Archive for October, 2010

What IS a Divemaster?

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

What IS a Divemaster anyway?  As a recreational diver looking to become a professional, what are YOU looking  for? What do you want to achieve or become by the end of your course? What is your personal goal? Other than the fulfillment of the standards given, what do you think you need/want to achieve to be a professional?  PADI‘s simplest definition is that a Divemaster is someone who serves other divers by solving problems, giving advice, lending a hand and making diving more fun!  If that is the case I think I was a Divemaster before even becoming an Adventure Diver..LOL.  We’ll take a look at some of these questions here and we’d love to hear back from you to the question… What IS a Divemaster?

Let’s look at a few of the reasons for people aspiring to reach Divemaster status in the first place.  Becoming a DM is the first stepping stone in becoming a Diving Professional.  It is the course which you spend the most time developing skills and becoming a master of dive theory; leading onwards to Instructor level courses.  There are also divers who do not wish to go on past the level of Divemaster.  They are looking to gain the knowledge and confidence they see in other Divemasters and want to stay at this level.  Whatever the reason you have to become a Divemaster / Dive Professional, you should keep in mind that divers will be looking for a few things from you (which are best explained by PADI’s Divemaster definition).  They expect that you will help them solve their diving problems.  Does this mean the you are there to do everything for them? Well no… they are certified divers and should be able to look after themselves however, maybe they need a little guidance because they’re diving in a new area or they have a question about a different type of equipment or simply for you to be there to supply a little extra confidence in their first dive in a little while.  Does it mean you should be a one-person-show, making everything fun and exciting while out on the dive?  This ones up to you, I do believe that within the Divemaster role it is your responsibility to make things more enjoyable for your divers, I’ll leave it up to you how far you want to take this.  I DO know that if I was to hire you, I’d wanna know that you’d excel in this area.  Having fun with your divers isn’t a must but definately helps to make things more enjoyable.. and you more employable 😉

So what do we have already? A Divemaster is one that is knowledgeable, helpful, fun, has some great advice, what else do we need?… SAFETY!  Yes on most dive trips around the world, you (the Divemaster) or a fellow pro level diver will be the most qualified individual to handle a diving related injury.  You should be up-to-date on your First Aid and safety courses.  A great story, (not at the time… but we look back and smile now)  I was working in the dive shop and a speed boat came racing in, calling ahead saying that they had a diver with some sort of DCI!! We knew it was serious from the tone in the BoatMasters’ voice.  They said they could not help but send this diver back as he insisted he needed to be rushed straight to the hospital!  This diver also happened to be a Medical Doctor, so how could our BoatMaster question that?  At the end of telling us this via cell phone as we waited at the waters’ edge for our speed boat to pull up, the Boat Master told me “I didn’t know what to do but his face looks like hell, it looks like the worst case of mask squeeze I have ever seen”.  As he got off the boat and came up to us he was calm but demanded to be taken directly to the hospital!!  It was the wost (funniest) mask squeeze we have ever seen.  So this is just one instance where at the end of it all everyone was fine and NO I’m not saying that a DM knows more than an MD nor am I saying that a DM is always right.  Just that as a DM you should be able to tell the difference from a mask squeeze from something more serious.

Over all before taking on a Divemaster Course be sure YOU know what you want to get out of it, as there are many avenues to take after you are finished, so make sure you use your time in the program to prepare yourself properly.  We are a BIG school here at Bans and I see tons of Divemasters come through our program every year.  If you are looking to carry on to the Instructor level do your self a favour, 75% IS a pass, but study your notes till your scoring in the 90’s everytime.  Use your time in the IDC to learn how to teach not as a refresher of things you should already know, you’ll be a better diver for it and ultimately a better professional!


Breath Easy

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Yup, you guessed it, here’s a little look at Regulators.  In this day and age there are hundreds to choose from and tons of different options.  You can get balanced, over balanced.  You can get a piston or a diaphragm.  You can get one with a digital display telling you when to get it serviced (however if you have a thing for gadgets this one is hard to find and discontinued, but fun to look at).  What about environmental seals? Or you can have heat exchangers or even an ACD (Auto Closure Device).  How cool is that! No idea what I’m talking about?  Don’t worry.  One day soon we’ll sit down and look at all of these options, however today we are just looking at a few of the top regs on the market and what is popular with the Divemasters and Instructors here at Bans Diving.

Let’s get my favorite outta the way at the beginning.  Apex XTX200, is a fantastic reg and has been taken deeper than any other reg in the world. John Bennett decided to take this reg to 300Meters or 1000Feet!  You can change the configuration from the right side to the left for setting up a tec kit any way you’d like.  Its an over balanced, diaphragm reg with environmental sealing and if you don’t mind spending a little extra you can even get it covered in Tungsten, one of the strongest materials on earth! (OK that’s a little silly to have done  and to pay the extra for.  You’ll never really need a reg that strong … maybe if your going lava diving… right LOL) … (Yea yea I got it on mine).  Over all this is the smoothest reg I have ever breathed from at any depth.

After that review we could stop right here and say that’s it! But that’s not so fast, there are tons of regs out there, so we’ll have to look at a few more.  The best reg to follow the Apex XTX200 would be Aqua Lung Legend LX ACD Supreme (wow that’s a mouth full).  If you are familiar with Aqua Lung and Apex you’ll know that if you follow the money trail they are owned by the same company.  Aqua Lung is a fantastic company, always trying new things in the market place, the last thing they did was the Heat Exchanger, which you’ll find on many other regs in the market place.  This time they have out done themselves with their newest ACD or Auto Closure Device. To see how this device works take a look here.This device comes in both DIN and Yoke first stages.  A fantastic idea I think you’ll see on all regs in the future.. Just remember it was Aqua Lung that first made it possible.  Another important note is that the Legend is very similar to the Apex xtx200 believe it or not, just look up the schematics for both regs.  So the Aqua Lung Legend is definately ranked my number two favourite reg.

Scuba Pro where are you guys?… I know I know this new reg looks great… and its shiny, but did that really meet the requirements to support bringing out a whole new reg? Sorta looks like you last one (don’t get me wrong I like it, and the last one) but really guys?  Sorta like you fired all your developers, put the money in your pocket and gave a bit more to your marketing team.   “Lets make a new reg … ok so… let’s make it shiny and tell everyone it’s new”. Hmmmm..

So before we wrap up, lets take a quick look at looking after a reg.  Most companies would like you to get it serviced every year or so.  But wait what happens if you are away on a trip to a remote destination where the diving is superb and suddenly you need your reg repaired?!  Did you know that Scuba Pro has a ton of tools their technicians must have just to take the course?!  I’m a tool buff, I’m not that sucker you can talk into buying just anything. But just tell me it’s a tool… SOLD!  My problem is if these toosl are necessary and you are in the middle of nowhere how likely is it that there will there be a tech in the area with the correct equipment?? As for Aqua Lung and Apex they do have some specialty tools of course but their tools are about making it easier, not mandatory in order to service your reg.  After all, do you think it’s more likely to find a spanner and a screw driver or a Scuba Pro Multi-tool on your next scuba adventure???

Do you See What I See?

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Have you ever seen a Whale Shark? A Manta Ray? I have (not to rub it in, but I have)… Now have you ever seen a Whale Shark or Grouper and when you get back on the boat you see the excitement in other divers eyes and hear the Divemasters explain how lucky they all were and how great that last dive was?! You turn to your dive buddy and they say “What Whale Shark?” or “Where was the grouper?”  If this has happened to you, you must ask yourself how did I miss it??!! It might be the type of mask your wearing.  Did you know that different masks can magnify and make things look bigger than others, closer than others, you can even get corrective lenses for your mask!  This review is to cover just a handful of the hundreds of good masks on the market today.  We will be looking at the Mares Essence Liquid Skin, the Tusa Geminus, Aqua Lungs’ New Look 2 and Oceanics’ Shadow Mask.  Are these the newest masks on the market?  Not really but they’re the top choices at our resort by fun divers, tec divers, Instructors and Divemasters alike.

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Traveling With Equipment

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Are you an over packer? I know I am, and the cost of flights going to my favorite Diving Locations are killing me let alone the cost for extra baggage!  What about once you get there? Do you ever get sick and tired of carrying around that huge bag of Diving equipment? Again my hand is raised! A few months ago I was offered the chance to try Aqua Lungs solution to this problem. The Aqua Lung Travel Set (see below)!  At first sight I could see the quality I have come to trust from Aqua Lung.  As I sat with the Asia-Pacific Rep we joked about just how small we could pack this kit.  So together we put it to the ultimate test, we picked up all the gear went into the dive shop and as we made our way through some of our smaller dive bags we had an idea… the rep wanted us to try to get it all into a 20 Liter dry bag, mask, BCD, Reg everything! I didn’t think it would be possible but there it was within seconds inside a  20 Liter bag! With room to spare we took it to an even smaller bag… Yes we were even able to pack an entire diving kit into a 15 Liter dry bag WOW!  Now he had my attention but what about comfort, quality and what kind of price is a kit like this going to cost me?  We demo’d the kit for a few weeks letting quite a few Divemasters at Bans try it out as well as myself we all found it to be one of the most comfortable BCDs we have ever worn.  The Reg breathed like a dream and we could not say enough about it.  So ok, great quality, great comfort, where’s the down side? MUST be the price right? Mask (Look2) BCD, full Reg set all for 51,930 Baht.  Then after talking with the rep we got a special discount getting the Look2 mask for free with the purchase of a whole kit! That brought the price to 49,560Baht. GREAT! Still want better? Till the end of December 2010 Aqua Lung is offering to give you a FREE Octo with this set as well! Thats taking the price down to 41,870 Baht. Now… that’s pretty hard to beat but at Bans till the end of the year, we are also giving a special Divemaster discount of 15% so the final price for a full set of equipment with a BCD that weighs less than 2kg comes to 35,590 Baht!!! For the rest of the world that’s $1,180US. Now the only thing that worries me is the strength of the BCD over time.  This is no problem if your going away on holidays every year.  However, I do not think it would hold up to heavy everyday use,  but we will see (it does come with a limited lifetime warranty). I like this product soo much that if you come into our shop and ask we’ll give you one to try for the day.  Stop by try it out, see what you think.  Give us a post if you have any feed back.

BC’s Same, Same… BUT Different!

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment
Mares BC BCD Scuba Diving

Mares Hub

At the root of it a BC or “bouncy compensator” is nothing more than a giant bag of air you press a button to deflate and another button to inflate.  MOST new devices and subtle changes you’ve seen over the last while are to entice us as the consumer to purchase.  I don’t foresee any earth-shaking changes in the would of BC’s anytime soon.  So does that mean that they’re all the same? No, not at all, there is a big difference between the assortment of styles.  Some of the most common designs are wing style or vest/backpack style.  We will take a look at these as well as some of the functionality differences like the high pressure inflator systems to the air trim systems.  So let’s get started.

The first BC we’ll take a look at is the Hud from Mares it’s a very comfortable BC and can stand up to some demanding diving as well.  The biggest positive and negative lies in the same device on this BC.  It has an Air trim system.  This inflate-deflate system is fantastic for comfort and stream lining.  However, for a Divemaster demonstrating quality skills or an Instructor teaching, it is a very hard device to show a student what you are doing.  Almost all students everywhere use the Low Pressure Inflator Hose.  So to make it easier on the student I recommend sticking with the same type of gear you’re teaching your students with.  If your students are all wearing the HUD then that’s different (and please let me know where you’re teaching… I wanna teach there!).

Aqua Lungs Pro QD 2009 BC BCD

Aqua Lungs Pro QD

Seac Sub Tec 2000

A perfect BC that would be great for Instructors or Divemasters would have be either the Pro QD from Aqua Lung or the Pro 2000 from Seac Sub.  The Pro QD is a superb BC in many ways.  Comfort and style are fantastic and the low pressure hose deflate and inflators feel solid.  If you have the chance to try this BC on try it you’ll be surprised by the comfort level.  The Pro 2000 like the Pro QD has metal “D” rings and is made of very sturdy construction.  The pocket placement and size on this BC is hard to match so if you’re a Recreational Diver, Instructor or Divemaster that like his toys this might be the BC for you.  Even though I like the build, comfort and style of the Pro QD I still dive with the Pro 2000 simply because of the pocket room.

There is one other fundamental style we have not talked about yet and that would be the Back Inflation/Wing Style BC.  Primarily this style is used by Tec divers.  However, this BC style is available for recreational divers as well and is a very comfortable setup keeping you very trim in the water.  Again the down side of this BC is teaching and Divemastering.  Because all the air is on your back trying to kneel and do skills becomes exceedingly difficult, because the wing design tends to send your body forward and off-balance while kneeling.  Some IDC centers I have seen even refused to teach new Instructors if they used a Wing Style BC.  If you are a Tec diver or like the idea of having that total trim ability in the water you might want to look into a Halcyon Wing.  These wings seem to be the industry leaders.  The Evolve Wing shown below is the Tec Dual Tank version but you can get it in a single tank setup as well.

So take a look at where you are going with your diving these are not your only choices of course, just a few of the better ones I’ve seen out there.  If you’re a super traveler you might even want to look into the Zuma from Aqua Lung.  For more information on the Zuma take a look at my “Traveling and Equipment” blog.   This goes over not only a traveling BC that weighs less than 2kg, but a whole traveling light weight set.  Happy Diving!!





Ever Wonder Where Adventure Is?

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

BAN’S DIVING RESORT Koh Tao or (Turtle Island) THAILAND.  That’s where Adventure is.  I remember coming to Koh Tao for the first time in 2006.  My wife (girl friend at the time) were traveling around the world on a year-long break from Canadian living.  The only way we even discovered Ban’s was by walking down the beach, back pack in hand, and bumped into a guy by the name of Nando (ok didn’t bump into him he hit me right in the head with a volley ball lol).  The rest is history.  But if you can say that you’ve been diving for 24 odd years, all over the planet, traveled 4 times as far on land and choose to hang your hat here for a while… it’s gotta be a pretty special place… right?!

BAN’S has been open since 1993 and has been growing and expanding ever since.  The island as a whole is almost unrecognisable from the time we first arrived here so you could just imagine the changes from the early ninties.

Currently, BAN’S Diving Resort is one of the largest certifying Resorts in the world.  Certifying over 15,000 Open Water and above students a year.  BAN’S is not just a PADI Five-Star Instructor Development Center anymore, it is now also a registered CDC CENTER (Career Development Center) and recognized as a world leader in the diving industry. We are a part of PADI’s Asia-Pacific Region (including Australia) with over 1200 dive centers.  In recent history we have been awarded PADI’s:

Member Award for OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE DIVING INDUSTRY 2010 Member Award for OUTSTANDING DIVE CENTRE/RESORT BUSINESS AWARD 2009-2010 Thailand’s Best Dive Center / Resort 2009

Asia Pacific's Outstanding Contribution to the diving industry 2010

Asia Pacific’s Outstanding Business Award 2010


BANS resort is now just over 140 rooms and is growing quickly!  We have a room for every budget and every style.  From fan rooms starting at just a few dollars a night to a full hill-top bungalow to meet the needs of todays travelers.

Our classrooms are structured for both large and small groups outfitted with everything you need to be comfortable while learning.  The resort has a full Dive Shop, carrying all the major Diving brands, able to help you in all your equipment needs, no matter what level of diving you are at.  We have a fleet of six boats, two swimming pools, a 24 hour convenience store, spa and hairdressing room, laundry, Internet, kayak rentals, snorkeling, yoga, island tours and of course DIVING!

Here at Bans Diving Resort our staff has the unique ability to make you feel like a part of a Dive Family from the minute you unpack.  Our job is not just to make you feel comfortable and confidant in your diving ability but in your choice to stay with us!

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Do you have YOUR ticket to world travel?

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

So now you’re a Divemaster or you’re just about to finish your DMT course.  Now what?  What are the opportunities out there for you?  What can you expect?  Where can you go to find out more?  One of the main focuses we use our Facebook group for is to assist new DM’s find there perfect jobs around the world from the Caribbean to South America (and don’t forget Asia-Pacific.)  For instance this month alone we have found 40 new jobs presented to us for DM positions all over the world!  Being a Divemaster is a great way to travel!  It could be your ticket to see the world and arrive home debt-free.  Another route a lot of Divemasters take is to become  Underwater Photographers (did you know you can teach underwater photography as a DM??) or Videographers.  Here at Ban’s every Open water course it filmed, by an Underwater videographer (many trained in our DM program) so the students may share this with their friends and family back home.