First dive of 2017

 

“Oh god I needed that, I was starting to think I was drying out”

 

Those were the words that ran through my mind as I broke the surface of the warm water on one of the first days of 2017.

Ascending from one of the 2 shallow photography dives planned for the day into the bright warm sunshine of Bawley Point NSW, I knew that it was going to be a good day.

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Planned over a Christmas BBQ a few weeks earlier, the double shore photography dive was chosen as when you are the buddy with the camera, you often are the slowest one of the pair. This can lead to your non camera toting buddy already looking at the next aquatic marvel while you are still taking your 900th photo of the tiny Nudibranch you spotted, trying to get the light just right.

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The day had no particular aim other than to increase comfort and practice skills. It so happened to be one of the warmest dives I had done at Bawley Point - 21degrees.  In August during my rescue course the temp did not get about 13 degrees. The warm bath-water like temp made for an even more enjoyable dive.

Amongst the small group we were able to practice our photography and camera handling while snapping pictures of one of the countless octopus who live in the rock crevices, or the bottom sleeping Port Jackson sharks soaking up a few zzzzz. The regular appearance now of a large cuttlefish is also a highlight.  To round out the cephalopod team, a school of small squid remained in the warm current for both dives. 

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All in all it was a perfect day and was much needed to get the 'gills' wet again.

In the below video you will also see the preparation that goes into getting ready for a dive when you have to travel 1.5 hours to a dive site.

Ever bathed an Elephant ?

Have you ever bathed an elephant?

Heading west from Chiang Mai, Thailand we met up with the amazing team from Elephant Discovery Chiang Mai who introduced us to their 3 female elephants and one cheeky young male

The location is home to a Karen ethic tribe in western Thailand and their village Elephants. 

The village have opened up their community to the eco tourism trade in an effort to save their elephants, particularly the young male elephants. Our guide was particularly worried about their young male who was starting to grow tusks. He said (the guide, not the elephant) he is constantly worries and has heard that forest elephants near by are poached and their bodies found by the road. Truely heard breaking stuff.

 

 

Check out a quick video about the day!

Ep01. Starting the journey to PADI DiveMaster in Indonesia

A view from my classroom

A view from my classroom

As a first in the of a new YouTube series I am hoping to share the process and excitement of not only moving and living on Gili Air as well as becoming a PADI DiveMaster.  

The count down is on for May 2017.

Subscribe to keep up to date with the process! 

 In coming weeks there will be episodes covering what I am packing, where I am staying (and living) as well as the study side of a Dive Master course 

 

Review: HearFuse 'True Wireless Earbuds' bluetooth wire-free headphone

In ear pods with 2 headed charging cable

In ear pods with 2 headed charging cable

Overview

I saw an online ad for the Hear Fuse Bluetooth in ear wire free headphones (that's a mouthful. I'll call them hear fuse from now on) and liked the small look of them. I have been on an almost perennial search for a small pair of Bluetooth headphones I can fall asleep wearing and not wake up looking like some S&M participant all tangled up. While doing some googling into the Hear Fuses I found a distinct lack of original information rather than just regurgitating the company's website. I want to add to remedying this issue.

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After the Hear Fuses arrived I was a little dismayed to see they use a 2 headed proprietary pin charging cable for USB charging and they are slightly larger than I expected.

You pair each ear piece separately and they magically sync up to give stereo listening, at least that's the theory. I am achieving 60-80% success with dual connection and have required the delinking and relinking by Bluetooth at least 4 times so far this weekend.

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The Good

  • I like that I can just use one if I want, such as laying down or while driving.
  • They seem to have decent (multi-hour) battery life with their overall combined charge showing on my iPhones screen.

The Bad

  • The proprietary charger - ugh how annoying - seriously its 2016. I don't want another cable!
  • They are a bit bigger than I imagined.
  • The website - seriously minimum information provided.

3/5 *

     
    EDIT: Feb 2017. I have been using the earphones for a while now. I realised that you just Bluetooth pair one headphone and then turn the other on. They talk to each other. Also - side note. The charger is the same as the Nokia small pin plugs.  I lost the "Y" cable after a few weeks. I purchased USB micro to Nokia pin converter plugs on eBay - haven't looked back.   Upgrade to 4/5.  

TRAVEL: Our taster cruise for 3 days on P&O

Frankie convinced me to try a cruise up the east coast of Australia for 3 days departing from Sydney. 

I have to say the good (apart from the on board 5 start booked restaurant) the food left a lot to be desired. 

Anyway. Check out the video. Let me know what you think  

 

DIVE: July 2016 Gear update

DIVING: Scuba Gear Update

I was just washing and putting my gear away from his weekends dive and wanted to give you a look at some of my gear updates

After our trip earlier this year in Asia I really got to put my gear through a number of dives as a full system and got pretty comfortable with the whole thing.

 

Product details below:

Camera Set up

 

Olympus TG 4

Olympus PT-056 dive housing

GoPro 3 black

Knog light

BCD:

 

Oceanic Biolite

 

Reg mouth piece:

Custom moulded mouth piece

 

 

 

TRAVEL: Labuan Bajo, Indonesia

 

Flying east from Bali, Indonesia across tiny islands ringed in gold and turquoise, over fishing villages and mountains you come in to land over yet another cluster of islands into Labuan Bajo airport, new, white and shiny. Soak it in. It's the newest building in 'Bajo! 

 

Straight away I noticed the striking difference in the faces of the Flores people compared to the Balinese and Javanese. They look almost exactly like the Timorese - Big wide smiles. Slightly curly hair. It felt so comforting. Reminding me of my time in East Timor in 2008. 

'Bajo is a growing port town and also the gateway to the Komodo National Park. The national park is a magnet for divers and adventurers alike. 

We specifically went to Bajo to do two things. See the famed Komodo dragons and to dive. We spent 7 days in Bajo, diving almost every second day.  A boat trip to most dive sites is around 1-2 hours. Our longest day included a guided walk within the National Park on the island of Rinka, a neighbour to Komodo. On the small island is a ranger station where the rangers live and base from - they have two main roles. Act as walking guides and to show the dragons The Rinka dragons are about 1/3 smaller than Komodo's due to evolution. Rinka's giant lizards are still 2-3m long. Our guide cheerfully informed us that they climb trees until they are too big then just hunt on the ground for small deer, birds and other Frankie sized prey. 

A day trip to Rinka can still fit in two dives later in the day however a trip to Komodo is about 5 hours one way from 'Bajo. With time not on our side as well as a hunger to dive in one of Asia's greatest sites - Rinka it was. 

Diving:

I can't talk about 'Bajo without talking about the diving. The best way I can describe the life around the national park - Prolific and Jurassic Park-like. Every fish, every Turtle, every Nudi was bigger, brighter and totally amazing.

We stayed with Blue Marlin in Komodo - can not recommend them as a dive company and lodging more highly. Loved it. 5 stars for me.

Check out my other travel posts : Here

Getting the Van ready for winter!

The Australian winter is upon us.

 

Here are two videos where I show where the van is up to:

I have added 1.7r value foil backed earth wool insulation

About 1/2 of a roll - full roll cost $90AUD at Bunnings

When the heater controls died I have not replaced them, opting for the manual control change over using a pair of pliers, I show you how in this video.

Check out my other Van posts here

Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Getting there 

 

The Perhentian Islands are approx 25km off the north east coast of Malaysia, just south of the Thai border.

Flights are multiple times per day from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Biru, the nearest mainland airport. Then it is a 60km drive to the coast with any one of the friendly local taxi drivers. Before you depart KL, it is advisable to call your accomodation on Perhentian and confirm boats are operating to the island that day, particularly early in the season. We were caught out a bad weather front swept through as we arrived and no boats were operating.

Boats are either booked by your accomodation or tickets purchased at one of the local Kuala Besut ticket agents.

The boat ride from Kuala Besut to Perhentian is approx and hour. If the sea is rough be prepared for a bumpy ride.

Where to stay

We stayed on the ‘big Island’ Perhantian Besar at Abdul’s Chalets. Abdul’s afforded the best mix of location, privacy and quality.

Abdul’s has its own ‘home reef’ located within a roped section for snorkelling away from boats. Many other shallow reefs are within a 15 min walk of your front door.

Large parts of the big island are accessible only by boat and the hotel is more than happy to organise for you.

What to do

Anything in the water!

Perhentian is set up for watersports, be it scuba diving, snorkelling, turtle spotting, or relaxing on a beach.

Highlights

Calm water frontage

Lowlights

Not being told by our hotel that there was no boats operating, leaving us stranded in Kuala Besut - check with your hotel (particularly in shoulder season) about access.

Don’t forget to bring

Sunscreen and a towel

December Van Update

December has seen some big changes as every month seems to.

I have added an additional 100ah 12v AGM with some new fusing options.

There is now a fuse between the 2 batteries 50amp resettable, along with another 50amp resettable between the batteries and the load distribution fuse panel.

I also managed to snap up a 1000w pure sine inverter during the christmas sales - I haven’t managed to install it yet however I am thinking of just putting an anderson plug and use it occasionally.