Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The year 2009, time to look back

The year 2009, time to look back

Another interesting year has been completed. Some great trips were made over the year and some great and fun IDC's were conducted on Koh Samui by me at World Resort.

Highlight of the year was another year being rewarded the Platinum PADI Course Director rating for the third consecutive year running but most unexpected and highly appreciated was the PADI Instructor Development Award that was awarded to me by PADI and was handed over to me by Drew Richardson, the President and Chief Operations Officer for PADI Worldwide.
It was a good year for awards!

This years number of PADI IDC candidates tally stopped at 29 split up over 9 IDC's. All passed but two, who were not successful on the General Standards exam and one candidate did not pass his Confined Water presentation. One candidate failed his Open Water presentation after I advised him not to go into the PADI IE because in my opinion he wasn't ready for it. They all passed their second attempt except one candidate who couldn't pass his second General Standards exam despite intensive study and help in preparation. Strange considering that this is an open book exam. Good luck to him on his next attempt in 2010.
This year saw 4 IDCS candidates successfully take on this course and advance their professional diving career. This year saw also James and Paul staffing a few IDC's with me, which was a change in pace for me during the IDC's.
The first stand alone Asisstant Instructor course that I ever taught was also being completed, just a few days ago with Steve.
Congratulations and good luck to all of you.

Furthermore 21 EFR Instructors were certified this year by me and I taught 29 Specialties (mainly Nitrox, Gasblending and PADI Emergency Oxygen provider courses) and 147 Instructor level specialties, with the most certifications in the Nitrox Instructor rating.

The Divemaster carousel was also turning around nicely and it's always good to see former Divemaster trainees move on to complete their IDC and participate in their first Instructor steps when they teach their first courses as part of the MSDT internship.

On the diving front, there were excellent trips to the Similan islands in January, a trip I can highly recommend to each and every diver and hopefully I get the opportunity to dive there again next year.

There were also wreck diving trips to Pattaya in April and October. It's always good to get away from Samui once in a while and enjoy another environment and Pattaya is always a great trip. There's already a 2010 trip planned to Pattaya during late February next year.
The dive with the Sharks in Bangkok was also a great moment and experience to remember and look back at. Thanks Robin and Toby! It just shows that there's even diving to be had in Bangkok!

It was a while ago, but this year I taught an Open Water Diver course again to my friend Marc and his wife and his and my sisters children entourage participated in Discover Scuba Dives with me. A great time was had by all of us and this files under 'good times'!

Interesting was also two PADI Course Updates in one year, one in April and one in December, a very unusual situation considering that they are usually only held once every two years! There was also a very interesting PADI Risk Management seminar conducted by Richard Evans.

Project AWARE's yearly beach clean up day was once more very successful and proved to be good fun and there were plenty of participants!

I managed to log just over 100 dives this year, including a few as a tender at the local recompression chamber in Bang Rak and a few more at Chaweng Beach a dive site that enjoy a lot and keeps growing on me, year after year.

A very busy and interesting year and I'm looking forward to next year to new challenges and fun!

Thanks to all the readers of my blog for popping in on a regular base and I wish you Happy and Prosperous New Year!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Last course of the year; Steve's Assistant Instructor course

Last course of the year; Steve's Assistant Instructor course

It's official, Steve met the performance requirements of the PADI Assistant Instructor course and this is also the last course of 2009.

This AI course was conducted in the local SSS Recompression chamber in Bang Rak rather than at World resort, due to the fact that there was only one candidate and it was going to be very busy in the resorts swimming pool, so I used a different pool as well. We also had some good food, at Il Mulino one day and the remainder at the Picnic Basket.

James staffed and helped out during this course, thanks for that James! Here is Steve in James' pool together with Graham who's in the middle of his Divemaster course.

Steve getting ready for Open Water at Chaweng Beach

Considering the circumstances, we did well, with Steve having to work hard on his endurance and skill circuit, after being two years out of the water and heart surgery about a year ago (with a good assessment of his physician, who cleared Steve for diving) it was a bit more difficult for him than anticipated to get in a dive swing or mode again but we managed in the end

Congrats to you Steve and good luck with the direction you're about to take with diving.


Friday, December 25, 2009

USS Lagarto in the news again

USS Lagarto in the news again

After an article written last year on this blog about Tech and Advanced Wreck diving I'm very happy to see that a documentary named 'Lost and Found, Legacy of USS Lagarto' about the USS Lagarto, a US Navy submarine sunk in the Gulf of Thailand by the Japanese Navy during WWII was rewarded with 3 Emmy Awards.

The film picked up the awards for the categories of Historical Documentary, Musical Composition/Arrangement and Writing in the Regional Emmy's for Chicago, Midwest Region.

Here's a trailer for the Emmy winning documentary - if you're interested in getting hold of a copy visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum's webpage about the USS Lagarto.

Well done and a big thumbs up to my former PADI Course Director Jamie MacLeod who discovered this wreck with his fellow MV Trident crew.

Non diving Instructor Specialties completed for December 2009

Non diving Instructor Specialties completed for December 2009

The last batch of Instructor specialties on Koh Samui for this year are being completed and yesterday the non diving specialties were taken care of. On the menu were the DSAT Gas Blender, the DSAT Gas Blender Instructor and Equipment Specialty courses.

Earlier last week we went one day on the boat for the Deep Dive Instructor Specialty at Sail Rock and during the week we completed the Oxygen Provider and Instructor courses.

Craig, on the far right, who completed his IDC and PADI IE in October this year and who is completing his MSDT internship right now, during which he gets the chance to certify 25 PADI divers at various levels under direct supervision of our experienced instructors was teaching the Nitrox and Oxygen Provider courses under my direct supervision to Thomas and Dijana.

Craig is checking the oxygen mask for leaks. Don't try this at home folks!

The oxygen box with all the required tools in it in order to supply oxygen to an injured diver, like the various masks, a regulator with adjustable flow rates and a demand valve.

After the Instructor Oxygen provider course, Dave, Thomas and Dijana were happy with a day's work and we had good fun, as the pictures of the day show.
Soon we'll be wrapping up the dive specialties, so keep your eyes posted here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Makro Thailand offers shark fins for sale

Makro Thailand offers shark fins for sale

To my big surprise, I noticed that the Koh Samui branch of Makro Thailand has at least two brands of shark fins on sale.
Since I only found out sine a few days, I'm not sure what route to follow how to have Makro stop selling shark fins.
With around 24 outlets in Thailand, that's a lot of shark fin for sale.

If you have any ideas, please share them since a few years ago DisneyLand in Hong Kong stopped selling shark fin soup, because a statement reads; "After careful consideration and a thorough review process, we were not able to identify an environmentally sustainable fishing source, leaving us no alternative except to remove shark's fin soup from our wedding banquet menu".
If somebody is reading this and doesn't know or understand why shark fins are such a hot item, maybe have a look at the movie Sharkwater.

2 different kind of shark fins of the same brand available at Makro Samui.

A different brand of shark fins for sale at Makro Samui.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mission completed; The PADI IE for December 2009 is done and dusted

Mission completed; The PADI IE for December 2009 is done and dusted

During a three nervous roller coaster ride, also known as the PADI IE David, Thomas and Dijana are the newest PADI OWSI's or PADI Instructors under the sun.

Dave and Dijana on the boat on the way to the Open Water dive site

They started off with a day in the classroom where all the theoretical stuff got out of the way. They listened to and sat through the IE Orientation and passed the 5 theory exams and the General Standards & Procedures exam with flying colours.

The next day saw them back in the classroom for their Knowledge Development presentation, where they kicked some serious ass and in the afternoon they went on a boat to Aow Leuk, a local Koh Tao dive site for their Open Water presentation, which again, they passed with very good scores.

Today they completed the last bit of this PADI IE, the confined water part, from left to right Thomas, Dijana and David being very happy directly after they got out of the water.

The official picture for this IDC and last IE of 2009, from left to right; George Wegmann (PADI Examiner), Gregory (who completed his Open Water of the IE this time around), Dijana, David, myself, James and Thomas.

See you next year for more IDC's and IE's.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PADI Course Director Update 2010

PADI Course Director Update 2010

After the PADI Course Director Update in April in Bangkok earlier this year, you wouldn't expect another CD update for another two years. Well, wrong. There's another compulsory PADI Course Director update scheduled for next year but surprisingly, PADI Asia Pacific arranged for an early date for this required update, so two days ago I found myself in Phuket for the 2010 update at the Kata Beach Resort & Spa.

Although it was arranged on relatively short notice, it was well attended, with over 40 attendants and it had some good and interesting changes coming up for the new IDC curriculum.
All attendants will receive the exciting new materials early next year and once they're in the mail box I will start with presenting the new format IDC's.

The update was expertly presented by Colin Melrose, who presented the 2009 update in Bangkok earlier this year and by Mike Holme, who can be seen together with me in the picture above.

It's going to be an exciting 2010 for IDC's!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The last IDC of 2009, the December version is in the bag!

The last IDC of 2009, the December version is in the bag!

After having completed the AI course earlier this week, it was now time for the OWSI course to kick off. Well, today that course was completed, the last IDC of 2009 is officially in the bag!

Plenty of work still had to be done before we could complete this IDC and here are the four candidates before one of their Open Water dives, behind World Resort on the beach. This was one of their two presentations in Open Water.

After one of their Open Water presentations they also had to snorkel 800 meters, here they are after just having finished that swim.

We also had more Confined Water and , yes, you guessed it, more classroom presentations by me and James, who staffed once more an IDC with me after he completed his IDCS course two months ago.

As usual, we also enjoyed great lunches at World Resort during our lunch breaks, from left to right, myself, Dave, Karim, Thomas, Dijana and James.
Tomorrow I'm off to Phuket for a PADI Course Director update in Phuket, to get back to Samui with the last flight, just to get on the ferry to Koh Tao the next morning to go over to Koh Tao for the PADI IE.
Keep your eyes tuned to this blog for updates on the various travels I'll be making.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New EFR Instructors in December 2009

New EFR Instructors in December 2009

After a well deserved day off from the current IDC we kicked the second part of the IDC off with the EFR Instructor course in the local recompression chamber in Bang Rak.

The morning part was filled with presentations by me and an exam, followed by a nice lunch at the Picnic Basket, conveniently located directly next to the chamber.

After lunch it was time for some hands on training and we went through the skills and exercises. This picture shows David in action, assessing the scene in a very convincing way.

The group picture at the end of the course, from left to right; Thomas, Dijana, David and my self.
Tomorrow more action again with the start of the OWSI part of the IDC.

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 2009 IDC started

December 2009 IDC started

It's this time of the month again, time for another IDC and it's also this time of the year again, its the last IDC of the year. The prep course finished yesterday with David, Tom and Dijana and James is staffing again. Today the actual IDC started with the AI course and Karim joined us, although he's only supposed to sit through an OWSI course, since he didn't renew for 7 years and in order to regain Teaching Status, an OWSI is required, according to PADI. He's participating in the whole IDC though, so he doesn't miss out on additional training and some important presentations by me that will help him on how to prepare for his own presentations in the classroom, confined water and open water.

From left to right, during the exams; David, Dijana and Tom.

Karim today during the skill circuit, starting off with a deep water entry, or the giant stride.

Dijana, Tom and Dave during their Rescue exercise # 7 practice.
Keep tuned for more updates, soon to come.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A new PADI Divemaster trainee on the block

A new PADI Divemaster trainee on the block

It's Graham, who started his Rescue diver course with us, than completed his Nitrox course earlier this week and has now kicked off his PADI Divemaster course.

Next year, after completing his Divemaster course, he will participate in an IDC.

In the picture Graham is in the middle, flanked by me on the left side and Geoff, our main Instructor on the right side.

Welcome to the family Graham!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Specialty of the Month December 2009; Search & Recovery

Specialty of the Month December 2009; Search & Recovery

The Search & Recovery specialty is a highly popular specialty at Instructor level with my IDC candidates.

Why? The main reason most likely is the following; Spend time around water (as a diver, how can you avoid it?) and sooner or later, you come across someone who lost something underwater. That's where you come in as a trained Search & Recovery diver, you jump in the water and find the lost object and everybody lives long and happily ever after! Well, almost.

It's not always that simple and easy to find something back that got lost underwater but this course teaches some techniques and underwater search patterns and helps you finding the best way to start a search.

This specialty does require some specialized equipment, one of them being a lift bag. During the course dives on Chaweng Beach my good old lift bag has lifted a few bags of rubbish out of the water.

During the course you learn how to fill the bag in the proper and safe way and how to position yourself during the whole process of rigging and lifting the bag with it's load.

Gloves and compass are also required, although for the Search & Recovery Adventure dive the gloves are not required anymore. You will also learn how to tie three knots; the bowline, two half hitches and the sheet bend.

Some of the things that I found on Chaweng Beach include various smaller sized anchors, like the one in this picture.

It's a challenging but very rewarding course, you learn search and recovery dive planning, organization, procedures, techniques and how to deal with potential problems, split up over 4 training dives. You will also learn how to locate large and small objects using search patterns, and various ways for lifting them to the surface. Not only do these skills make you more capable and confident in the water, but most Search & Recovery Divers eventually end up searching for and recovering something they lost themselves.

Sign up this month for the Search & Recovery specialty and you will receive 10% discount on the course price.