8 Easy Steps to Ensure Scuba Diving Safety

As most seasoned divers will tell you, Scuba diving is indeed an incredibly safe sport when it’s done properly. Well trained divers who use good judgement and follow the correct procedures have no need to be concerned. In fact, according to most research, diving is really no more dangerous than swimming. Certainly compared to many other adventure sports – and even many every day mundane activities that we do without hesitation! –  diving is very safe.

There are of course lots of things you can do to ensure you are well prepared and limit the possibility of running into any dangers or potential problems….

 

Dive regularly
Sounds like a no brainer, and it pretty much is! Those who dive more often will generally have better developed skills sets, more efficient communication and a more up to date base of knowledge – whether through having taken more courses, or simply through regular exposure to other divers with whom they share stories and information. The safest divers are those for whom basic skills have become second nature. For example a regular diver does not need to think too much about buoyancy control. They just naturally adapt their breathing to make small changes. Same goes for basic skills like mask clearing. If you were to ask a Divemaster how many times they cleared their mask during a particular dive for example, chances are they wouldn’t have a clue! They just do it by second nature.

diving-koh-tao-mangobay

Most divers readily admit that they would like nothing more than to dive more often. However for most people, and especially those living in colder climates, real world work and family responsibilities do tend to get in the way and it is not always possible to dive whenever you want to. Diving clubs do exist in most locations though, so it is always worth checking out a few options in your area. If cold water isn’t your thing, you may find that you’re happy just to jump in the pool every now and again and have a play around with your equipment, trim and basic skills. Even if you don’t physically get in the water at all, many local clubs have meet up evenings where you can share experiences and tips for future dive travel etc.

If you do end up dry for too long though, then it is always recommended to take a proper Scuba Review. Most major dive agencies recommend this after a period of 6 months, but there is no hard and fast rule. You’ll find each dive centre will have its different policies as to when they require divers to make a full scuba review, which will invariably take into account your number and frequency of logged dives, as well as the location of the dive centre itself and the dive conditions that are to be expected during your stay. For example if you are going diving in strong currents or reduced visibility, then a full refresh is definitely the way forward! A thorough refresher consists of some theory, a recap of equipment fitting and set up, as well as some skills practice. The vast majority of divers find it very rewarding, and in many holiday locations you’d be completing it in the sea, so chances are you’d get to see some fish and corals too! It really is a worthwhile experience though, as quite often divers are amazed at the wealth of information they have forgotten!

BCD Removal

Alternatives to refreshers include private guiding on a shallow reef for your first couple of dives of your trip, or perhaps a ‘check dive’ on the house reef – if shore diving is a viable option for the location. Our advice is not to skimp on refreshing your skills though. For a few extra bucks, you’ll have a much better experience overall if you spend a little extra time getting the basics sorted before heading out on deeper or more challenge dives.

 

Dive with a Reputable Operator
Again, sounds like a no brainer yes? But you’d be surprised! There are a whole host of dive centres out there and you’d be shocked how much ethics and morality varies between them. Some will promise top notch quality, service and professionalism and proceed to deliver it, whereas others appear as if they are just out to take your hard earned savings, with seemingly little care for your comfort or safety once you are through their door.

As with all areas of diving, the key is to use good judgement. This is especially true if you are choosing a dive centre not just for yourself, but for friends or family members who are travelling with you. It’s not worth saving a nominal amount to get the best deal if you’ll be using inferior dive gear or ill-equipped dive vessels, diving with inexperienced staff, or not learning in accordance with training agency standards. In this day and age, you’d expect adherence to agency and industry standards to be a given, but unfortunately quite often it’s just not the case.

learn-to-dive-koh-tao-sign

Try not to be too focussed on price and find a balance of value based on your expectations. After all, if the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is! It’s absolutely worth paying a little extra to know the operation you choose won’t be cutting corners at your expense. The best way to explain it is by equating learning to dive to learning other adventure activities. If you were looking to go sky diving or become a hang glider or try white water rafter for example, you wouldn’t really shop around for the cheapest possible option. You’d choose the centre with the best safety, equipment, standards and reputation. Diving should be no different.

 

Adopt Good Buddy Team Procedures
Some divers have their own regular buddies, but many others rely on their dive operator to pair them up with a suitable buddy, who hopefully will have a similar skill and experience level to you. Depending on where they’ve trained however, this may not be the case. We’ve all seen instances where an Advanced level diver with all of their own equipment shows up and proceeds to spoil the trip with their bad practices, know-it-all attitude and sub-par skill set. So if you are getting paired up with an ‘Insta-Buddy’, spend a little time chatting with them prior to the dive and gauge for what they’ll be like to dive with.

Don’t skip the buddy check! No matter how familiar you are with your gear and your buddies gear, or how excited you are to get off the boat and into the water. Safety protocols in scuba – and indeed every other industry too – have been developed and are in place for a reason. That reason generally being that if they are not followed, things can go wrong.

buddy-check-bwraf

Before the dive, make sure you are comfortable with the hand signals and communication techniques you’ll be using before the dive. Once you are underwater it is too late to ask questions! During the dive, maintain regular communication to ensure comfort and safety.

Stay close to your buddy, and maintain an awareness at all times as to where they are in relation to you. If you were to need their help in an out of air emergency for example, you need to be close enough to reach them. If you are checking your gauges frequently of course this shouldn’t need to happen. But still, they need to be within reach for your safety – and visa versa. If you are on a training course, remain close to your instructor and follow their directions when requested. Their role is to train you in good practices, as well as ensure your safety throughout your dives, so they generally don’t appreciate you drifting too far from them.

 

Maintain Good Health and Fitness for Diving
The healthier you are in general, the lower your risk of suffering from a dive related illness. If you are unfit, overweight, badly rested, dehydrated or have any residual alcohol or drugs in your system for example, then you are already more likely to suffer from Decompression Sickness (DCS) than if none of these factors apply. So to make the most of your dives, maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. When diving on vacation, make sure you drink adequate water (especially in hotter climates where becoming dehydrated is more likely) and are well rested before morning dives. It’s also a good idea to lay off the alcohol the night before. It’s a small price to pay for enjoying some amazing dives.

Don’t dive if you are not feeling well, or if you have a cold or are congested. This can be frustrating if you are on holiday and only have a set number of diving days, but it’s just not worth the risk. A blockage one day can turn into a full blown ear or sinus infection the next day if you push it – and any diver who’s ever suffered from reverse block will tell you it’s not an experience they’d ever want to repeat. Many illnesses have signs and symptoms which mimic those of DCS, so if you have been ill and feel better but are still not completely recovered, wait until all signs and symptoms have disappeared. An example of this would be Dengue fever which is a viral infection spread by mosquitos, and is common around Asia. When the fever breaks and normal health returns, a skin rash is common – just as it is with DCS. So if you were to suffer from a suspected case of DCS, physicians would not know whether your symptoms were fever related or dive related, making diagnosis and resulting treatment much more difficult.

Diving on Koh Tao

If you sign up to take any kind of dive course, you’ll be required to fill in a medical form. Certain medical conditions may prevent you from diving, such as active asthma and heart conditions for example. Whereas other conditions will require you to have a sign off from a Dive Medical Officer (DMO) or General Practitioner (GP) prior to getting started. If you take a diving holiday to a more remote diving areas, full medical services and consultations may not be available, so it’s worth doing the leg work prior to setting off on any conditions that need a physician’s sign off. In some areas the dive centre may be required by local regulations in terms of where you get your medical sign off, and who conducts it. This can sometimes eat into both your time and your savings to get organised properly, but it is imperative that you have the relevant consult. Be understanding that your dive operator is not trying to make the process more difficult for you by insisting on a proper medical, they are simply doing their due diligence to ensure the safety of you and other divers in their care. The golden rule is never to lie on the medical form! Not only is it a legally binding document, but if you lie on the form and then have an accident it’s unlikely your insurance will cover you – whether it’s related to the medical issue or not.

 

Dive Within Your Limits
Another seemingly fairly obvious one, but always something to keep at the forefront of your mind when planning dives. Your limits can be defined in many ways, first and foremost in terms of certification level as not only will different depth limits apply, but skill and experience levels would be expected to differ too. Whatever certification level you have, don’t be tempted to dive deeper than your licence allows, and stick to what you are qualified to do. If you don’t have a wreck or cave diving qualification for instance, then you should not be entering into any overhead environments. Bear in mind that if you stray beyond the limits of your current level and something were to go wrong, your insurance would not cover you.

Whale shark with divers

Each individual diver will also have limits in terms of comfort levels when it comes to visibility, water temperature, surge and surf, currents etc. Remember that every diver has the right to call off a dive at any time if they do not feel comfortable. So never allow yourself to be pressured to dive, or feel rushed to get into the water if you are not ready. Even during the dive it is absolutely acceptable to call it off if you feel out of your comfort zone and do not wish to continue. Equally, never put pressure on another diver to dive outside of their comfort zone either, and try to be understanding and supportive if they back out of a dive.

Dive in familiar equipment that you are confident using. Obviously it is not always feasible to take a full set of your own gear away with you on every trip. Plus if you are an infrequent or holiday diver, you may not have invested in larger items like a BCD or Regulator yet. However the main configuration should be the same, so if you are used to diving in a jacket style BCD for example, then switching to a backplate set up without the relevant instruction or advice would probably cause you discomfort in the water.

 

Take Continuing Education Courses
There’s no better way to stay current than investing in a continuing education course. After entry level certification the most popular course is the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, which allows you to explore different underwater environments – like diving deeper, on ship wrecks or at night. Advanced courses are great for developing your confidence and building on your scuba skills so you can become more comfortable in the water. And despite the name, you don’t have to be “advanced” to enroll. Most of the time you can sign up as soon as you get certified. This is a great way to get more dives under your belt while continuing to learn under the supervision of an instructor.

htms-sattakut-koh-tao

PADI Rescue Diver courses are also popular, and most divers who get Rescue certified say it was their favourite and the most rewarding course they have ever taken. A good Rescue course will make you far more aware of yourself and your dive buddy, maximizing safety and enjoyment, and gives you both the skills to avoid emergency situations before they arise, and the confidence to manage a real emergency situation should it occur.

There is a pretty endless list of Specialty Courses with the most popular being PADI Deep Diver, PADI Enriched Air Nitrox Diver and PADI Wreck Diver. Specialties are  a fantastic way to gain more skills, confidence and experience, and from the extensive menu available, there is always something to suit everyone.

 

Respect the Marine Environment
Abide by your parents favourite words “look but don’t touch”, or for a more Scuba applicable mantra “leave only bubbles, take only pictures”!

It is never OK to touch, pick up, harass or manipulate marine life. It’s as simple as that. Many of our favourite underwater inhabitants such as sharks, rays and turtles can become more susceptible to disease if we touch them. This is because their scales/shells/skins are covered in a thin protective layer of what scientists call biofilm. Once removed, they are at much greater risk of infection.

Turtle whilst snorkeling in Koh Tao

Corals are unfortunately very easy to damage too. Some corals are incredibly slow growing, and one careless fin kick can destroy up to ten years of growth. So it is imperative that you have good trim and buoyancy control, and don’t do any accidental harm.

Not only can you cause harm to marine life by touching or moving things, but the reef can also harm you. From sharp corals and spikey urchins to scorpion fish and stone fish spines, jelly fish stings and everything in between, coming into contact with marine life is just not a good idea. So do be aware of your surroundings, and if you do not feel you are in complete control of your movements, keep your distance.

 

Use Good Quality and Well Maintained Equipment
Another glaringly obvious one at first glance. Make sure you check the equipment you’ll be using thoroughly before it’s packed for the trip, and again during set up. If you are not happy with the quality of any of the rental gear, don’t be afraid to speak up. The better quality the equipment you use, the less chance their is of experiencing a malfunction. The regulator and BCD are generally the most important pieces of equipment your’ll need to check, as these provide your life support and control underwater. Don’t forget to check the tanks for visual and hydrostatic test dates too though.

The best way to retail control when it comes to equipment is to have your own. If you are using your own gear make sure it is up to date for service and maintenance. Each manufacturer’s guide will recommend a time frame, but for example with regulators the widely accepted consensus is to service once a year or every 100 dives, whichever is reached first. If you know that some of the parts for your set up are not common, then make sure you take spares with you. Many more experienced divers carry their own ‘save a dive kit’, with items such as fin straps, mask straps, mouth pieces, o-rings and cable ties for those little wear and tear replacements. If you dive regularly in hot locations, be wary of prolonged sun exposure, which can weaken or damage your equipment over time.

By following all of these recommendations you can minimise your risks and stay safe on any of your local dives or Scuba holidays. As you can see, most of it comes down to common sense and good judgement. Divers who treat both the sport and the ocean with respect, and dive with a healthy minds, bodies and attitudes, will experience no problems, and indeed nothing but pleasure in our amazing underwater world!

Dive Against Debris featuring Dive Master Interns

Starting our new professional divers on the right foot

There are many things that are important to the staff at Master Divers; great customer service, high PADI standards and our beloved shop animals. Up the top of the list is moulding excellent professionals at Dive Master and Instructor level, and our commitment to conservation. This month we were able to marry the two.

New DMC Niko cleaning up at Laem Thian

Throughout training our dive masters are encouraged to get involved with beach cleans, dive site clean ups, conservation events and to be ambassadors for good environmental practices. On this occasion we had our dive master interns organise a dive against debris from start to finish. They were responsible for the advertising, organising sign up and paperwork, briefing the Dive Against Debris, collecting the trash, organising other participants and collating the data.

Some serious lift bag action by Conservation Instructor Hayley

Our achievements

Everyone worked hard on the day, despite rain to start and rough seas on the way home, and we are incredibly grateful to everyone involved. A big shout out to our interns that worked so hard for the day to run smoothly. We collected a grand total of 146 kilos of trash!! 41kg from the beach (which Moritz bravely transported back via kayak) and 105kg from the sea. Largely made up from 2 huge tyres found in the coral.

Our team of Instructors, Dive Masters, Dive Master Interns and volunteers

Mother nature was very kind to us and we got a lovely visit from a black tip reef shark that was unusually interested in us. In fact the life we saw on the dive and snorkel was amazing! A baby Titan Triggerfish, possibly the cutest thing in the world (but camera shy), black tip sharks, scribbled filefish, and unicorn fish to name a few!

black tip

A welcome visit from a gorgeous black tip

If you would like to know more about Master Divers conservation efforts, or our professional training, please get in touch today! We are holding weekly beach cleans near the shop on Tuesday morning, monthly free of charge dive against debris, and have regular conservation presentations, films and eco related quiz nights.

How Diving On Koh Tao Can Change Your Life!

If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d be where I am now, I’d have never believed you! In my head life was already mapped out, and I was definitely one of those ‘go to university, take a gap year, then get a proper job and settle down’ types! So in many ways my eyes were pretty blinkered to the possibilities of a completely different way of life. But then something changed… I’d been to university, I’d taken a gap year (which actually turned into 2 gap years without much active thought or persuasion!), I had a proper job (and a pretty good one at that!). But the settling down bit….well turns out it just wasn’t for me – not in the conventional sense at least!

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Beautiful Scerery in New Zealand

 

So….what to do? Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t unhappy. I had a good job (which on some days I liked, but in all honestly never really loved), a great group of friends, and an active social and sporting life. Somewhere deep down though, I knew I could be happier, and I felt like I was just going through the motions. Constantly working towards the next promotion or pay rise, always on the lookout for new opportunities where I could step up the chain, or even step sideways into another field where I would be happier/more fulfilled. Plus I still had itchy feet from my time overseas. Sound familiar?!…

typical-autralia-backpacker
Classic Gap Year Tourist!

 

The following summer I’d arranged a reunion holiday with my bestie from my gap year who was still living in Australia, and Thailand seemed like a cool equidistant place to meet. At the end of our trip I still had a few extra days whereas my friend had to fly home and get back to work. So while walking down Khao San Road on her last night, we ducked into a travel agency and I booked a package trip to Koh Tao to learn to dive. And the rest, as they say, is history!…

first-tuc-tuc-ride
My First Ever Tuc Tuc Ride!

 

I took my PADI Open Water Course, stayed on for my PADI Advanced Open Water Course, then extended my stay (again!) to take some fun dives. By the end up my trip I was in love with both diving and Koh Tao, and knew for sure that I wanted to become a PADI Instructor here. I was also on particularly good terms with Anastasia in the Quantas office, who was incredibly patient and helpful on every occasion that I called up to delay my return flights for ‘just another couple of days’ while I took my Advanced course and fun dives! But that’s another story…

my-first-koh-tao-sunset
My First Koh Tao Sunset

 

And so I did it! I returned home and started planning. I handed in my notice at work, sold my car, and started ebaying furniture, clothes and anything else that would not be required for my new island lifestyle! It was a huge decision and turning point in my life, and not one I took lightly. But I knew deep down it was the right decision. Telling my family and friends was the hardest part, as I really do love and miss so many people back home…just not enough to live there! 😉 Besides, having a friend or relative to visit in a sunny tropical paradise somewhat softened the blow of my leaving for most people!

my-first-whale-shark-koh-tao
My First Whale Shark!

 

The minute my feet set foot on Koh Tao, any lingering reservations just dropped away. I felt like I was firmly in the right place at the right time, and I was excited to begin my training!

A decade later and I still feel the same excitement and passion for both diving and Koh Tao as I did back then. The dive industry is home to such an awesome community of people, and Koh Tao…well Koh Tao just has it all!  And if it worked for me, it can work out for you too!

Considering it? If it helps, here are some answers to the most common questions that are most likely running through your head right now… It it a risk? To an extent, yes. One worth taking? Absolutely! Any regrets? Hell no! Did some of my friends and family think I was crazy? Probably! Are they all super jealous now? To the max! 🙂

koh-tao-sunset
Classic Koh Tao Sunset with Friends

 

So what are you waiting for? Enter our Master Divers Life contest and get planning to live your best life with us here on Koh Tao! Find details and enter at www.master-divers.com/life

 

Master Divers Life Video Hints

 

We are very excited at the response we are getting to our 25th anniversary contest to win a PADI dive career with us right here on Koh Tao! We’ve had a number of applications already and videos are starting to filter in now too. So if you have submitted your application form already, please do submit your video as soon as you are able. In order to be short listed as one of the 10 finalists, you either need to be in the 5 selected by our judging panel, or in the top 5 by community vote on our facebook page. So…the sooner your video goes live the more time you have to get those all important votes to ensure you progress to the next stage!

 

Win your Master Divers Life Master Divers Life

 

So…what are we looking for in your videos we hear you ask? Well, first and foremost we are looking to meet you! We don’t need pro level video or anything flashy – we will be selecting the finalists based purely on your personality and passion!

We just want to see why you think you should win, and get to know a bit about your love for the natural world, and your experiences with diving, marine life, marine or land conservation etc. We appreciate that perhaps you are not able to ditch everything and go diving any time you want to (yet!), but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a lot to offer! So here are a few questions and examples to get you started – although feel free to be creative, it’s by no means an extensive list….

Is there a story behind your love of diving? Tell us why you want to make the ocean your office!

Do you have a favourite marine creature? What do you love about it and why?

What would be your perfect dive? Tell us all about it!

Why do you want to become a PADI Instructor?

Have you taken part in some interesting community projects (either land or sea based)? Tell us how you contributed!

Maybe you have a passion for teaching/training already from another field?

Are you proactive in your efforts to be sustainable and reduce pollution and plastic etc? We’d love to hear about your passion for the environment!

Have you already been involved in any conservation activities?

Hopefully this gives you some ideas to get you started. We cant wait to see what you all come up with! Feel free to get your friends involved too – either with the filming or as part of the video. The more we know about you, the easier it will be to see how you will fit into our amazing team!

So…what are you waiting for. Get those video entries submitted today to be in with the chance to win your dream life!

GOOD LUCK! 🙂

Master Divers Team

WIN your PADI Dive Career with Master Divers!

By now we hope you’ve seen – and entered and shared! – our Master Divers Life contest. We’re incredibly excited to be offering this life changing opportunity. It will open up a whole new way of life to the lucky winner, and we don’t mid telling you we’ll all be pretty jealous of them in their swanky new gear!

So why are we doing this you may be asking? This is surely to good to be true?! Well, believe it…. it’s real!

As its our 25th anniversary we wanted to give something back by giving someone the same exciting career progression and options that all of us here have had. For most of us here at Master Divers, diving has changed our lives entirely. From where we live, the skills and knowledge we’ve developed, our amazing tropical lifestyle, our friends, our career progression, and our future dreams and goals etc, finding a passion for diving has been a real game changer in every aspect. So why not provide another lucky diver to opportunity to join our ranks and live the dream too?!

 

 

For those of you who have not dived or trained with us yet, you probably want to know a bit about us… We are a 5 star PADI IDC Centre, with a reputation for our high standards, safety and experience. We a renowned for the quality of our training, and for providing the best dive experiences on Koh Tao whilst maintaining a friendly and relaxed environment. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable and passionate staff make us a sought after destination for certified divers and students alike.

 

 

With the help of our friends at PADI and Aqua Lung, we’ve put together an amazing prize package! The winner of our Master Divers Life contest will receive training with us in all PADI courses up to and including Instructor (including all materials and fees), a Marine Conservation Package and a full set of ‘top of the range’ Aqua Lung dive gear. The prize fund exceeds US$11,000 in courses and merchandise, but the chance to live, learn and experience the Master Divers’ Life goes far beyond that! So, what exactly do you get if you win? ……

 

You’ll get to hone your dive skills on any recreational courses needed to begin your professional level training. This includes PADI Advanced Open Water, Emergency First Response and Rescue Diver Courses .

 

 

All fun dives to reach the required pre-requisites for the PADI Divemaster and PADI Instructor Development courses are also included. So you’ll explore all of our dive sites and see some amazing marine life too!

 

Green Turtle encounter at Twins dive site Koh Tao, Thailand Sea Snake

Divemaster Katie with a Batfish at Twins Dive site Koh Tao, Thailand Whale shark in Koh Tao waters

 

We are very passionate about our commitment to the environment, so you’ll also take part in a Marine Conservation package, where you learn more about marine life populations/coral health/sharks/clean up dive etc and attend a conservation presentation evening (including meal) linking to your dive – eg the life of coral, single use plastics, the effects of over fishing etc. This helps you to become a more educated and environmentally aware diver – something which we are very proud of offering. We also run regular land and sea clean ups, so no doubt you’ll be involved in those too, as well as any additional eco projects that are running at the time!

 

 

On your professional level courses you’ll learn all the teaching techniques and tips you need to be a confident and competent dive pro. Plus your Instructor Development Course (IDC) with us will include your Emergency First Response Instructor rating, and your Oxygen Provider Instructor rating.

 

 

Plus we are throwing in a 2 week Divemaster Internship on completion of your Divemaster course, and a one month Instructor Internship once you pass your Instructor Exams!

 

Underwater photographer, Rob Kelly at Koh Tao dive site, Twins

 

While taking part in all of this diving you”ll be decked out in a full set of top of the range Aqua Lung gear! Check our our Aqua Lung page for a full list of equipment!

And of course there’s the general experience of living the dream here on Koh Tao. There’s lots of new friends to be made, fun island activities to get involved in, and of course some of the most stunning sun sets you’ll ever see!

 

 

The Master Divers Life campaign is a 3 stage contest comprising of Online Form submission, Video submission, and Blog submission. The campaign can be entered at on our webpage for Stage 1, followed by our Facebook page for stage 2 video entries. Video entries will then be voted on via the Facebook App. The top 5 voted videos, along with Master Divers’ top 5 picks will then enter Stage 3 where they will write a blog about an environmental issue close to their hearts. The winner will be selected and announced on 4th July 2018.

 

Win your Master Divers Life

 

Anyone is welcome to apply. As long as applicants are over 18, certified to Open Water level by the submission form deadline on June 1st, and are medically fit to dive, then its time to start your application!

So, what are you waiting for?! Check out the check out the full list of eligibility criteria, our competition page, and submit your entry today! Good luck and hopefully see you on Koh Tao to begin your dream life in paradise soon!

Master Divers Marine Conservation Packages

 

As divers, we enjoy the thrill of experiencing a different environment, interacting with its inhabitants, and simply enjoying the beauty of the underwater world. Unfortunately, this environment that we care for so dearly is in danger of being damaged beyond repair. I think Sir David Attenborough said it best when he stated: “being in touch with the natural world is crucial”. This connection is vital; without a connection to the natural world, what motivation do people have to help try and save it? Here at Master Divers, we pride ourselves on our passion for conservation, with our eco instructors specializing in information related to the ocean, its inhabitants, and the threats that the ocean faces. Come and see how that knowledge is passed on through one of our marine conservation package courses!

“What humans do over the next 50 years will determine the fate of all life on the planet”- Sir David Attenborough.

It is a common belief that this revolution to help save the planet and its oceans starts through education. Learning about the aquatic environment, how it relates to humans, and what we as individuals can do to help is vital. At Master Divers, all instructors try to nurture an interest in the natural world and try to share this passion with our guests. In taking a course here, you will be able to learn more about the marine environment and how we, as divers, can work to protect it. We care deeply about our environment and work hard to do what we can, not only to mitigate our impact but help preserve and nurture what we have.  So we developed our Marine Conservation Packages for the dual purpose of helping our oceans, and also to help you, our divers, become more environmentally aware and active.

Marine Conservation Packages are available on both PADI Open Water, and PADI Advanced Open Water courses, and a conservation dive is included as standard in all of our professional level courses, as we believe ALL dive professionals need to have a base understanding of environmental issues so they can better educate their students.  What this means is that in addition to receiving the regular high-level instruction and materials, you will also receive the following:

 -Re-usable Master Divers Shopping Bag

-Reusable Water Bottle

-Project AWARE Dive against debris bag

-Conservation evening

-Conservation dive

Items from the green packages: re-usable shopping bag, Project AWARE dive against debris bag, and re-usable water bottle
Items from the green packages: re-usable shopping bag, Project AWARE dive against debris bag, and re-usable water bottle

 If you are not taking a course with us and still want to get involved, fear not, you can join us on a conservation dive and presentation for just 1500THB!

For the conservation evening and presentation, you get a meal supplied by the amazing Coconut Monkey beach cafe, which specializes in delicious and healthy meals. Your eco instructor will give a presentation on an ocean-related theme that is connected to the conservation dive you will be doing. Topics of these presentations are basically anything ocean related, but marine debris (plastics), pollution, and coral bleaching are personal favorites of mine. In my opinion, raising awareness of the risks that our coral reefs face is the first step to resolving these issues,  and are incredibly important subjects for all divers to learn about.

Coral Watch Divers Adi & Agnes from December 2017
Coral Watch Divers Adi & Agnes 

 

If this has peaked your interest, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email and book yourself a slot for a conservation dive, or add it to your existing dive course booking.

 

 

Our PADI Tec Rec Gas Blender Course

Here at Master Divers we are incredibly proud to be running our popular Tec Rec Gas Blender course on monthly basis! With the same guaranteed ratio of 4 students to each instructor that we offer on all of our courses, we provide both student and instructor levels of training.

WHY TAKE THE TEC REC GAS BLENDER COURSE?

The popularity of technical dive courses is growing fast, and more people are diving with Enriched Air Nitrox than ever before. In fact, the PADI Enriched Air Diver course is now the most popular specialty on the market.  This means in turn that the demand for enriched air tank fills is also increasing. However, there needs to be someone qualified on hand to fill the tanks needed to meet demand. This is where the PADI Gas Blender course comes in…

TecRec Gas Blender Manual

WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?

The Tec Rec Gas Blender course will help you stand out on your CV, setting you apart from other Divemasters, Instructors and MSDT’s, and making yourself more employable! Having Gas Blenders on staff is important for all schools offering Enriched Air Nitrox to their customers. Aside from being a valuable asset to dive operators here on Koh Tao, it is also a required qualification for many staff working in more remote locations elsewhere, and on Live-aboard vessels too. Plus, as well as the standard PADI curriculum, we’ll teach you how to operate a compressor in terms of basic maintenance and procedures – something that all dive professionals should know something about!

Enriched AIr Nitrox (Eanx)
Enriched AIr Nitrox (Eanx)

 

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

The Tec Rec Gas Blender course will train you as a qualified Gas Blender, allowing you to provide gas mixes to all appropriately certified consumers. You’ll learn more about the physical properties of oxygen, its associated hazards, handling requirements and what cleaning equipment is necessary. Finally, you will learn the five methods of obtaining the desired enriched air nitrox mix, the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as the various methods used to obtain proper helium mixes.

It is a very hands on course but as with all of our programmes, there is a little self-study to complete beforehand! The Tec Rec Gas Blender Manual is included in the course cost, so between this and your instructor, we will familiarize you with the all of procedures and techniques needed to get you out there as a fully qualified Gas Blender on completion of your course (certification fees are also included in the price).

tec-gas-blender

THE SPECIFICS

You must be at least 18 years of age and a PADI Enriched Air Diver certification (or qualifying certification from another organization) to enrol.

The student level course costs 10,000THB, and is inclusive of all teaching materials, instruction, practice time and certification costs. If you’d like more info on becoming a Tec Rec Gas Blending Instructor, please contact us for more details.

The course runs over 2 days, and we do try to schedule it so it fits in best with the lives of working professionals. So typically the course will begin on full moon party day each month, and complete the day after, meaning you won’t need to miss out on group bookings for guiding or teaching. But as with any course, we can be a little flexible based on your requirements, so just let us know what works for you and we’ll try our very best to meet your needs!

So…what are you waiting for? Email, call or just pop in to book your Tec Rec Gas Blender course today!

What do potential new scuba diving instructors look for when choosing where to do their Instructor Development Course?

Our new instructors explain their reasons on why they picked Master Divers, Koh Tao, in order to become a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor!

Doing your Instructor Development Course (IDC) is a life changing decision on it’s own and there’s a lot more to it then just saying the initial ‘YES’! Choosing somewhere to complete your dive professional training can be a daunting and confusing task; questions need to be answered such as; where in the world is the best place to complete my IDC, which dive school should i go with, where will I work afterwards, will the connections I make be the right ones to advance my career?

The best way to go about answering all of these questions is ‘do your research’! Choose a Course Director and a professional development team who are there for you and  provide support and advice from the moment you initiate contact with them to throughout your career.

This is exactly what these guys did! Kaarin, Henry and Kevin have all just completed there IDC with Master Divers, so before the celebratory beers started flowing to easily, we took the time out to quickly ask why they chose Master Divers for their IDC?

The gang all together celebrating their IDC in Koh Tao

Kaarin, has been living in Koh Tao, Thailand for 18 months now and previously worked as a Divemaster, before deciding to do her IDC. She loves to dive and felt she was ready to take that next step to instructor level. Knowing the island well, Kaarin opted on Master Divers because she knew of Course Director, Gaz, respected reputation on the island, the support structure that Gaz provides with every IDC course he teaches, plus the high level of safety standards we maintain here at Master Divers.

Kaarin on completion of his IDC at Master Divers, Koh Tao

Henry, is from England, but completed his Divemaster here on Koh Tao in August. Henry knew straight away he wanted to progress to instructor level and worked as a Divemaster for a short period whilst he waited for the IDC to start. Henry informed us that he researched a lot for the right place to advance his career on Koh Tao and had heard a lot about Gaz and his method of teaching, so he set up a meeting to gather more information, and the rest they say is history!

Henry on completion of his IDC at Master Divers, Koh Tao

Kevin, is from Vancouver and a biologist. Again he put a lot of research into where he could do his IDC and came across Master Divers. He then went through our reviews and did more research into how Course Director, Gaz conducts the IDC and the reviews we have achieved as a dive center in it’s self.  What drew Kevin to Koh Tao and Master Divers was the amount of eco work we do here, as that, as well as a solid support network were the most important factors for him.

Kevin on completion of his IDC at Master Divers, Koh Tao

So from the above and in the words of our Course Director, Gaz Lydon, himself, the main advice would be “Don’t choose a location to complete your training, choose a support structure”… plus look into and research other factors that are important to you!

PADI Course Director Gaz Lydon in Koh Tao Thailand

Ignite your life today!

For more information about your IDC and Course Director, Gaz Lydon visit www.instructor-development.com

Underwater Photography and Bad Buoyancy: Don’t be THAT guy!

“What kind of camera and equipment are you using?”

 

This is a question I get asked EVERY SINGLE DAY. Without fail. And while I am absolutely happy to answer and give the specifics of every single bit of equipment I have,  I am always a little wary about who’s asking – particularly if the question comes from a novice diver or a student who is just about to complete their open water course. Sometimes, they are asking me simply out of curiosity, but most of the time they are asking because they are genuinely interested in underwater photography. And who wouldn’t be?

Videographer
A videographer displays superb buoyancy while hovering over a delicate reef of anemones.

In this day and age, it is widely accessible and relatively cheap to own a camera that can be used underwater, so naturally most people want to take one along with them on their dives. However, several things happen when an inexperienced diver does this, whether they are taking a simple go pro, a compact camera or a whole DSLR rig (go big or go home, right?):

 

1. They start paying less attention to their instruments, particularly their dive computer and air pressure gauge.

2. They get distracted by fish they want to photograph and forget to check their depth and NDLs as they are chasing certain animals for their shots, sometimes ending up over 10 metres or more below or above their dive guide and group.

And the biggest problem I see:

3. Buoyancy gets thrown out the window and the safety of coral reef and marine life gets compromised.

 

Having a camera with you on your dives can be incredibly distracting because your attention shifts from concentrating on your diving skills/equipment/environment to complete focus on the camera and photo opportunities. Too many times I’ve seen divers with big camera rigs taking a photo of something while resting their fins on some nearby coral for stability… or even laying down entirely on a coral patch (yes, I have actually seen this). DON’T BE THAT GUY.

Underwater Photgrapher
This photographer is in good trim with fins up and hovering calmly away from the sensitive reef below him. A good example of a responsible diver!

 

Corals take years/decades/centuries to grow! They are fragile animals that require our undivided attention and respect while diving. Also, erratic swimming tends to scare the fish off making them unapproachable to you and other divers… practicing good buoyancy is key to being a responsible and safe underwater photographer.

 

So… fresh out of your Open Water course? Really excited to start bringing your camera with you on your future dives? Then I will tell you what I tell every novice that asks about my camera gear: take a course on buoyancy and/or get a few fun dives under your belt where practicing your buoyancy is your primary focus during the dive. I promise it will go a long way and you will be much better prepared to handle a camera under water.

 

Because no one wants to be THAT guy… I promise you.

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This diver is currently being “THAT GUY” … fins on the bottom (there is probably sensitive marine life there) and in a vertical position. Always try to stay horizontal while diving!

 

Just me – or any of the dive centre staff – for more information on buoyancy dives and courses, or for more details on underwater photography. We teach both PADI specialties, and tailor made courses to suit your needs 🙂

PADI Course Spotlight – Master Scuba Diver (The Black Belt of SCUBA Diving!)

The PADI Master Scuba Diver rating is the highest non-professional level in the PADI system of diver education. It means that you have acquired significant training, knowledge and experience in a variety of dive environments, and is a fantastic achievement as well as being lots of fun!

To sign off as a PADI Master Scuba Diver, you’ll need to be certified as Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Emergency First Response, and Rescue Diver, as well as having 5 full specialty courses and a minimum of 50 logged dives. It really is the black belt of SCUBA, and says a lot about your skill level, and well as your general dedication to diving. And of course, it means you are cool as hell! 😉

Surface Marker Buoy

The amount of time, the number of fun dives, which Specialties and pre-requisite courses that need to be taken will vary from person to person, depending on what your current certification is, if you have any Specialties already and how many logged dives you have.  For this reason there is no suh thing as a ‘Master Scuba Diver’ package, but we are happy to work with you to build a programme that takes into account where you are in your diving right now and what best suits your needs and timescales.

We offer a full range of Specialties which can be counted towards your Master Scuba Diver rating. This link will give you more information on the Specialties available here at Master Divers. The most popular Specialties are Deep Diver, Wreck Diver and Enriched Air Nitrox, but we regularly run many more.

Photo :  @chrisalba_underwater_photogram
Photo : @chrisalba_underwater_photogram

 

As the Adventure Dives that you completed on the Advanced course are the first dives of the Specialty then you can choose to credit these dives towards the Specialty, which will save you a little time, and also a little money. Bonus! Of course, you can also choose to complete the whole Specialty, depending on how long ago it was since you completed your Advanced course.

20161224-IMG_9123

 

As you will have already completed some courses with us, your fun dives, to get you to the required 50 logged dives for the Master Scuba Diver rating. Here at Master Divers these are charged at our lowest rate of just 700THB per dive. The number of fun dives will vary from person to person, depending on how many dives they have prior to arrival and which Specialties they choose.

Fun diving at Chumphon Pinnacle
Fun diving at Chumphon Pinnacle

 

Once you reach 50 dives, finally, the PADI Master Scuba Diver rating is within reach! Rescue Diver – check; 5 Specialties – check; 50 logged dives – check; MSD application form submitted – check!  Congratulations on joining this select group of divers!