2015 Round Up – A Year in Pictures

2015 has been a big year for Master Divers, and one in which we’ve seen a fair amount of change. But rather than bore you with a bunch of wordiness, let’s review the highlights in pictures!

We reinvented our ecological programmes. As well as our regular land and sea clean ups and weekly eco nights, we now offer Green Package options on our Open Water & Advanced Open Water courses. We also offer bespoke courses dedicated to conservation. These are run by David, our dedicated conservation instructor.

The Eco Team

We were, as in several previous years, accepted as a registered Shark Guardian Dive Centre, with whom we collaborate on marine conservation and research projects.

Shark Guardian

 

We waved goodbye to ex shareholders Ayesha and Wilco and also to manager Charlotte.

Ayesha & Wilco

Charlotte

But said hello to new business partner and manager Linzi.

 Linzi

We got a bit more into Tec, with several Sidemount Diver, Self Reliant Diver, Gas Blender, Tec 40 and Tec 45 courses.

Sidemount

We launched our new website, which you probably already know, since you’re reading it right now!

Master Divers Homepage

Be became the first dive centre on the island to begin teaching the new PADI Freediver courses.

Freedive

We became an Aqualung partner centre.

partner-center

We opened Coconut Monkey, our chilled out beachside café, right over the road from the dive centre.

Coconut Monkey

So wow, what a year it’s been – and that’s just the highlights! A big heartfelt thank you to all of our amazing staff, customers, business partners and friends who have made it such a fantastic year. We couldn’t have done it without you. Bring on more Master Divers success as we head into 2016! Happy New Year Everyone!

Free Diving Level 1 – Day 3

Last day of Level 1 Freediving which was a shame.

Relaxing
Relaxing

 

We started with breathing and relaxing and while I managed some improvement, being ‘at work’ is not necessarily the best place for me to relax. Wilco did really really well and managed over 3mins.  I feel that I do have the skills to keep practicing my breath holding and I know in order to improve, I need to do this  – so watch this space ….

 

Me
Me

For our last day we headed out to slightly deeper water moored close to the Sattakut wreck and Hin Pee Wee. When we got there, visibility was awesome and fish were swirling around the line. At the bottom there was a small pinnacle just off to the side and an extremely curious Jack/ Trevallies. We also saw a sea snake coming up for air.

 

Once again we warmed up by performing some free immersion dives; pulling yourself head first down the line. I was really looking forward to this and the feeling I got, particularly on the first dive, was the same…an indescribable sense of peace and calm. After free immersion we moved onto constant weight, which is using the duck dive to start the dives propulsion down. This is followed by using your fins to go further in a fluid streamlined dive.

Gaz
Gaz

 

The line was set at 20m, I managed 17m, and its interesting to note that yesterday 16m was ‘easy’ with free immersion but 17m with fins was my max today. It shows how much oxygen you actually burn finning and how much more relaxed I was with the free immersion.  The day before, when practicing the free immersion I felt I could have gone further and stayed down for longer. Yet l did notice that my dives were shorter when we went fun diving with fins afterwards.

 

Kanthin - relaxing
Kanthin – relaxing

 

Today we also practiced some emergency procedures. We had to swim back up to the surface from 10m using only our arms in a scenario simulating lost fins. We also had to surface from 10m without our mask – simulating a lost mask. The final emergency scenario was to surface someone from 1om who has blacked out and perform a simulated in water rescue including in water ventilation.  After this, you can imagine we needed a little rest, so back to the long-tail and off to Japanese Gardens to meet up with the big boat.

 

We went off in our buddy teams to explore Japanese Gardens and for me, it was so much better than the day before. The site was quieter, I had some longer dives and did actually experience the sense of calm which I experienced on the free immersion dives. I’m very keen to get out with my camera…stay tuned. I would also love the chance to get back in and video the disciplines to make it easier to explain and hopefully share some of the magic we experienced.

 

Wilco
Wilco

 

It is fair to say that we have all really enjoyed the course and wish we could continue but both Wilco and I have work commitments and TG has to get on with his Instructor Development Course as he is soon to bcome a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. Although Wilco and I go on holiday soon, we will definitely do more freediving and Level 2 when we return.

 

Free Diving Level 1 – Day 2

Today was nothing short of awesome….

Me
Me

We started off running over our study guides and then progressed to breathing and relaxation exercises.  I didn’t do as well as yesterday, I simply wasn’t as relaxed as things were running around in my head. I felt sure though that once we left this would change.

We took the long-tail out to the channel in between Koh Nangyuan and Koh Tao just out from Japanese Gardens in around 16/17m of water.  First, we were practicing the discipline called ‘Free Immersion’. This involves slowly pulling yourself down a weighted line without using your fins to kick. This is a competition discipline in itself and the record for the currently stands at 121m. Clearly were weren’t attempting anywhere near that depth.

TG Hanging Around !
TG Hanging Around !

For us its an ideal next step as we get to practice our breathing and relaxation techniques and head first equalizing using the line for reference.  This is where the day got very interesting and I have no words to describe the feeling on my first dive, awesome just doesn’t cover it.

Within another 2 dives we were all easily diving to 16m.

Just Awesome!
Just Awesome!

Next we practiced our duck dives and had one practice of a constant weight dive. This is similar to free immersion; it is a head first dive using the line for reference yet this time using our fins for propulsion.

Wilco and friends
Wilco and friends

We then headed around to meet the dive boat at Twins and got to go fun diving around the pinnacle. Luckily we managed to meet up with our photographer who took the pictures that you see on the blog !

More tomorrow, cant wait! Our target is 20 meters but I’m enjoying being underwater in this manner…it  is simply awesome regardless.

 

 

Free Diving Level 1 – Day 1

I really enjoyed today would be my overall summary….

We started in the classroom with a review of what we had previously read. We covered equipment and physiology which has some similarities with scuba and some differences too. Regardless its a good review and put the day and course into context.  We also practiced our duck dive and rescue techniques. Its difficult to imagine doing the techniques in a classroom stood up rather than in the water, but it is always good to have a dry run and its also an easier way to correct techniques.

Its fair to say we all felt a little silly though – which was good practice for our breathing techniques too.

Breath Up
Breath Up

A ‘breath up’ is done before every freedive. Its the process of the oxygenation of your cells and relaxation but definitely NOT hyperventilation which is not good.  Don’t worry you will learn why on your course. Below you can see us practicing our breathing and relaxation techniques ‘dry’ before heading to the water.

Breathing Practice
Breathing Practice

I must say I was quite dubious that I would be able to perform a 30m dynamic (horizontal) swim which we were to do this afternoon but I was certainly game to give it a try. We traveled to Jansom Bay by long-tail and after the buoy and line had been set up, we practiced the duck dive, which went well. This was followed by our first attempt at swimming the measured 30m.

Me
Me

Surprisingly, to me , I managed it and it felt quite easy. I hate to jinx myself but the hardest thing, being a scuba diver, was trying not to breath out on the way up. Yes, I did.

TG
TG

TG, above, is in a much better position than myself and that’s something that I have to work on for tomorrow. In freediving you should tuck your chin in to look at the line which is crucial for orientation, when you are going down.  This is what we will be doing tomorrow… a discipline called free immersion… which involves pulling yourself down a vertically positioned weighted line.

Check back to see how we get on …………

Why am I learning to free dive?

Haha – good question!  I’m beginning to wonder that myself after just having tried some equalization exercises…..

But seriously, I have always wanted to do it but I never really got around to it I guess.  I always thought it would be good skill for photography and videography which I love with my scuba gear on so why not without?

Me and my camera
Me and my camera

A favorite day out for many staff members is a trip to Sai Daeng beach, and while we all enjoy the snorkeling and shark spotting there it would be so much nicer to be able to spend more time underwater there without scuba…and get some lovely photos too.  I can never manage to stay down long enough or hold still enough to photo or be steady and swim around enough for video…. so really that was my goal.

Helena, Amanada and Kanthin
Helena, Amanda and Kanthin

Then a little over a week ago I went out to get some photographs of the guys who were completing their free diving course and I was quite frankly very jealous !  Why ?  Well, there was I in my clunky movement inhibiting scuba gear not very gracefully trying to move around fast enough to photograph them as they swirled fluidly through the water. Captivated ! I wanted to do that… So that’s how I find myself about to take the plunge tomorrow…

Our Instructors
Our Instructors

So myself and a few of our Divemaster candidates in training embark on our new underwater adventure tomorrow.  We have instructions not to drink alcohol or consume dairy due to mucus production…… and not to consume caffeine as that will raise our heart rates – none of which are desirable for  relaxing and easy equalizing……..

Watch this space to see how we all get on ……