Wednesday, September 29, 2010

MV Trident has been sunk off Koh Tao

MV Trident has been sunk off Koh Tao

Yesterday the MV Trident has been sunk West off Koh Tao's Shark Point. Earlier this month I posted about the plan of sinking the MV Trident, and yesterday it was the right time to do it!
Jamie Macleod, one of the owners and my former Course Director, back in the days, was just back in time on Koh Tao from the UK so everything was in place to execute the sinking.

After a safe journey from Chumphon where she had been prepared for sinking the final jobs were done and she was ready to go to her resting place, West off Shark Point, South of Koh Tao.

They had welded the hatch that gave access to the accommodation section closed as it was very narrow and was a possible risk. The air pressure being forced out of the boat in the vertical position caused the welds to fail in a spectacular fashion as seen in the pictures.

There was a lot of speculation on just how she would go down as none of us had done this before. Initial thoughts was it was going to turn turtle and sink but before she she did she just sat vertical and slid slowly down.

After sinking she settled on the bottom in a vertical position and there was fear that she was going to stay in this position but after around 3 minutes she slowly settled to the sea floor at around a 30% lean to starboard. Once the sediment that was kicked up settled we recovered the video cameras and attached a buoy line and Koh Tao has a great wreck to dive. She is sitting in 36 metres to the bottom and the deck and saloon are at around the 25 metre level. It has good penetration to the saloon and engine room and in time will be a magnet for sea life.

That's all folks!

Thanks Jamie and all other people involved in this project! I'm looking forward on diving this wreck for many years to come!

With thanks to Duncan for pictures and text, who was privileged enough to be there!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

PADI Divemaster Program Revisions - First Look

PADI Divemaster Program Revisions - First Look

This article was originally posted at the PADI Instructor News blog, run by the good folks at PADI America's. Thanks for sharing!

The revised PADI Divemaster course will be launched at DEMA in November. The new materials aren't available for pre-order yet, but you can read about them below.

The information below is subject to change. Please refer to the Training Bulletin and 2011 Divemaster Instructor Guide (when it comes out) for final details.

The new program includes the most requested changes from PADI Members: emphasizing the dive guide role of a Divemaster, deepening candidate experience and skill background, and incorporating real-world, practical training for the programs DMs are authorized to conduct.

New PADI Divemaster Program Overview

What’s New:

  • Skill development through new workshops and practical applications. The new program has a 50 % increase in in-water training including:

  • Five new Divemaster-Conducted Program workshops: one for each course Divemasters are authorized to conduct.
  • Five Practical Application Skills:
  1. dive site set-up and management
  2. mapping project (unchanged)
  3. dive briefing
  4. search and recovery scenario*
  5. deep dive scenario*
* A specialty diver certification in this area may fulfill this skill requirement at the instructor’s discretion.
  • Dive Skills: four skin diving skills have been added.
The skill evaluation slate is being revised (product no. 60228).

  • Change to Prerequisites:
  • The Deep Diver and Search and Recovery specialty ratings are recommended, candidates may also demonstrate the skills related to these courses as part of the Practical Application Skills section (described above).
  • Candidates must have 40 logged dives to begin the program (it was 20).

  • Knowledge Development & Exam Changes:
  • Divemaster eLearning – an alternative to using the PADI Divemaster manual and DVD. The online option replaces all but one of the classroom presentations. The exam must be proctored by an instructor. Unlike the other eLearning courses, the DM exam is not included in the online program.
A revised PADI Divemaster Manual and DVD are also available for those who prefer traditional study tools.

  • The Divemaster exam now emphasizes the supervisory and leadership aspects of divemastering. The revised exam is written in more familiar terminology to more accurately assess candidate comprehension of the knowledge development topics – including dive theory.
The dive theory knowledge requirement for Divemaster is now an intermediate step between what’s required for the PADI Rescue Diver rating and Assistant Instructor or Instructor certification.

  • A DM candidate may “test out” of the dive theory exam questions (roughly half of the exam) by completing Dive Theory Online ($100).

Things That Haven't Changed:
  • Same number of dives to “graduate”: 60
  • Dive Theory Online is still an optional study tool.
  • The Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving
  • Mapping project

Summary of Changes to Divemaster Materials

Revised materials (estimated ship date Dec 2010):

  • Divemaster manual – expanded from 200 pages to nearly 300. Includes new course information and functions as an additional study tool for the DM exam. Each chapter now includes a case study based on real scenarios which illustrate sound judgment and other leadership skills.
  • Divemaster DVD – now includes “demonstration quality” videos of all 20 scuba skills and the new skin diving skills (4) - plus new and updated footage.
  • Divemaster DVD (Pro edition) - revised to reflect new course content and incorporate new footage.
  • Divemater slates – revised slightly to reflect new course content
  • Skill evaluation slate – includes four new skin diving skills.
  • Divemaster exam/answer sheet/answer key – entirely updated

New materials (estimated ship date late Nov 2010):

  • Instructor cue cards
  • Prescriptive Lesson Guides (hooray!) – new PLGs integrated with standard lesson guides.
  • Divemaster eLearning – $200

Unchanged materials:

  • Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving (part no. 70034 book, 70833 DVD-ROM)
  • Scuba Tune-Up Guide book - now a recommended item (part no. 70097).
  • DSD cue card (must have 2009 revision of this item, part no. 60130)
  • Diving Knowledge Workbook - no longer required, but relevant study tool for DM, AI and Instructor exams (part no. 70214).

Discontinued materials:

Divemaster modular lesson guides

What about the current Divemaster materials?
We’ll transition to the new program over several months – similar to how we introduced the new IDC program. PADI Members should continue to use and sell DM materials in stock, but consider keeping a light inventory.

· The cut-off date for starting new candidates with the “old” DM materials is 1 July 2011. After this point, DM candidates and their instructors must use the new materials.

· TBA: what happens to Divemaster candidates who have not finished the “old” program by 1 July 2011

Where can I get more information?

Review the information on pages 2-5 of the 4th Quarter Training Bulletin
  • Available on the PADI Pro’s Site under Training Essentials
  • Also found in the back of the 4Q 2010 Undersea Journal

The September/October 2010 IDC on Koh Samui is under way!

The September/October 2010 IDC on Koh Samui is under way!

The last two days we completed the Prep course with Tobias and Marlies and now Darren will join for staffing this IDC and three Japanese candidates will join us as well!

Tobias and Marlies sweating it out over the usual exam suspects, they did really well on all 5 topics!

Besides classroom work and lots of red tape to get our of the way during the first couple of hours of this IDC, there was also some more exciting stuff in the form of rescue exercise # 7 from the Rescue diver course and some skill circuits. The photo above sees Tobias giving Marlies some head support before he moves in for some life saving ventilations!

Tobias mimicking a perfect victim, much to the amusement of Marlies!

As part of the skill circuit, a giant stride entry was required and Tobias just can't stop wondering where Marlies seems to be taking off for!

More to follow soon, so keep your eyes glued to this site for more updates!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Project AWARE International Beach clean up 2010 was lots of fun!

Project AWARE International Beach clean up 2010 was lots of fun!

This morning I met with Paul of the Dive Academy here on Samui, Joep, Marlies and Tobias do participate in this years Project AWARE International Beach clean up. We dived on Chaweng beach and dug up and took out a few kilos of rubbish, roughly 20 to 25 kilos in total.

From left to right; myself, Marlies, Joep, Paula and Tobias.

The amount of rubbish found is unreal. There are shoes, hats, fake sunglasses by the dozen, plastic buckets, sun chairs, car tires, tons of plastic and glass bottles, dive and snorkel masks, pieces of clothing, electric wire and you name it. Unfortunately too much to mention.

Here's some of our trash we found, five bags in total, with around 4 to 5 kg of debris in each bag!

If you lost your mask during your Rescue diver course on Chaweng Beach, don't worry, we found it! Over two days and three dives I found well over a dozen masks and an even bigger amount of goggles.

How about some toilet piping, anyone? Is this missing from your bathroom by any chance?

Marlies in action with her bag and various other bits and pieces she found during the dive.

Besides lots of rubbish, we also saw an interesting amount of sea life, once more testifying how great it is to dive on Chawengs sand! Amongst others we saw this rather interesting species of jelly fish, which I've never encountered or have seen before, an octopus and a sea horse. Not bad for a beach!

Looking forward to next year's Clean up day but first I will start a new IDC tomorrow with Marlies and Tobias and three Japanese candidates.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Instructor Specialties for September are in the bag

Instructor Specialties for September are in the bag

Today I completed some beach dives with Joep and all specialties for this month have been bagged.

We started out with both Aldo and Joep for two days at Sail Rock for the Deep, DUP and Night dive Instructor specialty dives. Above is Aldo at around 27 meters, half inside a thermo cline.

The bight dive at Sail Rock was a first for me and it was awesome! First of all, from Koh Phangan it only takes one hour with Haad Yao divers boat to Sail Rock but than seeing the rock in a totally different (night) perspective was fantastic. The hermit crab above was just one of the creatures we saw.

This cowry shell, guarded or sandwiched (?) by two sea urchins was another awesome shot and view during the night dive at Sail Rock.

After these two days worth of diving, Joep and me took off to Koh Samui to complete more specialties and Aldo went to the Perhentian islands in Malaysia to participate in a PADI IE, since had to leave 26th September, back to France. He passed the IE successfully by the way! Well done Aldo!
The picture above shows Joep and me after having completed the Emergency Oxygen provider and instructor courses at the local hyperbaric chamber in Bang Rak.

Gas Blending was also on the menu, since Joep participated in a Go Pro Max package, which ultimately gave him 8 Instructor level specialties. Here he is looking at a table with Nitrox mixes together with James.

Today, Joep and me went to Chaweng Beach for an Underwater Navigation dive and two Search & Recovery dives. We found tons of stuff again and had two great dives. Amongst others 6 or 7 masks, a fin and a snorkel where found and even a piece of a jet ski was picked up by Joep.
The coral bleaching was a lot less compared to one month ago!

One of my highlights was this Conus Betulinus, a massive big Cone shell. However, just like last months Textile Cone shell (amongst the three most dangerous cone shells to handle!) at Sail Rock, with a guest living in it, this one also had a guest living inside, at least, that's what I think since he didn't attack! It's the biggest cone I've ever seen so far and I was really impressed, once more showing what interesting creatures can be found at Chaweng's beach! During the other dives today I saw a big sting ray and a cuttle fish amongst others.

Anyway, this month's specialties are bagged, tomorrow there's a Project AWARE International beach and underwater clean up at the same location on Chaweng Beach, so I'm sure we can bring some more rubbish ashore!

The next IDC is also on it's way and starts in two days, 26th September, so stay tuned, plenty of updates and posts coming your way!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teaching an IDC on Malapascua in the Philippines

Teaching an IDC on Malapascua in the Philippines

Come late January/early February 2011, I will teach an IDC on Malapascua island in the Philippines with Thresher Shark Divers. Exact dates will be announced shortly, so stay tuned!

A few of my former IDC candidates have worked and/or dived in Malapascua with Tresher Shark Divers, amongst others Will and Sophia who completed their IDC with me in December 2007,Fernando who completed his IDC with me back in September 2004 and Richard, who completed his IDCS course with me in November 2004 has also been working with Tresher Shark Divers on various occasions, a small world it is indeed!

Here's a view of Malapascua, the island is just about 2.5 km long and 1 km wide! It's going to be interesting to find space for my daily runs!

So what is it that makes Malapascua so special, well, it's the guys pictured above, the Tresher Sharks. It's one of the few places in the world where you can observe these sharks on a regular base.

Come and join me for what looks like my first IDC outside of Thailand!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Camille's new cooperation with Scubafish on Koh Lanta

Camille's new cooperation with Scubafish on Koh Lanta

It's a fact and I'm honored and happy for being able to announce this new cooperation with Scubafish on Koh Lanta.

After just having successfully completed the first IDC outside of Koh Samui on Koh Phangan withHaad Yao divers and having already a working cooperation going on Koh Lanta with Blue Planet Divers, Scuba fish approached me for becoming their PADI Course Director besides their existing Course Director, who they will keep working with as well, mainly when I'm not available for teaching IDC's throughout the rest of the year.

Very soon the first IDC on Koh Lanta will kick off, 26th October to be precise, so if you're interested let me know so we can secure a spot on this course. The IDC will be immediately followed by a PADI IE on Koh Lanta.

Meet the staff at Scubafish

I'm looking forward going to Koh Lanta and teach my first IDC there, hope to see you there!


Friday, September 17, 2010

EFR instructor course on Koh Phangan September 2010; bagged!

EFR instructor course on Koh Phangan September 2010; bagged!

Yes indeed, today we completed the EFR Instructor course with Joep and Aldo. Daniel sat through the Care for Children Instructor course.

In the cozy classroom of Haad Yao divers, from left to right; Joep, Aldo and Daniel, ready for the action.

Aldo working the AED machine to give Little Annie a chance of survival!

Joep having a great time with baby Annie!

Daniel caring about Baby Annie!

The group picture, from left to right; Daniel, Aldo, Joep and myself.

Thanks guys, it was great teaching you and I had a great time on Koh Phangan!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The September PADI IDC on Koh Phangan is all done and dusted

The September PADI IDC on Koh Phangan is all done and dusted

My first IDC outside of Samui has been completed! Thanks to Joep and Aldo, the two candidates and a big thanks to Haad Yao divers for all their help and support!

During the OWSI part there were more presentations by me but also by Joep and Aldo and the picture above sees Joep in action, with a toothbrush?

Aldo is showing off his second hand car sales man skills. You're getting there Aldo!

Confined water and Open Water were also on the schedule but now it's all done and dusted and we already have completed some of the Instructor specialty training and tomorrow the EFR Instructor course will kick off.

Due to the fact that there were just the two candidates, PADI had to cancel the PADI IE scheduled for Koh Phangan. Aldo who is on a tight schedule will travel to the Perhentian islands in Malaysia to attend an IE there 21sta nd 22nd September and Joep will participate in the IE held in early October on Koh Samui.

See you there! In the meantime, the next IDC will start 26th September on Koh Samui.


Friday, September 10, 2010

The September 2010 PADI AI course on Koh Phangan is in the bag!

The September 2010 PADI AI course on Koh Phangan is in the bag!

The first IDC on Koh Phangan (and the first IDC I'm conducting outside of Samui) has smooth sailing so far although there are also interesting discussions about the PADI system going on at times.
Today the Assistant Instructor course has finished and tomorrow we're going to enjoy a well deserved day off!

We completed a few skill circuits, as Aldo is proving in the picture above whilst he's recovering his regulator.

Joep is doing fine as well and today they passed a set of theory exams, the Open Water skills, a Rescue exercise # 7 (unconscious diver at the surface) and the 800 meter swim and on top of all this they also survived and sat through another curriculum presentation by me!

Daniel, one of the owners of Haad Yao divers on Koh Phangan is refreshing his IDCS skills during this IDC.

A picture of the master himself, a rare picture of me on this blog, during one of the skill circuits, observing the candidates, with thanks for the picture to Daniel.

Aldo and Joep after completing the 800 meters swim today. Off to a day tomorrow and than come Sunday, time for the OWSI course to kick off.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

September 2010 IDC on Koh Phangan has kicked off

September 2010 IDC on Koh Phangan has kicked off

The first IDC I'm conducting outside of Koh Samui has kicked off on Koh Phangan in conjunction with Haad Yao divers. We're using the brand new, air conditioned classroom which has free wifi and a swimming pool on the premises, about 15 meters away from the classroom, if it all.

Joep and Aldo are this months participants and we started off in the usual way with getting a lot of red tape out of the way and exams!

After lunch we did a skill circuit and Rescue exercise # 7, unconscious diver at the surface from the Rescue diver course. This picture sees Joep rescuing Aldo.

Now it's Aldo's turn in this picture and rescue Joep. This first went really smooth and if you check in regularly you will find more updates.

Thanks to Haad Yao divers for making this happen.


Friday, September 3, 2010

PADI Specialty of the Month September 2010; Project AWARE

PADI Specialty of the Month September 2010; Project AWARE

Everybody should be concerned about the underwater world and environment, at least that's what I hope for. Unfortunately it's not always like this but there for this Specialty of the Month comes in handy!

In the Project AWARE Specialty you learn about some of the most pressing problems facing these vulnerable environments and everyday actions you can take to help conserve them. It’s informative, interesting and most importantly, you learn how to make a difference.

The Project AWARE Foundation is the scuba diving industry’s leading nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to conserving the aquatic environment through education, advocacy and action. Besides completing the Project AWARE Specialty course, you can become a partner in the efforts to preserve the underwater environment.

You learn about:

• The ocean commons and coastal zone issues

• Fisheries challenges and sustainability

• Coral environment overview and inhabitants

• The role of the scuba diver in protecting aquatic environments

During my dives on Chaweng Beach, as part of the Search & Recovery Instructor Specialty courses I teach there on a regular base, I put in an effort to clean up underwater parts of the beach and unfortunately, my students and me are very successful in fishing loads of stuff out of the water.

I just hope that we look after our underwater world and be good to her! Start with your self, each journey starts with a first step, make sure that when you visit the waterside, you don't leave any trash behind. Thanks.

As usual, if you take this specialty during this month, you receive a 10% discount on the course price.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

MV Trident will be sunk around Koh Tao

MV Trident will be sunk around Koh Tao

Here's an interesting article that considers Jamie MacLeod's MV Trident. Jamie, my PADI Course Director back in the days, has bought a new vessel and is now preparing to purposely sink the MV Trident in front of Koh Tao.

This will provide a great opportunity to wreck dive in recreational depths around Koh Tao and will form an artificial wreck. Well done for the initiative Jamie!

Please visit the 3rd of September a fundraiser will be taking place at Hacienda on Koh Tao

Please read this article by Chad Scott from July 2010;

Purpose and Goals

This proposal is to request funding to be allocated for the purchase and deployment of a large metal dive boat (the M.V. Trident) to serve as an artificial reef and diver training area in conjunction with the project being completed along with the DMCR in Ao Leuk in August of 2010. The purpose of this site will be to function as an alternative dive site to relieve sieving pressure and over crowding of natural reefs and to provide a coral and fish nursery to improve populations that have been affected by fishing and other activities. The funding for this project would be derived from the Save Koh Tao Group and other participating groups such as SSI,BSAC and the local dive schools/business.

This community based project will help to increase the amount of collective participation on marine conservation projects on Koh Tao amongst the dive shops and local businesses. Only by increasing the amount of environmental action and education on Koh Tao can the long-term sustainability of the local environment and economy be ensured. This will further propel Koh Tao as a sustainably minded community that can provide an example for other island states around the world. Specific goals of the project include:


On Koh Tao, reef health, abundance, biodiversity, and resilience are all being decreased at an alarming rate and unless action is taken these delicate ecosystems could be lost as well as the economies which rely upon them. Of the human impacts to coral reefs observed on Koh Tao, the ones directly addressed by this project are diving and over-fishing or extraction of reef organisms. Over-extractive coastal fishing activities can quickly decrease reef diversity, and the removal of algae-grazing fish allows macro-algae to dominate in coral reef areas. Fishing around Koh Tao is largely unregulated and techniques include spears, traps, and large nets; all of which are very effective, but unselective and extremely damaging. Long time island residents and divers agree that the abundance, size, and variety of fish and economically valuable reef organisms has decreased dramatically in recent years. This loss of certain species causes a disruption in the reef balance leading to lower diversity and resilience.

Tourism yields much higher GDP’s than fishing, and can benefit more individual business owners for a longer period of time. In 1992, the world tourism market traded $1.9 Trillion USD, while the fishing industry traded about only about $27 Billion USD (Birkeland 1997). This is more apparent on Koh Tao where the economy is mostly dependant on the over 300,000 visitors who come each year to dive and snorkel (estimated 60% tourists try diving, 90% snorkeling). But, over use of the reefs through extraction and recreation can lead to a decrease in reef health and a collapse of the local economy.

Wrecks, artificial reefs, coral nurseries, and fish nurseries have been used around the world to improve the abundance, biodiversity, value, and resilience of reef ecosystems disturbed by over fishing or extraction (Carr). Both planned and accidental ship wrecks can be found in many places around the world, and these sites generally show a much higher level of species diversity and abundance than the surrounding area that is lacking in solid substrate. Indeed, sinking boats, military equipment, train cars, cargo containers, etc. is widely accepted and being used around both Thailand and the rest of the world.

For this proposed project, the M.V. Trident Boat will be sunk in Ao Leuk, an area that already has favorable conditions and water quality for coral growth, but lacks substrate for coral recruitment. This project will coincide with the deployment of the artificial reef being completed by the DMCR and Save Koh Tao in August of 2010. As an artificial reef, the project will increase the reef area on Koh Tao by allowing for the natural recruitment of coral colonies. Any structure which provides topography or hiding space (rubbish, piers, oil platforms, etc.) will attract fish, and also provide safety from nets. As an MPA this site could serve as a ‘safe-zone’ for spawning and juvenile fish that would otherwise be extracted from the other areas around the island by fishing practices.

Boat specifications

The vessel is 29 meters long, and 5.5 meters wide.



To ensure that this project does not negatively affect water quality or the health of marine organisms, all dangerous or hazardous materials inside the boat will be removed (i.e. engine, fuel tanks, batteries, plastic components, etc.) Holes can be cut into some areas of the floors or ceilings of the boat compartments to facilitate diver exploration of the wreck after deployment. The boat being 7 meters high, will be sunk in a location that is dominated by sand substrate and at depth greater than 30 meter depth to ensure it does not affect natural reefs or currents.


After the boat is prepared, it will need to be towed from Chumporn to Koh Tao and attached to a preconstructed mooring line in Ao Leuk Bay. Upon arrival, granite rocks will be placed into the lower compartments of the ship to provide ballast and weight the boat to the bottom. Several 200 liter plastic drums will be placed into the upper compartments of the boat to make sure the vessel does not land on its side. Next, water pumps will be used to flood the boat until it sinks to the bottom. After sinking, divers will work to anchor the wreck in place.


Previous experience with wrecks on Koh Tao shows that even heavy vessels must be anchored in place or they may drift in strong monsoon currents. For this project divers will install a series of sand screws around the boat, and then use chains to anchor the boat to the screws.


It is possible to use low voltage sea water electrolysis to both preserve the metal structure of the boat and to encourage coral growth. These systems could be explored and fitted to the wreck retroactively.


The location for this wreck will adhere to the DMCR/Save Koh Tao island zoning plan to dedicate reef areas around our island as “Restoration Zones.” The Restoration Zone addressed in 2010 by the DMCR in 2010 is Ao Leuk, with the sinking of an artificial reef/diver training site in August of 2010. This wreck will be placed near the Ao Leuk site, at a depth of at least 25 m, preferably in a sandy area at 30 m, sheltered from the strong currents prevalent between Ao Leuk and Shark Island.


A position of the funding for this project would come from the island’s dive schools, who are all very interested to help out due to the long history of the MV trident Boat on Koh Tao and throughout SE Asia.