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News 2016

Insight into one of our Divemasters- Millie

Saturday 24th September 2016dmts

Meet Millie

August 3rd 2016- the day I stepped onto the plane in Christchurch, New Zealand, and flew 10 hours to the land of Thai. My first solo adventure, to be quiet brief, I was absolutely shitting myself. I have travelled many times before, Europe for 4 months and South East Asia for 6 months. I moved to Australia when I was 18, but never have I made these journeys alone.
I have always wanted to dive; I swear I was supposed to be a mermaid, but instead of the tail I got given these two weird long things that enable me to walk around on land. I love the ocean, the serenity, the calmness and the peace it brings - almost a form of meditation so I knew diving would be for me. One day it dawned on me that I am doing absolutely nothing with my life so why not just pack up and hit the road. So that is exactly what I did.

I had a few friends tell me about Big Blue and that the dive centre itself was great and they had some unforgettable diving experiences there. So I did a bit of research (as in read one positive review on Tripadvisor) and that was enough to sell me. So I booked my Open Water course, straight through to Dive Masters. Which really, looking at it now was probably the dumbest idea I’ve ever had considering I have never dived before, I could’ve hated it but there was no backing out now because I paid the deposit and I wasn’t getting that back.

Within the first 30 minutes of arriving in Phuket, I met a girl standing in the queue waiting to get our passports stamped. Talking for a couple of minutes we realised we were both going to Koh Tao, to do our Dive Masters, at Big Blue. Coincidence? Or Fate? Who knows, maybe we were destined to meet. Anyway, after establishing a mutual bond, we both had one night in Phuket before heading to Koh Tao. So what do you do in Thailand apart from barter with locals and eat delicious 50 baht pad thai? BEERS!!!!

What seemed to be the longest day of my life, I finally arrived on Koh Tao. Waiting for me at the pier was the Big Blue Tuk Tuk waiting to take me to my new home. Still hung over as hell and looking like death, as well as wanting to vomit up all the bus Oreos I snacked on, I stepped foot onto Big Blue premises. My first initial idea was to go straight to bed, but as we approached the reception all I heard was thumping music and people cheering at a group of newly graduated Divemasters dressed as superheroes. WHAT THE HELL HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO!? I was absolutely terrified, mostly because I thought I had come to this island for peace and clarity, but from what I had just witnessed I was in the complete wrong place.

Avoiding the bar, I snuck up to my dorm room and flopped on the bed and reconsidered my options. I was so anxious about my decisions and what I had signed up for. But eventually I passed out and woke up in the morning; sun beaming down on my face and feeling a bit more refreshed than what I was the day before. Today was the day! My first day of the Open Water course. I waited down in the restaurant, not knowing what to expect, when a friendly face approached me, telling me he was my instructor for the next few days. Straight away I felt at ease, he was a friendly, caring dude that made me feel so welcome, and so at home. We hit it off straight away and from that moment I was so super excited as to what was about to come my way.

Eventually, the three day course for Open Water finished, so a celebration was much needed. And what was the best thing to celebrate with? BUCKETS! You would have thought I would have learnt my lesson by now with alcohol in Asia, but apparently not. The night was an eventful one to say the least, well, from what I can remember anyway. (On that note, I have made the pact to never drink a bucket... EVER again…) but this particular night I decided Koh Tao was now definitely my new home. I have never met so many people at once with open arms and so inviting into the Big Blue community. Every single person was so interested and so intrigued about life and adventure that it was such a relaxed place to base myself. I was super excited for the next part of my course!

The students, instructors and mentors always told me to take as much time as possible to finish my dive masters, just in case you get injured and you’re out of the water for a little while. Me being me thought “pffft what could possibly go wrong?” Well karma strikes back! Fast forward two weeks, I’ve moved out of the dorms into my own apartment I shared with 4 other legends. Two days into my Dive Masters Training, an unforeseen, VERY unfortunate situation struck. I snapped the bone in my foot. Yes, I broke my foot. Never before in my life have I broken a bone and for some odd reason I must have done some sort of bad deed that life decided to take a giant shit on me and give me my first ever broken bone! Now, I’m not a doctor, nor do I have a degree in anatomy/physiology and if you haven’t already figured this out for yourself, but the foot is a very crucial part of your body. It enables you to walk; run, jump and most importantly of all, it allows you to put a fin on to swim while diving. At first I laughed about it, along with practically everyone else at Big Blue, until about three days later I realised I couldn’t do anything for myself, I even had to pre-plan my route and timing to go to the bathroom. I packed a bag to go from the bedroom to the living because if I forgot something it would take me at least another 30 minutes to hopple back into my room to retrieve it. Now that I had no foot, I literally had no purpose to be on the island. “Koh Tao, The Island of Diving.” What the actual f*%# was I going to do? I needed to come up with a plan, chopping my foot off and getting a prosthetic leg and learning to walk again was out of the question. I weighed up my options of staying on this beautiful island but being immobile and not able to dive kind of sucked, but really, it was much better than going back to home, where the weather is cold and not ideally the place to try and recover because it’s depressing enough as it is without a broken foot.

About a week passed, and I can’t even begin to describe the absolute appreciation and love I have for everybody on this island. Not one day went by where I thought I would blow my brains out from the boredom of not being able to walk. My roommates took care of me like I was their own child. They brought me food, movies, entertainment. They carried me up and down the stairs of our apartment. Without any hesitation they would sacrifice an adventure to the beach or another island because i wouldn't be able to make it there even though i insisted they leave me and go and have their own fun. I am honestly so blessed that such beautiful souls came into my life. And at such a crucial time too.

About 10 days after my unfavourable accident, Andy the mentor of Tech Diving approached me and asked if I was busy. Looking down at my foot wrapped up in an angry looking boot and back at him I replied “I have all the time in the world!” classic. But that was the answer he wanted to hear. For some odd and unexplained reason he gave me the opportunity to run/manage the Facebook and Instagram page of Big Blue Tech (if you are reading this give us a cheeky like and follow because if I get 500+ followers I get a bunch of free beers and I like free things.) Why he had faith in leaving me with this responsibility baffles me. Although it isn’t too hard to upload and post photos on social media, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy that he thought of me, crippled with nothing to do. Andy then continued to step up my role, he’s giving me the opportunity to jump in the pool with him to take some photos of his class. And when my foot improves a little bit to be able to walk again, I’ll jump on the boat with him to take photos there also.

I felt so grateful that I was actually given a role in the Big Blue family, and given tasks and activities to fill in my time. Instead of just sitting around for six weeks feeling sorry for myself.

After about a week being all creative on instagram, I was asked by the legends of all legends, he goes by the name of King Phil, how would I feel about writing a blog. Now if I thought being in charge of Instagram and Facebook was already a crazy idea, imagine how I felt about writing a blog. I’m not much of a writer, and I laughed when he asked me thinking he was joking, but he was pretty serious. And here we are now, a hopefully half decent blog written by the biggest amateur author.
To sum things up, my main point of this blog is to describe to everybody that is considering up and leaving their plain, old boring life behind to start a new adventure some place beautiful and tropical, to just do it! Coming to Big Blue was literally one of the best decisions of my life. Never did I think I would come somewhere new and fit in and belong to a new community in a matter of weeks.

If you want to pursue your dream of becoming a Dive Master and/or a Dive Instructor, I highly recommend to do it here. Big Blue is not only a dive centre but a family (if I haven’t made that clear already). I wish there was some sort of way I could return my love and appreciation to them for all they have done to help me while I’m out of the water. I can’t wait for the day I return to the water and become a Dive Master and can make everybody proud.

But in the meantime, I will keep on writing my adventures of Big Blue, post many photos on the Instagram page and keep rocking the crutches. Watch this space…

Eagle Rays' on Koh Tao

Sunday 11th September 2016eagle ray

Its exciting times on Koh Tao, our marine life has seen some new additions recently. The most recent has been the spotted eagle ray. Seen at King Kong and Shark Island. While they have been seen around Koh Tao before it’s always nice to have a few hanging around again

This ray can be identified by its dark dorsal surface covered in white spots or rings. Near the base of the rays’ relatively long tail, just behind the pelvic fins, are several venomous, barbed stingers. Spotted eagle rays commonly feed on small fish and crustaceans, and will sometimes dig with their snouts to look for food buried in the sand of the sea bed. The spotted eagle ray is hunted by a wide variety of sharks. They are now sadly considered near threatened on the IUCN Red List. They are fished mainly in Southeast Asia and Africa, the most common market being in commercial trade and aquariums.

Now all we need is the reef sharks back at Chumphon Pinnacle and to throw in a few Mantas to spice it up a little.

Best Photo Bomb Ever

humpback

Saturday 3rd Septmeber 2016

Now, it’s pretty common knowledge my hatred for the selfie stick, especially while diving and I have also confiscated a few in the past but a story in the news caught my eye. A diver from Australia was diving in Tonga and was very lucky to make friends with a pod of humpback whales while snorkelling. He spent 6 hours playing with them and took many pictures but even I think the humpback photo-bombing him is worthy of praise. If any of you can beat this picture please contact us as this one is quite epic!!

It’s going to be like a normal Saturday night tonight, but instead of hen and stag parties we will see the drunken debauchery of our newly qualified Divemaster Trainees. We see 9 new professionals dressed as the stars of Baywatch, no doubt Simo will be dressed as Pamela Anderson and Mama G will be a red floatation device with ears. We welcome Jarryd, Amy, Rich, Clinton, Jen, Angelica, Nicola, Barbara and Simon to the Big Blue Professional family. Enjoy your hangover and day of no diving tomorrow.

The visibility is stunning right now with a lot of our dive sites seeing 30 plus metres. Sail Rock trips are going out nearly every other day and with Whalesharks being seen recently the trips are filling up pretty quick each day. No Humpbacks though sadly!

Time To Get The Kids Involved

Tuesday 23rd August 2016junioropenwaterdiver

Another successful Swim for Sharks this year. Our very own Nick Bufton came first in the men’s section, narrowly being pipped as overall winner by a girl, but we won’t hold that against him! Simon Garrity came in 10th. It was not an easy swim this year big waves and a huge rainstorm made it very difficult for the swimmers. Swimming caps off to them all. Well done guys and for everyone else who participated in the swim, the shark fin head shaving, the Shark Guardian Team where here again selling many t-shirts, vests and sweatshirt all for a fantastic cause.

August is nearly over and soon the kids will be back at school, so if you are still in Thailand and you have the kids with you bring them along and they can do their Junior Open Water Course. The minimum age for the certification is 10 years old and they are able to dive to 12 metres and once they turn 12 they are then able to dive to 18 metres, which is the normal depth limit for an Open Water certification. The course covers exactly the same as the usual course, but still being at school and having brains that are sponges, the theory is super easy for them. All we ask is that they are able to swim 200 metres and can float or tread water for 10 minutes.

Introducing younger divers to the underwater environment will give them a greater understanding of the impact we are having on the oceans and how important it is to respect our seas. It also helps to quash the misconception the media has put into our minds about sharks, movies like Jaws, Sharknado and The Shallows don’t do the poor creatures much justice. Even Shark Week has slowly turned into “when sharks attack!” instead of explaining why this may be happening. Lack of natural food sources caused by over fishing and the disgusting shark fin black market are making them even more vulnerable than ever, and without these apex predators our seas will die, which in turn means we die.

Very Funny Story Today

Wednesday 10th August 2016engaged

We have a funny story for you today, it was too good not to share.

Once upon a time on a beautiful island in the Gulf of Thailand one of our instructors Reiss was taking a group of divers on a one day Try Scuba Dive, this group consisted of a couple Mike and Kim, and also another lady call Jessica. Mike had mentioned to Reiss that he wanted to pop the question to his girlfriend Kim while diving. Reiss was more than accommodating and was all ready to helping with the romantic gesture. ‘Will You Marry Me?’ was written on a slate and Mike had the ring all ready. Reiss found the perfect spot to kneel everybody down and gave Mike the nod to do his thing. The scene was set, down on one knee he showed the slate then the ring, to her delight she said yes!! But wait, hang on a minute my girlfriend has wearing nail polish on today, oh no! Jessica was delighted to be asked, Kim however was a bit confused! Awkward just a bit, funny hell yes. Luckily Kim saw the funny side and had Mike ask again! Jessica even gave him the ring back so he could give it to the proposed fiancé. Matching wetsuits, matching masks and snorkels it can be easy to get mixed up! HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Mike and Kim who are now successfully engaged. Now that is a story for the groom’s speech!

We also had a celebrity’s daughter learning to dive with us, Carlie Huthart. After a lot of digging and questions she finally dropped her Mums name and we were then in awe. Those British people who read this and are over 20 may remember the Saturday night TV show Gladiators, where athletic competitors took on the Gladiators in various physical games. The Winner in 1994 was a Scouser called Eunice Huthart, and was very famous for her win back in the day. She even went on to BE a Gladiator called Blaze. Eunice became a stunt woman and has been working with Angelina Jolie for years, including Mr and Mrs Smith, Salt, Malificent and a number of other films. Pretty cool hey!

TripAdvisor-2015 - Big Blue Diving

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