Monday 27th December 2010-
Twas a couple of days after Christmas & all over Koh Tao's it was chaos & mayhem, all over the house! Everyone & their dog & their dogs dog are making their way over from the Christmas chaos on Koh Phangan to the calm tranquil mayhem of Koh Tao for the New Year. & why the bloody hell not. Its another beautiful day here in the tropics with 30 degree crystal clear water, warm sunshine, cold affordable beers & a whole weeks worth of beach parties to look forward to. Sun sea sand scuba & singha! Is there any better way to bring in the New Year?
Dear Big Blue, We had to leave in a hurry and had no time to fill out the course evaluation forms, so we're sending you this e-mail instead. We completed our Open Water Diver course with Heather on Dec. 21 and our Advanced Adventurer course with Becky yesterday. First, your marketing technique of sending Om or others on the ferries to describe your courses before passengers disembark is quite effective. We were amazed that within half an hour of arriving on Koh Tao, we had enrolled in a course, gotten a room, and started learning about diving. Heather is a truly outstanding teacher. Her warmth, patience, and enthusiasm made the course wonderful and inspired us to move on to the advanced course. Not only did we acquire the information and skills we needed, we also had so much fun while doing so. We can't say enough good things about her! We also were very appreciative of Becky and her willingness to work with our tight travel schedule to cram in an advanced course beginning the same night we completed the beginning course and taking us on a dive the day after the Big Blue staff party. She was also extremely helpful with putting away all our gear after our last dive so we could meet the taxi to the ferry. Our diving with Big Blue was a marvelous experience, and we will recommend your courses to others. Our time on Koh Tao will rank among the highlights of our lives. All the best, Natalie Mack and Katherine (Kacy).
Its been a busy week & its only getting busier so just want to take this opportunity to thank me for organising the Staff Party, Ari for organising all the food, Ian for being Santa, Greek for being a great Barman/ host, the Instructors for paying for Christmas Dinner, Becca & Ian & Ant for working on Christmas Day, all our Thai staff for being so warm friendly & helpfull all year, all our Burmese for all their hard work, our captains, our boat boys, the sharks for coming back, the Whale sharks for looking so cool, all our DMT's this year, Eco Jenny for all her environmental efforts & achievements, & all her Eco Interns, the Tech team for being so hard & for establishing such a great name & reputation, SSI Simon for being the Number 1 Instructor Trainer in Asia, (next year the world), Yvonne for being the Number 1 Instructor in Asia, all our Blog contributors, our awesome shopgirls, our cooks, & waiters, our Housekeepers, Ugly our Big Blue Mascot, Team Japan, & every single on of you who came, spent money, enjoyed yourselves, spread the word & are coming back! Despite all the problems of 2010 its still been an awesome year & our best yet! Merry Christmas everyone a Happy New Year from us all at Big Blue Diving!
Sunday 20th December 2010-
Last night was another legendary night at the Big Blue Bar to celebrate the graduation of 3 more of our DMT's making it to the upper echelons of PADI Divemaster or in some cases SSI Dive Con. And although their sexy Santa costumes went down a treat with the crowds it was Instructors Dan & Greek who stole the show at Koh Tao's 1 & only Flying Trapeze School! They put on their Tutu's & swung from swing to swing in a demonstration the Flying Burrito Brothers would have been proud of! Very cool boys. Merry Christmas you two-two.
While Canada, the boss at Big Blue Tech, is away on holiday with his boss, Yvonne, poor old Ash is slaving away on our new boat trying to get everything ready in time for the 12 days of Christmas rush. He has to switch a couple of compressors around, install the electrics, gut Navakid Boat of its tank racks & air banks, install onto Big Blanc boat the tank racks & air banks, measure & cut the steel pipe, afix the whips, check everything works, finish off Manuela's tech course, orientate the 3 new tech diving interns, answer the Emails, print the bookings, furnish the new Tech classroom, dress up as Secret Santa & service the Missus all by Christmas o'clock! I think I can hear Canada plucking the strings of the small violin from here!
Don't fret! There's nothing to worry about. Just because all our advertised rooms are now booked up over Christmas I'm got an Ace up my sleeve in the form of the lovely Jess who for the next few days sole responsibility will be to go out & find, book & buy rooms every morning just so we can still offer you - our most valued customers somewhere to rest your weary head while you learn how to dive with us. The only catch is there are no guarantees I have rooms & I have no idea what priced rooms I can get for you but trust me. We'll have somewhere for you to stay even if we have to stick a Thai cushion in the broom cupboard! Jump in our Free Taxi when you arrive at the pier & we'll take care of you from there! Aren't we full of the festive cheer! ; )
Thursday 16th December 2010-
Its like Christmas has come early & has given us the best prezzie anyone can ask for! A brand new shiney spanky boat big enough to swing half a dozen sharks & a small cat! Everyone I'd like to introduce you to Big Blue's brand new swanky Dive Boat MV Big Blanc! She's French, she's big & she's white, actually I lied about the french bit, but we felt Big Blanc was better sounding than Big Cow which is the Thai word! Today & tomorrow we'll be fitting on the compressors & the air bank & then this baby is good to go! Last one on is a ponce!
Just got an email this morning from PADI - " Dear Jim, The demand for PADI Divemasters – already among the most sought after dive professionals around the globe – is about to increase with the recent introduction of the new PADI Divemaster course. Completely revised with expanded inwater training and updated dive theory requirements, the course now better prepares divemasters for their real-world duties following certification. To better prepare divemaster candidates for the real life scenarios they will encounter after completing training, practical application has been increased by 50 percent." Thats got to be a good thing! More water work & less classroom! I think thats going to make some of our Instructors very happy! Not to mention our Trainees!
A Big Blue round of applause for our latest graduates of the Conservation Specialist course! Ruth and James from Nottingham, UK, are now Shark Diving, Perfectly Buoyant, Underwater Naturalist Extraordinaries! They managed to see a turtle, dive in the presence of Bull Sharks, and face plant a few times in the buoyancy obstacle course. Also, they collected drupella snails that are damaging reefs around Koh Tao. Fantastic course guys, well done!
Tuesday 14th December 2010-
Aren't we just proud as punch to have one of our very own Instructors who has written her own course outline for diving with twin sets which has now been officially recognised by Scuba Schools International, more commonly known by you & I as SSI! Congratulations Helen! What that means is that if you choose to become a certified diver on twin tanks, the first step to tech diving I guess, then the course you have to pass will be the course that Our Helen wrote!That's so cool! Ab fab! Very fonzie! You are going to be a celebrity within the Dive Community. The Sharon Stone of Scuba Schools! the Pamela Anderson of Twin tanks! The Brigitte Bardot of Big Blue! Congratulations Hells Bells! We are all really proud of you! Now go out there & get your twins out!
"Hi Guys, My partner and I want to say thanks for the rad time we had learning to diving with you guys. We enjoyed it so much we stayed and did our advanced course. A big thanks to Nick who was our instructor for both courses ( You made the experience awesome dude and your teaching skills made us feel very comfortable in the water!!), also Thanks to Floor?? Not sure how you spell it (sorry) for her assistance on the advance course. Koh Tao will always be a special place to us as we got engage under the water while diving with you guys. Yiiieeeeeeew!!!!!!Big thanks again,Adam & Sonia"
Bull Sh.... arks! Everyone on this mornings trip to Chumphon Pinnacle survived their encounter with Bull Sharks today which just goes to show that divers in Koh Tao are much cooler, harder & braver than divers in Sharm El Sheikh who are a bunch of Shark Jessies! No one got eaten, chewed or bitten. In fact no one even did a number two's in their wetsuits either. Which just goes to show... the beers in Thailand are obviously much stronger than they are in Egypt!
Sunday 12th December 2010-
"There's something fishy about this photograph. No, it's not a strange creature of the deep, but a man snorkelling among a shoal of fish. The amusing photograph was captured by backpacker Nick Kelly with an underwater camera in tropical seas. Nick, from Los Angeles, said: 'I was travelling around south east Asia and was staying on the island of Ko Tao in Thailand to study Muay Thai. 'I went snorkelling with a friend and took lots of pictures of the amazing sea life, but this was the best one. I didn't really notice until back on the beach but the fish had completely stolen the shot.' The tropical warm waters off Thai islands such as Ko Tao are home to a host of incredible fish. They include the barramundi, queen fish and parrot fish. Larger visitors include the whale shark and Hawksbill and Green turtles." Taken from The Daily Mail in the UK.
It appears we have a murderer in our midst! Dan found a handful of baby hermit crabs in the pockets of his BCD yesterday, all withered dry & very very dead after being out of the water for over 24 hours. Poor things. Someone planted them there! For the hermit crab a death so inhumane would be the equivalent of trekking across the Sahara desert with only a bottle of seawater. Poor little creatures. Who could have done such an horrific thing. Poor innocent harmless defenceless little sea creatures. & we won't take the 'I thought they were Drupella Snails excuse as acceptable either! Don't worry hermits. We'll catch the crab killer & by Jove we'll make them pay! Eh Jenny 'Dexter' Matthews!
Another Whale shark was seen yesterday at Koh Tao's number 1 dive site Chumphon Pinnacle. Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the world, growing up to a staggering 15 metres in length. yet they are completely harmless to humans and one of the most amazing underwater sights for scuba divers in Thailand. Whale sharks are by no means only found in Thailand - Donsol in the Philippines and West Australia's Ningaloo Reef are two other big whale shark havens - but for many divers, Thailand is where they see their first whale shark. It's hard to express the sense of awe seeing one of these creatures for the first time - it's like watching a spaceship come out of the blue, serenely gliding towards you with a squadron of cleaner fish flanking it on all sides. It's only as it gets nearer, unphased by your presence, that you start to realise the speed it's moving at and the sheer power within its immense body. It's one of those moments when you realise that you are very much a privileged guest in another realm when you're scuba diving. Well worth the 1000 bt to dive with it!
Wednesday 8th December 2010-
As you read this, there is a whaling fleet steaming towards the Southern Ocean to begin their annual whale slaughter. Their planned death "quota" this season: nearly 1,000 minke whales, 50 humpback whales, and 50 endangered fin whales. We must stop this massacre now. During the 2008 campaign, then-Senator Obama said, "As president, I will ensure that the U.S. provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including the international moratorium on commercial whaling." Three more whaling seasons have come and gone since Obama spoke those words, and no change has been made. Please rush your most generous contribution as we put pressure on President Obama to fulfill his campaign promise! "Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable," as President Obama himself has stated, and Greenpeace is rallying support to put a stop to the slaughter, once and for all. Commercial whaling is not only unacceptable—it's a violation of international law.
Picture a Japanese harpoon ship speeding through the Southern Ocean. Suddenly, the harpooner spots a mother whale and her calf. The sounds of the ocean are drowned out by the blasts of exploding-tip harpoons being fired at the whales. The pair struggles to free themselves from the harpoon lines for nearly an hour, desperately thrashing their tails in the water, before a gunman finally steps onto the deck and shoots them dead. The mother whale and her baby are dragged up the ship’s slipway, leaving a long trail of blood behind them.
Much to our frustration, in a few days time this tragic scene will play out in the Southern Ocean over and over again. Greenpeace needs your help, and the help of President Obama, to put an end to the slaughter of our oceans’ most unique, intelligent, and emotional creatures. Please help us stop this terrible massacre and save the lives of these whales with your most generous donation NOW. Together, we can let Japan know that commercial whaling has no place in the 21st Century.
"Hi Simon! I'm sure you get this all the time and as I didn't see you this morning before taking off to Samui, I just wanted to drop you a line and thank you for all your help, encouragement, good laughs and professionalism during my OW course at Koh Tao. It was fun, laid back and overall, just a great couple of days. I shall continue my world tour to Koh Lanta/Phuket where I will complete my AOW as my colleagues had bought me a gift voucher with Raya Divers. Still four months of traveling before heading home, bliss. Again, thank you and all the best for you and for everyone at Big Blue. Mia"- Don't you mean Dominatrix Simone, Mia?
Woke up this morning to the wettest day on record! It has, (pardon my french), absolutely pissoir-ed down all night & all morning & apparently its only going to get worse this afternoon! Fark a duck, (whoops, my Australian)... which of course absolutely sucks, (Kiwi slang)! But zee (German), good news is that zees should be the end of it & then its a return to normalcy with flat seas, sunny skies, clear water, & bronzed bikini babes sprawled up & down the beaches. Firkin well better be, (forgive my Scottish), or I'll be writing to my Union representative expressing my disdain to these shitey, (sorry... my Irish), tropical rainstorms! Pip pip... (English).
Happy 84th to the King Of Thailand. The world's longest reigning monarch, left the hospital yesterday where he has been staying for over a year to join celebrations for his birthday. Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets of Bangkok to wish King Bhumibol Adulyadej a happy birthday. Many Happy Returns of the day your majesty & for the sake of your country & your people may you have many more!
Thursday 3rd December 2010-
Better hurry up the closer we get to Christmas the busier the trips are getting & I do believe I am the only one left with Liveaboard availability in the Similans with 2 spaces left over Christmas & 5 spaces still available over New Year! The Christmas trip is 5 days & nights departing on the 23rd December for the Similans & Surin Islands & the New Year Trip departs for another 5 days & nights from the 29th & returning on the 3rd Jan. Roll up roll up! Prices start from under 30000 Bt per person including equipment & Marine Park Fee. First come first served!
Christmas came early for a lot of our divers completing their first 2 dives in the open water yesterday while diving at White Rock when they quite literally bumped into a Whaleshark! Jacques Cousteau dived for 20 years before he saw his first Whaleshark. Students diving with Instructors Dan, Becca, Ian & Charles had only been diving 20 minutes! How's that for a nice Christmas present from your Instructor!
And as if one shark wasn't enough this morning while diving at Chumpon Pinnacle we saw our first Bull Shark of the season! Don't worry. Despite the rumours Bull Sharks here in Koh Tao are actually very friendly & not aggressive at all. Apparently its to do with the water temperature. Bull sharks in warm water are docile & friendly. Bull sharks in cold water are angry & aggressive. Bit like the Russians!
Wednesday 1st December 2010-
In the infamous words of the great Steve Irwin... "Crikey!" 1st of December & we are practically fully booked for the whole of the 12 days of Christmas & some! I've just had to update our accommodation page on our website with the rooms we still have available & I was shocked to see how little we have left! Well it won't take too long to sell all them! So then I thought I'd send our disappointed customers who can't get rooms in Koh Tao to our other Dive center in Khao Lak but they are full too! Even the Liveaboard is choc a block! Better start getting the tents & hammocks out! Tis going to be a very busy end to 2010!
Congratulations & welcome to the Big Blue Crew Mr.Ant Silwood, the successful applicant for the Divemaster job we advertised last week. Ant has a background in sales & IT & has for the last 3 months proved hiself a worthy candidate for the DM job during his Divemaster Training that he undertook with us. Ant joins Geordie Steven, Souf Afrikaan Greg, & Posh Jade in our DM pool. What a team! Bit like the Untouchables, only without Kevin Costner, Sean Connery & Andy Garcia! Congratulations again Ant & welcome to the party!
Big Blue Conservation is now and official member of the Shark Alliance! As a result of the fantastic work Koh Tao did to raise money and awareness through the Swim for Sharks 2010 event, the Shark Alliance has awarded us with member status. The Shark Alliance is a global, not-for-profit coalition of non-governmental organizations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving shark conservation policies. We, as members, are now part of a high caliber group of NGOs, professionals and volunteers who are working together to achieve a common objective. We have access to specialists of a number of functions (science, policy, communications, public relations, campaign strategy and coordination) dedicated to shark conservation and management, and access to additional capacity to strengthen our own organisation’s profile and influence. Go team Eco!!!