Monday, December 30, 2013

Diving with Scubacats

Dec 27th and we were diving with Phuket Dive Company Scubacats. Our day started at 0800 as we travelled down the very long pier at Chalong on the 'Pier Buses' to our dive boat where members of Scubacat's staff were waiting to welcome us aboard. The intention was to dive three sites around Racha Yai which is a large island about 15 miles south of Phuket. But, just as in UK, it is windy here with pretty choppy seas. The dive programme was rearranged so that all 3 dives would be in sheltered waters in  palve called Bungalow Bay. This was obviously a disappointment to some of the divers who had dived there the previous day because of the prevailing weather conditions....but it was great for our little group who were looking forward to good visibility and a warm (30 degrees!) sea.
 Scubacat are clearly following a theme as here is our Thai Lady Dive guide....Tabby! And of course she'd added the ears to look the part. Since the Tsunami in 2004, many Thai people have been encouraged to become involved with the diving industry and it's great to see how many have made it to Dive Master and are working on the Dive boats. This is a great leap forward for the Thais.

The Thai girls I have met are superb divers. They use virtually no air and are very graceful underwater and very patient with their diving customers.
 Bungalow Bay was superbly clear and was packed with fish life and corals. There were plenty of scorpion and stonefish lurking about.
 This sea snake was well out in the open and we were able to track its progress abcross the sand to another area of coral for a good time.
 We kept a respectable distance above and away from it!
 I am always amazed just how clear the sea can be. It's hard to believe that I took this photo at 17 metres depth...terrific clarity.
 As you all know, colours disappear fast underwater and merge into a kind of bluey greyness. I used a strobe on this shot to light up this lionfish to give an idea of how colourful they actually are and how bright the corals are when their colours can be seen. For those of you who may be interested, I am using a Lumix DMC-FT4 HD underwater camera which is doubly protected  within a dedicated Lumix/Panasonic DMW-MCFT3 housing. It proved impossible to obtain the correct housing in UK and it required a call to Panasonic in USA to resolve my requirements. I have to say the chap who assisted me couldn't have been more helpful and within the month my camera housing had arrived.
 Plenty of soft corals everywhere. This one had a black tentacle that rose up from the middle of its structure, swirled around presumaby gathering food before retracting back into it central core. Never seen a coral feeding before...fascinating.
 Another strobe lit lionfish....
 ...compared with this photo of a moray eel without the strobe. Big difference in the colouring!
And Tabby the Cat going her SMB release to signify the end our our dive.

With the maximum depth at just 17m, we were able to have three lengthy dives which was great. Diving was one of the main reasons for coming to Phuket and it's very pleasing to see how our regular guests have progressed over the past few years from learning in my pool to now fully qualified PADI divers and thus abe to enjoy the various dive sites around Phuket.

It's a couple of months away but I have 3 x Similan Island four day liveaboard trips booked for guests coming in Feb and March. The Similan Islands are a real diving highlight to look forward to.

But there's plenty more adventures to come before those eagerly anticipated trips!

Happy New Year to you all....we will be spending the evening at a beach resturant known as 'Friendship Beach'. What could be more fitting for a NYE?

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