Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Our Fleet


In the Visayan language Banka means boat. Visayan is the language mainly spoken in the region surrounding Malapascua Island. When we refer to Banka we mean the thin hulled boats with outriggers on the side. There are also smaller boats with flat hull and no outriggers. These boats we simply call flatboats. 

A Banka boat is a traditional Filipino boat used for almost everything in the Philippines. If you are planning to make a trip around the Philippines (a total of 7107 islands!) you will very likely, at some point,be traveling on a Banka boat. The Banka boats come in sizes normally ranging from 2 to 40 meters.The Bankas are utilized as anything between simple paddle vessels to impressive cargo haulers. 

When building a Banka Boat you start with the main hull called “Papag”. First there is a wooden keel called “Kasko”. On the kasko the ribs are attached. Everything is then covered with plywood. The bow is reinforced together with supports for engine and outriggerscalled “Kati”. The Outriggers are traditionally built in bamboo and lashed together with nylonlines,this makes for strong joints, whichin return gives the construction flexibility and helps absorb the force of big waves. The center hull, on bigger Banka boats, has one or more masts.From the masts there are cables running down supporting the outriggers.

This particular boat design makes Banka Boats very seaworthy and the weather has to be pretty rough before they are forced to seek shelter. Another great advantage of this design is that it causes very little drag in the water which makes them faster on flat seas as only a small part of the outrigger are in contact with the water. In rougher seas they provide a stability which few other vessels can match.
Small Bankas are propelled by paddling or by using small air-cold one-cylinder engines. Bigger bankas are usually using converted car or truck engines. 

Exotic we have 4 big Bankas and several smaller dive & transportation boats. Our “smallest” Banka takes upto 12 divers and the biggest one up to 30 divers. With this big variety in boats and sizes we can send the right boat for the right amount of divers for each trip.This helps our ECO mission, caring about the environment, as we don’t have to use more fuel than needed.

On all our Banka boats we stock first aid kits and emergency oxygen as well as VHF radios so we can always radio the Exotic Dive Center even if we are 2 hours away. Driving our Banka boats we only employ experienced Captains and boat crews.Did you know that most of our crew and staff are divers themselves? Because most are divers they know what is needed and when, making your journey safer and more organized.
So when you are on a banka, take an extra look at the boat, as now you understand and can appreciate the design that has been a winning concept for so many year!