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LAST CHANCE! Don McIntyre announces a once-in-a-lifetime offer to sponsor two young people on a 10-week dive adventure in Tonga.


A lot of people reading this will be into snorkelling or SCUBA diving. If you are not but own a boat or play on boats and drop anchor in neat places, then you should think about it. An amazing new world below the surface awaits you. However, you are reading Trade-a-Boat so I know you enjoy the world at large! If you are my age you may have kids, so please encourage them to engage life with outstretched arms and eager eyes, wide open. If you think they need a kick along or an adventure, I am beginning the search in this Ocean Adventure column for two young Australians with a "spark" for living and a sense of adventure.

So, if you are between 18 and 23 read on. If I can find the right two, I will sponsor and mentor them for 10 weeks, teaching them everything I can about life and having a go during this once-in-a-lifetime expedition. They will be camping and diving, living large and learning about a whole new world of adventure and exploration in the Kingdom of Tonga starting July 1, so be quick.

Also, that doesn’t mean that if you are over 23 that you are "old" or that you cannot be part of the action. You too can apply right now, but not be sponsored. Some will say, "…but there is not enough time to get ready." All I will say is do they really want to be there?


We have found quite a few wrecks in Tonga and after three years of planning and preparation we are about to start work on them. This is Boy’s Own adventure stuff and we will be chasing maritime heritage on behalf of the people of Tonga. One wreck is from the 16th century and the cargo hold is still full! Some others we believe are from the 18th century, while most are still complete mysteries.

So are you up for a life-changing experience and in the process become an "explorer". Think about it, or better still don’t think, just do!

Right now I am looking for crew (young and old) to join me on this grand adventure. You will live, work and play on a tropical island, or on ICE messing around in boats, fishing, diving, swimming with whales and uncovering lost maritime history, but you will need to divert your rent money to cover food and living costs.


I am currently in China at the yard of Seahorse Marine about to order a new 12m steel dive/salvage boat with a large A-frame, flat aft work deck, lifting gear, cargo hold, sailing rig etc. It is an extended workboat version of the builder’s Coot trawler design. You can buy one for just $220,000 ready to go cruising. (Another Australian is also here about to order one to cruise the Barrier Reef).

I will use mine to assist Tonga Blue Ltd in working on all these wrecks, so it looks like I am about to become a two-boat owner again. I already own the neatest little expedition motorsailer ICE, also built by Seahorse, and am now engaged fulltime on this project. I know we will be busy for the next five to 10 years in Tonga and will need even more boats in the future.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala has given us his full support to this adventure. He has also given us a picture-perfect paradise in the uninhabited island of Nomuka Iki where we will establish our headquarters Blue Base. Seven "big" tents, composting toilets, generators, desalinator, 3 x 4.7m Zodiacs, outboards, compressors, furniture and even the kitchen sink are all in a shipping container headed for the Pacific.

Plenty of my friends would like to be involved with this project and some are, but I always enjoy new blood on all my adventures as it lets me make a new bunch of friends, often with hidden talents and certainly with new jokes.

Word is getting out about me looking for new crewmembers and along the way I have had some interesting comments. Some simply find the story too big to believe or the opportunity too good to be true! I mean why would I let complete strangers be part of the action?


Well, my answer to them went something like this: It all comes down to "passion" rather than experience and I much prefer hanging out with passionate people. What I have always found is that you are either into it or not! Scott of the Antarctic never had experience when he set-off to Antarctica, he just wanted to do it, so he thought about it, made plans and preparations, then did it… admittedly he died but he never went to the University of Antarctic Exploration first either, as there was no such thing.

A few professionals, or highly experienced people, sometimes treat "awesome projects" as just another job. Some even become indignant that they may have to pay up to $400 a week "rent" to help with food and other costs to be part of the team. Unlike working for a living this may be something they really want to do but they hesitate. Life is not a rehearsal. This project is not just a job. After three years planning and preparation it is still in the "adventure" phase, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I also use a dollar contribution to sort out those that really want to be there. If it was free I would be flooded with volunteers. (We may in the future have "employees" who get paid but not yet, and when we are looking, past team members will be offered first).

Importantly, I want to encourage those who may question their skill levels, yet want to become involved. My life’s passion is to support adventure, as I did with Jessica Watson. In my eyes passion beats experience every time. It is something often missing in the young. You can learn skills and gain experience but you cannot just learn or gain passion, it comes from within. Passionate people are the ones that learn the fastest, safely, because they really want to be involved and grab life with both hands.

I really have no experience on many things. Life is a learning experience. I have never set-up a tropical island base before. There is so much new ground to cover, new things to learn with archeology and the conservation of artifacts – that is the exciting part about life. It is not rocket science and all the info is on Google anyway but I always believe that if you want to do something you can.

On everything I have ever done, some people have said, "You can’t do that." I reply, "Why not?" They say, "You do not have the experience." I say, "So what", and start work. Sometimes they say, "You do not have the money either." I just smile. (I did not have the money when I sailed solo around the world in the BOC Challenge in 1990 but spent $750,000 doing it!) I just say there are so many reasons not to do things and that is why so many people never do! Regret is a sad thing. I just get on with it and research, study, learn and use a very simple formula: Planning, Preparation and Execution. It has treated me well in life. So never let anyone say you can never do something, even without experience. Remember that the people who have experience started with none.


Crew are signing on but there is still room for you. If I had the option of paying $400 a week to live in Melbourne for the winter or pay the same to go exploring and living a dream in the beautiful Kingdom of Tonga, it would be a no-brainer, right? Follow the blog on www.bluetreasure.me and email me. Remember, Adventure before Dementia!


To join Australian Geographic Society’s 2012 Lifetime of Adventure awardee Don McIntyre on one of the greatest underwater maritime history explorations the Pacific has seen, you do not need experience just passion and a sense of adventure. You need to be an experienced snorkeler, get a passport, fly to Tonga and have travel insurance. It involves many untouched 16th to 18th century wrecks, an uninhabited tropical island Blue Base camp on Nomuka Iki, and the 5-star dive-support vessel ICE.

Three years of planning is now moving to operational phase, with Government permits and Kingdom of Tonga Royal Family support. You will be trained in all operations then assist with preliminary surveys and investigations of known wrecks in the Kingdom of Tonga, and playing with whales!

Sign on for 10 weeks, starting July 1. (For more details, log on bluetreasure.me). Each $5000 sponsorship includes PADI diver training and 10 weeks at Blue Base camp or aboard ICE.

If you already are a SCUBA diver you can still apply. You will need to undertake a medical and answer 15 questions and be a strong swimmer. Applications close June 14, 2013.

I may choose two suitable applicants any time after May 16, so mention this exclusive opportunity when you email me as it is not offered anywhere else. Applicants must have basic outdoor awareness. If no suitable applicants are found the offer will be withdrawn on July 1, 2013, but interested applicants may be considered for 2013, so please email me. If you are good, further opportunities may be offered.

Originally published in Trade-a-Boat 439, May 2013


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