Friday, August 31, 2007

Dive friends in Phuket

During my recent visit to Phuket,

I took the opportunity to visit some friends who run dive shops in Phuket. Trip reports about my Phuket visit can be found on my Samui weather blog.

First there's Chantal and Kevan who run Phuket Scuba Club in Kata, a very friendly South African couple who've been over 15 years in Thailand and still enjoy running a dive operation.

Gary at Raya Divers, who runs dive ops in all major locations of the Western coast, from Kao Lak down to Koh Lanta.

Last but not least there's Jamie at Sunrise divers in Karon who I tried to visit but due to bad weather the one day we were in Karon, it was raining cats and dogs, we'll keep sending emails instead of having a real life beer.

If you ever end up on the Andaman coast and you happen to be a diver, make sure to visit one of these dive centers, I can highly recommend them.


Friday, August 24, 2007

DSAT Gas Blender Instructor Course and Equipment Instructor Specialty

The DSAT Gas Blender Instructor Course and Equipment Instructor Specialty

Was on the program today (well, technically yesterday, the 23rd). The DSAT Gas Blender course consists of two parts, the Gas Blender part and the Gas Blender Instructor part. Laura is participating in this course and on the same day we were also looking into the Equipment Instructor Specialty, since filling Nitrox tanks is slow business with our partial pressure filling system and this gives plenty of time to combine these courses.
One of the prerequisites for becoming a DSAT Gas Blender is that one is a PADI Nitrox diver and for the DSAT Gas Blender Instructor course that one is a Nitrox Instructor, both ratings held by Laura.

Here she's looking at the ultrasonic bath, a machine that cleans, in this case, dive equipment, like regulator first stages, or in this case, helps to make equipment 'oxygen clean'.

The Gas Blender course is a 1 day course which is very challenging, since setting up and operating a safe gas mixing facility can only be done by people with the right equipment and knowledge. That is what this course of instruction is all about.

The DSAT Gas Blender course will instruct you in the safe methods of gas blending. As a gasblender you must know and understand the physical properties of oxygen, its various forms and purities, hazards and special handling requirements.
This picture shows our Nitrox blending facility, on the right hand side of the wall is the blending console.

Diving with enriched air nitrox lets you safely extend your no stop time beyond the no decompression limits for air. Diving with enriched air means more time underwater – but you need to be certified as an EANx Diver to get enriched air fills. Enriched air fills should only be mixed by people with the right certification. Here's Laura in action on the mixing console.

The Equipment Specialty course familiarizes you with the operation and maintenance of your dive gear. The more you know about how your gear works, the more comfortable you are with it, the more performance you get from it and the better you can care for it.

Laura has her own ideas on how to fix equipment, it almost looks like the socialist way of fixing things, with a hammer and a wrench!

It was good fun today, Laura filled a good amount of Nitrox tanks and she also learned about how to make things oxygen clean. On top of that, she got to take apart some regulator first and second stages and more challenging, put them together again, without having too many (or rather any!) parts missing or left over.

All in all a good day Hope you enjoyed the pix and the story, please feel free to leave your comments or questions.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Instructor Specialty Training

Today we were diving again!
Back in the water and off to Koh Tao for some Specialty Instructor training dives. Yesterday we tackled the Underwater Navigation Instructor Specialty on Chaweng Beach and today a mixture of Multilevel, Underwater Naturalist and Digital Underwater Photography (aka DUP) was on the schedule.
Later on this week the Deep and the Night dive Instructor Specialties will be on the agenda.
This picture shows Anemone.

Jamie concentrating on his underwater camera during the DUP dive.

Laura smiling away during her Naturalist dive.

More anemone.

Stag horn coral.

Myself, Bas and Jamie on the way back to Samui, after a good day of diving. Especially the second dive, at the Light House on Koh Tao, was a very beautiful dive with amazing coral gardens.



Saturday, August 18, 2007

EFR Instructor Course August 2007

The EFR Instructor was on the menu today.

Around 9.15 am we met up in the Compression Chamber's classroom for today's EFR Instructor course. Bas, Nienke, Jamie and Laura who participated in yesterday's DAN O2 Provider course, were there today and Chris, who completed his IDC earlier this year in March, didn't participate until today.

Here a picture of them at work during their exam part, from left to right; Bas, Nienke, Jamie, Chris and Laura. All five of them completed their EFRI exam successfully.

Chris is checking if Little Annie, the mannequin, has any signs of life.

Nienke working on Laura and Chris working on Bas during their Log Roll practice. The Log Roll is used when a spinal or neck injury is suspected and despite this suspected injury, the victim still has to be moved, for instance for CPR.

Bas is practicing with the AED (Automated External Defibrillator), aka the Defibrillator.

Jamie's giving ventilations to Baby Annie, the baby mannequin, during the skills practice part for the Care for Children part of the course.

Tomorrow we finally start with the diving part of the Instructor Specialties and we'll be on Chaweng Beach for the Underwater Navigation dive.



Friday, August 17, 2007

DAN O2 Provider Course

Today I taught a DAN O2 Provider course

Some of the IDC packages that I offer include the DAN O2 Provider course, like in the Platinum the DAN O2 Provider course is provided and in the Go Pro CDC package , my most extensive IDC package, also the DAN O2 Instructor course is included.

In the Divemaster courses that I offer, one can opt for a Divemaster course that includes the DAN O2 Provider course and the Nitrox diver course.

Today I had 1 Divemaster trainee, Grant, who opted for a DM package including the DAN O2 provider course, 4 students, Bas, Jamie, Nienke and Ivo, who are participating in the Platinum package and one Go Pro CDC participant, Laura, who also becomes a DAN O2 Instructor.

In general I can only recommend this course very highly, not only for Dive Professionals, but every diver who is safety conscious. More info on DAN (Diver's Alert Network) can be found on their website.

The course was held as usual at the local Recompression Chamber's classroom and I always include a Chamber orientation in the course. This is very useful since it lowers the thresh hold for a Chamber in general. It seems that a lot of dive professionals have misconceptions or 'fears' of the chamber and an orientation to the chamber helps to battle these misconceptions and potential fears.

Here are all the participants in today's course, in front of the Chambers entrance, from left to right;
Nienke, Jamie, Grant, Ivo, Laura and myself. Bas is sitting in front.

Ivo performing CPR on Little Annie, the practice mannequin.

Nienke listening to any reaction from Little Annie.

Bas performing ventilations.

The Oxygen equipment used during the course, a pocket mask, a non rebreather mask, hoses, Little Annie and on the bottom left you can see the flow meter from the regulator and part of the big oxygen tank.

Tomorrow I'll be teaching an EFR Instructor course in the Chamber's classroom again, with 5 candidates, so keep your eyes posted for tomorrow's post.



Wednesday, August 15, 2007

PADI IE August 2007

The August PADI IE on Koh Tao

After three days the PADI IE was completed this morning. Bas and Jamie did very well but there was a bit of a surprise at the very end.

The two PADI examiners who conducted this IE, on the left Thomas Knedlik and on the right Rob Scammell. It turned out that guys from my IDC where in a group with 3 other candidates and Rob would be their examiner for the duration of this IE.

The exams went well, here are Bas on the left and Jamie on the right after successfully completing the 5 theory Exams and the General Standards and procedures exam on day 1 of this IE.

We make a jump and are on a picture from today at the pool.

Yesterday they both passed with flying colours their Knowledge Review part and the Open Water part of the IE.

Today it was the turn for the Confined Water dive, the very last bit of this IE. They both passed their Confined Water presentation and they only had their Skill circuit to go before they would be Open Water Scuba Instructors.

That's where Jamie missed a few heartbeats and ran into problems with three out of five skills with the final result that he didn't pass his skill circuit and unfortunately has to come back to a next PADI IE to complete the Confined Water part. The other three parts of the IE he completed successfully, hence he doesn't have to repeat them again.

Here's the official group picture of the Class of August 2007. From left to right, Myself, Rob Scammell, the PADI Examiner, Bas and Jamie.

In my weather blog I posted a few pix about Koh Tao have a peek!



Saturday, August 11, 2007

Final August IDC day

The final August IDC day

We started this day with the final 3 presentations by me in the classroom this morning at World Resort, followed by the usual great lunch there.

For the afternoon we moved over to Chaweng for the final Open Water presentation.

Here's a (not so great, I admit) picture of my brand new Mare 42 regulator, the latest of the latest in the Mares range of regulators. Haven't really had a chance to test the new reg since I've only done two shallow beach dives and some confined water dives with it, but I'll report later on it how it functions at depth. I do expect a great ease of breathing.

Here's my regulator together with my new Mares Dragon/AT BCD. A nice occasion to show them off! Soon we'll be doing some Instructor level Specialties during which I hope to test both, the reg and the BCD a little better.

Here are Jamie and Bas after the dive, before their debriefing. They both did very well. Strangely enough, the surf on Chaweng beach was fairly strong, since two days the weather changed for the better and there have been two gorgeous, sunshine filled days, but the beach drastically changed, a flat nice and calm beach all of a sudden turned into a beach with a bit of surf and surge and very low visibility underwater.

They both performed very strong however and showed very good control over their respective 'students' and consequently both got very good scores for their skills.

Here's a look over Chaweng beach with loads of happy people standing in the surf trying to body surf their way to the beach.

Tomorrow we'll close the close the IDC and then we're over to Koh Tao to attend the IE.



Thursday, August 9, 2007

The OWSI part, August 07

The OWSI part of the August 07 IDC has started and is in full swing

Today was already the second day and Bas and Jamie had their first Prescriptive Teaching presentation and their third Confined Water Presentation, completed with 3 presentations by me from the IDC curriculum.

Jamie practicing his Rescue skills on Bas.

One onethousand, two onethousand, three onethousand, four onethousand, vent.

Jamie is using the pocket mask in the rescue practice.

Payback time for Bas, also using a pocket mask.

Jamie during his Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (CESA) as Instructor and Bas as student.

More classroom presentation by the Course Director. This is one is covering the Scuba Diver and Open Water diver course.

They're both on track and getting good scores. Another two days of the OWSI, followed by the closing of this IDC on the 12th and than off to Koh Tao on the 13th for the IE



Monday, August 6, 2007

AI part of the IDC completed

The AI course is completed

Today my two candidates completed the AI course part of the IDC by passing their 5 theory exams in the morning and in the afternoon we had an Open Water dive where they each had to perform two skills as an Instructor.

Full concentration during their 5 Theory exams.

Which they passed with flying colours, to the relief of all of us. The lowest score was 85%.

After the exams we all three are enjoying our lunches at the beach side restaurant of World Resort. The food must be a reason in itself to participate in one of my IDC's! Today we had Western style food; club sandwiches, all other days we get up to 4 Thai dishes to share!

Bas during his briefing of his two skills on Chaweng Beach. Jamie is listening in the background.

The Open Water dives are normally conducted from Chaweng Beach. All classroom and confined water dives are held at World Resort in Bophud.

A view on Chaweng Beach from Samui International Diving School's shop on Chaweng Beach. It was nice and sunny out on the beach although the beach was not so busy today.

Tomorrow we have a day off and on Wednesday we continue with an all classroom day and start the OWSI program.

So far they both have been doing very well and it's been an enjoyable course so far.



Friday, August 3, 2007

August IDC 2007 started today

The August 2007 IDC started today.

We already completed 2 days in the Prep Course in which the candidates, Bas and Jamie, completed a lot of red tape (paperwork) and practiced on their knowledge regarding the required 5 exams (Physics, Physiology, RDP, General Skills & Environment and Equipment.
During the prep course, they also completed each day a skill circuit consisting of 20 skills, each day followed by a Rescue exercise (Exercise #7 from the Rescue diver course) and we also completed the Introduction presentation from the IDC curriculum.

Today the real IDC started and they sat through 3 classroom presentations by me and in the afternoon they completed their Skill circuit and got evaluated on it, they both passed very convincingly. This picture shows them being busy looking something up in their Instructor Manuals in the classroom.
Tomorrow they will have to present their first Knowledge Development presentation and their first Confined Water presentation after which I will present another two presentations from the IDC curriculum.
See you all later during the course with some more updates.