Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Scuba Diving. Koh Doc Mai....and a bit of pool training.

 Every morning from 0730 to 0930, the pier at Chalong is extremely busy with hundreds of people of different Nationalities gathering in readiness for their day at sea. There are mini buses, trucks, cars, pick-ups, coaches and motor bikes arriving with customers gathered from hotels and guest houses throughout the island and a small army of diving and tour staff, boat crews, caterers, pier transport team, security and of course all the stall holders from whom all manner of foods and drinks can be bought for breakfast or snacks to take to the boats.

It all seems like total chaos but somehow it all works. The mountains of dive gear,  the piles of snorkling apparatus, the loads of fruit and bags of ice all magically appear onboard the boat they were intended for. The bewildered divers, sight-seers, anglers and the snorklers are all guided onto the appropriate shuttle buses that run the considerable length of Chalong Pier and then led towards whatever vessel they are booked onto for that particular day.
 I was treating myself to a day afloat with Asian Divers, the first time I had been with them. As ever, the dive staff and crew did everything. All you had to do was line up by you boat, remove your shoes (not polite to be wearing shoes onboard) and then allow yourself to be helped onboard. The dive boats are big craft and there was a very stiff breeze blowing. Handling those big vessels in very confined spaces and inbetween so many other boats calls for excellent seamanship to avoid collisions. I used to always admire the Thai skippers' ability during my dive stays at the infamous Koh Toa and today was again a fine display of manoeuvering heavy vessels in difficult conditions.

We were due to dive on the well known wreck of the passenger vessel, the King Cruiser but it was far too windy out in the open sea (not as windy as back in storm blasted UK tho!!) and so the boats were taken to sheltered dive sites. We ended up at Koh Doc Mai (Flower Island) which is a firem favourite of mine.
 I was very fortunate to be paired up with Iaroslav Popov from Vladivostok in Russia. All the other divers were in little groups with thier guides but I was priviledged to have an expert guide all to myself. This was a real bonus and meant that we were able to enjoy lengthy dives which I think was as much a pleasure for Iaroslav as it was for me! We explored the two Doc Mai caves (lucky I bought my torch!) and then took our time to find anything nice to this Varicose Wart Slug (particularly fitting name for some of my own customers)....of which we saw several.

There were a few little moray eels dotted about like this little White-eyed moray sheltering in the coral.

The Padi Open Water Course video opens with the declaration that you will see more variety of life in 10 mintues on a coral reef than 10 hours in a forest. Everywhere you look there are wonderful things to this spectaular Feather coral....
 ....or this.....
 ...or this....

And there are ven divers who know what they are all called.

I do not....but I like taking photo's of them.
 And here's two little slugs having a get together.

The fish life is, as always, overwhelming. There are so many different varieties it is impossible to keep track of what you see.I possess the fine I.D.  book the Fish Guide to Southeast Asia and it is just insane how many different types of fish there are. The species hunts back home would be blown apart with this lot!!!

 I know I have been concentrating on the fishing so far and I have neglected the diving write-ups. Humble apologies etc. I have been bringing on a few students and there is a lot more diving planned in Jan, Feb and there will be more dive stories.

But I am very pleased with how well Kannika has come on. Those of you coming to stay will have the pleasure of meeting her. Kannika experienced, as do too many learner divers, a rather thoughtless instructor who frightened her. But thankfully it hasn't taken long to get her confidence back up and now she is enjoying the Kata shore dives.

 Her first attempts at photography are coming along nicely as well.
 Her sense of wonder and excitement on her first ever sea dive can be felt IS always a mind blowing experience that first dive, especially here in Thailand when there is so much to see.
 Kata is famous for its blue spotted stingrays...although this one was photogrpahed on our second Koh Doc Mai dive today.
 And these little creatures is what makes diving so special....a brightly coloured seahorse (Iaroslav missed this one!)...
 ....and this sea dragon....

And it's back to the pool for a bit more work on the skills ....

There's a bit of a way to go before Kannika is ready to come on the offshore PADI dives...but if you are determined than everything is this space.

So, in conclusion, thanks to Asia Divers for giving me and I am sure everyone else on the boat, a very pleasurable day with great diving interspersed with plenty of excellent food served up between the dives.

It's a great way to spend the day!

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