Archive for July, 2011

How Safe Is Scuba Diving?

Posted on July 31st, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  No Comments »

Scuba Diving is a sport and  as with the majority of sports there are safety guidelines and it is important to follow these to eliminate risk.

Here are a few considerations for safe diving.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Diving Safety

" Safe Diving Practices"

always teach the fundamentals at Openwater Diver level. These include dealing with buddy separation and DCI.  Should you be separated from your buddy then the rule is that you should search for no more than one minute and surface safely. Hopefully, you will be reunited at the surface as your buddy should be doing the same. The key thing here is not to continue to dive alone. If for any reason your buddy does not surface, it could mean that he/she may be in difficulties and if  this is the case then time is of essence if a rescue has to take place.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Dive with a Buddy

"Buddies"

Decompression sickness and illness can occur, but it is highly unlikely. There are certain things that you can do to minimize the risk. One of the major causes of DCS is dehydration, so drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Diving itself is a dehydrator as is the loss of fluid from the body due to sweating.   It is always useful to carry a supply of rehydration salts to aid rehydration.  Also be aware of how much alcohol has been consumed the night before a dive and do not consume alcohol prior to a dive or between dives.  If you decide to snorkel between dives or immediately after diving then stay on the surface as micro bubbles are in your system and duck diving is like having a “mini” dive.  The micro bubbles can be forced into the tissue. The other recommendations are that you do not exercise or have a hot shower immediately afterwards as again this can force micro bubbles into the tissues.  Always remember that flying after diving has time guidelines from 12 hours for a single dive and 18 hours for multiple dives.  To help eliminate nitrogen in the body it is recommended that a safety stop should be done for a minimum of 3 minutes at 5metres. It is important to be a SAFE diver..slowly ascend from every dive!!

Many dives are conducted from boats, which gives rise to certain safety issues.  Divers surfacing should have signaling devices, so that moving boats can see that there are divers below. The most common is the SMB (surface marker buoy) The SMB is normally deployed on the safety stop at 5m. The SMB is sometimes known as a safety sausage and is generally orange in colour. There are two types commonly used, the self sealing and the open ended.  It is not necessary to have a forest of SMBs when surfacing, but be close to the person who has it just in case a boat does pass by.  Also watch your depth while you are doing your safety stop. Try and maintain 5m and not go shallower. Remember, a boat can pass over you at 5m, but at 3m if you don’t have a signaling device, you may be on a collision course.  Engine noise direction is impossible to determine. However, if the noise is getting louder it is approaching you, quieter it is moving away.  Wait to surface once you know that it is safe to do so.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand safe Diving Practices

"SMB"

If you see your boat underwater should you swim to towards it? The answer is no. Always surface to the side or at the back of the boat and do deploy the SMB. It is important for the crew to see you. If it is a live boat and the boat constantly moves to pick up divers you do not want to be under the boat if the propellers are engaged.

There a variety of signaling devices on the market including strobes, mirrors to name a couple. However, it is highly recommended that as a diver you should have two devices with you, audible and visible. The audible could be something as simple as a whistle that can be attached to the BCD.  It is also advisable to carry a cutting tool should entanglement happen. The most common  is a small dive knife that again can be attached to the BCD. If you do get entangled remain calm and systematically free yourself with the help of your buddy. Try not to turn around as you may make the situation worse.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Safe Diving

"Whistle"

Diving is a very safe sport but there is no room for half measures when it comes to safety. The guidelines are there minimize risk and should be followed at all times.

Three Weeks in Thailand – A Divers story Final Part – The Result

Posted on July 31st, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  No Comments »

I suppose at this point I realized what a debt of gratitude I owed to my colleagues from Scuba Cat.  All the late night chat about releasing Nitrogen from our body or how to treat someone with shock had paid off.  The classroom hours with Christophe had been difficult, yet we were sure that our time hadn’t been wasted. In the saloon downstairs some people were being given good news. For others you could see disappointment.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Go Pro

"Waiting........"

When Jim called us down, call it fate or luck but the other group of ScubaCat 4 were being told their results at the same time. We would learn our fate at the same time.

And then the tears started – before we even knew how we had done as a group. All my own self interest was secondary as I found myself looking across at my colleagues.

Mikko smiling – that’s one. Corey passed – two. Alban being told in French by Christophe – as Jim did not speak French – three in. Gerd smiling as he shook hands, we had four out of four so far. Bruce was in tears – but had a huge smile. 5 down three to go. I was next – 6 in, and look at Christian and Alfredo. They were on cloud 9. We had done it. All 8 had passed. Hugs, smiles and tears as we shared in our individual and group feelings.

Out the corner of my eye I saw Bruce go over to shake hands with Christophe after he was given his OWSI certificate.  Much later over a coffee – and it WAS coffee he shared what he had said.

8 individuals turned up in Patong two weeks ago sharing a dream. Scuba Cat Diving made it reality for every one of us. And they added that this was as much their moment to share as ours.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Go Pro

"The life..........."

We had passed and become what we dreamed of becoming – Instructors.  The next few days were spent becoming Specialist Instructors, although I think the socializing was just as important. Hugs from ALL the ScubaCat  team every day.\

By the time we left to head home, the group were deciding what to do next and we’ve gone our separate ways.  Perhaps one day they will have this medium to tell their story.

Scuba cat Diving Phuket Thailand  IDC Dec 2010

"New Instructors"

For Bruce and I we are now living our dream. Dive Instructors in Fujairah, near Dubai. We couldn’t settle back in Scotland and we took an offer to run a 5* Center as our first job. Look up adventuredivers.ae to see what we are doing. Are we loving it – YES. Would we change anything – NO. Do we have the best office in the world – YOU bet we do.

Scuba cat Diving Phuket Thailand  IDC Go Pro

"New Life"

This is a little of my journey with ScubaCat. I cannot say how much the support we had, – and still have from them has helped. Bruce wrote to and commended them, look for the “Certificate of Excellence” on the wall. Its not the only one, but it shows that the ScubaCat way IS THE BEST WAY. They don’t teach you how to be a Dive Instructor. They help you become a GOOD Dive Instructor and there is a huge difference.  Some IDCs teach you how to pass the IE. ScubaCat teach give you the knowledge, the skills and the abilities to pass the IE well. And that’s the ScubaCat way.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Learn to Dive

"Thanks Bruce"

Sarah, Christophe,  Christoph, Gerry, Andreas – and ALL the team are there when YOU need THEM. Their skills are to bring the best out in YOU. Platinum Course Director is the highest accolade – Scuba Cat Diving has many awards. If you want to be a Course Director follow the way that they do it at Scuba Cat Diving.

If you want to be an Open Water Scuba Instructor and  run a small dive center – speak to Sarah. She runs a Dive Center with the IDC centre.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC Center

"Scuba Cat Diving"

As Bruce said to – ” – The way the world learns to dive, Scuba Cat Diving– The way should encourage ALL centers to work”

Thanks again Ceri for sharing this with us………………

Three Weeks in Thailand – A Divers story Part 2 The IE

Posted on July 30th, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  No Comments »

By the time it came to the IE we were all in different stages of readiness. Bruce and I had gone over his physics so many times he was talking about gasses in his sleep.  The Friday afternoon came and at the appointed hour we joined around 50 other candidates in the exam hall. The examiners were later than we expected but they tried to calm us down with some chat. Maybe it was just me but all I wanted was the exam paper, the time to do it in and to get out.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Go Pro

"Before"

All the practice, revision and the discussions helped as we all got through the papers. Some scraped a pass, some passed with high marks, and one of us had a resit to do the next day. But after the first day we were all still in with a chance to become Open Water Instructors.  Even coming out to torrential rain would not dampen our spirits. A couple of guys went for a relaxing massage, but most of us headed to the school room to chat about the day and begin preparations for the morning. We had been given our skill set to teach and after an hour or so some of us went for a beer, (Its sociable to spend time together!!!)

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Go Pro

"Beer O'Clock"

Next morning we met at seven, in various states of readiness.  But we knew that this session in the pool would be easy.  We had been taught well.  We had practiced teaching skills and knew what would be expected of us.  Separated into two groups we were all having side bets as to which group would have the highest average score. As it turned out we scored well, better than every dive center there. Why – because we had worked hard to make sure we got it right. Our Course Directors knew we would do well, because they knew that they way they taught us was the right way.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  IDC Go Pro

"Time to get wet"

Presentations in the afternoon flew past. We had been given our subject to present about on the Friday night and had worked examples into the presentations well. For Project AWARE, when the group were asked to suggest something old, someone suggested their Grandfather! Even the examiners loved this example.  3 parts gone and tomorrows Open Water session was to be the last. Would be Instructors nearer their dream as our resit man had scored over 90% in his resit. Christophe’s  lunchtime session paying dividends again.

Sunday morning at 7 we arrived outside the “Scuba Cat front shop”. The confidence was high but you could feel the nerves. Maybe one or two beers the night before were not the ideal way, or the Disco crowd were coming down from the dancing high, but we jumped into the pick up more subdued. Bruce and Christian had their sea sick tablets as we headed off to Racha Noi for our last session.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Go Pro

"Day 3"

Staying in our groups of four, we were delighted to see that one group got off to the best start by floating through the Rescue Scenario. Again all the practice had paid off, I was remembering my Instructor in Scotland’s voice pacing me through the whole thing. Didn’t matter though as Christophe told us to get out HIS ocean. One more session and the dream was reality. All 8 still in the game and now buzzing.

We went down to around 10m to be met by Jim our examiner.  Going through each of our two skills, when I surfaced with Alfredo after the CESA – Jim said we were in the game and that’s all we needed. When our second group joined us, the hilarity took over. Some other centers had pupils in the water re-doing their Rescue Scenario!! We couldn’t believe it. Some of them seemed to be doing it for the first ever time. Looking at them struggling to remove equipment made us realize that we were good Rescue Divers, and that our practice had paid off.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Go Pro

"Team Dec 2010"

Thanks again Ceri, Find out the result tomorrow……………..

Three Weeks in Thailand – A Divers Story Part 1. The Scuba Cat IDC

Posted on July 29th, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  No Comments »

A big thank you to Ceri Duff, IDC Candidate Dec 2010, for sharing her story. I have decided to Break this into two installments, IDC and IE – she writes nearly as much as she talks!!!!

Choosing Scuba Cat Diving in Thailand as the place for us (Ceri and Bruce)  to go for our IDC took us some time. But it’s like the simple dive instruction – plan your dive – dive your plan.  We researched a few places but after my partner spoke to Sarah, he was convinced that this was the place to go.  Ok, talking to other old pros helped but there was something about the way Sarah seemed relaxed and well NON SALESY that we liked. So come 1st October we booked it all, sorted out the flights and our countdown began………

Arriving in the busy resort of Phuket was a hot, humid and strange feeling.  This was to be “home” for the next few weeks, and by the time we got to the center we both wanted to jump in and cool off.

Sarah met us, introduced us to Christophe – our Course Director and we headed off to the Star Orchid to meet the hotel owner, his wife and beautiful little Elizabeth, their year old daughter.  Our room was comfortable, shower, loo and enough space to store our luggage. (Two BIG Mares bags, with our diving equipment and clothes for three weeks).

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  Platinum Course Director

Christophe

And then we got some great news – have the rest of the afternoon and evening off, we start at 8:30 tomorrow. As we laughed, Christophe gave us a sheet with a schedule, a piece of paper showing how to tie knots and two red pieces of string.  God. Homework on night one!

So as we Scottish do, it was off for a beer and some lunch, and to practice our knots of course!

Patong is a friendly place, and it is indeed the land of a thousand smiles. Night clubs – yes, Bars – yes, touts selling T shirts – yes, massage parlours – yes, ladyboys – I think there are some at night but cant recall seeing them – night time was study time, but the guide books don’t tell you about the friendliness, and politeness of the Thai people. They make the town worth visiting.

Next morning we travelled the 25 metres to the ScubaCat dive “school” area and we met our fellow IE Candidates. An American, Canadian, Spaniard, Frenchman, German and a Finnish guy.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC Center

Trust me to pick the IDC with no other females.

Not to worry, they treated me like a guy, although there were several whispered conversations in the morning about who did what and where!!  We managed to speak together and found out that we had mainly one thing in common, a passion for diving, which was shared by our “teacher” Christophe.

Each day we knew where we were to be – 720am for pool sessions, 7:30 for days on the boat and an 8:30 start all other days. No days off, and we could study as much – or as little as we liked in the evening. Christophe was an excellent mentor for the course, but the added benefit to us students was that Sarah was on hand in the evenings.  I had one bad day doing mock exams, and after chatting through my feelings with them both, they agreed I could resit the paper downstairs in the coffee area.  Right on the street, the guys trying to be quiet but failing miserably, and a beer in hand. Sarah laughing in the background at some of the stories – maaaaaassssssaaaaaaaaggggggee being shouted often. But I resat that mock exam – with Sarah making sure I didn’t cheat, and scored over 90%. It was the noise I needed.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC Centre

Classrooms/Bar!

Pool sessions were fun. Teaching eight students how to teach is no mean feat, but with the help of Gerry and Andreas we managed the sessions quite quickly. Just in time for a lunch break – try the Irish bar down the road for Penang Curry, then back to work. But that’s the thing, yes it was hard, it was difficult but we all helped each other, and no-one ever said no to any request for help………….

………..To be continued

Night Diving

Posted on July 28th, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  No Comments »

Night diving is something that divers seem to love or hate, just like marmite!!! Night diving offers an experience that is completely different to day diving.  First and foremost it’s dark and a torch is a must. The torch gives light, but it is concentrated, so you only get to see what is in the beam.  If anything, this lets you focus more on the marine life that is highlighted.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Learn to Dive

Diving in the Dark

It’s incredible to see the difference in life. The day shift is going to bed and the night shift is coming out. You will find fish tucking themselves into cracks in the rocks for protection against the nocturnal predators. Parrotfish, for example, can be seen with a protective mucus bubble surrounding them. This can only be produced once during the night, so it is important not to disturb the fish when shining the light.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Marine Life

If you should be lucky enough to see a turtle sleeping then just say “hi” and “goodbye”. When a turtle sleeps it lowers it’s heart rate, so that it is able to sleep without having to go to the surface for air. If the turtle is disturbed then it may become disorientated and doesn’t know which way up is.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Night Dive

Also, the shock of being woken could induce a heart attack, which is not a good scenario!! So it is important to show respect for the sleeping creatures and not shine the light directly into their eyes. Can you imagine what it is like when you are fast asleep and someone walks into your bedroom and puts the light on?

Predators, like moray eels looking for a midnight feast can often be seen free swimming at night. They look amazing as their undulating bodies move across the reef. During the day morays tend to hide in rocks, so it is hard to appreciate their size and beauty. Barracudas are really quiet cheeky and often use the torch light to locate their next meal. So, if you don’t want to be responsible for fish becoming a meal then don’t shine you torch on it!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Learn to Dive

The night shift includes crabs in all different shapes and sizes. Have a look in finger corals to find small porcelain crabs, look under coral blocks to find the larger ones. Decorator crabs, with their legs covered in camouflage are difficult to find as they look like the coral surrounding them.  Sponge crabs are amusing to watch as they try and merge with the rocks, so they can’t be seen.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similan Islands

Lobsters can be seen walking around the reef and are very good rock climbers and they don’t even need crampons!! It’s amazing how quick these cumbersome creatures can move. Look in coral blocks and you will be able to see red dots, like little rubies. These are the eyes of shrimps, many different species in all shapes and sizes.  Again, a lovely sight as they dance around.

There is just so much to see on a night dive, but the key is to move slowly and concentrate on a small area. Always take the opportunity to blank out your torch by placing it against your body (don’t switch it off) and wave your arms around. If the Bioluminescence are in full swing then you will create a magical moment as they sparkle around you.

Night diving is an experience not to be missed ………………………

Why leave it all to chance……….. enjoy your first night dive experiences with a Professional, so you can enjoy the wonders anytime day or night.

Scuba Cat Diving Learn to Dive