Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Specialties are under way

Specialties are under way

Mainly with Steve, who can be seen in action with Little Annie on the picture below, but also Saori and Junko completed the EFRI course.

The EFRI course was completed yesterday and today we were off to Chaweng beach for the Search & Recovery- and Night Dive Instructor Specialty, just Steve and me.

During said Search & Recovery dives, we encountered a few interesting animals, first of all we saw a Sea Horse, my 2nd ever in almost 10 years diving in Thailand, so I got pretty excited over that, than we spotted this amazing animal that I don't recall ever seeing before. (EDIT: it turns out, that this is indeed a sea cucumber, or class Holothurians, as noted by Richard in one of the comments. It's actually a Cercodemas anceps pink warty cucumber, as one of my fish ID books claims) We also saw some octopus, which kept the excitement going!

To top it off though, I found this beautiful, though slightly damaged, shell of a Nautilus. This was and still is on my wish list of things to see, alive, and I was really surprised to find a shell on Chaweng Beach. My first thought was that it is a copy from a local restaurant, which somehow ended up on the beach (stranger things happen and can be found off Chaweng beach) but looking at it, it may well be an original shell, coming from the wide open ocean. I got really excited about finding this!

This made for a real surprising and exciting afternoon dives.

We also had a night dive scheduled, however, by the time we met at 6.30 pm again, it had started to rain and it got a lot worse, with a lot of wind and more rain. The night dive ended up not being as exciting as the dives during the day time, but I still like to share this picture of a crab with you, spotted during the night dive tonight. Chaweng Beach has usually dozens, if not hundred(s) of crabs during night dives, in all sorts and sizes, that alone makes it worth while diving for night dive purposes.

Tomorrow the Gas Blender Instructor and the Equipment Instructor courses are going to be completed and on Friday we complete the DAN O2 Instructor course.

We still have the two days on the boat left, with the Deep Dive Instructor, Multi level Instructor and the Underwater Navigation Instructor Specialty to go, but due to current weather conditions, which are very unusual for July, see my Samui weather blog for more updates, and having to start another IDC within a week again, those dives will be postponed until after the July IDC is completed.

In the meantime, Steve will start and hopefully complete swiftly, his MSDT internship, as part of his Open Water to Go pro CDC package.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

PADI IE June 2008 successfully completed

The PADI for IE June 2008 has been successfully completed by my candidates.

All six of them passed with flying colours after a grueling, nerve wrecking but also fun three days. After today's closing session of this PADI IE they all left the PADI Divemaster ranks and became PADI OWSI's or PADI Scuba Instructors.

Let's have a look on how they got there during the last three days;

The official opening of this PADI IE, done by PADI Examiner Rob Scammell.

It all started with an orientation by Rob, the PADI Examiner, that lasted for about an hour and 15 minutes during which he explained all the rules of this IE and sorted the red tape or paperwork out and the candidates received their assignments.

After the orientation there was a short break and they all ploughed their way through 5 dive theory Exams in the topics of Physics, Physiology, RDP, General Skills & Environment and last but not least Equipment. After completing these 5 exams, they went on to complete their General Standards & Procedures exam.

All the exams were skillfully navigated and all 6 of them could call it a successful end to the first IE day and start preparing for the next day, where the Confined Water and Knowledge Development part were scheduled.

In the morning of day 2, they started out at the pool with their Confined Water presentation.

Here's Rob, the PADI Examiner, seen on the back, listening to a Confined Water briefing, with on his left PADI IDCS Instructor Nobu, who translated everything from Japanese into English for Rob.

All six candidates passed this confidently, both their Confined Water presentation and their 5 skills which they had to demonstrate.

During the afternoon they all had prepared a Knowledge Development presentation, in which they prescriptively taught a topic from either the PADI Open Water-, Rescue- or Divemaster course.

They also passed this part very successfully! Up to day # 3, the final day.

This morning, the last and final day of this PADI IE the Open Water part was scheduled. Here they have to demonstrate 2 skills integrated in one dive. One skill is an Open Water diver course skill and the other skills is a 'continual education' skills, either from the Advanced Open Water diver or Rescue diver course and exercise #7 from the Rescue diver course.

At Chaweng beach, during a beautiful sunny morning, see my Samui weather blog for more info on today's weather, Saori, Yumi and Masae are practicing one last time the knot tying skills, required for some Open Water presentations.

Steve and Claire are ready to enter the water to set up their work place or rather, their office. This is done by means of a descent/ascent line, connected to a sand screw on the bottom of the sea and on top marked by a big yellow 'Diver below' marker buoy.

After having exited the Open Water and before their debriefings start, Saori, Masae and Yumi give each other some form of Japanese hi-fives, I guess........

The word is out, 6 new PADI instructors have been born today and here they are, all lined and exited about their new achievement.

The offical picture, from left to right; Nobu, Junko, Steve, Saori, Rob, Yumi, Masae, yours truly and Claire.

Good luck to all six of you and stay tuned for next month adventures for a new IDC and IE.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

The June 2008 IDC is finished

The June 2008 IDC is finished

Today we completed the last Open Water dive, as part of the OWSI course and that opens the way for the PADI IE to start tomorrow. We will complete the closing ceremony of this IDC however, first thing tomorrow morning before the IE can kick off around 2 pm.

Let's have a look at some action shots first though;

Claire during one of her Knowledge Development or classroom presentations, telling us what a BCD can do and that we should own our own.

Steve during one of his classroom presentations, explaining how the eRDP works.

Part of the Japanese squad having fun next to the pool after one of the Confined Water dives.

All of the candidates before the Open Water dive today, do they look nervous or what? From left to right; Yumi, Claire, Masae, Steve, Saori and Junko.

After the Open Water dive, they're still smiling, they must have performed really well. Masae and Akira, the IDC Staff Instructor carrying the diver below marker buoy back on land.

Organised chaos after the dive, trying to clean up the equipment area whilst Yumi is practising to become 'Miss Samui weightbelt' and Saori is trying to figure out how to breathe from a snorkel.

Junko in love with her BCD!

Smiles all around, they all did well indeed and we're all looking confidently ahead to the IE. Stay tuned for more updates.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

June 2008 AI course completed

June 2008 AI course completed

Yesterday, Saturday, we completed the Open Water dive that's part of the AI course and with that we completed the AI course and are ready for a well deserved day off, before on Monday the OWSI course kicks off! Next week the PADI IE is looming, after we complete this IDC.
There's some more work to be completed before that though. The weather during the IDC was varying a lot, one day we had loads of sunshine and the next day we were in the swimming pool during a rain storm. See my Samui weather blog for some reviews of Samui's daily weather changes.

Let's have a look at some action pix however, to proof how hard they all worked. Here's Claire being rescued by Steve.

A good view over the pool at World resort, during a Confined Water briefing.

A different perspective, during Masae's briefing for her Confined Water presentation.

Masae in action during her Confined Water demonstration of regulator recovery. One of the many possible skills IDC candidates may have to perform during the Confined Water dives.

Here's Saori, "Look Mum, I don't need hands" during her demonstration of the Remove and Replace Scuba Unit Underwater skill in Confined Water.

'Instructor' Junko is controlling 'student' Steve during his Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent in Confined Water. A beautiful execution of the skill and great control by Junko.

'Instructor' Yumi, seen on the back and 'student' Saori performing the free flowing regulator skill in Confined Water.

As usual, we enjoyed great lunches at World Resort with in this picture our very international group of Dutch, Chinese, British and Japanese participants. From left to right, myself, Junko, Saori, Akira, Yumi, Masae, Claire and Steve.

Stay tuned for more updates next week.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June IDC about to start

The June IDC is about to start,

More precisely, it will start tomorrow. Today we completed the two day IDC prep course, which means that tomorrow we start the Assistent Instructor course and next week Monday we will start the OWSI program, together they form the IDC and this will be followed by the PADI IE.

During the Prep course we completed the necessary paperwork, the Red Tape! and completed a set of Theory exams, on the picture you can see Steve and Claire review some answers. They also completed a Confined Water Skill circuit consisting of 20 skills.
So far all's good, keep your eyes posted for the Confined and Open Water pictures, later this week, when a handful of Japanese candidates will join us.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

5 Divers missing and found after two days around Komodo Island, Indonesia

5 Divers missing and found alive around Komodo Island, Indonesia

After the 2 missing divers in Oz, recently extensively covered by me in my blog, there's a new party of missing divers, this time around near Komodo island, Indonesia, famous amongst others for the Komodo Dragons.

5 divers in total, 3 British, a Swedish and a French diver are missing for over 24 hours now in an area that is notoriously down for it's many currents, amongst others down currents which drag you down very rapidly and possibly very deep without a change of surfacing before you run out of air. It's big news in the UK, since 3 out of the 5 divers are British and the BBC World service has it on TV news and on it's website.

You can easily stay updated on this situation by visiting the Scubaboard thread. If you're not signed up yet for Scubaboard, you can do so by following this sign up link.

In my very early dive career, just having passed my Advanced Open Water rating, I dived that area one day as well, a very easy dive site, considering my experience level at that time, well over 10 years ago, I still remember vividly the stories about the currents in this area though.

Kathleen Mitchison

Back to this story though, there are a few positive things that gives hope that they're still alive, first of all, there are small islands pretty much everywhere you go, so if the surfaced, it should not have been too hard to get on land. Secondly, the dive leader, Kathleen Mitchison, is a very experienced diver with a couple of thousand dives in this area.

Let's hope that they will be found alive quickly!


Within an hour of posting this article, the BBC World TV News resported that the five divers were found alive. At this moment, no further news is available.

Friday, June 6, 2008

At last, more Gas Blending

At last, more Gas Blending

With a new IDC coming up in a few days, Steve took the opportunity to complete another part in his extensive Open Water to Go Pro CDC package today and that was the Gas Blender course.

Here's Steve during one of the cleaning tests, required during the course although it almost looks like he's forging an entry stamp with the help of an UV light to get into a show for free.

Steve at the controls at the mixing desk.
During the filling of a hand full of tanks, we also repaired some equipment as part of the Equipment repair course.
For lunch we went to Gai's Restaurant in Maenam, not to be missed when around this area for some good and cheap Thai food!
Keep your eyes posted for updates on the June IDC, starting in just a few more days!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Specialty of the month June 2008

Specialty of the month June 2008

Brings us Peak Performance Buoyancy.

Float effortlessly, drifting over reefs. Be the diver you want to be, with ultimate buoyancy control, able to hover close to the bottom and examine underwater organisms without touching them.

By mastering streamlining, you move through the water cleanly, efficiently and gracefully. You swim near fragile environments without harm to them or yourself.

Especially for new divers a very worthwhile Specialty to consider, since it will improve your buoyancy. This is done during two open water dives and you practice various buoyancy skills.

It will also allow you to dive without touching the fragile corals in tropical destinations and thus make you an ambassador of Project AWARE.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

53 years ago the MS. Suddhadib or Hardeep was sunk

53 years ago the MS. Suddhadib or Hardeep was sunk

Near Pattaya, on 1st June 1945 saw the MS. Suddhadib or aka Hardeep being sunk by an air attack of Allied Forces, consisting of British, Australian and Canadians crews.

The Suddhadib quickly sunk with no loss of life, the crew swam to Koh Chuang.

All this is very well documented on Steve Burton's Thailand Wreck diving website

There's one page on this site completely devoted to the MS. Sudahib and well worth reading.

Interestingly enough, new CAD generated wreck imagery has been added to this page with very detailed images of the wreck. If in Pattaya and you're interested in diving, don't miss out on of the wrecks around Pattaya or contact me for setting up a trip to Pattaya if you're visiting Samui.