There are many things we are proud of with our operation in Indonesia, but without doubt it is the crews of our boats Ondina and Oceanic, together with the behind the scenes support, that are top of the list.
Our guests travel to Indonesia from all over the world and they come to experience some of the very best diving in the world. They also arrive with expectations that they will dive safely, be well fed, looked after while they are with us and listened to if they have a problem.
Our crews are responsible to fulfil those expectations, and the behind the scenes support is responsible to make sure the crews have what they need, when they need it.
Straightforward right? Well, relatively so, if you are doing something like that in a metropolitan area in a first world country. Much less so when you are operating in remote areas of a developing country, where the rules and regulations seem to change by the month!
So… how do we do what we do? And how do we do it in a manner that is efficient and consistent? The answer to those questions are the leaders of our business. We have decided to devote the first newsletter of 2020 to them, so that you know a bit more about the people looking after you when you come to Indonesia for a trip on Ondina or Oceanic.
Ricard Buxo – If you have been reading the earlier newsletters you probably feel that you already know Ricard, because he was the guy who started it all 20 years ago and still leads the business to this day. Ricard is a proud Catalan from Barcelona whose first career was in the Spanish construction industry as a technical draftsman. Unfortunately, when the building boom associated with the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics came to an end, times were hard, and Ric decided to pursue his dreams and moved to the Egyptian Red Sea in 1993.
For 5 years Ric worked with some of the best liveaboard operators in both the northern and southern areas of the Red Sea, learning first-hand what it takes to run a successful operation.
Then in 1999 Ric got an offer he just could not refuse – go to Indonesia, supervise the construction of one of the very first custom built liveaboard dive boats in the country and then take that platform and build it in to a successful business. Minor issues such as never having been to Indonesia before and not speaking the language were all “challenges” that could be surmounted along the way… And, indeed that is exactly what happened.
Xavi Garcia – Another proud Catalan from Barcelona, Xavi joined the team in 2013 as the Cruise Director of Ondina after having worked as an instructor in Bali for a year and in Costa Rica and Thailand prior to that.
As time went by it became very obvious that his engineering and organization skills were equally as good as his diving ones. Xavi is very hands-on, totally committed to our operations and simply knows intuitively how to get things done – an invaluable skill-set in a country like Indonesia, where few things are straightforward and linear in nature. Xavi played a key role when we were looking for our second boat and it was his inspection of Oceanic, when we found it, that convinced us to buy and refurbish is completely – which Xavi also organized and supervised.
So in 2016 Ric appointed Xavi as his deputy. Since then Xavi has been the driving force with all the behind the scenes support that keeps Ondina, and now Oceanic, in such great shape and supplied with what they need. Each year Xavi organizes and then supervises the major annual maintenance we do on both boats, when they are taken out of service and put in drydock. Done properly, the annual maintenance will keep both Ondina and Oceanic performing well for the following season.
Fede Moreno – Another Catalan… but this time from Sant Feliu de Guíxols in the province of Girona at the heart of Costa Brava, in northeast Spain. Fede joined our team in 2018, taking over from Xavi as the Cruise Director of Ondina, and bringing with him over 10 years’ experience in the diving industry, mainly in various parts of Spain together with multiple assignments in Thailand.
A natural organizer and leader, Fede has made many refinements and improvements to Ondina since taking over, and he enjoys the reputation of probably being the very best Cruise Director we have ever had – he is that good!
The Indonesian crew of Ondina love working for Fede because he has gone out of his way to organize rosters and flexible working arrangements for them that both allow the boat to operate efficiently and maximise the time they can spend with their families. Fede is also an accomplished underwater photographer and contributes many of his images to our Facebook and Instagram feeds.
Borja Garcia – The newest member of our leadership team who has just taken over as the Cruise Director of Oceanic. Borja came to us after spending several years on liveaboards in Burma’s Mergui archipelago and Thailand’s Surin and Similan Islands, and we are very happy to have such an experienced addition on the team.
How It Works – There are two fundamentally important elements to how our team operates in Indonesia. The first is getting the right people, with the right skill-sets, attitude and aptitude. For example, when Ricard arrived in South Sulawesi all those years ago, he had to deal with an incredible mixture of complex issues – technically, logistically and cultural. But, because he was the right person for the assignment, he got on with the tasks in hand and established our business.
The second is sufficient overlap of resources, and by having both Ric and Xavi based in Bali providing the vital behind the scenes support and because they are both experienced Cruise Directors, we can cover any gaps and maintain the quality of our operation! When Fede joined us we were able to use Ricard and Xavi to take turns supporting him on Ondina as he found his feet and took the reins. Now that we have Borja on the team, we can use that same overlap to get him up to full speed on the routes he will cover on Oceanic.
What this all means to you is that you can be sure that if you book a trip on either of our boats you will experience some of the very best diving in the world and you will do that safely, you will be well fed, you will be looked after while you are with us and you will be listened to if you have a problem!