Connect with us
background

Travel Blogs

Return to Komodo

Published

on

Return To Komodo

After nearly a year absence from Komodo I returned to my favorite diving destination and like last year on the Palau Siren, I got to enjoy the brand new Siren Fleet liveaboard the S/Y P. Siren. Frank put a lot of effort into the boat building, together with his father Jan and mother Annie – they really nailed it! The yacht is simply stunning.

Our first guests arrived in Bima, having spent a few days relaxing in Bali they were ready to explore Komodo’s underwater realm. After our briefings and the safety drill the dinghies took us out to our first dive site “The Unusual Suspects”. Much to be expected from the last seasons diving here we encountered thorny seahorse, ornate ghost pipefish and many other critters. Captain Daeng had an early start the following day, weighing anchor at 3 am, to get us to Sangeang Island in time for our next day of diving.

Return To Komodo

I always look forward to see how dive sites change over time; however when we visited Techno Reef”, “The Estuary” and “Hot Rocks” all the amazing life was still there including pygmy seahorses, a variety of nudibranchs, xeno crabs and octopus as well as the luminous anemones and bubbling sea bed. The weather was as fantastic as the diving and during our crossing to Gilli Banta everybody enjoyed a relaxing siesta. As a change from the dark sand, we spent our night dive at The Circus”. With its white sandy slope this site is always superb at night with stargazers, octopus, sting rays and hunting lion fish.

Return To Komodo

The next morning, our first “Komodo Diving Day”, got underway with a dive at “Coral Garden” where we encountered our first white tip shark, Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish and a beautiful pair of white leaf fish. By now we were up for some more big fish action and Gili Lawa Laut delivered! At “Castle Rock” the current was just right bringing big fish to the eastern point. Alex and I directed the dinghies to the correct spot and after the 3-2-1 everybody went back rolled making a negative descent and hooked-in in 25m (85ft) to enjoy the fish parade. In the afternoon we visited “Shotgun”, the outgoing tide meant that the current was pushing us through the gap between Gilli Lawa Laut and Gilli Lawa Derat, so a speedy drift was expected – Great Fun and we were rewarded with sightings of two mobula rays and numerous turtles. The day finished up with a thunderstorm but we were cosy and dry inside and actually enjoyed the cool breeze the rain brought.

Return To Komodo

Sunday morning was time for Crystal Rock”. The best time to visit this site is with slack tide and we managed this just right. White tip and grey reef sharks cruised around the pinnacle and some large Napoleon wrasse and giant trevallies provided some great photo opportunities. Next up was “Makassar Reef” and as always we had a look if some of the “big birds” that come in to get cleaned at this site. Well what a start of the season….. we saw at least 12 beautiful manta rays during our drift dive. It is always amazing to see how gentle the mantas are and how effortlessly they swim. Back on board it was smiling faces all around. Instead of the afternoon dive we opted to visit Rinca Island for theDragon Walk, which was a real adventure after all the rain from the night before. Muddy is an understatement. Then in the evening our dive guides Ungke, Alex and Timo showed off their spotting skills at “Dragon Besar” finding Mandarin fish, frogfish and pygmy cuttlefish.

Return To Komodo

After a day with large fish action we headed south towards “Nusa Kode”, with a stop at Padar Bay to dive “Tiga Dara” and to really get a feeling of what the diving in the south is like. Its truly amazing to arrive in Nusa Kode and be the only boat there and even better the water was surprisingly still 27C (81F) warm! First up was “Cannibal Rock” and later in the afternoon “Torpedo Alley” and of course we visited the dragons on the beach. We stayed for two days here in Nusa Kode to give enough time to explore the magnificent macro life this area has to offer. Ladybugs, ghost pipefish and frogfish could be ticked off the list. After our seventh dive we crossed back to Komodo for the evening dive at “Phinisi” Wreck. The next day was “Big Bird Day” as the P Siren moved to “Manta Alley”. Nine mantas stayed with us for 45 min, cruising all round our groups so once again the happy divers returned to the yacht with big smiles. As the dive was so great our group decided to stay the whole day at this one spot and bask in the glory of manta rays – each dive they swam around us we couldn’t get enough! For our night dive we headed back north and eagle eyed Ungke spotted bobtail squid, frogfish and a variety of crabs and shrimps plus yes a flamboyant cuttlefish!!!

Return To Komodo

A morning dive at “Pink Beach” then we headed back into Current City with its colorful reefs to dive “Batu Bolong and “Tatawa Besar” before returning to Gili Lawa Laut and some more shark action. Strong current supported an amazing drift at the “Shotgun” and plenty of fish life was seen at Castle & Crystal Rocks. As we cruised back to Gili Banta the 7 sails were hoisted and the P Siren was shown in her full pride giving our guests the opportunity to get some great photos. Our last dive of the trip at “K2” gave another manta sighting – a fond farewell to this awesome group from Australia. As always on the last evening our chefs Agus and Suprioni created a delicious spread with BBQ meats & king prawns and plenty of side dishes, full from not only this meal but 10 days of eating heartily, we all retreated into the salon to watch the best pictures of the trip and start planning the next adventure.

To find out more about Worldwide Dive & Sail and their itineraries, click here

 

Thomas has been involved in the Scuba Diving Industry for over 10 years, travelling the world to work and dive in such far flung places as Honduras, the Canary Islands & Red Sea before finally settling down to a life of fun and laughs in Thailand, where he and his wife Susie are employed by the Siren Fleet of luxury liveaboards. Thomas, a PADI Course Director, heads up the diving operations of the fleet as well as running trips in Indonesia, the Maldives, the Philippines, Palau and Fiji (He’s looking forward to setting up the new operation in Truk Lagoon in 2014 too!).

News

Wining and Diving – California

Published

on

The Wining and Diving series sees Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown embark on a tour to tickle the taste buds as well as to discover amazing dive sites in wine-making regions around the world. Some of the best wines are influenced by sea breezes and a coastal climate, allowing two of Nick and Caroline’s passions to be combined into one epic journey.

**Please note, Nick and Caroline are not encouraging drinking before diving! The two activities are kept well apart on each of these trips.


California has over 1000 miles of coastline to explore and it also has over 1000 wineries so it is a perfect destination for Wining and Diving! It has always been a dream of ours to tour this rugged coast that makes for an epic road trip. Our trip, done over two separate visits, would take us from Fort Bragg in the north to San Diego in the south, along over 700 miles of one of the best coastal roads in the world. We flew into San Francisco, picked up a convertible Mustang, stuffed our diving and camera gear into every available space and headed north to start the wine tasting part of this trip.

Our first stop was to a vineyard whose wine we knew and loved already – Joseph Swan located in the Russian River Valley. They make a Zinfandel that could make you weep and so we wanted to visit the taste more of their wines that do not make it to the UK market. The drive through Russian River was worth the trip alone, with giant redwoods lining the winding road, sun shining, roof down, it was perfect. We also dropped into what must be one of the most eco-friendly vineyards in the world, Inman Family Wines. Organic and solar-powered, sustainability is key. Their Endless Crush Rose is a delight for a warm day on the terrace.

Whilst the sun was shining, the wind was also blowing and so our thoughts of diving in the north were put on hold. Instead, we visited glass beach in Fort Bragg, where over many years, glass tipped onto the beach has worn down to make smooth, multi-coloured, pebbles. A beautiful site, made from what was once rubbish dumped on the beach.

Further south, in Monterey, we reached the crossover point for our trip, as we moved away from wine tasting and into diving. We had one more vineyard we wanted to visit, again one we knew from drinking with friends in our back garden, Wrath Wines. They have tasting rooms in the delightful town of Carmel just a short drive from where we would be diving the next day. They wines are rich, full of flavour and their Pinot Noir is the best we have ever sampled.

Diving the Pacific Ocean in California has always been a dream, and so we had spent many happy hours on the internet researching the best dives and we made a list of the dives we wanted to fit in. Our first was Point Lobos in Carmel by the Sea. We were welcomed to this picturesque bay by a couple of Sea Otters floating on the surface, seemingly sunbathing. Our guide, Phil, had warned us that while the sea was flat calm, the winds had made visibility less than perfect. “You should have been here last week” he said, “when we had 20 feeding Humpback Whales by the boat at the end of the dive!” Our dive saw us swim through the giant kelp, explore anemone-covered boulders and be followed by a mischievous harbor seal. It was a pretty good start.

Heading further south we stopped in Ventura to do a day trip to Anacapa Island. A rugged volcanic island a couple of hours offshore. On the boat ride over to the island we saw whales, orcas and dolphins, as we skimmed across a flat calm ocean. On the dive we marvelled at the life covering every inch of the seabed and loved the bright orange Garibaldi fish who would face up to the camera as you approached.

We continued down to Long Beach, near Los Angeles, where we dived under a working oil rig, covered in marine life. We were joined by a playful young sea lion who zoomed around the small group of divers for over an hour. We also headed out to Catalina Island to dive the kelp forest and to look for the huge Black Sea Bass that the area is famous for. Diving in Giant Kelp is a wonderful experience akin to walking through a rain forest, the fronds towering above you and block out most of the sunlight in the denser patches, and letting dramatic cathedral light through making for a very atmospheric dive.

Our final stop was near San Diego, in the beautiful town of La Jolla. The coast here is home to a colony of sea lions that seem perfectly at ease sharing their home with locals and visitor alike. You can snorkel and dive here and we did both to enjoy these enigmatic creatures from both the surface and at depth. We also snorkeled with Leopard Sharks and turtles.

California offers the traveller so much. The coastal road is stunning, with forests lining one side and the vast ocean stretching out to the horizon on the other. The cities are vibrant with excellent nightlife; great food, drink and entertainment. The vineyards have some of the finest wines anywhere in the world and the diving offers some of the very best cold-water experiences we have had. Is there anything better than Wining and Diving in California?


Links

  • For more information about Frogfish Photography click here.
  • For information about visiting California click here.

Dive Centres

Sundiver International, Long Beach

Ventura Dive

Vineyards

Joseph Swan

Inman Family Wines

Wrath Wines

Continue Reading

Dive Training Blogs

Anxiety and Diving – My Story

Published

on

What can you do to help a friend or a dive buddy who experiences anxiety? Chloe from The Scuba Place shares her personal experience dealing with anxiety in and out of the water.

Lockdown is nearly over! None of us knew how long it would last, what to expect or what to do. Throughout lockdown, we’ve been restricted from working, socialising, doing what we love, seeing who we love and so much more. The long-term restriction has affected some more than others and has taken a toll on the mental health of many. I feel it’s important to discuss this so we can better understand how lockdown has affected people not just physically and socially, but mentally, so that when the time comes, we’ll be ready to get back into diving safely. To that point, I would like to share my struggles and experiences with my mental health in and out of the water, so others can learn and become more aware.

One aspect of mental health I want to address in particular is anxiety. Anxiety affects everyone, even though you may not realise it! Anxiety can include feelings of nausea, lack of motivation, becoming lazy or over-active, shutting down, or acting fidgety, over thinking situations or feelings of underachievement, and many many more symptoms. I personally don’t like to define the term anxiety, because I don’t believe there is one specific definition. What we need to take notice of, is that if any of these thoughts start to feel like they can’t be controlled, it can lead to a panic attack. Panic attacks can be life threatening, especially under water, so it’s important we learn more about what to do if it happens. I personally struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, which can be quite difficult, especially when you’re a diver. I thought I would share some mishaps I’ve had in the past, how I overcame them, and how having a buddy who’s aware can reduce stress and danger.

For me, I couldn’t tell you why I am anxious 70% of the time, and that is extremely frustrating. Not knowing where these emotions are coming from is particularly overwhelming for me, and I often work myself up into a panic attack. Over time, I have learnt to accept my anxiety, acknowledge it’s there, and use some coping mechanisms to help although, I haven’t perfected this yet! There are certainly times where I can’t tell myself I’ll be ok in ten minutes, an hour or tomorrow. The feelings can be constant and intense, but I’m learning that it’s ok. Everyone can experience some form of anxiety, and it is normal. For the other 30% of the time, not knowing an outcome can get my anxiety rocketing! So, for someone who isn’t the most experienced diver, I tend to feel sick to my stomach before and during a dive trip – and I promise it’s not the sea sickness, not all of it anyway!

As I mentioned previously, anxiety can be different for everyone, but by sharing how it manifests for me, I hope others can learn more about it, and others who experience anxiety can feel comfortable talking about it. As I’ve not known what causes most of my anxiety, it’s been difficult to pinpoint triggers, but after some time I’ve established that anticipation can be really hard for me. All the build-up to a dive; waking up in the morning, making sure I’m eating enough for breakfast, getting dive kit on the boat, the dive briefing, travelling to the dive site, kitting up and pre-dive safety checks. It can be a lot of waiting and anticipating. Anticipation kills me and I have no idea why.

Let me share an experience from my last diving trip. We were lucky enough to go to Grenada in October 2020. I hadn’t been diving for three years, and in all honesty, I was incredibly nervous. I knew I would be anxious to go diving again because I wanted to make sure I could remember how to dive well, and safely. My biggest fear was putting anyone else at risk, and I think this made me overthink so much. My anxiety was already on board the plane to Grenada before I was!

Luckily, my dad had a conversation with my instructor the day before our first dive to let him know about my anxious tendencies and my panic attacks. I didn’t feel as though I could say anything myself, and I felt a bit embarrassed to talk about it. Looking back on it now, that seems silly. Nonetheless, if you feel as though you can’t speak to your buddy or instructor yourself, it’s perfectly ok for someone who knows to talk to them for you. I know for a fact it made me feel a lot more comfortable straight away. When the morning came for our first day of diving, I was agitated, fidgety, very quiet and I felt sick. However, I did want to go diving. I have such amazing memories from my previous experiences, I knew it was just my brain telling me nonsense through anxiety. But with that first giant stride, my anxiety was literally washed away! I felt all the wonderful emotions that I had on my first ever dive, and every dive since!

It’s certainly important to take the small wins with anxiety to help you when you can’t seem to shake it. For example, the first day of diving in Grenada was a good day for me. Granted, I felt dreadful all morning, but as soon as I hit the water, I was fine. So, how do I deal with my anxiety when it doesn’t disappear, or panic creeps up on me in the water? If you’re a Rescue Diver, you’ll remember that PADI advise an anxious diver to Stop, Think and then Act. This is done through communicating with your buddy, signalling, and then slowing down or stopping until the feeling subsides. This is great advice! Great communication with a buddy massively helps an anxious diver and is another reason why your buddy should be informed if you tend to get anxious during diving. I want to take PADI’s advice a bit further and share what helps for me.

Unfortunately, I have had anxious moments underwater that have led to panic attacks, but how my buddy(s) dealt with it saved us from being in any serious danger. When I feel a panic attack coming on, its sudden and immediate, and the massive wave of anxiety scares me so much I go into a panic. When underwater, I tap my buddy, if they haven’t noticed first, and tell them there’s a problem, and signal it’s my anxiety and I can’t control it. What has helped me best is when my buddy signals if it’s ok to put their hand on my arm – sometimes I welcome a physical touch, other times I feel claustrophobic and want as much space as possible – and look into my eyes. Then with a signal to take slow, deep breaths, we do this together. After a minute, I decide if I feel well enough to continue the dive. Most of the time this is the case, and we continue the dive but if I can’t control my breathing, we end the dive. It’s as simple as that. We get to the surface as quickly and safely as we can (including the safety stop, I must force myself through this) and I have help removing all my kit on the surface.

I can feel trapped when I have a panic attack, so I’ve learned that removing my kit helps a lot. If I still can’t control my breathing, I have been lifted onto the boat and I lie down until I can calm down. Having my buddy next to me and reassuring me it’s ok really helps! The one thing I appreciate most when I’m anxious is acceptance. Having someone next to me telling me what’s happening is ok can be so helpful. So much more helpful than someone who is freaking out about what they need to do to help. For me, I typically need space, reassurance, and water when I’ve calmed down.

I hope sharing my experiences, and how I deal with my anxiety, helps you or someone you know feel more comfortable when dealing with anxiety. If you get feelings like me, I hope you’ll now feel more comfortable talking about it. If you have a dive buddy who gets anxious, I hope this gives you a little insight on what you could do to help. Make sure you ask them about their anxiety, what triggers them and what helps them. Everyone is different! As we build up to a dive, many people have feelings of nervousness, fear, or apprehension. Is this what we call anxiety? However you take it, these feelings are completely normal and I’ll say this over and over again! It’s become my mantra because as an anxious person, I worry so much about affecting other people with my anxiety. I hate slowing down a dive because I feel wobbly, I hate having to end a dive because I’m panicking for an unknown reason. These thoughts will stay with me for the rest of the day and into the night because I feel so guilty. Yet, it happens! It happens to a lot of people and the more we say it is ok, the less people will feel isolated, guilty for having normal emotions, or that they can’t talk about their feelings.

When we scuba dive, we are literally jumping into a new world, an alien environment. It is so important to remember that we aren’t built to breathe underwater, so the concept of doing so may throw our brains sideways a bit! Anxiety can be different for every person and that’s why it’s so important to share your feelings with your buddy, instructor, and others. Anxiety is normal, and it’s perfectly OK! Everyone experiences it and the best thing we can do is talk about it and educate people. We can then be more aware so we can help those who need it. But remember, even if your buddy isn’t an anxious diver, always check up on them, because a great buddy relationship makes for even better divers.


Find out more about the worldwide dive itineraries that The Scuba Place offers at www.thescubaplace.co.uk.

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular