Allan Power Dive Tours
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Guest Comments

Hi all, Anita and I would like to thank everyone at Allan Power for our great few weeks of diving in Santo, especially thanking: Tim: Keeping on top of all our emails and bookings, and also a great dive lead too Yvonne: Making our dives and visits always so welcoming and being about to accommodate all our wishes and beyond (not limited to diving with saving us when our car broke down) and taking me out for a dive too Allan: All your vast knowledge of the Coolidge and opening your home to us. It is amazing reading through The Lady and The President after diving the ship and being able to put it all together and of course driving us to and from the dives Lionel: Unfortunately never got to dive with you but everything you did was greatly appreciated from Beachfront pickups to the organising at the Coolidge Paul and David: Huge thank you to you guys for some awesome dives! An amazing location to dive is only one part of a great memorable experience and you guys definitely added all the other parts to make it fantastic! All in all, thank you to everyone for an amazing holiday in Santo and experience on the Coolidge. You will see us again, hopefully with a few more people after they hear of our amazing time. Thanks guys and hope 2016 is a great year! Grant Jeffrey

Here is a short selection of comments from our customers.

Hi Tony,
I had a wonderful time in Vanuatu and diving The Coolidge. I certainly chose the best dive operator in Allan Power dive tours. I felt really well looked after and comfortable with all the boys. Please pass on my thanks to all the guys, I had a great time with them all, and of course did some wonderful dives!!
Coffee mornings were always light hearted fun with some of Allans stories.
Please pass on my warmest regards to Allan, I've already read his book and really enjoyed it.
Could you also please thank Yvonne, She was always there at 6m to give me bread to feed the fish, she's lovely!
Thanks Tony also, and we'll be back in a couple of years, I've already got a group ready to go!
Warmest regards,

Dear Yvonne

Thank you for providing me with such a fantastic diving experience on the Coolidge with all your knowledge and enthusiasm.

You probably weren't expecting such an inexperienced diver & over the course of the 9 dives you taught me so much with your patient, positive & infectious attitude.

I hope one day that I'll get back to Santo to enjoy the President Coolidge again & make it to the stern.

With fond regards,

Matt Russell  (part of the A team)  Glenlyon, Victoria, Australia          

"Allan and Tony, Just a quick note to let you know how impressed I was by your dive operation and in particular your dive guides, Lionel, Henri, David, Rex and Paul, they are a credit to your business. Their knowledge of the wreck is unsurpassed, their breifings are first class and the care of divers and their safety is world's best practice. As a father of a young diver I am confident of them taking him onto the coolidge safely and in a professional manner. Thanks again for a great week and pass on our thanks to the the team. Mark and Blaine Grills 2014"

  • Simon Doughty, - 7 March, 2006
      Hi Tim (Tony & Allan), I just wanted to drop you a quick line to once again convey my sincere thanks for all of your help and support with my crew last week. Your service was nothing short of exceptional (as always), everyone had an absolute blast and I'm sure they will have smiles all over their faces for a long time to come. I plan to be back again next year with another group (prob Feb again), although I'm not sure if I will be able to find a group quite as noisy to overpower this one, but you can be assured that I will be trying my best!! I look forward to catching-up again real soon and thanks once again. Regards, ...
  • Debra and Alan Profke, Australia - 29 September, 2005
      Hello Allan and your crew,My Alan and I would like to thank you all for making our Dive experience in Santo a very memorable one. We were most impressed with the professional, smoothly co-ordinated and very friendly operation at Allan Power Dive Tours. Your venue at The Coolidge site is second to none. Great to see that you run a tight and fun 'Ship'.We hope to be back again real soon with our Diving family and friends.Kind regards....
  • Dean Coleman, Australia - 15 March, 2005
      Hello this is Dean Coleman. I was over last week with aqua zero. just wanted to thank all of the team for putting on a great show for our group. the wreck...WOW I don't think i'll be able to better that for a wreck dive! i'll be back just as soon as the bank account looks a little bit stronger. I wish I was still there
  • Suzanne & Leon, - 28 February, 2005
      Hi Tim & Tony (and Alan) ... Thank you for looking after us the past 2 weeks (especially when you were so busy with other divers). We had fantastic dives and a great trip! Much as we enjoyed travelling by ourselves - we will look at bringing a group back either this Sept or March "ish" next year; I will sort out some dates this week and send them through to Ian at Allways. We bumped into Lisa at Vila airport yesterday at some ungodly hour of the morning and she was very impressed with you all. I did get some good photos of the boys and I know Alfred 2 was keen to see himself in print - if I emailed them should I cut the size (how does your email connection handle photos?). Anyway thanks again and all the best!
  • Stan Imhoff, Australia - 25 January, 2005
      Thank you , Tim and your dive crew for four great dives while I was in Santo. I never believed I would ever get the chance to dive the Coolidge...I did and the memories will be there for ever. When I return to Vanuatu, I trust he will be able to learn to dive with your crew.The photos on the Disc I got from Tim are great...better than I expected.I have played around with them and put them in order as best I can without full details of each one.Dives, Model, Building of the ship, the Grandeure and the Demise.Thank you again for a tremendious experience.Regards...
  • Therese Elliot, Australia - 1 January, 2005
      What a fantastic, fantastic week! Thanks for your attention to details and ensuring that everything went smoothly and so that we all could kick-back and have a great time. Love the Coolidge. Please give Boris and Nessie a hug.
  • Marc and Michelle Robson, Australia - 1 January, 2005
      Upon diving the Coolidge for the first time, we were awe struck at seeing such a magnificent wreck littered with so many interesting artifacts. The dives on the wreck were definitely the most memorable diving we both have experienced in our lives. I would also like to mention that diving on the President Coolidge would not have been as enjoyable if it were not for the team from Allan Power Dive Tours - Allan Power, Tony Lewis and Tim Gilder. We were extremely impressed with the teams service, professionalism and high level of safety during some challenging deep dives.
  • Andrew Vickery, Sydney, Australia - 1 January, 2005
      Just a short note to say thanks for a fantastic week. We really enjoyed the superb diving on the Coolidge and both of us feel that it was, undoubtedly, our best ever diving experience. In addition, we both feel that we learnt a lot that will improve our diving in future. Either of us will keenly recommend you to any prospective customers we come across and are keen to return to dive with you again one day.
  • Simon Judge, Canberra, Australia - 1 January, 2005
      I just wanted to express my appreciation for what was a fantastic dive holiday. All the dives were brilliant, the whole thing running like clockwork. I don't believe there is any thing you can do to better it.
  • Cathy Smith, and Argonaut Dive, Australia - 1 January, 2005
      The diving was superb! Having dived in Santo before I had built an expectation of what it would be like. I was pleasantly surprised. I cannot express enough gratitude or praise of Allan Power's dive operation. Tim and Tony run a very tight ship, pick ups from the resort were punctual, dive briefs were informative, accurate, and with diver safety being their paramount concern. There is definitely no room for egos or cowboys while diving with these guys. Considering the age bracket of our group this made for a very pleasant surprise. Each divers needs and experience was taken into consideration, when planning dives so that each diver saw something new, had an exciting dive without feeling pressured or bullied into a dive they may not be ready for. Divers were introduced to new groups, and made to feel welcome, not to mention meeting new dive buddies, and making new friends. Every aspect of Allan's operation is geared towards making sure the divers have a memorable stay in Santo, from the tranquil botanical gardens, and trucked in sand at the dive site to the carefully manicured coral reef at the deco stop. Morning tea back at the house was always a bustle of did you see this and did you see thats etc over steaming coffee and sweet buns. Tim & Tony only too happy to answer any questions or refer to a huge library of books for the required answer.
  • Ron Hunter, Australia - 1 January, 2005
      The night dive on the Coolidge is one of the best dives I have done in over 20 years of diving all over the world.
  • Kev Weatherley, Gisborne, NZ - 6 November, 2004
      Allan, Tim, Tony and the Team, I hope all is well in Vanuatu and the weather has improved a little from the cloudy and wet stuff we had a few weeks ago.I just thought I'd drop you a line to say gidday and thank you all again for the great time we had while we were there. Despite the weather the diving was once again fantastic!!!! Everyone had a brilliant time and I can assure you they are all still talking about it.Your operation was once again excellent and talking to everybody at the end of the trip there was nothing but praise for Allan Power Dive Tours. Well done and keep up the good work.I have already started planning next years trip. I have a number of people showing interest at this early stage so hopefully will be able to bing a reasonable size group over, (slightly bigger than the last one!). We are looking at a similar time of year, end of October early November.Well, thanks once again.Take care.
  • David, US - 21 September, 2004
      Hi Alan, Thank you very much for your great service and giving me a one on one dive buddy. Thanks to him I achieved depth's I Ididn't think I could do. One day I hope to come back and do some more diving. Thanks again. All the best.
  • Barbara Rudkin, Opotiki, New Zealand - 19 July, 2004
      Thanks Tony - A Very great big thank you to the whole team for a fantastic experience diving the Coolidge - especially Tim for his patience!!! Cheers...
  • Hayden Richmond, Perth Australia - 22 March, 2004
      Hello Tony and all,I just wanted to thank you again for the excellent dive of the Coolidge that you introduced me to a couple of weeks ago which. I came down with my wife and dived with another young girl.I had been an instructor for 6 years and also have over 2000 recreational dives around the world but I can honestly say that the dive was the most satisfying one I have ever had and wished we could have squeezed one more in before the trip back to Champagne Bay. The trip was actually my honeymoon and Debbie my wife did not mind me saying that it was the best part of the honeymoon and I only wish she came down with me to experience the adventure.Since getting back to Australia I have done nothing but talk about this with some of my mates who also dive and we are diving the Swan (WA) this weekend but after the Coolidge I think doing any other wreck dive would be just another dive.So thank you again and please keep me informed if there is any special deals going on to your area and Debbie and I have discussed moving from the hustle of city life and we both would love an opportunity of living in a stress free environment such as Santo.All the very best and I am sure we will catch up again soon.
  • Sarah and Craig Sutton, - 31 January, 2004
      Thank you to everyone at Allan Power Dive Centre for making our trip to Santo to dive the Coolidge a most memorable experience. We will long remember the awesome diving (both on the wreck and around the coral garden) and the effort your friendly staff made to make us feel welcome during our stay. We sincerely hope we can make it back there one day to do it all again.
  • Ron Dion, New Zealand - 17 December, 2003
      Just wanted to drop you line from New Zealand after our return. Linda and I were very impressed with you and your dive operation. Plus, Linda enjoyed the copy of your book that you signed for her. She has been deep into it and enjoys it alot. You have carved out a great life in an amazing place and I wish you all the best.
  • Adam, Sydney Australia - 20 August, 2003
      On behalf of Morry, Sam, myself and the rest of the crew on our recent dive trip to Santo, I would like to extend my thanks to yourself and your team for making our dive trip such a memorable occasion. We were all very impressed with your dive operation and your friendly staff. Many thanks again Tim for the use of your laptop. Without it we would not have as many memories to remember the trip by.Sam and I will be attending the Sydney Dive Expo in September. Would it be possible to obtain a copy of the footage that you filmed of our group diving on the Coolidge and million dollar point? If it is possible, could you please bring a copy to the expo as it would be great to add to the trip video/slideshow that we are creating to show other divers the great diving in Vanuatu. Thanks again for everything.See you in Sydney!!!!!!!!
  • Doug Bignell(Group Leader - Vanuatu Tour), Australia - 1 July, 2003
      Just a brief note to thank you for the Coolidge diving experience you shared with us last week . Everyone enjoyed the diving and look forward to coming back. Everyone appreciated the effort put in by the boys and it helped to make our trip all the more memorable. The service was absolutely perfect, and it all went off without a hitch. Again thank you and hope to see you all another time.
  • Creighton J KAYE, Victoria, Australia - 16 June, 2003
      Dear Allan,Tim and Tony,Thank you for an extremely enjoyable time in Santo 8 days ago. To you Tim in particular I again say that, when diving, I have not been treated so professionally before.Tony thank you for a pleasant social evening.
  • Mick Wilkins, NSW, Australia - 14 May, 2003
      Thanks for a great 11 dives. I appreciated your well organised approach and your enthusiastic dive guides.I dived mostly with Alfred #1, and enjoyed his company as well as his professionalism and enthusiasm. He is a credit to your organisation. Gary, also, was a pleasure to know and dive with. I hope to be back some time to see more of the Pres. Meanwhile, enjoy your island paradise and Good Diving.Regards...
  • Adrian van Dooren and Naomi Scott, Australia - 18 March, 2000
      On 26 January 2000, a honeymooning couple discovered the disappearance of the Lady. When Allan Power, who discovered the Lady in the early 80s heard, he immediately mounted a search expedition. She was upside down buried in silt and mud at 54 meters (178 feet). Luckily, she was still in one piece. Vanuatu is situated on the ring of fire and is prone to earthquakes. A tremor on 25 January caused the Lady to fall off her mount. On the evening of the 26, a meeting of local dive operators was held at the Santo Hotel. It was decided to launch a full scale rescue, build a new frame and return her to the ship. Armed with a rope, tools and wooden fork lift pallet the operators entered the water at 8.30 am. After locating the lady, came the delicate job of freeing her from the silt and moving her to the planned exit. Salvage work was hindered by a lead lined cable and silt. The cable was sawed away and the rescue team worked much by feel. She was soon lashed securely on a wooden forklift pallet. The next day, the team boarded the Lady - Allan Power's dive boat - and lifted her out of the water. Tim Gilder salvaged the broken piece of ceramic frame which was still in its place above the fireplace in the Smoking Room. The Lady was restored and placed in the first class dining room
  • Dave Moran, New Zealand - 31 August, 1999
      Can you tell us about the dive operation and recent changes? We have purchased a boat giving people the option of diving sites in addition to the Coolidge. It also makes some of the deeper penetration dives more accessible for people with a lot of equipment. The boat is a nine meter aluminium boat with an inboard Volvo 230 hp. She takes 14 divers comfortably. There's easy access in and out of the water. Allan Power is a legend in his own lifetime. How many times has Allan dived the Coolidge? He's done over 15,000 dives and taken over 20,000 divers. He's got a vast knowledge of the Coolidge. What's the deepest dive and what do you see there? The maximum depth we do is 60 meters (198 feet) on the stern. You can see the whole thing at that depth. Do you offer courses? Yes, we have two instructors who can train from open water to wreck speciality, advanced, rescue diver right through to divemaster. We often mix in training and pleasure dives. Do you provide hire gear, and do you have any plans for installing nitrox? We purchased brand new sets of hire gear in 1999. It's very important with this type of diving that equipment is in excellent condition and that people are comfortable with it. We do offer nitrox - for use at the moment at the deco stops whereby we build in more safety to our existing dive practices. What's a typical day's diving? The afternoon before we normally advise pick-up times. In the morning, around 8 am, we pick up divers and take them to the site or wharf. All the tanks will be in place at the dive site or on the boat. Larger groups will be split into smaller groups with an experienced dive guide giving a thorough briefing which includes safety procedures. In the mornings, we feed Boris, the 200 kg (440 lb) grouper who Allan tamed over 28 years ago. After the morning dive, everyone is invited back to Allan's for a drink and some buns (cakes). Here you can talk about the dives or ask questions. Allan's house is like a small museum - he's collected artefacts as well as books and old photos of the Coolidge. We've all heard about the Lady, but what else can the diver expect to see? There are dozens of different dives on the Coolidge. A lot of people come for the challenge and the depth but many dives are at 40 - 45 meters (132 - 149 feet). The ship's medical supplies can be seen at 32 meters (105 feet). The galley is an awesome dive - a deep penetration dive at 55 meters through the galley and the dining room. There's heaps of crockery, ovens, cookers and beautiful light fittings. Cargo hold #7 has a heap of anti-tank guns, and spare blades for the propeller bolted on the wall.
  • Pete Atkinson, New Zealand - 31 August, 1999
      Grounding the Coolidge saved many lives and also created the world's most accessible shipwreck. The ship lies on its port side with the bow in 20 meters and the stern in 74 meters (244.5 feet), so offers serious diving for everyone. At 200 meters long (198 feet), 25 meters wide (83 feet), 10.5 meters (35 feet) draft and 21,936 gross tonnage, with 112 first class staterooms, two swimming pools and a gym, she was as large as any merchant ship built in the US at that time. Launched in February 1931 by President Coolidge's wife, the ship was under bareboat charter to the US army. During WWII, Santo was developed as a US base. The Americans had mined the Segond Channel and this caused the sinking of the USS Tucker, killing six people, just thirteen weeks before the Coolidge went down. You could spend a lifetime on the Coolidge, as has Allan Power - making 15,000 dives on the wreck over the past 30 years. Allan, aka Mr President, arrived in Santo over 30 years ago with a group of salvors as a photographer. Since then he has been running Allan Power Dive Tours. He has an 89 year lease on a plot of land in front of the Coolidge site, and drives divers and gear the few miles from the main town of Luganville. He has created a tropical garden here and a concrete platform with benches so you can avoid the inconvenience of sand on your nether regions. The shore dive has easy access. Divers walk on the sand beach until they can snorkel, then follow a rope down to the coral garden nurtured by Allan. The visibility when we were there varied from 20 - 30 meters (66 - 99 feet). Following a thick rope down to the bow, your buddy begins to look tiny. Marine life here includes Boris (named after the horror movie actor Boris Karloff) - a 200 kg (440 lb) grouper. He costs several dollars a day to feed on frozen mullet or fresh fish. Each year he disappears for a couple of months - no one knows where. We fin along across the starboard hull scattered with 105 mm howitzer shells to the 3" gun. Down on the shelf remains of a Thompson sub-machine gun. At the edge of visibility we see the barracuda which hang out near the shark cage installed by salvors. The bridge is like a ladder of windows. We pass through and along the promenade deck. A small shelf has become the repository for the debris of war, bullets, gas masks, bayonets. We slip through a hole into the smoking room. Way down at 53 meters (175 feet) we see the pick-up-sticks of steel converted to a troop carrier in 1941. At the far end of the room, we pick out the Lady - probably the most photographed feature of the wreck. We leave the smoking room and fin along a passageway lined with toilets. Here is the first class lobby with its mosaic fountain. Next is the continental lounge with Chinese style lanterns and big ceiling portholes, through the library and out through the bridge windows.
  • Andrew Carney, Australia - 9 July, 1999
      Our first dive was at Million Dollar Point located at the entrance to Luganville Harbour. This dive is a jumble of military equipment, bulldozers, jeeps, trucks, forklifts etc. cascading down a deep sloping wall. There is even a shipwreck which sank when its hull was pierced on some of the junk during a storm. The depth ranges form 15 - 40 meters (50 - 130 feet) with the best depth at 25 meters (82.5 feet) with countless fish, soft and hard corals and coke bottles to be found. Next we moved onto the Coolidge. We all dived different parts of the ship on different days and I can say, "I have been diving for twelve years and this is the best and easiest diving I have ever done". Diving is deep but great care is taken with decompression stops. The Coolidge is just so big that it takes more than six dives to see the whole thing. We also dived at Tutuba Reef. This is located on the northern tip of Tutuba Island - depth ranges from 5 - 35 meters (15 - 105 feet). There is an abundance of tropical fish here. The Henri Bonneaud dive was memorable. The wreck comes alive with flashlight fish at night which light up the water. There were also buffalo and cow fish and much more to discover.
  • Rod Sales, Australia - 11 March, 1999
      Retired Captain Stephen (Steve) Parisi descended down the rope towards the bow of the Coolidge. Allan Power on one side, Tony Lewis on the other. The bow materialised before him and he stopped and touched her. It had been 56 years since he had last seen her. US Infantry Staff Sergeant Stephen Parisi of the 172nd Regimental Combat Team of the 43 Division was on board the Coolidge when she hit a US mine. Steve remembers the blast. He was in his room so headed up on deck to see what was going on. Over the loud speaker the captain was calling for rudder hard to port. Steve stepped off the stern that day onto a whaleboat as the port gunnel of the Coolidge touched the water. He didn't even get his feet wet. He left his pack, rifle, pistol and helmet believing he could return later to retrieve his gear. There were two casualties - Captain Euart and Robert Reid. Steve learned to dive in the US especially to see the Coolidge. Steve was guided by Allan Power and Tony Lewis so was in good hands. Seeing the bow was a very emotional moment for him. He was guided to the 3" gun, past the holds to the promenade deck. He then headed along the starboard side of the ship seeing howitzer projectiles left from salvage of brass casings. From the bow, Steve ascended to the coral garden to see the hard and soft corals and Boris.

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