Saturday, January 31, 2009

DCS Lecture at the local Recompression Chamber

Lecture at the local Recompression Chamber

Dr. Michaela Ignatescu, the Senior Hyperbaric Physician at the Diving Diseases Research Centre in Plymouth, came to Samui on the evening of 29th January to present a lecture about a variety of diving medical issues with a concentration on the heart condition called Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) and it's implication for divers. She was invited courtesy of the Local SSS Recompression Chamber in Bang Rak.

First of all a bit more about Dr. Michaela, in March she will move to London to become the Medical Director of the Hyperbaric Unit at Whipps Cross Hospital. This is the same facility as where Lee Griffiths works, the former manager of the Samui Recompression chamber. She has been involved in diving medicine for the last 10 years and has worked at various chambers including: Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt; Ravenna, Italy and Whipps Cross, England. In 2007, she completed postgraduate study in Underwater Medicine at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. She is a regular lecturer in diving and hyperbaric medicine and is a keen recreational and commercial diver.

Well, now the we have established Dr. Michaela's credibility, I can recommend visiting one of her lectures. She covered aspects of inner ear DCS, an increasing phenomena and as already mentioned, PFO's. She also had some interesting real life cases that she discussed.

All in all an interesting lecture.


Dr. Michaela at the right side
Dr. Michaela pointing out something on a slide and explaining the workings of the inner ear!

Friday, January 30, 2009

First course of the year; DSAT Gas Blender

First course of the year; DSAT Gas Blender;

After all the fun at the Similan Islands it was time to start the Teaching year and the first course that came up was the DSAT Gas Blender and DSAT Gas Blender Instructor course with James, who participated almost to the date a year ago in my IDC.

After his IDC, James worked a bit as a freelance instructor on Koh Samui and for a longer while as a steadily employed instructor for a dive shop on Samui. Last week he purchased his own dive company on Samui, a never ending story! Well done James!

James and me at the controls, filling Nitrox tanks. Besides filling tanks, part of the training includes an exam and oxygen cleaning.
Up to the next training bit for me, in two days time my next IDC starts.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Similan Island trip January 2009 part # 3

Similan Island trip January 2009 part # 3

Here's my last sequel of pictures from my Similan diving trip, have a look at reports # 1 and # 2 to see some more pictures.
During my dives I had some problems with my camera so I'm not happy with a lot of the pictures that i took, since the function buttons didn't work under pressure! There were a lot more macro shots that I would have liked to take.

This shot of some Western Clown/Anemonefish worked out fine though at Barracuda Point, island # 6. Sometimes the not so desired actually turns out good, as with this shot, a rare occasion.

This small lobster picture came out ok but I would have loved to take some macro shots of this little fella, he was bravely looking out into the world, not at all impressed by me and my camera antics. Impressive! This was shot at Breakfast Bend, island # 9, a real nice reef dive.

During the safety stop at Boulder City, this Lined Blenny was hanging out at the descent/ascent/buoy line and I got some good pictures in. This was one of the rare occasions where the camera didn't work properly during the dive but worked fine again at shallower depths.

There were also a few sharks on the menu during my dives, a couple of close up encounters with leopard Sharks, as pictured above, this one was seen at Boulder City and there were plenty of sleeping Leopards on the bottom of the ocean, sometimes at very deep depths, like around 40 meters. During my first dive at the Similans this year, at a site named Deep Six, we saw two White tip reef sharks.
There were no real big pegalics came my way during this trip, no whalesharks and no Manta Rays. The supposedly best place to see them is at an island a little bit north of the Similans, named Koh Bon. We did three dives there and all I got to see was a right wing of a Manta going up and down and than it was gone. Ah well, better luck next time!

Here's a lovely shot of an Hawksbill turtle at North Point, island # 9, but my camera didn't work. No flash, thus a very blueish picture.
It was a lovely experience with some excellent diving and once more, thanks to the folks at Similan Scuba Adventures and their staff on the boat, Pan and Nick, the dive guides!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Similan Island trip January 2009 part # 2

Similan Island trip January 2009 part # 2

Here's the successor of yesterday's update about my Similan diving trip. There will be one more post tomorrow about this trip, so enjoy whilst it lasts!

The water had an average temperature of 27C, which may sound fine but if you're used to 29C or 30C water, this is really cold! Two days I used a pair of shorts with multiple layers of vests (including a 3mm, a 1 mm and a rashy, all worn at the same time!) but on the third day it was time to pull out the 5-4-3 mm full length suit.

A Giant Moray Eel at Turtle Rock, island # 8
During the 5 days I lost track on how many Giant Moray Eels I've seen, they seemed almost to be everywhere!

These fantastic fan's where also on many dive sites, this picture was taken at Elephant Head Rock and especially at the deeper sites, there were gigantic samples of these Gorgonian fans.

Lots of small 'macro' shots can be taken at almost any site, these small tube like corals were shot at Elephant Head Rock, the orangy one and the bottom one, the blue one of some Tunicates, was shot at East of Eden.

This Egg Cowrie shell was also located at Elephant Head Rock, a fantastic deep dive site with lots of boulders strewn around everywhere.
All dives were conducted on Nitrox or Enriched Air, a specialty I can highly recommend you are trained in before visiting the Similan Islands. Deep diver comes also to mind, especially if you stay overnight and the deep dives show up in the morning.
During the afternoon you get to dive the shallower reefs and especially Anita Reef at island # 5 and Breakfast bend at island # 9 were amongst my faves.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Similan Island trip January 2009 part # 1

Similan Island trip January 2009 part # 1

It was my second Similan island trip, although the first trip was in November 1999, quite a while ago and a very good reason and time to refresh my knowledge of the local Similan islands and it's inhabitants.

The trip started out of Kao Lak where I was invited by Roman of Similan Scuba Adventures to participate in one of their packages, I was offered a 5 days/4 night package and humble as I am, I didn't turn the offer down!

Arrival at Angel 1. their live aboard boat that during season is permanently out on the Similan islands. During the week before my arrival there were strong winds but it seemed appropriate for me to bring good weather along and it was near wind still with excellent visibility during all my dives. Nowhere was the viz below 20 meters and most of the time better than that.

Christmas Point, island # 9

Common Lionfish at East of Eden

A school of Barracuda's hanging in the current at Breakfast Bend, island # 9

Hemprich's soft coral at Barracuda Point, island # 5
To be continued!

Friday, January 16, 2009

More Divemaster Trainee confined water training

More Divemaster Trainee confined water training

The skill circuit was tackled one more time by Krit and Aaron, a follow up of last weeks practice.
Krit has now completed his skill circuit and has just a few more things (exams!) to complete before he can finish his Divemaster course and than it's straight on into the IDC starting 1st February for him!
Aaron, who started his course later than Krit is still in the thickst of it and should be able to complete his skill circuit towards the end of February, when he's due back in to the pool again, together with Morten, who arrived yesterday to start his Divemaster - IDC package.
Bruno also arrived yesterday and he's starting his Open Water diver to Instructor package soon.

Aaron demonstrating a regulator recovery
Krit demonstrating the simulated out of air skill

Krit and Aaron during their Alternative Air Source drill
More to follow soon, especially some nice pictures of the Similan islands, I hope, since that's where I will be heading on the 19th January for 5 days! Keep your eyes posted!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Divemaster trainee; the skill circuit!

Divemaster trainee; the skill circuit!

Our two current Divemaster trainees, Aaron and Krit, were due a skill circuit, so we met at the pool for some practice.
The whole November/December lot of DMT's have completed their courses, Patrick, Steven and Mikhail are already instructors by now and Patrick has been working on Koh Chang ever since he completed his IDC and IE. Steve and Mikhail are participating in their MSDT internship.
Gav just got signed off and is about to start the February IDC, together with Krit and two other candidates.
Craig had a motorbike accident and had to fly back home to the UK to recover there and come back out again to pick up where he left!
Even Rob, who took months on an end to complete his timed swims, got over that hurdle and completed his course at last!

That leaves Aaron on the left and Krit on the right to carry the torch for the time being! Soon Morten from Denmark and Bruno from Belgium will come to start their respective courses.

This picture shows Aaron and Krit during their buddy check; BWRAF, Bangkok women really are fellas. Right!

A good view of the pool at Blessing, which we often use, during a break. After we completed the first skill circuit, with at least one or two more to follow, we had lunch and continued with a lecture on physics. That got their ears really ringing and gave them something to ponder about.

Next week we'll continue with more of skill circuit and a lecture on physiology.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Specialty of the Month January 2009; Enriched Air Diver

Specialty of the Month January 2009; Enriched Air Diver

Welcome to one of PADI’s most popular specialties. 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 a Nitrox Diver to get enriched air fills.

You can maximize your time underwater with the upgraded PADI EANx Nitrox Diver course. Being an EANx Nitrox Diver saves you time by allowing you to stay underwater longer and get back in the water sooner.

You learn to analyze cylinder contents, plan enriched air dives using tables and dive computers and safely increase your no stop time.

Join this exciting specialty and enjoy longer bottom times and get more out of your dive time and get 10% off of your course price of you sign up during this January.