The Antsiva is a 28 m motor-sailing yacht with cruising speeds of 6-8 knots, and berth space for 8 comfortably and up to 11. With her Captain and owners, Nico and Anne, she has been based at Nosy Be in NW Madagascar for over 12 years, and has sailed the waters around northern Madagascar, Mayotte and the Comoros, with longer forays into the Iles Eparses in the Mozambique Channel and to Bazaruto, and the Seychelles. The Antsiva is fully kitted out for diving with over 20 SCUBA tanks, two compressors, and dinghies, and its internal living space is also well-designed for computer-based work for recording data and photos. Wet-lab space for collections is on the upper decks, so is vulnerable to severe weather (fierce sun or rain). Hold-space is ample for samples and equipment. With a water-maker and full electrics Antsiva is well suited for long trips.
Antsiva fills a much-needed niche for coral reef-oriented field research. I’ve been on her 3 times, and found that her combination of amenities and the experience and interest of her crew is perfect for coral reef survey expeditions. With a full gamut of new technologies (auto-pilot linked to charts/mapping software, weather satellite downlinks, etc.) and Nico’s experience in the region and with the boat, the Antsiva is able to get to shallow and sheltered areas not accessible to larger vessels, or where Captains of institutional research vessels would never dare to try. The logistics of getting divers and equipment onto and off the dinghies, and to dive sites twice and in some cases three times a day are well-worked out, and Antsiva makes the most of opportunities by moving the yacht to the closest place possible to reduce long dinghy rides. The engineer/dinghy operator and compressor operator/yacht-hand make operations easy, and leave the scientists free to deal with their main work. I know of many other research trips that have used the vessel (sediment sampling, birds/turtles on remote islands) and highly recommend it, so Antsiva clearly has a good sense of satisfying the needs of research operations.
On top of this, the food and ambiance are fantastic and relaxed, with a French flair. The boat operates in French (and Swahili with Said, the yacht-hand!), so having one fully francophone team member will be important for the logistics of a cruise. While she has focused in the NW and SW parts of the Mozambique channel there is no reason for Antsiva not to go farther afield, and she may become one of the principle expedition vessels used more broadly in the WIO.