Monkey Business

Monkey Business

Created: 2016-09-13

There was once a young, amazing, DiveMaster (Trainee) who was required to complete the PADI Deep specialty to achieve her most desired certification of being a full DM.

Despite having completed numerous dives, she was a little worried about going to 40m but was booked on to do the course in a beautiful part of Spain and was determined to not let her fears overcome her. Her subconscious however had other ideas which presented themselves in the form of a most terrifying dream…

“It was the third dive of the Deep spec and up until now all had been going well, she had done it, she’d gone to 40m and was now bimbling along with her instructor Kerrie and buddy Stef. She looked across and against the coral wall there was a LADDER(!) she thought that this was a terribly interesting thing to be under the sea, especially at 40m, so decided to investigate. What a mistake this turned out to be!!! Upon the ladder there was a MONKEY and as she approached, reached out and touched the ladder, the monkey turned around, and with a most fearsome hiss and bearing all of his teeth, which were pointed and razor sharp (think evil flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz but without the wings), he turned the sea BLACK. 

No torch light could penetrate the blackness and any sense of what was up and what was down was lost. They were all doomed….”

Our heroine decided that it would be best to relay her concerns, including a full account of the dream, to her instructor to gain some reassurance that this would not happen in reality. What a foolish mistake this was. Upon arrival to Spain and in the run up to the dreaded deep dive, there was much talk of monkeys and ladders and also many monkey impressions at the bottom of the sea from everyone on the boat.

The diving was going well and all of the skills were completed without a hitch but this just led to a false sense of security as things were about to take a turn for the worst. When pulling into a lovely sheltered spot for their second dive, she looked up only to see a LADDER attached to the cliff and leading to the sea!!! Panic was beginning to set in and a very sleepless night followed before the dreaded deep dive would be completed the following day.

When it came to the actual dive, things went without a hitch, the monkeys were very nice and decided to stay away and everyone was able to enjoy swimming around the dive site. Her fears had been faced and the utter delight at completing this spec was obvious when it came to the celebrations later that evening (that however is another story that we don’t have time for right now)

Skip forward 2 weeks when the full DiveMaster Course had been completed.

All thoughts of monkeys had been largely forgotten and there had been no more strange dreams. There were still the occasional “Monkey Girl” comments from others in the dive club that she took as a cool new nickname and badge of honour but this would turn out once more to be incorrect!!

At the Christmas party, there were many stories told and much fun and laughter among friends until she decided a comfort break was in order and things once more took a sinister turn. Feeling all refreshed and relieved, she walked back into the pub to be confronted by not just one, not even two but THIRTY THREE people in monkey masks, including bar staff!! Being the amazing cool, calm and collected character that she is though, she took this in her stride and was even able to join in the mask wearing fun.

 

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Where's your favourite warm water diving destination? Anna's sharing another of hers with us today.

SAPARUA ISLAND – BANDA SEA – INDONESIA

Where is Saparua and what’s so special about it?
Saparua is such a tiny island that a google map search probably won’t leave you much the wiser as to its location. Where many avid divers have heard of Raja Ampat (an area, not a single location), a few of those now consider Raja to be dived out, and favour a longer but ultimately more rewarding trip further south to the Lease Islands. Saparua, a speck off Ambon well known for its incredible muck diving, is home to breathtaking wall diving, superb muck sites and gigantic plate and brain corals. Tourism here is virtually zero, I had a guide, a boat and a resort totally to myself for a week. It’s not for everyone, for sure, but as an experienced diver with all my own equipment, getting off the beaten path and having the option to laze around the top of a wall for an hour and a half following an oblivious ghost pipefish, watching a solar powered Nudibranch meander the reef or have a staring match with a scorpionfish was a real bonus.

Why should I dive there?
You’ll be diving where very few people have been, getting into local culture and enjoying the sunsets. As I mentioned above, the dive sites around the island are superb, from an underwater arch entered at 5meters and spews you out at the top of a 100m wall, to huge table corals as far as the eye can see, to fabulously coloured coral covered walls and white sandy valleys for superbly long dives. You can motor down to the uninhabited island of Molana where there are several dive sites.

When to go?
February – April & September - November is good. Ambon, which is the muck diving heaven to the west, can be dived year-round as it’s sheltered, but Saparua lies to the eastern edge of the island cluster. The liveaboards that cruise the Banda sea avoid the in-between months due to those wet and windy seasons. Water temp is around the 28C, air temp up to 30C.

What to take?
Take your own gear – have it serviced beforehand. Take spares / redundancy if you can. Definitely take your own entertainment! And your camera.

Preparation, preparation, preparation !

Consider the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy for holding your position whilst photographing. Definitely look at investing in a good underwater camera with housing and light for both night and wall dives and get to know your way around your rig with the PADI Underwater Digital Photography specialty. I’ve mentioned before… my favourite mid range rig is the Olympus TG6, though I’m itching to get out with one of the new Sealife iPhone housings for (much) lighter travel. (Disclaimer, sadly none of the photos below were taken with either of the above, so don’t judge the quality of the cameras on my photos!). Do consider the PADI Equipment Specialist to get to know your way round your equipment and how to fix any niggly problems that may arise.

Where to stay
I stayed at the most amazing Mahu Lodge. Built and owned by local Paul, it’s now managed by his wonderful son Johann – both of whom speak great English. Mahu lodge is no-frills simple, and the grounds are stunning: huge mature trees including Clove, Nutmeg and giant palm; hibiscus, fruit trees and expansive green lawns give you ample space to relax after diving. The rooms are basic, clean and some have a/c (which, due to the number of trees around, isn’t strictly necessary to be honest). Meals are included and you can ask cook to prepare the local “Papeda” – a seafood stew made from the local sago palm. (Be warned. It’s a texture thing, but it’s cooked right in front of you and it’s an … interesting process).

Splurge. There is no splurge accommodation on Saparua. There are no restaurants in Spararua to spurge on either. And you don’t have to splurge to get pretty much a private dive experience here, that’s just par for the course! You can rent a scooter to see the sights, though you can also hire a driver to do just that. I did splurge (£15) on getting back to Ambon for my flight, as it was Sunday and I’d forgotten the ferry (£7) doesn’t run. See the photo of my private speedboat below! Of course, you could do a liveaboard in the Banda sea which is most definitely a splurge!

Bonus
Do visit the old Dutch fort Benteng Duurstede in the town, and do not miss the detailed, superb but slightly dusty dioramas at the museum next door. You’ll have to hunt around for the keyholder but definitely worth it to learn about how these islands were once the very centre of the nutmeg trade and fiercely fought over. A few metres away is the market – see the sago I mentioned earlier, and a plethora of different fruits and vegetables. It’s incredible to read the history of these once fiercely fought over islands at the centre of the spice trade and realise that they have reclaimed their culture and way of life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banda_Islands

How to get there?
Fly to Ambon via Doha/Singapore and Jakarta, then take a ferry.
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Please join me in congratulating Ocean Turtle Instructor @alunsalt on the amazing achievement of #masterscubadivertrainer

To earn this accolade he has studied to become an instructor in five PADI Specialties and certified 25 divers in various courses. No mean feat!

#diving #scubadiving #padi #oceanturtlediving #sea #ocean #ukdiving #adventure #underwater #livingthedream
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One of our Ocean Turtle Diving Hatchlings, Maisie, has written this great blog that we wanted to share.

My name is Maisie, I am now eleven years old and earlier in the year I passed my Junior PADI open water and dry suit diver qualification in February 2020 when I was ten years old. I saved all my money I got from my family for Christmas to be able to pay for the course. The course was tough and being in February very cold; but the Ocean Turtle Team were incredibly supportive.

I got inspiration for diving when I went to Greece in 2019. I did a pool dive followed by scuba diving in the sea. I started then to realise I loved scuba diving.

I love going scuba diving to see all the sea creatures and I would like to start helping the underwater environment. I am planning to go diving in the Red Sea next year (2021) and to hopefully get my photographer diver course, to examine the different types of sea creatures from Egypt (Marsa Alam) and the UK (Cornwall or Porthkerris). I have done multiple dives in different places, for example: Porthkerris, Vobster, Wraysbury and Greece. I also practice and keep up to date with my diving by practising my skills in the swimming pool.

In the future I hope to become more skilled and one day get my Master Qualification and learn more about the underwater world.

Maisie

To book your Hatchling onto a PADI Junior Open Water Course click the link below. They can begin their self-study over lockdown. https://shop.oceanturtlediving.com/shop/diving/en/view-course/padi-courses/begin-your-learning-journey/padi/open-water-diver-winter-12701
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