Monday 21st December 2015andreas

This is the time of year when it’s time to head out for the works Christmas Party. Wondering who your Secret Santa is and if they bought you anything that could embarrass you or give away any secrets you have been trying to hide for the last year. Wondering who will be the first person to be sick or say something inappropriate to the boss. Most work parties are done on the Friday night when you have a few days to recover before you have to go back in again on Monday morning. We don’t have the luxury of weekends or days off and we quite often don’t even know what day of the week it is, or which way is up or down (except bubbles go up) So when we had our Big Blue Staff Party a lot of us still had to go into work and dive the next day, so half of the staff were sipping on water and the other half were knocking back shots of tequila! Sadly I was working so no tequila for me(thank god).

Now every year we have the Christmas Awards and they are silly awards such as best smile, best bum, most likely to fall over on the night. But there are also some real awards which we the staff vote for and it is with much sadness and vomit in my mouth I have to say that Andreas ‘still hasn’t been arrested yet’ Dahlqvist, won the best freelance instructor award. To this day he still hasn’t shut up about his award winning position. And there was also an award to the couple most likely to get married next year, that went to Phil ‘Fishlad’ Smith and Antony ‘the Edge’ Edgley. They accepted there award graciously and were later spotted both coming out of the toilets clutching their trophies. Well done boys and congratulations let us know when you set a date…

Each year there seem to be more and more awards given out. The big boss man Jim is quite partial to Tequila and when the winners are announced it is traditional to down a shot of tequila and spin around on a chair trying to fall off singing a Mexican song. Jim also has a shot with the winners and by the end of the night he is being carried out but the elves and sent to bed with a empty bucket and a bottle of water next to his bed. This year was no exception. Merry Christmas Jim and enjoy your holiday in new Zealand while the rest of us are working.

 

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Wednesday 9th December 2015dive spotting

Any of you who have been to Big Blue will have seen we have a wide variety of T-shirt designs, our latest Big Blue Pro shirt is out. It is based on the original Trainspotting poster (just in case some of you are now to young to remember). We are now trying to think of some new designs to add to the collection. So we are putting it out there to you, if you have any ideas please let us know. Contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with suggestions of picture designs and you could see your shirts in Drift and be part of the Big Blue massive.

Sidemount diving has been around for decades in the cave diving world, but was always seen as a very specialised and exclusive way of diving. This has all changed in the last few years as equipment manufacturers started to introduce much more practical methods for attaching diving cylinders to the diver. The result is that sidemount diving has really taken off, and is becoming more and more popular, for both technical diving applications and also shallow recreational fun diving.

When you first dive in sidemount you quickly realise why. It's a really comfortable way to dive. Where the BC is situated makes you want to be flat, and as the cylinders are tucked out of the way to your sides, you have a real feeling of freedom. Sidemount is an incredibly versatile way of diving and can be done using one cylinder or two. Cylinders can be easily attached when already in the water, so it's ideal for people with back problems, and perfectly suited to shore diving or boat diving. Having a redundant gas source makes your diving a little safer too as you are less reliant on your buddy in the event of an equipment failure. This redundancy makes it the perfect platform for decompression diving, not to mention the feeling of comfort on long decompression stops. Moreover, as it is easy to unclip the tanks and bring them forward, you can have a lot of fun getting through tighter spaces when penetrating wrecks, caves or swim-throughs.

You are able to complete the side mount course once you have finished your Open Water but we would recommend you finish the Advanced Course first. If you want more information on the sidemount course contact Rick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Saturday 5th December 2015sand snowman

After a long and noisy wait we have been told the accommodation and classrooms above the shop will be completed in 2 more weeks. It has been a long wait with deadlines being pushed and we will all be relieved once it has finished, ready in time for our Christmas staff party.

Our swimming pool that has been burning the retinas off us all has been emptied, scrubbed, resurfaced and filled with lovely clean fresh water, without the use of chemicals we are using a salt solution instead. The rain has also been topping it up so we only need to fill it half way to begin with, which saved us some pennies.

We are on the hunt for the Christmas decorations, they were put in a safe place when we moved and no one can remember where exactly that safe place is. We started by looking in the bar, we looked behind the bar, then in front of the bar, we can confirm that the beer is there…. well it was when we started looking.  After confirming that the beer was working we forgot what we were looking for in the first place. So the hunt for the decorations will continue.

Our resident Instructor Trainer Iain Goodfellow is in the middle of teaching our latest new instructors. Divemaster ‘Homeless’ Stephen Larder is leaving his DM to become a professional mask clearer along with Dani, Yam and Lyndon. In the next few weeks they will be new SSI instructors ready to start their internship with our present instructors before they are unleashed on the masses. Good Luck all of you.

 

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Friday 27th Novembernovember whalshark

 

Again sorry that the blog hasn't been updated for a few weeks I have been on holiday, but I'm back and there is a lot to catch up on...so let's get started.

Firstly the waters around Koh Tao right now have been full of Whalesharks. They have been hanging around Chumphon Pinnacle and Southwest for the last week or so, with many very lucky Open Water students on their 3rd ever dive have had there first ever siting of these magestic beauties. Even some of our staff member have had their Whaleshark cherry popped. Our videographer Alex who has been working here for over 5 months has managed to miss them each time, but this time finally kept his eyes open and managed to get some footage of the big fish. We were even having to wait for it to swim past the back of the boat just so we could jump into the water. Even Captain Boy from Enzo jumped in to dive with it as is just kept circling the boat.

This time of year is our monsoon season, we have been lucky so far that we haven't had that much rain (oh bugger... I have just jinxed it, it will rain all week now) while your on holiday the best place to be in the rain is underwater, so don't let the rain put you off, your going to get wet anyway! And with the biggest fish in the ocean hanging around what better place is there to be than playing with that. But I will say when the sun is out its bloody hot!

Our boat Enzo went off for its yearly paint, the old red and grey boat now matches the rest of our blue and white fleet, and it looks lovely. It has also had a few alterations downstairs as well and looks lovely. Now Enzo is back Waverunner has now gone for it's make over ready for our Christmas period after monsoon. Yey

 

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topgunMonday 26th October 2015

The other night SSI Thailand came to Big Blue Diving for it annual awards ceremony. Big Blue Diving's own Simon Garrity who has strutted himself up the SSI ladder in neon pink speedos to the heady heights of International Training Director and Training and Business Development for East Thailand (ooooooh-la-la) was back on the microphone to present the awards.

There were some huge awards given out to both the instructors and the dive school itself.

Big Blue Diving was awarded the prestigious President's Club Award for our significant contribution to the diving industry.

We were awarded the Diamond Dive Centre Award for 2015 for having the highest amount of diving certiciation throughout thr whole of the SSI rschools and resorts across the world.

Not too shabby hey?

Many of our instructors have hit some milestones and have wholeheartedly earned the grandeur and acknowledgement for their achievement

Iain Goodfellow- over 200 lifetime professional certifications

Tim Morrish- Instructor Trainer rating

Nick Bufton- Platinum Pro 5000 and Master Instructor with Over 1350 Lifetime Certifications

Germaine McGuire- Platinum Pro 5000 and Master Instructor

Neil Draycott- Excellence in Snorkelling and Skin Diving

Luke White- over 1300 lifetime certs

Sonia Scott- Master Instructor

Steven Taylor- 60% Continuing Education in 2014

Plus many more instructor who have the highest certifications and the largest amount of students that go on from open water to advanced, including Ernesto, Denja, Alex and Ant.

Big Blue Diving has some of SSI's most senior and most qualified instructors. We are very proud of this fact and the proof is in the comments and reviews we receive from our students and guests on a day to day basis. The whole dive team work their hardest to guarantee you have the best time while your here and more importantly you leave here being the best and safest diver you can be. We are all a big family here working alongside each other daily, but really if you do what you love doing everyday it's not really work now is it!

The work that goes in behind the scenes to make sure the operation runs smoothly is down to the Manager Steve-o and the team of Divemasters. Even though they DMs cannot get instructor awards, we all feel that we have quite possibly the best and most hard working Divemasters on Koh Tao. Their passion and pride is quite obvious once you have had a day diving with them. So yes a big well done for the instructors and their achievements but also a very big, huge, massive well done needs to go to our Divemasters- Nick, Steph, Sunna, Steve, Angel and the Geordie Steven.

And while I'm at it, I can't leave without mentioning the boat and land staff who fill hundreds and hundreds of tanks for us, the drive us around the dive sites of Koh Tao every day, rain or shine. Always smiling and always ever vigilant to the safety of our guests and other divers in and under the water.

Having worked here for a number of years now with some of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure (and misfortune) to meet, I hand on heart have to say I couldn't wish to work for a better dive school. (And I have worked at a few!)

 

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Wednesday 14th October 2015flying jai

Massive congratulations are in order to the Flying Trapeze who raised over 160,000 baht for the Koh Tao Rescue Team. Over 400 of Koh Taos finest turned up to show their support for the event. Flying High Jai Kennedy flew through the air in his prissy man tights and dazzled us all with his flexibility doing the splits nearly 10 metre above us, and what a lovely sight it was (said no-one except Ruth). 9 volunteers from various dive schools on Koh Tao joined in the show, flying upside down and being caught at the other end. Gemma who runs the Trapeze put on a great show and a huge round of applause should go her way for teaching these guys everything in just one month.

One of our lovely guests really has fallen in love with the water! Ivana arrived only to do her Open Water certification but has now stayed on and completed her Advanced, Deep and Nitrox Specialties, React Right First Aid and if that wasn’t enough she is now a Level 2 Freediver. She just can’t get enough after finishing university she will be heading back to complete the Divemaster training with us. Now that is dedication for you, well done Ivana!

Some of our lovely spoilt mentors are off with our DMTs to Khao Lak for the first Big Blue liveaboard of the season, they will be off exploring the delights of the Similan and Surin Islands and making the most of the McDonalds which is situated conveniently right opposite the Big Blue Khao Lak office, oh the joys of the mainland! Have a great time and we will look forward to seeing the pictures when you get back!

 

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Friday 9th October 2015getting out the pool

Unless you have been on another planet or your from a weird country you may have noticed that the world is going crazy for the Rugby World Cup which is being played in England. We have a large variety of staff from all over the place and the last few weeks have been interesting. Our Saaaf Aflikan instructor was abused for his team losing to Japan of all teams, and unfortunately for some of us English people we also lost a few too many games to get that far through, but with the groups as they were it was always going to be interesting. Lucky we only have one welsh and one kiwi here so it's been ok. But needless to say we haven't heard the end of it!! So now we aren't into it anymore we can all get back to work and the best thing for all of you coming over here is that every single one of our English instructors can get out of our (swimming) pool so no dramas there.

It has been a busy few weeks to say the least, Rick has taken on Jai to be his new Donnie in the Tech shack, Raqel has been holding her breathe below the waves with her freedivers and the rest of us have been teaching people how to blow bubbles. The weather is hot, the sea is (mostly) flat and the beers are cold. What more could you want. Whether it's recreational diving, technical diving or freediving (it's not free you still have to pay!) we can cater to everyone.

Now changing the subject completely. Koh Tao is a great community to live in, and when the Koh Tao Rescue team asked how we could raise some money for them to help with medical supplies and training new volunteers the Flying Trapeze said they would put on a show. There will be raffles and big prizes, games, and drinks and chances to donate to a very good and much need volunteer service. It's not all diving on Koh Tao and our very own Jai Jai Jai Jai Jai Jai Kennedy has been secretly nipping into the tech shack to put on his sexy 'man' tights and has been swinging about like a fairy hoping that a big burly man on the other end will catch him. Now Jai is no stranger to the Trapeze as he wowed us all not so long ago with his antics a inter dive shop trapeze challenge/ DMT social. Getting top marks he has decided to be he face of Big Blue Diving. Now I have abused him a bit for his tight wearing ways, I can talk about it seriously. The Rescue Team on Koh Tao are unbelievable they are all volunteers who will drop what the are doing to go to the aid of someone who has had an accident. Far too many people on holiday are having motorbike accidents and ATV accidents thinking they are Evil Kenival and not thinking about what blind corners and sand could mean. The majority of the call outs are from bikes. So please if you do come to Koh Tao please be careful on the roads if you do rent a bike, and don't learn here if you have never ridden one before. But any way we will all get to see Jai up high, trying to fly and not die or else we'll sigh and have cry....Go Jai!!!

 

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Sunday 20th September 2015originalliabarrett

Working as a diving professional has to be one of the best jobs in the world. We get to play around in the water nearly every day having the freedom and tranquillity of being completely weightless and submerged in silence for the duration of the dive. No phone calls, no emails, just peace and quiet surrounded by an environment so foreign to anything seen on land. Believe it or not but teaching new students how to dive while rewarding is also mentally and sometimes physically hard work.  Not only are we taking new divers to breathe under the water for the very first time, we have to make sure you have understood what we have been teaching you in the pool and the classroom, that you are comfortable and relaxed and most importantly you are diving within safe limits. But it is also AWESOME! The days are long but the first jump in from the boat and the first descent into the new world is unbelievably cool! I have lost count on how many times I have given the time to go up sign and received the thumbs down sign along with head shaking ‘no we don’t want to go back up’. The most common question asked by our students here has to be 'Do you not get bored doing the same thing every day?' The answer quite simply is no. Every day and every dive is completely different, yes the dive sites may be the same but you never know what you might find under the surface, and for many of you it is the first time you have seen any of these marine creatures up close and personal. I have been lucky enough to have seen heaps of turtles but I am more excited for you, my students to see one for the first time, being in his/her world and knowing that they are comfortable with you stay and just hang out and watch them eat and swim or chill out on the bottom. Finding a new baby fish on a dive site also gets our juices flowing, seeing a baby harlequin sweetlips or a new baby Nemo still puts a smile on our face. Ask any member of staff now they ended up working for Big Blue and nearly all of them will say that they came here on holiday/ travelling and fell in love with the sea and Big Blue and just never left. Whether it was from doing the open water course here or already being a certified diver the atmosphere is unbeatable and no one ever wants to leave, it may also have something to do with the taste of a nice cold beer after a day’s diving while watching the sun set over the beautiful Gulf of Thailand. Most of us did our Divemaster training here and hung out working or just fun diving and then taking the next step and becoming an instructor. A career change or break from the daily grind back home is never a bad thing and whether it is for 6 months or 6 years the experience you gain whilst working in this industry is second to none and all transferable to any other job in the world, from customer service, sales, multicultural relationships health and safety to managing logistics and paperwork.

So do you want a change and do something different or turn your hobby into a way to travel the world and make some money then why not visit bigbluepro.com for more information on how to have the best job in the world!

Photo courtesy of Lia Barrett

 

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Monday 7th September 2015yellow-boxfish

It is Hot Hot Hot right now and the diving is lovely, a couple of Whalesharks have been hanging around lately so everyone is out on our early boats to try and catch a glimpse of the gentle giant.

Many of you travellers are now trying to squeeze as much into your holiday in a short space of time. For those of you who only come to Koh Tao for a night or two we offer a one day try dive, this is not a certification but a taster of what diving is all about. With a maximum of 2 people per instructor we guide you around one of our shallow dive sites, with the option of completing a second additional dive. If after this day you are hooked (which most people are) change your travel plans and stick around for a few more days a get your full Open Water Diver certificate. With nearly all currencies being particularly strong right now it is the best time to come over and get your licence. All of our courses start every single day so no need to worry about availability.

Everybody has their own favourite fish to see and one of the most popular on Koh Tao is the Little Yellow Boxfish. The yellow boxfish AKA Ostracion cubicus, can be found in reefs throughout the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean as well as the south eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has been known to reach a maximum length of 45 centimetres (18 in). As the name suggests, it is box-shaped, with tiny little dorsal fins and puckering pink lips. When they are juveniles, it is bright yellow in colour with blue spots. As it becomes older, the brightness fades and on very old specimens the colouration becomes blue as the spots get larger. The fish's diet consists of marine algae, worms, crustaceans and small fish.

Interestingly as a defensive mechanism when stressed or injured it releases an extremely poisonous protein from its skin that proves lethal to any fish in the surrounding waters.

In 2006, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its Bionic concept car, which was inspired by the shape of the yellow boxfish. It was assumed that due to the extreme agility with which boxfish can manoeuvre, that their shape was aerodynamic and self stabilizing. However, if you have ever seen one try and swim you may think this is a rather stupid idea and funnily enough when an analysis by scientists was performed they actually found that the boxfishes agility is instead due to the combination of an aerodynamically unstable body and the manner in which the fish use their fins for movement. Good job Mercedes, maybe you should have done your research first!

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1st September 2015new shop

So it is official the new dive shop is now open and it looks amazing. Lots more space for the shop girls so Jess and the Aeys are happy and the Divemasters have their own little area to work in, it’s all open air (until it rains) and very cool, no air-con needed right now but I’m sure we will be installing some when it gets hot and toasty here. It didn’t take long for us all to get used to it and it’s as if we have been in here for ages.
 
We have recently amended our on-line booking form to include the check the box once you have read through the medical statement. It clearly states that you need to read the statement so please be sure to just to make sure that there are no problems once you get here. If you do answer any yes’ on the form you can print it off and have it signed by a doctor at home before you travel here. This medical goes for ALL courses and for you if you are already a certified diver. We have your health and safety as priority here, so please help us to help you.

It may be getting that time when everyone is heading back to school, but we also have school days everyday here. We have just signed up a new bunch of Divemaster Trainees, who will be working and studying alongside our dive professionals. The course includes classroom lectures, in water workshops and skill demonstrations, but the best part of the course is the unlimited diving every day. The trainees shadow our current team of Divemasters and learn how to lead safely and find all the cool fish, stingrays and nudibranchs. The course also sees them assisting our instructors during all the various courses we have on offer. Divemaster is the first step to being a professional and is the first step to getting paid work in the diving industry. Many of our Divemasters decide to work and gain experience for a few months before they go on the next step of training to become an instructor. The course is designed to allow the trainees to cover all aspects of diving. Many who assist courses realise early on that they want to be an instructor, as the feeling we get when we see the faces of brand new students seeing their first ever parrot fish or turtle is priceless and is the ultimate reward. If you think you have what it takes to be a dive professional, patience, good sense of humour, you are a hardworking team player and have a zest for life you are already half way there. Contact us at bigbluepro.com for more information on the packages we have. Our office is way better than yours!

 

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