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Thai Wreck Dive Koh Tao

May 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Save Koh Tao with help from the Thai Navy is working to find the best location for the sinking this decommissioned Navy vessel.  The vessel is currently in Bangkok where is is being prepared for it’s sinking.  This process includes the removal of all pollutants and toxic substances to prevent any contamination of the Koh Tao’s reefs.  Special attention is also be put towards removing entrapment and entanglement hazzards.  The wreck is forecasted to be sunk the 18th of June.

This is going to provide Koh Tao with an alternative dive site to not only take some of the traffic off the main dive sites but also open up new training possibilities.  The PADI Wreck specialty will now be much easier to teach logistically.  Other courses like Advanced Wreck will also be put into place for technical divers wishing to broaden their knowledge, skills and techniques used in complex wreck navigation as well as restriction and guideline use.  Our experienced staff of Technical Instructors, Instructor Trainers, Trimix Instructors, Technical Instructors and Cave Instructors will we working hard to ensure adequate training is received before complex navigation is taken up.  Tech Diving Thailand

It is important that the diving community understand and is accepting to the fact that single tank recreational divers are not adequately equipped to be diving past the light zone in equipment without any redundancy.  Wreck diving can be an extremely satisfying activity so long as safety and training are made a priority.

Through overhead environment training Cave Diving instructors and the NSS/CDS have been building a database of accidents involving death or serious injury in overhead environments.  A simple recall phrase can be used to help remember the 5 rules of accident analysis to assist in preventing accidents in overhead.

Nearly Every Preventable Death in overhead can be contributed to not following these simple rules.

  • Thank = Training – diving outside of training limitations or with no training
  • Goodness = Guideline – Guideline leading to open water, proper complex navigational techniques utilized
  • All = Air: Gas management – Rule of 1/3 or 1/4
  • Divers = Depth – Maintaining appropriate depth limits
  • Lived = Lights: Appropriate and properly maintained equipment (twinset with isolation manifold, redundant life support systems)

Thanks to all of those involved in this project, the benefits of alternate dive sites on Koh Tao have already been seen.  The increasing level of training and experience available is also one of the benefits that every diving professional, technical diver and recreational diver can enjoy safely.

Craig Werger

Ban’s Technical Diving

Koh Tao

Thailand

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How To Get Up Alone

May 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Posted in Technical Diving Discussions by CraigW on May 3, 2011

Whats the minimum equipment necessary to get a solo diver to the surface from depth?

Equipment failure, lost buddy, solo diving and underwater videography are areas where divers may be subject to a greater likelihood of experiencing problems they are unable to handle.

Through the years I have spent working in the recreational and technical diving community we have always known and taught the principal of team diving.  For the open water students from day 1 they know they need to dive with a buddy.  I would like to discuss the reasons behind this procedure including the possible dangers of ignoring this concept.

Recreational diving equipment does not have any redundancy:

Does recreational equipment need redundancy?  Well if all the rules are followed no.  The equipment is designed for no decompression diving with a buddy in an environment familiar to that during training.  However once divers start building confidence and developing new skills they may be inadvertently put into situations they are both unequipped and untrained to handle.

How many times have we seen equipment problems either on the boat or under water such as: tank o-ring burst, HP hose burst, LP hose burst, 2nd stage falling off, SPG Burst, corrosion from inside the tank plug the first stage?  If you have never seen an equipment problem you probably haven’t been diving for long.  I have even seen the A-clamp screw strip out allowing the first stage to pop off the tank!  There is obviously no excuse for improper maintenance or neglecting the need for repairs.  I am lucky my dive school has a professional team to ensure any reported problems are repaired immediately.  The point is, if your working under water year after year you will at some point experience some sort of problem.

Whaleshark at Chumphon Koh Tao

The dive school I work for does not allow solo diving, we all say we don’t solo dive but how often do we see these rules broken?  I commonly see situations where videographers, photographers, instructors and divemasters turn a blind eye, just that once, just for that one shot.  Unfortunately eventually complacency usually overrules and this becomes a regular occurrence.  It’s not that these divers are not good divers, they are just lacking the equipment and training to conduct these activities safely.

We are primarily concerned about two types of problems: those that will cause you to loose all your gas or those that will render you out of gas immediately.  One of the worst case scenarios for any solo diver would be to have to make an emergency ascent while out of air.

There are several ‘bail out’ options on the market.  Some of these can actually get you out of the water with a safety stop where other ‘Air Spare’ options don’t even have a capacity to get you up from 18M with a controlled ascent, never mind 30M!  If we are going to back ourselves up we might as well do it with enough gas!

*All calculations based upon 20L/min breathing rate (likely breathing rate of stressed recreational diver)

Amount of gas in litres to make an emergency ascent from:

* 30M = 320L (230L with no safety stop)

* 18M = 222L (132L with no safety stop)

-Spare air model 300PKYEL
maximum capacity = 85L

-Spare air model 170PKYEL
maximum capacity = 48L

Why carry something that can’t get you to the surface while following a safe ascent rate? There are other options available, whether it be a 2L back mounted redundant air supply with its own reg or a stage cylinder side mounted, some sort of back up equipment must be used.

To properly understand the fundamentals of solo diving I would highly recommend the following program:

This course is designed to train divers about the proper procedures and hazards for solo diving, upon certification students may engage in planned solo diving activities.  This course includes procedures for diving with a secondary air source capable of providing sufficient gas to safely abort a dive with an equipment failure or related gas supply emergency.

Redundant air supply use, understanding breathing gas requirements, independent equipment checks and advanced emergency procedures will be covered.  Becoming one of the standards for independent diving practice, the solo diver program teaches experienced recreational divers how to safely dive independently of a dive buddy or strengthen your buddy team skills.  The course stresses on:

  • Proper dive planning
  • Personal limitations
  • Accident prevention
  • Benefits, hazards, and proper procedures for diving solo

The student must:

  • Be a minimum age of twenty one(21)
  • Have a Minimum certification of Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent
  • Minimum of one hundred (100) logged dives.

Songkran Festival Koh Tao 2011

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The Songkran festival is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Day from 13 to 15 April. Songkran has traditionally been celebrated as the New Year for many centuries, and is believed to have been adapted from an Indian festival. It is now observed nationwide, even in the far south. However, the most famous Songkran celebrations are still in the northern city of Chiang Mai, where it continues for six days and even longer. It has also become a party for foreigners and an additional reason for many to visit Thailand for immersion in another culture. Here on Koh Tao there’s no exception as the streets and beaches erupt in an all-day water fight. The festival only lasts one day here on the island but what a day! (Usually taking 2 more days just to recover)

Here at Bans we had one of the best parties on the island as we were visited by many other dive resorts during the day. The biggest group of visitors came from up the beach from Big Blue Diving Resort. A great day had by all. So next year if you don’t mind getting a little wet come for a visit!

Of all the feasts and festivals in Thailand, which are many, the Songkran Festival is the most striking, for it is widely observed not only in this country but also in Burma, Cambodia and the Lao State. Songkran is a Sanskrit word in Thai form which means the entry of the sun into any sign of the Zodiac.

The Songkran is in fact the celebration of the beginning of spring when the sun crosses the equator is now on the 21st of March which is due to the precession of the equinox. The Songkran Festival is in a certain sense like April fool’s Day just wetter.

Set Sail On A New Adventure with Naga and scuba sail

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Ang Thong Marine Park

Ang Thong National Marine Park is a protected nature reserve consisting of over 40 islands. Visiting the unspoiled islands and beaches is like stepping back in time as they remain undeveloped and unihabited apart from a small population of sea gypsies.

The islands range in size from mere rocks to tiny paradise islands with pure white beaches and coconut trees. The movie ‘the Beach‘ starring Leonardo Di Caprio was inspired by and partially filmed at this location. Touring the Marine Park gives you the feeling of being an explorer discovering the far ends of the world. The water is clean, calm and inviting, creating the perfect conditions to explore the park’s hidden treasures.

The Naga will take you first to the north of the Marine Park, to Koh Wao. Koh Wao consists of three islands with a shallow, sheltered bay in between, making it well suited for snorkeling. The underwater life is not as abundant as the shores of Koh Tao, but it is refreshing to jump into the water and swim around the beautiful bay. You will spend one hour snorkeling on this site, where you will get a good glimpse of the Park’s marine life.

After that you will land on the beach at Talay Nai and begin an easy but impressive climb through dense rainforest and narrow ravines. This takes you to a spectacular viewpoint which looks out over the surrounding islands. Here you will have some time to enjoy the breathtaking view and take some pictures. A short stroll downhill will take you to the famous Emerald Lake, also known as the Blue Lagoon from the movie ‘the Beach’.

From here, all Ang Thong Marine Park tours go to the Park’s Visitor Center for picnic lunch and kayaking. The visitor center is frequented by many tour operators, making it very crowded. We choose instead to travel a little further on to eat lunch and kayak at Koh Paluay’s sea gypsy village.

On Koh Paluay you will enjoy a sumptuous Thai lunch in the fisherman’s village. After that, the speedboat will take you to the south of the island for an hour and a half of leisurely kayaking along the staggering cliff face interrupted only by the occasional spotless beach.

TRIP DETAILS

Day 1:
6:30 am Departure Sairee Beach
7:30 am Dive 1 Southwest Pinnacle
8:30 am Breakfast
10:30 am Dive 2 Koy Yippon
12:00 am Lunch
14:00 pm Dive 3 Koy Wao
15:00 pm Ang Thong Marine park
20:00 pm Dinner
22:00 pm Overnight Ang Thong Marine park
Day 2:
5:00 am Departure to Sail Rock
7:30 am Dive 4 Sail Rock
8:30 am Breakfast
10:30 am Dive 5 Sail Rock
12:00 am Lunch
14:00 pm Dive 6 Samran Pinnacles
17:00 pm Arrival Sairee Beach

Price: 10.500 thb


PADI FORUM 2011 KOH TAO style

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment

PADI rocked Koh Tao few weeks ago during their IDC Staff Instructor update and Member Forum.  Tony and Colin were on the Rock that day updating Instructors and fielding questions, mainly on the new changes to the Divemaster Program that will be manditory as of July this year.  It’s an exciting time for us here at Ban’s with one of the worlds largest Divemaster Programs with over 50 participants and already 15-20 certs for 2011.

The day started with an update lead by Colin Melrose from PADI’s Head Office for Asia Pacific.  The update looked at the the Divemaster course as well as a lot of PADI’s new Online programs including Online DM and theory classes.  This new online programming is a fantastic way for travelers to save their precious holiday time for the beach in a classroom and get alot of their theory accomplished before they even arrive.

Later that evening Tony, the Regional Manager for Asia-Pacific, opened the floor to all the members in the first members’ forum for 2011 here on Koh Tao.  Our attendance was great with a lot of Ban’s DMT’s showing.  This event may not have been as formal as forums from other places in the world but was done in true “Koh Tao Style”.  Tony had lots to give and many questions were asked.  One new event that PADI was looking at is creating a PADI PRO NIGHT! but that’s info for another day.

There Be Corals Here!

January 25, 2011 3 comments

In the face of the rising need for more environmentally friendly practices on Koh Tao Ban’s Diving Resort, formed ‘Ban’s Eco’, to keep both the island and its’ surrounding marine habit both beautiful and healthy for the future.

Koh Tao is, located in the Gulf of Thailand, is a small but busy island of only 21 square kilometers and receives 300,000-400,000 tourists annually (predominantly visiting for a scuba diving holiday or to begin their carrier as a dive professional).   Due to Koh Tao’s rising popularity not only as a tourist destination but as a location for travelers seeking to obtain their dive certification, there continues to be a great strain put on the islands’ land and marine-based natural resources.

Among Ban’s Eco’s ongoing activities and projects, we run weekly Beach Clean-Ups of Sairee Beach   (which is home to Ban’s Diving and is under heavy stress due to tourism and development), monthly Underwater Clean-Ups of the Sairees’ Coral Reef, installing mooring buoys (to prevent boats from dropping anchor on corals) and educate and spread awareness of eco-friendly diving practices amongst our divers.

Our newest endeavor towards lessening the environmental strain put on our island was to construct a Coral Nursery.  This project was undertaken with the help of Prince of Songkla University in Hat Yai and Save Koh Tao, our islands Environmental Conservation Group.  This method of reef restoration has and continues to show success in projects in Egypt, the Philippines and other regions of Thailand (J.C. Delbeek   2001, Yeemin et al 2006).

Coral Reefs are complex and diverse eco-systems which provide food for marine life, storm and flood protection and livelihoods for coastal communities, such as ours, which relies almost solely on the diving industry.  They play a necessary role in maintaining the health of our worlds’ oceans which in turn maintains our health and longevity.

Our Coral Nursery was born through Ban’s Eco’s involvement in the ‘Adopt-a-Reef’ Program, run by Save Koh Tao.  This program enlists its’ members to maintain and be responsible for a specific Koh Tao reef which they themselves choose.   There are a total of seven coral nurseries surrounding the island as a result of this program, which are managed by six of Koh Tao’s 42 Dive Schools.  For more information on the ‘Adopt-a-Reef’ Program please see http://www.marineconservationkohtao.com.

Mid-water Coral Nurseries, like the one we have built, are designed to remove stresses, like moving sediment and predators, from the surrounding environment.  The end goal of these structures is to allow damaged corals the opportunity to flourish, having been relieved from these stresses, so they may be transplanted to a natural reef/permanent artificial reef in the future.  Furthermore, Coral Nurseries create a new habitat for other marine life to flourish and find a home.

In order to construct a functional Coral Nursery, we collected more than a hundred coral fragments (living pieces of coral, between 3-15 cms, which have broken off of their original larger coral colony) from the sandy areas of our natural reef just off Sairee Beach.  Once we had collected our fragments we brought them back to shore and stored them in a bucket of fresh sea water, which was kept in the shade, while we prepared to attach them to the tables.   After trimming the dead portions of our fragments away, we attached them to our nursery tables (which we had built prior to fragment collection), using small PVC tubing and natural fiber ropes.

There are three Coral Nursery types (all of which have been incorporated into Ban’s Eco Nursery); these are Rope Tables, Flat Tables, and Sloped Tables.  These different table designs provide varying environments for an array of coral species to grow.  We used poured cement weights to anchor our initial metal structure, which was bolted together, and then constructed trays for our Flat and Sloped Tables out of PVC piping and thick plastic mesh, which the fragments in their tubes were later attached to.  The trays, once the fragments had been secured, were carefully transported down to the steel structure and affixed with plastic ties.  Ideally the fragments would be secured to the tray underwater, but it can be done from a boat if necessary.  Our Nursery lies between 10-11 meters depth in a sandy patch away from mooring boats and snorkeler/diver traffic.

Given time, the fragments have already started to grow around the tubing and rope and most species which we collected have flourished and maintained a healthy color and growth rate.  We collected three different types of coral, Branching, Foliose(or leafy plate) and Massive, and so far our branching fragments are responding best to the new environment, with healthy white tips, indicating growth and a deep orange color.   We look forward to having the opportunity to transplant some of them out into the natural Sairee reef and collect new fragments to fill their places in the nursery, thus creating a never-ending cycle of marine conservation and restoration.

The Divemaster program at Bans has a goal to offer a full environmental internship program by the start of the start of the second half of 2011.  Although in it grass roots stages right now, Bans welcomes and encourage the enthusiasm of our Divemasters in Training to help create a program that will be at for front of environmental programs offered by Padi Resorts and CDC centers worldwide.

The future of Coral Nurseries of Koh Tao will play a major role in keeping the islands’ waters beautiful and healthy, and will help us spread awareness amongst the islands’ inhabitants and visitors on the need for such projects

If you would like more information on the Restoration Projects underway on Koh Tao, Thailand please see www.marineconservationkohtao.com or www.landconservationkohtao.com.     If you would like to find out more about how the Coral Nursery is doing at Ban’s please email us at thebanseco@gmail.com.   If interested in our Divemaster Program please see www.divemastersintraining.com

By:  Jessica and Dave Dinan

Photos By: Dave Dinan

Please add your own to our… Pro Diver Reference Library

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment

The following  will be added as its own page to help it grow.  Please we’d like to hear from you!

As a soon to be Dive professional or if you’re a  Pro Diver already, you should have quite a reference library, most times without even realizing it.  The manuals you’ve collected from all your previous PADI courses and specialties too, Magazines, The Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving, Diving Knowledge workbooks, Dive travel guides, maps, videos, books, online articles and yes even dive blogs 😉  These days there is as much online information as there is on paper and many times you can find everything you need online.  This will also improve the impact paper is having on our environment.

The following is a list of articles, companies and other things you might want to take a look at and include in your own personal reference library.  We would also invite you to share any titles you have come across as well.   Let us know what you have found and we’d be more than happy to add them to this page.  Over goal is not just to enhance our own diving knowledge but yours as well.

1.  All PADI course material (Open Water, Advanced, Rescue…)

2.  PADI Videos

3.  Specilty Course material

4.  Undersea journal

5.  PADI.com and PADI PRO

6.  Project Aware

7.  The Underwater Journal Great online magazine

8.  Sea Shepherd Non-profit, marine wildlife organization.

9.  Scuba Board World Largest Online Diving community

10.  Scuba News CDNN World News on diving and the industry

11.  WordPress Great search for all things and scuba

12.  Live 2 Let Dive Find out more about some of the best, most unusual or fun dive spots in the world.

There’s a few to get things started!  Let us know what you use.