Our dear friend Larry Smith introduced us to Edi Frommenwiler over 15 years ago. He told us many stories about Edi and his exploits aboard, Pindito, the phinisi schooner Edi had built personally in Kalimantan (Borneo). Fairly new to Indonesia at that time, Larry was somewhat in awe of Edi. Even though Larry became one of Indonesia’s best known and knowledgeable cruise directors, his admiration for Edi never wavered. Shorty before Larry’s passing, he told me that in his mind Edi was the undisputed father of Indonesian liveaboard diving. Now that we’ve known Edi for years, we completely concur. Edi is the king. He’s dived more and in more places than anyone we know in the archipelago.
When we met Edi, a Swiss expat, all those years ago, he graciously invited us to accompany him on a trip aboard Pindito. He said “join us anytime”. Little did any of us realize how long it would take. but, it finally happened a couple of weeks ago. Was I ever impressed! While motoring to Komodo, Edi showed me a film he made about constructing Pindito. And, I was even more impressed! Because Edi is Swiss and wanted the ship to be built correctly and fully insurable, he constructed it to Lloyd’s standards. You might say, “so what…aren’t all boats built to that standard these days”? The answer is NO. My guess is that none of the other ships in Indonesia’s dive fleet can make that claim. After watching the movie, I’m convinced that if it had been Pindito, instead of the Titanic, that struck that iceberg, the iceberg would have sunk.
But, what about diving from the Pindito? Isn’t the experience on this boat the same as any? Again, the answer is NO. As Larry would have said, “this ain’t Edi’s first rodeo”. On Pindito you get the benefit of Edi’s 19 years of experience. He and his super, well-trained staff know more dive sites, how and when to dive them, than any other operation. In fact Pindito is often followed by newer boats just so they can find out where Edi is diving. I asked Edi if this bothered him. He just laughed and said that it used to, but it’s so common, especially now with so many new boats coming on line, he hardly notices any longer.
Pindito uses 3 dive tenders (zodiacs) and often sends the boats to 3 different sites. So, the sites are never crowded. The zodiacs are equipped with very diver-friendly ladders, camera racks and tank holders. His current set of cruise directors/divemasters (both German, English and Indonesian) are almost as knowledgeable as Edi.
Edi has immaculately maintained and upgraded Pindito through the years, and it shows. A decade ago when photography became such a major part of the liveaboard experience, Edi reconfigured the ship and installed a camera room. Everything on the ship works with Swiss precision. Edi, a passionate golfer, even installed a “driving range” on Pindto’s roof so he can stay in shape! The captain has been with him for the entire 19 years, the chief mechanic for a dozen. Pindito is accustomed to working in remote locales so there’s a fully equipped machine shop and back-up parts for the back-up parts.
The food on the ship is locally sourced and most of the dishes are Indonesian. Nothing lavish, just simple good food. Drinks are comp, including beer, soft drinks and even liquor. Wine is extra, however. More importantly, Nitrox is included. Pindito was built in an era when diving was the reason people came on a dive trip. There’s nothing “luxurious” about Pindito but it has everything a diver needs, everything works and works well.
We have decided to use Pindito in 2014 for a trip through the “Forgotten Islands”. This is a region we have always wanted to visit since reading Kipling’s accounts of life in Babar, Wetar and Tanimbar. Parts of this trip will even be new territory for Edi! So keep a look out for details on our website and consider joining us for this excellent adventure.
Thanks again Edi (and Pindito) for a great experience.