Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking back at a busy and successful 2011

Looking back at a busy and successful 2011

Busy it was indeed, I conducted 16 PADI IDC's this year with a total of 59 candidates! On both accounts a record. Last year saw 12 IDC's and 27 candidates, a big difference. So far it looks that the road I took seems to be the right one and after 11 years teaching on Koh Samui, out of which 8 years as a PADI Course Director, the change did do me right.

On top of that I could welcome students from 5 countries that I never had in my classes before; Argentine, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Party time on Malapascua after the PADI IE

I conducted my first ever IDC outside of Thailand on Malapascua in the Philippines, back in February , which resulted in contacts that lead to me conducting the first ever Western IDC in South Korea in July (hi Allen!) and a cooperation with Chris Heim and Sea Explorers in which we schedule 4 IDC’s for next year in the Philippines, evenly split between Dauin and Malapascua. There's even a new website dedicated to PADI IDC's I conduct in the Philippines.

In Indonesia I conducted 4 IDC’s this year on Gili Air in conjunction with Oceans 5.

In Thailand I conducted this year IDC’s on Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Lanta and in Khao Lak.

After the PADI IE in Deoksan, South Korea

More stats are here;

16 IDC’s in 2011 with 59 candidates and 2 IDCS candidates;

10 IDC’s in Thailand with 36 candidates (compared to 27 candidates in 2010) including 6 IDC’s on Koh Samui, Thailand with 21 candidates (compared to 17 candidates in 2010)

1 IDC in the Philippines with 5 candidates

1 IDC in South Korea with 6 candidates

4 IDC’s in Indonesia with 12 candidates

It was a great year and I like to express my gratitude and best wishes for 2012 for all the people who made this possible;
Paul and Sarah at 'The Dive Academy' on Koh Samui, Andrea and Richard at TSD on Malapascua, Mellisa at Blue Planet Divers and Saffron at Scubafish on Koh Lanta, Sander and Simone at Oceans 5 on Gili Air in Indonesia, Allen in Osan, South Korea, Guenther and all staff at Sea Dragon in Khao Lak, Chris Heim and all the folks at Sea Explores in the Philippines and of course to all my candidates. Thanks for being there and making things happen.

A special mention to all the folk at PADI Asia Pacific for the support shown this year!

Oceans 5 on Gili Air in Indonesia

All this and on top of that I had the chance to dive at some great places and get to see many 'firsts' especially in the macro field. Oceans 5 house reef on Gili Air is one to keep an eye out for! Thanks for the great dives I had on and around Malapascua, Gili Air, The Liberty on Bali, Chaweng Beach on Samui (an all time favorite), the Hardeep in Pattaya, the Sattakut near Koh Tao and a great live aboard North of the Similan islands.

See you next year and join me at one of my PADI IDC's.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last dives of the year, around Koh Tao

Last dives of the year, around Koh Tao

The last two days diving this year have been spent guiding fun divers around Koh Tao, a nice end of the year considering that I started the year with two DSD's around Koh Tao dive sites!

A shrimp caught peeping out of his bottle house in Sairee beach

Two new sites were on the agenda, first of all the HTMS Sattakut, a former Thai Navy boat deliberately sunk a few months ago near White Rock. The vessel has been active during the World War II landings of Okinawa and D-Day. It has been prepped splendidly, on first sight, with easy and convenient penetration options. Well worthwhile a visit, with it landmark two guns, one at the bow and one aft.
Due to my current underwater housing/camera problems, there are unfortunately no pictures of me taken at the HTMS Sattakut.

Saddle back clown fish at Sairee beach

The other 'new' site for me was at Tao Thong bay, a nice and shallow site with some excellent coral. The recovery of last year's bleaching has been really good around Koh Tao, in contrast to some areas around the Similan islands.

Christmas season greetings

A school of rabbit fish over Tao Thong's reef

A propeller of one of the Koh Tao dive boats

Time to wave goodbye to this years diving for me. A compilation and review of this year will still follow tomorrow or the day after so stay tuned!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New website for PADI IDC's in the Philippines

New website for PADI IDC's in the Philippines

In conjunction with Sea Explorers PADI CDC center in Dauin and Sea Explorers PADI 5* IDC Center on Malapascua, we made a new website about the PADI IDC's which we conduct together in Dauin and Malapascua in the Philippines;

Have a look and let me know if you're interested in one of the scheduled IDC's for 2012.

Hope to see you next year in the Philippines!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Richelieu Rock, live aboard trip December 2011 part 3

Richelieu Rock, live aboard trip December 2011 part 3

The last day of our trip had arrived and we were about to dive Richelieu Rock, a dive site very high on my wish list! I had heard so many good stories about this site and I was very happy to be able to dive it twice this day! The site has been named after
First have a look at the reports of day 1 and day 2 of this live aboard.

Richelieu Rock has been discovered by diving pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau with the help of local fishermen. The origin of the name is disputed. Some say it has been named by Cousteau after the red colour of Cardinal Richelieu's dress because of the red to purple colour of the soft corals on the reef, which is everywhere. Others claim it was named after General Richelieu, the only Western commander ever in the Royal Thai Navy.

Cuttlefish, the smaller one

There was no training on the schedule anymore, all Specialty Instructor training was sorted out already and the two dives here were pure fun dives, and that they were!
During the first dive we played a while with two cuttlefish. They even got cuddly, a very nice experience.

Cuttlefish, the bigger one

My camera still had hick ups, so out of the well over 100 pictures I took only a handful worked out well enough to publish. Once more a slight frustration factor. Only shallow depth pictures worked out.

Camel shrimp or rhynchocinetes durbanensis

Richelieu Rock is a fantastic dive site though, I could dive here again and again. It's horseshoe shape makes it fairly easy to navigate and offers places to hide from the current. The site reminds me of my favorite site in the Gulf of Thailand; Sail Rock but Richelieu is a couple of dozen times better.

Tomato clownfish

You can easily cover just a few meters of the rock and see tons of different underwater animals, from small shrimps and pipefish to various eels, and bigger groupers. The amount of life here is astonishing. This is easily one of the best dive sites I have ever been at!
Occasionally real big fish like whale sharks and manta rays visit the rock.


During both dives we also saw squid, usually a very shy species. This was the best way to complete two days of excellent diving. Thanks to Rewi, Johan, Eduardo, Kelli, Nico and Jeff for taking the trip, 'forcing' me to go as well. It was great fun and we had some excellent diving!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Koh Surin, live aboard trip December 2011 part 2

Koh Surin, live aboard trip December 2011 part 2

The second day of the live aboard trip was located around the Koh Surin islands. After an exciting first day, it was time to get ready and gear up for another fab day.

I wish I had more underwater pictures but due to my camera problems, I only have a limited amount of what I consider good pictures.

Sun rise at the Koh Torinla, part of Koh Surin

We started off with a great dive at Koh Torinla for the second dive of the Deep dive Instructor Specialty. Beautiful boulders combined with a bit of current guarantees tons of fish, from small fishies to bigger ones, the whole food chain seems to be present.

Map of the Surin islands, we dived Koh Torinla, Turtle Ledge and Koh Chi. On top of that I dived at the bay South of the camp on Surin Nua.

Besides the regular dives scheduled for that day I also had to schedule two Search & Recovery dives, which I managed to get into the busy schedule. Kelli, Johan and Eduardo plus myself had some fun with the lift bag and navigation skills.

The MV Mariner, our home for three days, away from home

When the rest of the divers on the boat dived Turtle ledge, me and Johan, Kelli and Eduardo dived the bay around the corner and got the Underwater Navigation dive out of the way.

Clark Anemone fish with an anemone crab in front

The last dive of the day was at Koh Chi, the Lighthouse Rock and another Underwater Navigation dive was scheduled with Rewi, Nico and Jeff. Once we completed this dive, all specialty training was taken care of and that meant that the two dives tomorrow at Richelieu Rock would be pure fun dives!

Lion fish

The crew on the boat was very accommodating and fun to hang out with. Very upbeat, professional and knowledgeable and in general a pleasure to work with. Many thanks to Roger and PADI 5* IDC Center Sea Dragon for accommodating all my training wishes, much appreciated!

Phyllidiella pustulosa nudibranch

Cocktails were served after dinner (what a treat the food was all day long!) but I made it a short day, 5 days in a day and 9 over two days was enough to have me look for my cabin early in the night! Tomorrow was one more day of diving, the highlight for me, at Richelieu Rock. An update to follow soon!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Koh Tachai, live aboard trip December 2011 part 1

Koh Tachai, live aboard trip December 2011 part 1

After the Khao Lak IDC in conjunction with PADI 5* IDC Center Sea Dragon and the PADI IE were completed, it was time to shake the classroom dust out of our ears and do what we love' go diving! Sea Dragon is a live aboard expert in the Khao Lak area, so what choice did we have?

Koh Bon, wakey wakey the first morning, time for a deep dive!

The great thing was that all 6 IDC candidates signed up for the 3 day - 9 dives package, plus on top of that they all signed up for an Instructor Specialty or MSDT package. Way to go. Besides the Nitrox instructor and Emergency Oxygen Instructor ratings, another 5 Specialties were up for grabs for each of them, which resulted in an interesting puzzle to solve for me but I was able to sort everything out and managed to accommodate everybody.

Map of the Similan islands, where I dived almost three years ago for the last time, but this time we went to the Northern islands, as listed in the small map at the right side, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Koh Surin and Richelieu Rock

The first dive, a Deep dive to 35 meters was at Koh Bon pinnacle but we had to cancel the 2nd dive at Koh Bon because one of the Princesses of the Thai Royal family was about to arrive at Koh Bon and all dive boats had to leave for other dive sites. We went up North to Koh Tachai, there are worse places to dive!

Koh Tachai dive map

My biggest problem during the trip was that the housing of my Canon IXY 2515, the WP-DC 23 kept having problems and I couldn't use the camera settings, the camera went into a setting and that was it, no chance to change anything! That was very frustrating and that's an understatement! Unfortunately it's not the first time that this happens with one of my Canon housings, it's time for a new camera and housing and it won't be a Canon again, that's for sure.
Enough of this though, back to diving!

A porcelain anemone crab at Koh Tachai pinnacle

During the first two days, over 9 dives, I completed all specialties with everybody, this left the last two dives at Richelieu Rock on the last day open for just relaxed fun diving!

During the first day we managed to get a Deep dive, a DUP dive, a Drift dive and a Night dive out of the way. A busy schedule indeed!

Koh Tachai is a great pinnacle and makes for some interesting diving. Boulders are all over the place and when the currents rise, the action and life around the boulders is awesome. Laced with some large fans, the site is impressive indeed. Big groupers, large schools of barracuda and lots of other reef fish are to be found and seen plentiful.

A coral grouper at Koh Tachai reef

After the great dive at Koh Tachai pinnacle we jumped the third time this day at Koh Tachai reef for a drift dive. The current started slow but towards the end we had a nice speed going and just when we started to ascend for our safety stop we spotted two big Napolean wrasses below us.

During the evening we completed the first day with a night dive at the Koh Surin islands. A busy day came to an end. More to follow, stay tuned!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

PADI IE in Khao Lak in Thailand for December 2011 is done and dusted

PADI IE in Khao Lak in Thailand for December 2011 is done and dusted

The last PADI IE for 2011 is in the bag! After three hard working days filled with some nerve wrecking moments, at last, it's all over. Everybody did absolutely great! Rewi will have another look into her theory exams again next year in Phuket, good luck to you!

From left to right in the back row; Johan, Rewi, Tim (PADI Examiner), Camille (PADI Course Director), Julia (IDCS), Nico and Eduardo
In front; Jeff and Kelli

Well done everybody and good luck in your future diving careers!

That was it for 2011, we will be off tonight for a three day live aboard with 9 dives to visit Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Surin islands and Richelieu rock for some Instructor Specialties and some good diving, updates to follow later after the trip, since no internet access is available at the dive sites.

If you're interested in participating in one of my PADI IDC's next year, look here for my most current schedule. The first IDC next year will start 8th January on Koh Samui, Thailand. See you there!


Friday, December 16, 2011

PADI Oxygen Instructors in Khao Lak, Thailand December 2011

PADI Oxygen Instructors in Khao Lak, Thailand December 2011

As part of my IDC courses I like to teach the PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider course but at Instructor level. Yesterday it was time to teach this course in Khao Lak.

The group checking out the oxygen unit, from left to right; Nico, Julia, Johan, Jeff, Eduardo, Kelli and Rewi

The reason why I like to teach this course is to increase knowledge about providing oxygen, how to set up the oxygen unit and at what flow rates oxygen should be delivered in case a dive accident occurs. This is important, since being able to deliver 100% oxygen or the highest percentage available is one of the most important things to be able to do in case of potential diving accidents occur.

Setting up the oxygen delivery unit, one of the skills in the course, great team work with Jeff, Kelli and Rewi in full swing

Kelli explaining the benefits of a 'bvm' aka bag-valve-mask

It's a course I really enjoy teaching, because of the importance I place on being able to supply oxygen and the other reason is also that being a volunteer at the local hyperbaric chamber on Koh Samui I'm aware of the need to know about the issues at hand.

If you're interested in knowing about the PADI Oxygen courses I teach or about the PADI IDC's I teach, look at my schedule or contact me if you have any questions.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

EFR Instructor course in Khao Lak, Thailand December 2011

EFR Instructor course in Khao Lak, Thailand December 2011

Today was a busy day for the candidates of the current PADI IDC in Khao Lak. We completed the last classroom presentation of this IDC in Khao Lak. On top of that we also completed the EFR Instructor course.

The IDC and EFR group in front of the Sea Dragon store in Khao Lak, except for Julia who staffed and took this picture

We had lots of fun going though the skills and especially Kelli who's a professional EMT could add some interesting details to the training.

Nico enjoying CPR

Tomorrow late afternoon the PADI IE starts! The best of success is wished to all of them, Rewi, Johan, Eduardo, Kelli, Nico and Jeff; GO!
Stay tuned for updates on their progress in the IE!

Eduardo (aka Dudu) having a go at the AED

In the meantime, if you're interested in participating in one of my IDC's, here's my PADI IDC schedule with the next IDC starting 8th January 2012 on Koh Samui, Thailand.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The PADI IDC in Khao Lak, Thailand for December 2011 has been completed

The PADI IDC in Khao Lak, Thailand for December 2011 has been completed

Today we went for the second time to Open Water and besides one more classroom presentation by me tomorrow morning, that's it for this Khao Lak IDC, it's in the bag!

Group picture on the boat, slightly overexposed, from left to right, Julia, Kelli, Eduardo, Johan, Camille, Jeff, Nico and Rewi

Rewi controlling Jeff during his CESA skill in confined water

It was long days and hard work but also lots of fun and good moments, not to mention the lunches!

Tomorrow also sees the Oxygen Specialty Instructor course and the EFR Instructor course on the schedule. One more busy day and the day after, Friday, the PADI IE is about to kick off at 4pm. Time flies by if you're having fun!

Kelli explaining the RDP table during her classroom presentation

It's all in the bag now and time to get ready for said PADI IE program and the same evening after completion of the IE, we will get aboard a live aboard boat that will take us to Koh Bon, Surin, Tachai and Richelieu for some Instructor Specialty training. Exciting!

A special thanks to Julia for staffing, it was great having you and we all wish you could be on the live aboard with us!

Nico during one of his classroom presentations

Keep an eye out on more updates for all the adventures still ahead of this IDC group and if you're interested in participating in an IDC with me, have a look at my PADI IDC schedule. The first IDC in 2012 starts 8th January on Koh Samui in Thailand. followed by an IDC in Osan, South Korea and more programs on Koh Phangan, Thailand and Gili Air in Indonesia.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

PADI IDC in Khao Lak - Thailand, the December 2011 version is passed the half way mark

PADI IDC in Khao Lak, the December 2011 version is passed the half way mark

Today was a day off although some of the candidates had some additional physics classes! Nonetheless, time to relax and enjoy some time outside the classroom and water. I for once, participated in an 11km run in Kathu, Phuket.

Open water evaluation, alternate air source use

We're good on track though and the scores in confined and open water are good!

Jeff showing the speed limit on his bag

We had plenty of classroom presentations by me but the candidates also had their share to prepare and present, see Jeff above.

Nico showing how to hover in confined water

The first six days of the course we got wet every single day, 5 days in confined and one day in open water. Tomorrow will be a dry day, classroom only!

Jeff and Eduardo during their confined water 'air depletion' skill

The group dynamics are really good and we're having plenty of fun despite the fact that the days are long!

Julia, who's staffing this IDC during open water

Just a few more days and the PADI IE will be knocking on their door! Friday the 3 day exam will kick off, but before that will happen, check for some more updates on this program on this channel!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PADI IDC in Khao Lak in Thailand for December 2011 is on it's way

PADI IDC in Khao Lak in Thailand for December 2011 is on it's way

Yesterday saw the kick off for the December IDC program in Khao Lak. In conjunction with PADI 5* IDC Center Sea Dragon I can welcome 6 candidates and it's once more a very international affair this time, with candidates from Thailand, Belgium, Brazil, the USA, France and Singapore and an IDCS Staff instructor from the Netherlands.

PADI 5* IDC center Sea Dragon with the IDC group in the pool

Khao Lak will see it's second PADI IE ever, from 16th to 18th December, with a total of 10 candidates. 4 candidates will come over from Phuket to take part in the Khao Lak IE.

Sweating it out during the Theory exams, from left to right; Rewi, Johan, Eduardo, Kelli, Nico and Jeff

Getting ready for the confined water skill circuit, a giant stride and buddy checks in full swing

Johan rescuing Jeff

Kelli in full rescue mode with Rewi

More updates on this IDC will follow soon, stay tuned!

If you're interested in participating in one of my PADI IDC's next year, look here for the schedule or get an idea about how my former students liked my IDC's on my testimonial page.