponge. We rise and the ship fades bathed in blue light.