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Similan Islands Liveaboard Trip Report: Epilogue

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Read the prologue to this trip report here.

Read Day 1 here.

Read Day 2 here.

Read Day 3 here.

Read Day 4 here.

Read Day 5 here.

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The Similan Islands certainly do live up to their name as a world class dive site, including the islands of Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock. The range of underwater life is varied and interesting, the sites are diversified but not too challenging. The most challenging thing is the amount of dives on a trip like this – nineteen dives in 5 days is more likely to challenge your fitness than your diving ability. I enjoyed all the diving, as did everyone else on the boat. The crew were friendly and helpful and the boat was pleasant enough.

Milburn 1

My previous two trips were both very different. On my first in November 2003, the dive sites had less dive boats but the seas did tend to be a little rougher. The weather is always good (or should I say warm). The odd showers at night were a pleasant change, but stopped me sleeping on the sun deck at night.

My second trip was February 2005, just after the Tsunami. There were no other boats around and our boat only had four divers on board; this of course was excellent for us as there was nothing to scare the fish away. It got to the point that we didn’t even bother looking at the Zebra sharks – there were at least two on every dive.

If anyone was wondering about the damage by the Tsunami, there is obvious damage to the reefs, but it is by no means detrimental to the dive sites. I must admit I have been a little disappointed with not seeing any Manta Rays or Whale Sharks on any of my three trips, but that’s life. On our return to the shore the owner of the boat asked us if we had seen any, as there was a report of both Mantas and Whale Sharks on Richelieu Rock the day after we were there (marvellous).

milburn 2

Something New and Something Blue

Even though this was my third trip to the Similan Islands there is always something new – new people, new friends. A few firsts for me on this trip; the biggest Black Tip shark I have seen, the young Devil Scorpion Fish, Bump-head Parrotfish, the colourful blue and yellow ribbon eel, the biggest crab I have ever seen and another wreck. For some reason I really like the photo of the red hermit crab and it is probably my favourite from the 348 photos I took on the trip. Altogether I took over an hour of video footage; however, my first time with my set up in clear blue waters didn’t quite give me the results I was hoping for.

milburn 4

Something Not Too Hard

None of the diving was beyond the reach of an Advanced Open Water Diver, the maximum depth was supposed to be 30m on all of the dives, but we pushed the limit a couple of times. It’s not recommended when all you have is a single Ali 80 (11L), but in clear waters with your buddies close we deemed it safe enough. The only thing to watch out for is the no deco time, especially when filming – you don’t want to clock any up with the limited air supply. There are some technical diving shops around, although I didn’t see any technical diving taking place in the Similans. I did see a boat with nitrox available on board, but I am not sure whether they could supply twinsets for those wanting to do something more technical.

milburn 6

Worth Thinking About

Whilst talking with the owner of the boat I asked about the condition of his tour leader. He was still out of action as far as diving was concerned, and he needed a dive master to cover for the next trip. Just how tempting was that? I did ask what the pay was, and I was offered free food and free diving, which tempted me even more, but then I thought about the prospect of leading a boat load of Japanese divers, and suddenly found myself looking forward to the trip home.

milburn 7

Booking the trips

There are many dive boats running trips from a single day trip to ten days; some have air conditioned cabins, some just have a fan. The trips can be booked from any dive shop on the western shore of Thailand, from Khao Lak to Phuket.

My warm water needs are now out of the way for another year, and my photo album has been topped up (as well as my tan). During my entire trip to Thailand I clocked up 31 dives in two weeks – phew!

Mark owns and runs Atlantic Scuba in Falmouth, Cornwall in the UK. For more information visit www.atlanticscuba.co.uk.

Mark Milburn is the owner of Atlantic Scuba in Falmouth, Cornwall, England, and is an SDI/TDI/NAS/RYA Instructor and a Commercial Boat Skipper. Although often referred to as a maritime archaeologist, he prefers to call himself a wreck hunter. Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba by visiting www.atlanticscuba.co.uk.

News

Nauticam announce NA-A7C Housing for Sony a7C Camera

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Sony’s latest full frame mirrorless camera, the a7C offers the underwater image maker one of the most compact and travel friendly full frame systems available on the market today.  The a7C features Sony’s latest stellar autofocus and a much improved battery life thanks to its use of the larger Z series battery. The BIONZ X processor delivers superb low-light performance and faster image processing. For video shooters, the a7C features internal UHD 4K capture in the wide-dynamic range HLG image profile at up to 30p.

Nauticam has housed more mirrorless cameras, and more Sony E Mount cameras than any other housing manufacturer. This experience results in the most evolved housing line with broadest range of accessories available today.

Pioneering optical accessories elevate performance to a new level. Magnifying viewfinders, the sharpest super macro accessory lenses ever made, and now the highest quality water contact wide angle lenses (the WWL-1B and WACP-1) combine with the NA-A7C housing to form a complete imaging system.

Nauticam is known for ergonomics, and an unmatched experience. Key controls are placed at the photographer’s fingertips. The housing and accessories are light weight, and easy to assemble. The camera drops in without any control presetting, and lens port changes are effortless.

NA-A7C features an integrated handle system. This ergonomic style provides exceptional control access, even with thick gloves, with ideal placement of the shutter release and a thumb-lever to actuate the AF-ON button from the right handle.

Nauticam build quality is well known by underwater photographers around the globe. The housing is machined from a solid block of aluminum, then hard anodized making it impervious to salt water corrosion. Marine grade stainless and plastic parts complete the housing, and it is backed by a two year warranty against manufacturing defects.

For more information in the UK visit the Nauticam website by clicking here.

For more information in the USA visit the Nauticam website by clicking here.

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Blogs

BLUE EARTH – Future Frogmen Podcast Series – The Next Generation of Ocean Stewards: Lauren Brideau

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A series of conservation educational podcasts from Future Frogmen, introduced by Jeff Goodman.

The Next Generation of Ocean Stewards: Lauren Brideau

We have a new host, Dr. Colleen Bielitz, and today we’ll be interviewing a recent college graduate as part of our once-a-month episode that focuses on students: the next generation of conservationists, researchers, and activists.

What are the next generation of ocean stewards doing to protect our Blue Earth? Join us as we find out by speaking to Lauren Brideau, a recent graduate of Southern Connecticut State University. Lauren started as an undeclared major but soon found her calling, now she is part of a research team conserving life below water.  She is a prime example that if you want to defend our oceans and the creatures that depend on the sea to survive, now is the time to become part of the solution.


Richard E Hyman Bio

Richard is the Chairman and President of Future Frogmen.

Born from mentoring and love of the ocean, Richard is developing an impactful non-profit organization. His memoir, FROGMEN, details expeditions aboard Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s famed ship Calypso.

Future Frogmen, Inc. is a nonprofit organization and public charity that works to improve ocean health by deepening the connection between people and nature. They foster ocean ambassadors and future leaders to protect the ocean by accomplishing five objectives.


You can find more episodes and information at www.futurefrogmen.org and on most social platforms @futurefrogmen.

 

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