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“Don’t Leave Home Without It” by Burt Jones

“Don’t Leave Home Without It”

by Burt Jones

My most recent trip to the BHS aboard the MV Pindito was nearly a photographic disaster. You see, I “left home without it”. No, not my American Express card, but the camera tray for my SubAL housing. What to do? Call Maurine and have her Fed-Ex it to the next port? Order one from Austria? None of the options we considered seemed realistically feasible.

The "IT" I left home without!

The “IT” I left home without!

So I considered having a fit and was nearly in tears when one of our partners, Hergen Spalink, suggested we have Franz take a look at it. Franz Pasanea is not the Pindito’s photo-pro; he’s one of the ship’s speedboat drivers, but more importantly (for me anyway), he’s also the ship’s carpenter. And an extremely clever one at that!

Franz working on fabricating the part

Franz working on fabricating the part

The fortunate caveat of this story was that one of our guests had the same housing and camera set up as mine, so we had a template. Franz, with a few tools and a piece of ulin (iron wood), fashioned a nearly exact replica of the tray I had so foolishly (and I assure you a number of other very fitting but unprintable adjectives came to mind) left behind.

The camera and "new" tray

The camera and “new” tray


Within an hour or so, Franz had the piece ready to go. We mounted the camera and slid it into the housing; it was nearly a perfect fit. The tolerances weren’t exactly spot on, but by using a bit of salvaged wetsuit material as a shim, it worked! It not only worked, it worked perfectly! All the housing’s buttons and gears lined up and I was able to photograph. It would have been a long 17-day trip (one I had been looking forward to since my last trip through the same area when I blew out my right ear drum) had Franz not come to the rescue.

Camera with wooden tray and wetsuit shims

Camera with wooden tray and wetsuit shims

So on future dive trips my motto has changed from the one about a credit card to, “Don’t Leave Port without the Ship’s Carpenter“.

Franz and I with the part he crafted

Franz and I with the part he crafted

Thank you Franz and thank you Pindito and Hergen too.

Burt Jones and his wife Maurine Shimlock have dived extensively in Indonesia and throughout the Bird’s Head.  They are also this website’s co-creators and administrators.  To view more of their work visit their website, Secret Sea Visions.

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