Archive for June, 2012

My sister was my Rescue Victim – hard course but loads of fun!!!

Posted on June 20th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on My sister was my Rescue Victim – hard course but loads of fun!!!

Jurgens Rescue Course………….

After a difficult a flight towards Phuket, I could finally start my Rescue Diver Course.  My first attempt to become a Rescue diver stopped in Indonesia because some family problems. I had to fly back before I finished my last dive. So I decided to retake the course with Scuba Cat Diving.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Having dived with Scuba Cat before, I was introduced to my   Instructor, Francois. I already knew him from last visit, we hoped to see that elusive whale shark together, oh well it wasn’t to be that time. He was happy to see us and give me a handshake and kissed my sister three times. After that, my sister filled in all the paperwork for her Advanced Course and I went upstairs to start my EFR.

We started at 10.00am (nice time!) The day was alot of fun. In the Netherlands the rules are different than here in Asia. So I learned the Asian way also. First 2  rescue breaths and after that 30 chest compressions. This was repeated many times then I  practiced with an AED. Luckily for me, I  practiced on a manikin and not with Francois!

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

After the session I had to practice finding injuries that Francois was pretending to have. While we were doing this, we had lots of fun and jokes, quite normal for us. After a couple minutes, he role played passing out and I had to put him into the recovery position. While I did this, he found out, that I did it on another way than he was used to do. He thought the way I did it was also correct, because I already checked his pulse and breathing while I did this and after I finished.

After the senario’s, I did my exam. I only got two wrong! Not bad at all.

Then onto the rescue theory. Wow I passed this with 100%! Time for some fun diving before I finished the course.

I went diving with my sister so we could practice a bit and take some pictures.

The next day after the fun dives, I went for the pool session. Kiwi was to be my instructor for the confined sessions and Nim, Divemaster was my “Victim”

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similans Liveaboard


Nim was a very good Victim, making everything realistic for me so I could master all the skills I thought the skills are easy but spectacular. Everybody in the swimming pool was watching while we did the skills. As I knew. In the swimming pool  everything seemed easy but in the ocean I knew it would be different, a bit difficult because the currents and waves.

One of the skills was bringing a diver towards the surface while he or she is out. I first did it the way I had been taught in the Netherlands. It’s a bit difference than the way wants to do this. In the Netherlands we approach from the front while do this from behind because the risk of panic. No problem, I could do it both ways.

Now the surface skills, exercise number 7,  I had to move the diver through the pool and while I did this, I had to give rescue breaths. Every 5 seconds I gave one and bring her to the side of the pool. In the meanwhile I had to remove her equipment  and mine, then take her on the (boat) poolside. I did this easily…. the problem was, could I do this on the live aboard as well with currents and waves. I Knew Kiwi wouldn’t make it easy for me!!!!

Then it was off to the Liveaboard in the Similans, to finish my Rescue course on the first day and do lots of diving with my sister, whilst she did her advanced course.

We arrived there on New years eve….

Setting up our gear for the sunset dive, Kiwi started screaming for help. I should have guessed it, after all this was all for my Rescue Course!!!  I walked towards the diving platform and saw a rope. I threw it towards Kiwi and he grabbed it. That was the first time! While was setting up the rest of my equipment, Kiwi went out snorkelling. After a minute he was screaming again. I couldn’t find something that floats, so I put on my fins, snorkel and mask. I could save him with my skills from lifeguard. He was in panic so I could swim underneath him and grab him from behind. But he was cheating! While I get down, he followed me with his eyes, very relaxed. I should have known he would make this difficult for me!.  So I had to swim back to the boat!  Kiwi stopped and said: You had to bring something that floats! Damn, he got me!!!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similans Liveaboard


After these skills, we went diving. Priscilla took her time and Kiwi entered the water first. I followed him, because he was already going under. I gave him a signal to come back, but he didn’t respond, so I followed him at the surface, while I was waiting for my sister. I asked her to hurry up a bit (well she is my sister!) got our buddy checks done. Then entered the water, at that precise moment , Kiwi came up and simulating panic! So Priscilla and I start swimming towards him. I asked her to wait, while I approached him. I did it from behind and grabbed his tank with my legs and inflated his BCD. I asked if he could swim back to the boat. He didn’t answer, so I had to tow him. After a minute he pretended to pass out and stopped breathing. So I informed the boat and started with rescue breathes and moving him towards the boat.

While I was taking of the equipment he said that I did it very good and we stopped the skill. We went down for fun diving! Just before we went down, Priscilla had cramps. When I looked in her eyes I saw there was nothing wrong, and while I did the skill, I didn’t feel anything of cramp. I thought its going to be a long dive!

When we reached the bottom, Kiwi lost his mask. I grabbed it and put it on his face. Priscilla had the same problem….. At the same moment, Kiwi started to grab rocks, trying to grab fish etc. etc… I had to respond. It was like diving with school kids! Kiwi and Priscilla pretended to fight. While I came between, Priscilla grabbed me! I was right this was not going to be a straight forward dive!!!  Priscilla pretended to pass out. I had to bring her up to the suface, again using the skills I learnt in the pool. On the way up, I saw big waves and there was a strong current, so change of plan and went up towards the boat (not straight ahead).

When we were on the surface, I had to start rescue breathes. First thing I did, I informed the boat. The waves were big, so I had to get between my sister and the waves, to stop the water was going in her mouth. Because the current, I had to swim very hard. And it was not easy to get towards the boat. After 2 minutes I arrived at the dingy. I wanted to go in there to start the CPR, but Kiwi said, I had to go towards the boat. So I started again and tried to get help from the boat. They didn’t help and everybody was filming and laughing.

So I did it on my own and when I was in the boat, Priscilla start breathing again and stopped the skill, because she had a lot of water in her mouth. It was very hard and at a moment she even said: You supposed to save me, not drown me! When we finished the dive, Kiwi said, that I had passed all my rescue practical.  Great now the rest of the Liveaboard to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Similans!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand

"Jurgen and Priscilla"

During the Rescue course I had to work hard, I learned a lot whilst having loads of fun!

Now for my Master Scuba Diver and then who knows!!!!

Congratulations from Asia Pacific, Project Aware and Reef Check

Posted on June 19th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Congratulations from Asia Pacific, Project Aware and Reef Check

Scuba Cat Diving received two prestigious awards in one evening.

Reef Check Thailand

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Reef Check Award


and Asia Pacific & Project Aware

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Concordia international School Shanghai


A huge THANK YOU to the Staff and Students from Concordia International School, Shanghai, China for their commitment to the Reefs of Racha Yai…..5 years later ……44 days, 60 students, 160 Dives

It all began 5 and a half years ago when we received an email from Terry Umphenour, a teacher from the International School in Shanghai. Terry wanted to start a Marine Ecology Study to enhance the education of  students by bringing it outdoors.

Over the last 5 years the students have collected valuable data from their surveys, recording the many changes that occurred over a 5 year period and learned an important lesson: our reefs are in serious danger.

Many of them have started as non divers, going on to complete multiple Courses, infact during their time on board I think the diver education system has been fully utilized……

  • Open Water Course
  • Advanced Open Water Course
  • Rescue Diver
  • Master Scuba Diver
  • Many different Specialities
  • Dive Master training

and of course the ultimate Goal, Reef Check Divers and Instructors now able to identify different types of indicator species of invertebrates, substrates, and fish by name something taken for granted by most divers, with only a handful round the world being able to do this.

They learned how to dive safely and respectfully to their new environment realizing diving is not a game. They saw first hand the negative effect of human’s on coral reef systems.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Reef Check

This years students were :

  • Danielle
  • James
  • Sydney
  • Sara
  • Emersyn
  • Pan Ling
  • Jie
  • Jim
  • Dana
  • Haley
  • Yaw Tung (Andy)
  • Jing Xin (Jean)

It was an honor to meet you guys and again thank you Paul, Joel and Terry for making this all possible.

and not forgetting Suchana Apple Chanavich, Ph.D and her amazing commitment to the Reef System not only in Thailand but around the world (and the awesome Ice Cream Cake at the BBQ!)

What a difference a year makes…….Priscilla’s story

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on What a difference a year makes…….Priscilla’s story

2010 – Diving? Me? No way!
2011  –  I can Dive…
2012 – I ♥ diving

I have been scared of the ocean my whole life. Big fish with sharp teeth, dirty water, the idea of not being able to see your feet, etc. etc.  Enough reasons to not go into the ocean with much more than my big toe. If you would have met me a year ago, and said that I would be scuba diving now? I would laugh at you and call you crazy!  How little did I know…

When my family and I were in Phuket in the summer of 2011, my brother was looking for a dive school to go on some daytrips. Walking along the beach we found Scuba Cat. The instructor we were talking to asked whether I was going to dive too and I told him I was definitely not going to, since there was really nothing that attracted me. The idea of breathing through a tube and having a lot of water above me didn’t sound like fun at all.
I don’t really remember what made me change my mind…but I went back to the dive shop to have a dive at the swimming pool, and I liked it.
I felt very comfortable, the instructor was really patient and we talked about the open water course. After thinking it over and over again, I decided to give it a try and see how far I would go. My Instructor Hielke,  was great. From the moment we met I felt comfortable and safe. He was extremely patient (I was a horrible student – and no I’m not exaggerating!) and he has great teaching skills.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

After a day in the classroom, we practised the skills in the swimming pool. There were no problems, so why wouldn’t I be able to do the same thing in the ocean? I didn’t like the idea of pulling my mask off (and get seawater in my eyes) though I knew I would be perfectly able to put it back on. And what to think about practising for an Controlled emergency swimming ascent to the surface….looking up, seeing the surface is far, far away, and then take one breath in and ascent to the surface whilst breathing out all the way. But what’s the fun in life if you don’t try new things and cross your own borders?

I went on a complete new adventure, together with my instructor.
The first dive I stayed extremely close to him. No way there would be more than 15 cm between us! I was scared and I didn’t enjoy the dive. It was not horrible, but I didn’t think it was fun either. I didn’t see much of the beautiful marine life, since I was checking air and depth all the time and did my best to keep breathing on a regular base. Repeating to myself  ‘breath in, breath out…’ the dive seemed to last an eternity.

The second dive was much better, I saw a glimpse of the beautiful coral and sea creatures, still staying close to my instructor. I saw my first ‘Nemo’!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Nemo
The third dive was a complete disaster, what broke down all the confidence I gained in the first two dives. We were sleeping on the boat and I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep…all I did was crying. That night, I decided to never go diving again. I was looking for a way to tell it to my instructor. I actually found it more sad for him then for me if I wouldn’t finish the course, he was working so hard! It was quiet (there was no one on the boat besides us) the fish were swimming in the lights of the boat and the stars were absolutely stunning! ( I can recommend live aboards to everyone, just to watch the stars and experience how quiet the world can be)
Later the instructor woke up and found me awake. We spend a lot of time talking. What were my exact reasons for not wanting to dive again? I don’t know how he did it, but he found a solution for everything (and I can guarantee you: I had 1001 reasons) and promised me that we would go back to the boat whenever I wanted to. I only needed one more dive to complete my open water training, so why not finish it? After finishing the course I could always decide to never go diving again, but at least I would have finished the course (well…I am a perfectionist, so I always finish what I started) He found the magic words and I went in again.

I’m so glad that he found a way to convince me to go back in!

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand
He showed me how much fun diving could be and how beautiful the marine life is. Because all I did was follow where ever he was going and watching everything he showed me (and checking air and depth of course) I enjoyed the dive very much. We saw beautiful corals, many different fish in all the colours of the rainbow.  They say ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ and it was true! When coming up we had spent an hour down below and I thought we were only there for 25 minutes.
After this dive we went in two more times and with every dive I made I gained a lot of confidence.
I enjoyed the dives so much that I was actually sad that we were moving on to national park Kao Sok, away from the ocean.

During our journey home all I could talk about was diving. When diving I felt like Alice in Wonderland and I felt like I need to explore that world more. As soon as we got home, my brother and I booked a flight back to Thailand for December. Within a few weeks I booked our live aboard with a Advanced Open Water course for me and EFR & Rescue course  for my brother.
Before going back to the ocean I went to the swimming pool in the Netherlands to dive there. I wanted to check if I still knew everything, just to make sure. I’m glad I did, because now I had no reason to be nervous at all and I could relax during the flight. That flight was horrible, we had a major delay and missed our connection. We’ve spend Christmas day on the airport instead of under the palm trees. The staff of Scuba Cat was very friendly and helping with putting us on another daytrip and friendly and helpful words on the phone.

My brother and I went on the liveaboard to dive the Similans.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand MV Scuba Adventure
I read a lot about it before we went, but it was even more beautiful then I imagined….

There were some challenging moments (night dive, bad visibility after the rain,etc) but being with an instructor, Kiwi and my brother and a lot of nice people on the boat, I felt comfortable enough to face them. I know that at certain moments I would never have gone in the water if my brother wasn’t there to hold my hand, an instructor to watch over us and many nice people on the boat to share experiences and give some advice now and then. Being on a liveaboard is great. The food is better than in a restaurant, you meet new people and you all have something you share, so you don’t have to worry about awkward silence….I made new friends there and learned a lot.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similans Liveaboard
I was diving more on my own, not so (literally) attached to my instructor or buddy anymore. I swam with big groups of fish, went deeper than ever before, I saw turtles and seahorses and it felt like I was swimming in an enchanted world.
As long as I stay between my own, newly discovered borders, I can explore that world and enjoy it too. The staff of Scuba Cat helped me with that and will help me to learn more things and enjoy diving more and more in the future.
This summer I’m going to Indonesia, but in December I’m returning to Thailand and dive more with Scuba Cat.  I can’t thank my first instructor enough for all his patience, calming words, teaching me how to dive and showing me the magic world of the ocean. Thank you to the other instructors and guides (daytrips and courses) for all your help, advice and guidance. I can’t imagine a life without diving anymore!  A big thank you to all the staff of Scuba Cat to make everything happen, from booking, to food, from diving to have a drink at the bar to celebrate the happy end of our combined story and our future return to you all.  I will highly recommend you all to everyone who wants to dive in Thailand and see you again in December. I’m looking forward to it very much!

Big hugs for everyone.

Why can’t I go inside the wreck?

Posted on June 11th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Why can’t I go inside the wreck?

The first question we often get asked when talking about wreck diving is ‘can we go inside’.  Scuba divers have always held a fascination by what the wrecks hide and hold within their bodies this is what makes the Wreck diver speciality course so popular. By taking this training and holding this license is the only way that wreck penetration is allowed.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Wrecks are manmade structure that have either been deliberately sunk or have had some event where they have sunk without intention. Over the time they become a new reef and attract marine life to it and become an artificial reef in their own right, offering a habitat for a variety of creatures.

The wrecks offer a new challenge for many divers, who are interested in the different terrain underwater, the history, or heritage that goes with the site.

There are many types of wrecks, most often they are ships, but can include, submarines, tanks, airplanes, or automobiles.

In the Phuket region we have many wreck dives on offer.

The King Cruiser, our largest wreck which was a car ferry that crashed in Anemone Reef on one of it’s journeys to Phi Phi.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  Wreck Speciality

Marla’s Mystery, deliberately sunk by Scuba Cat as an artificial reef at Racha Yai Island.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Marlas Mystery

The Haruby and Andaman Eagle, also at Racha Yai Island, deliberately sank to give new dive sites.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Wrecks at Racha Yai

Speedboat wreck again on Racha Yai that has been visited many times by divers over the years it has been underwater.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Wrecks in Racha Yai

The Tuna Fish Wreck in Similans, again deliberately sank for a new dive site.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Wrecks in the Similans

The Atlantis X again in the Similans, a dive liveaboard that ventured there in the closed season and suffered damage due to the weather, she sank on Island number 8.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Wrecks in the Similans

With all these wrecks available to recreational scuba divers it is not surprising that the Wreck diver course is so popular at Scuba Cat.

Wreck diving offers great rewards but in return it can also carry greater risks, especially if penetration is involved, so to be able to do this the Wreck Speciality course is essential.

Most wrecks can be enjoyed simply by following the outline, but some require more complex navigation techniques, which are taught on the course.

The main concern with wrecks can be the need to monitor air and depth more closely, being aware on entanglement problems, so particular vigilance with streamlining, and sharp objects.

The Wreck diver course emphasizes the need to carry a knife, and use of gloves, along with good buoyancy control.

The course consists of 4 dives each building on the skills learnt in the previous dive, leading to the diver being able to penetrate a wreck safely.

The use of anti silting dive techniques, navigation, lines, and safety cylinders is covered within the course.

Why is good Buoyancy control important?

Posted on June 9th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Why is good Buoyancy control important?

Buoyancy control is key to all aspects of diving and as such should feature heavily in your dive training.

During the open water course the basics of buoyancy control as mastered, with fin pivots, hovers and buoyancy checks, then during the Advanced Open Water the option of Peak Performance Bouyancy is one that is always recommended by  Scuba Cat Instructors.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand

Did you know you can take this one stage further with the Peak performance buoyancy specialty.

Have you ever wondered why some people use less air than others, why some look graceful and others not, some photographers get steady shots and others blurred, some hang still on safety stops whilst others dance around, and some divers sink like stones rather than having a controlled slow decent?

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Buoyancy Contrl

"Mid water safety stop"

All of these can be due to buoyancy control, or the lack of it. Most of us have seen the diver who leaves a dust cloud behind them as they swim, by controlling buoyancy better this can be avoided as well as the damage to bottom dwelling creatures and delicate corals.

As divers we are privileged and can enjoy a fascinating underwater world which few people have access to, but we should preserve what we see and avoid damage to it.

By having greater control in the water this become second nature.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Buoyancy Contro

Control is achieved by not being overweighed, this also often resolves the faster air consumption rates too. It also corrects body positioning to reduce the possibility of damage.

Overweighting is a common mistake made by many divers, and is easily rectified by taking the Peak Performance buoyancy course.

During this you will spend the time learning to be relaxed, using breath control and streamlining. By doing this you can swim slower and more controlled being able to stop without changing depth and look more graceful.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Buoyancy Control

There is a lot a games to play during the course, which allows you to become more automated about the breathing patterns needed for each situation, and it makes it pretty fun too.

The Peak Performance Buoyancy course is one of the most useful ones you can take, with every diver who completes it improving in air consumption, control and grace. This specialty is the one that has an effect on every aspect of diving, underwater photo’s improve with a the increased steadiness of the dive. Depth is maintained rather than exceeded with more control, safety stops are never a struggle, and enjoyment of the dive due to less disturbance of the marine life is increased.

So what are you waiting for, sign up  for your  Peak Performance Buoyancy  Speciality today………become a great diver and continue your adventure