17/18 Moo 1, Koh Tao Suratthani, 84360 Thailand         Info @ Big Blue Diving        +66 (0) 77 456 050

Big Blue Diving - Koh Tao - Thailand - Displaying items by tag: DIVING THAILAND

 

 

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  1. Because deeper is always better

 

We dive for one main reason – to see cool stuff underwater. Years of experience have told me that most of you want to see the biggest creatures that patrol the divesites – hunting barracuda, flapping mantas, big fat grouper, nasty-looking sharks and the fattest fish of all, the mighty whaleshark. So where’s the best place to find the big stuff so many of you desire?

Deep is where all the biggest stuff likes to roam. Our huge schools of pickhandle and chevron barracuda are always hanging out at around 25 metres on our best sites of Chumphon Pinnacle and South-West Pinnacle, and witnessing these in action is something that all visitors to Koh Tao should experience at least once; there’s nothing quite like being circled by a mighty group of tightly-packed fish, often blocking out the sun with their density!

The massive (delicious-looking) grouper we’re also lucky enough to have underwater here tend to chase and flirt with each other on the bottom of the deeper sites, and the majority are usually found at a depth of 25-30 metres. It’s at these depths where we can also see large schooling fusiliers fighting for their lives against the tennis-racket sized queenfish and trevally, which like nothing better than a feast of fusilier for breakfast. Watching these larger predators working together to separate a victim from their group is a joy to behold, with the balling and rolling smaller fish giving a visual treat to the lucky deep diver!

 

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  1. If you’re not a night diver, then you’re not really a diver

Ask anyone about to do their first ever night dive how they feel, and they’ll usually admit to feeling a mix of excitement and a little bit of pooping themselves too. To be diving in the pitch black water is an intimidating thought at first, but ask the same divers on their return and more often than not they’ll describe the dive as very relaxed, peaceful and whole lot of fun!

To put it quite simply, there’s something very special about diving at night. One of the most stunning sights you can see underwater is to witness the hundreds of tiny star-like bioluminescent phytoplankton streaking from the fins of your diving buddy, and as you only have this small circle of light from your torch to concentrate on it’s not long before you’re taken away into a beautifully tranquil world, where hidden wonders now pass by freely, using the cover of night to hunt.

Miss it at your peril!

 

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  1. No more unwatchable shaky videos, or out of focus photos

One of the recommendations from all of us here at Big Blue is to do the PADI/SSI Perfect Buoyancy dive of the advanced course. Not only does it help you perfect your technique underwater and have you gliding around the reef like a dolphin, but it also emphasizes the importance of good buoyancy control, using just the lungs to move you through the water and no longer having to kick up and down, like a peasant.

With this perfect buoyancy you have now obtained, the quality of your images and recordings dramatically improves. Most of our divers now carry some sort of camera, and it’s nice to be able to show off your dives with pictures that are in focus and clear, and video that doesn’t look like it was shot by Michael J. Fox. These days where everything needs to be instantly put on Instagram and shared on Facebook, why not show off with the types of recordings that wouldn’t look out of place in National Geographic!

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  1. Abandon your dive instructor!

One of the tasks that must be completed in the Advanced course is the Navigation dive, where we will teach you how to use a compass to find your way around a dive site like a pro, and also how to use the natural features of the dive site to work out where all the most interesting things will be without getting totally lost and making a fool out of yourself. Once you’ve successfully mastered the (surprisingly easy) navigation techniques, it’s possible to safely and competently dive with just a buddy - no more following your instructor like a sucker!

This independence underwater is something that you’ll strive for every time you dive after you try it for the first time, as when you’re at the front of the group you’ll realise that you see a hell of a lot more marine life that you do merely following. It also gives you a lot more confidence underwater too, and with this increase in ability comes, as ever, extended dive times – more confidence always leads to more relaxed breathing, which in turn gives us maximum time underwater!

 

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  1. Filter out the bad divers

Something that most fundivers have experienced at least once (and the scourge of many of my own Thailand diving trips) is the bad diver in the group. Kicking up sand, banging into you from all angles and usually breathing at an incredible rate, sharing your dive with someone of limited ability can really ruin your diving experience, and a fast breather in the group can easily make your whole dive party ascend well before you were planning to.

More often than not if there’s someone breathing too fast or banging into the back of you, it’s an Open Water diver. By completing the Advanced certification you’ll be separated from these (often) fresh new divers, and put with others with similar abilities and control of buoyancy – hello one hour dives, and goodbye surfacing with half your tank left over!

 

 

You can book your SSI or PADI Advanced courses with us every day, face to face or on the internet machine.

"So what exactly is a refresher?"

 

This is one of the questions we’re asked here at Big Blue on a regular basis from our certified divers, as for those who haven’t dived in a while or are feeling a bit rusty will need do the refresher dive - also known as a ‘scuba tune-up’, ‘skills refresh dive’ or ‘scuba review’. It is essential for a number or reasons, which we’ll look at in this blog.

Scuba diving is one of those unique activities that safety issues arise not so much from a diver’s lack of ability or knowledge but what is going on inside their head. A small problem can easily be blown out of proportion in the mind of an out-of –practice diver, and lead to a full-blown panic situation. A panicked diver is not only a danger to themselves but also to their buddy, the divemaster or instructor, and the triggers for panic can often be something as small and simple as badly-fitting equipment or a bit of water in their mask. 

It’s because of this that both PADI and SSI actually suggest that divers who did not dive in the last six months should take do a refresher dive, as during it you will (re)learn the essential skills you may have forgotten during the period you didn't dive, as well as a review of:

  • Your underwater buoyancy skills
  • Your general knowledge about safety and underwater communication
  • How to retrieve your second stage and mask clearing
  • How to get in the water safely

Obviously, to say that everyone who hasn’t dived in more than 6 months is quite a broad assumption - experienced divers who have not been diving in over six months are usually their own best judge if they need a formal course to regain their scuba skills, however every diver who had not dived in a year should seriously consider the course. 

 

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So…do I need to do a refresher?

As you no doubt know, when you received your original certification card you were given a diving license for the rest of your life. There is nothing stopping you from renting or filling a dive tank and doing a dive on your own, but the fact is it might be the last thing you ever do! If you have been away from diving too long, your skills will definitely diminish and the refresher dive will give a nice, slow and shallow introduction back into the wonderful world of scuba diving safely and competently.

As well as being essential for you, the diver, to enjoy your dives with us safely and without incident, it also ensures that the rest of your diving group is diving with someone who knows exactly what to do if a situation arises out of the ordinary, and has a good grasp on the techniques required to dive properly without ruining the dive for everyone else – none of us like to be stuck in the group with the diver running into the back of us, kicking up the sand, panicking and running out of air well before the rest of us!

 

 

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What exactly do we have to do then?

The first part of the refresher is always the quick checklist of theory questions, which talk about what to do if you get separated from your group, what to do if you get too cold, and a few decompression-related situations. Usually the Divemasters will use these questions to get a general idea of what your performance will be like underwater – the questions are very simple and usually just require a little common-sense to get the correct answer, so if you got lots of them incorrect we know we’re going to be in for an ‘interesting’ time…

The next step is to practice again how to put together your equipment, do the necessary personal checks on it, and then you’ll have your dive briefing where your dive leader will go through all the different signs you’ll be using during the dive, and also talk about the natural features of the dive site and what we’re likely to encounter.

After the brief we then kit-up, and do the buddy check on your dive partners equipment – a very important part of any divers preparations before the dive, regardless of experience. Incidentally, when diving on holiday I always judge my dive centre of choice on whether they insist on the buddy check or not – if they don’t, then it shows that they’re not taking safety seriously and I’ll move to a different dive operation.

Next up is the exciting, in-water part – we start by demonstrating how to enter the water safely using the ‘giant stride’ technique, and like with all the skills you’ll be practicing your dive professional will do it first, then you have a go. When we’ve all safely entered the water we will swim to a shallow part of the chosen divesite, and descend onto the sandy bottom – usually you’ll be at a depth of around 2 metres for this part, and we spend about 20 minutes going through essential skills with the mask and regulator. This is then followed by the best part of the whole refresh, the diving part! When the skills are completed, we slowly start to creep deeper, usually reaching depths of around 10 metres, and reacquaint ourselves with the buoyancy control needed to dive properly– in particular the use of our breathing to move us up and down in the water, and how to control our movements in the water without damaging ourselves or the coral. It’s usually another 30 minutes or so of diving if you’re breathing slowly, making the refresher about one hour underwater – plenty of time to become used to the equipment again on a shallow, easy site free of current, but still with the beautiful marine life and corals that Koh Tao is famous for!

As the air in the tank is beginning to get low (and after your dive leader has sent up their surface marker to warn boats of our ascent) you will then finish off the refresher by correctly and slowly ascending back to the surface. Once back on the boat we will then discuss any problems that arose, what we could maybe do differently the next time we dive, and then it’s back to land to clean the equipment and celebrate the successful completion of your refresher, and subsequent re-entry into the world of scuba diving!

 

 

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We do the refresher dives every day here, starting at 11.30 am. You can book them in person, or online at www.bigbluediving.com

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