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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.

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Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 1

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Over the next seven days, join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy as we publish a Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Deptherapy made the very brave decision to book an expedition to our home in Egypt as soon as Roots Red Sea received their certificate from the Egyptian Authorities that the camp and dive centre was COVID secure. Roots is one of very few resorts to receive a certificate from the Egyptian Government.

We arrived in Roots the day after they re-opened.

Getting together an expedition was a major task. Very few Approved Medical Examiners’ of Divers or Dive Referees are conducting consultations at the moment. Availability of beneficiaries and the requirement to quarantine on return from Egypt affected the number of beneficiaries available.

There was also a requirement to pass a COVID PCR virus test within 72 hours of travelling.

We had decided on a small expedition and on the day of travel we had six flying to Egypt.  Unfortunately, Chris Middleton had to drop out the day before we travelled after emergency wisdom tooth surgery.

Our group comprised of Richard Cullen, Michael Hawley, Tom Oates, Tom Swarbrick, Keiron Bradbury and Corey Goodson.  Keiron was undertaking his RAID Master Rescue Course and, as it turned out, Corey was undertaking the RAID Open Water 20 course.

A deserted Gatwick Airport at 0900 on 10 October

Our outbound flight was before midday on Saturday 10 October and I must admit we were all shocked at how deserted was.  Checking in with easyJet took minutes and when we boarded the plane, we found it less than half full.

Corey is a paraplegic since a car accident two years ago while he was training prior to joining the Royal Anglian Regiment.  Corey has no sensation below the waist and is unable to use his legs.  The cabin crew on our flight were quite amazed to see the two Toms and Michael lift him from his wheelchair and place him in his seat for the flight.

Mask protocols were strictly observed by the team, the flight was uneventful, and the easyJet Cabin Crew superb. We also took a digital thermometer to check temperatures prior to flying.

Corey having a pre-flight temperature check

Hurghada Airport was very quiet and we moved through Immigration and collected our baggage in very quick time.

Two things to note:  If you are travelling to Hurghada you need to complete a COVID declaration for the Egyptian Authorities. If not, you have to fill out the rather lengthy form when you arrive.  You can undertake a COVID test on arrival at Hurghada Airport but the queues are long.  It costs much less than the tests we had done in the UK – BUT – you are required to be quarantined at your hotel until the test result comes through.  This means two days with no access to resort facilities.  If the test comes back as positive you have at least two weeks being confined to your room.

COVID guidelines

Transport to Roots was, as ever, on hand and we were soon at the camp and being briefed about the COVID arrangements.  A lot of work has been put in place to make Roots COVID compliant – and all at considerable expense.

None of the usual hugs with the Roots team and you have your temperature checked every morning and every time you return from the dive centre.  Your dive kit is sterilised every night ready for the next day’s diving.

Sterilised Dive Kit

We all felt very COVID secure.

Check back for tomorrow’s Blog and our first day diving…


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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And the winner of our TUSA Paragon S Mask competition is…

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We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who entered our competition to win a TUSA Paragon S Mask from our good friends at CPS Partnership!

As usual, lots of you entered… but there can, of course, be only one winner!

And that winner is…

  • Lee Evans from the UK.

Congratulations Lee – your prize will be on its way to you soon!

Not a winner this time? Don’t worry – there are plenty of other competitions running on Scubaverse.com right now. To see what other awesome prizes you could be in with a chance of winning, click here!

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