kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
Yup. I went back to Mexico.
But this was a few weeks ago. In November. For Thanksgiving.
And it was awesome.

Did a lot of diving. Here's one of many videos posted to my Vimeo page.

kumimonster: (dive Plane)

OK!

So for day 2 and 3 I went out with the resort team and boat. (Sailing Club Divers)
Day 2 was with my travel buddy Richard. Day 3 I went solo.
Each day we were accompanied by DiveMaster Vu.
Day 2: octopus rock & tri minh treat's
Day 3: south bay & coral garden


(Some of this is kind of a re-hashing of my first post).

Now initially when I inquired about diving, I sent an e-mail directly to the resort. It was not mentioned that they worked with Sailing Club Divers. I found that out later. I'm not sure how I did though.
I sent an e-mail to the resort's general inquiry address and it was then forwarded to the "experience manager" - (both on April 24). I then sent off more questions on April 25th and since I did not get a response, I sent off another e-mail on May 7th. I did get a response to that one (which didn't even answer half of the questions I had on the April 25 e-mail). I wrote back immediately with a couple of more questions however I got no reply whatsoever after that.

Since it was getting close to my departure date, I decided to write another e-mail once again (on May 12). This time I had already done a bit more research (however evidently not enough) and decided to go with another company because I was getting the feeling that my business really wasn't wanted. So when I wrote to the activities manager, I asked about getting a transfer to the mainland because I had decided to go with another company. I got a response on May 12 telling me that in order to get a transfer to the mainland it would require a private boat at a cost of $150 (one way). I don't know why this information wasn't given to me in a previous e-mail when I mentioned going out with another operator. On May 13 I sent an e-mail to the resort thanking them for the information and mentioning trying to work something out with Sailing Club. I got no further response.
(I'm under the impression that the person I was talking to wasn't a Sailing Club employee but worked for the resort so this first part isn't about the dive operator!)

I should also add that it's at this point in time that Kerry from Rainbow Divers stepped in to figure out transport to the mainland for my dive with them. I was determined to dive Electric Nose, however my following dive day with Richard was going to be with Sailing Club.

I also sent an e-mail off to Sailing Club Divers directly on May 9 and included in my message that I was staying at the Six Senses. I much prefer to book my dives well in advance but Dom, the person I was in touch with told me that the resort maintained a dedicated staff just for resort guests so it wasn't necessary. I also asked about 3-tank dives and diving Electric Nose but their boats just don't go out that far and the timing of their dives really doesn't allow for 3-tank days. However he did say that it'd be worked out (the dives, not the site). Since I didn't pack a camera, I asked about that and I was given a price of 550,000 VND. (Oh and 2-tank dives were 4,000,000 VND and the 3-tank pricing I got was 5,000,000 VND).
As far as the communication regarding these dives, Dom seemed open, enthusiastic and actually interested in responding to my questions in regards to dive sites, numbers of dives, gear, and my not-so-experienced dive buddy.

We arrived at the resort on a Sunday. I did my first dive on Monday (with Rainbow). Upon my return back from the mainland I walked over to the activities area and met up with Vu. We spoke about diving and I verbalized what I had previously written in regards to getting into the water. He also explained to me how 3-tanks weren't really feasible but I was kind of insistent on trying so he said they would bring an extra tank. In the end, it didn't happen. (Richard, my travel buddy didn't care really).

I probably should add here that the prices that Vu gave me were not the ones that matched the prices I got from Dom. It's not Vu's fault and I do realize that the resort's prices for diving are going to cost more. The resort isn't exactly your bargain basement set up! It requires a speedboat to bring divers to their main dive boat and there's a slightly greater distance to travel however I did show him the e-mail from Dom. I think someone needs to get their numbers in order. ;-)
The thing that sucks is that higher price would've cut heavily into my tipping money too!

So Richard and I got fitted for our gear and then the next morning we set out to the dock and met up with Vu and the captain with our gear already on board. We met up with the main dive boat over at the Hon Mun Marine park and transferred ourselves over and then got suited up. When we got to the dive site, we tied up to two other dive boats (different operators) and although they also had divers, we didn't really run into them that often.
We both put on 3mm full suits. The water was pretty warm but there were some chilly spots. We didn't go much past 40 feet though. That might've been the max depth actually. It's a great site for new divers with no current or surge to speak of. If I remember correctly the first dive was pretty flat with coral spread out everywhere. On the second dive there was a slightly sloping bottom with outcroppings of coral and sand as you got deeper.  Pretty clear vis and some nice fish to look at. Also a frog fish and sea cucumbers and cute little gobies. I spotted a couple of nudies but otherwise, not much else. Not to say there wasn't anything there, I was just on the hunt for nudies since I saw so many the day before.
Vu told me that the sites we hit on this day were called Octopus Rock and Tri Minh's Treat (both right near each other and north of the island at the west end).
I rented a camera for this day. I suck at taking photos. I need a better camera to make up for my suck status.
Anyway, lots n lots of coral and clams and black longspined urchin everywhere. I love seeing the feather stars too. Personally, I enjoyed being in the water but I was pretty bored at these two sites.
Richard enjoyed the second dive more.
Gorgeous area though.

Since we were from the resort, they had a packed lunch for us which was a very, hearty club sandwich as well as fruit - more than we could eat!

When we got back, we chilled out at the activities center and I ended up booking another dive for the next day. Since Richard was going to do his manly spa treatments, the dives would be costing me a lot more since I had to pay a single supplement fee of 2,000,000 VND (according to the e-mail I got). Not sure how much it really was. I guess I'll find out! I would've loved to have gone out with Rainbow to the Electric Nose site but I didn't think that there was enough time to deal with arranging that. So I decided to go out with Vu again. Oh, and we HAD to go to a different dive site as well. :-D

---------------------


And so we did! On the next day we hit South Bay and Coral Garden. I enjoyed these dives a lot more. And it's this day that I wished I had an awesome camera (and that if I did, that I was a decent shooter). But I didn't so most of this is from memory. It was a more leisurely dive since we didn't have to worry about my travel buddy floating away. And I got to maximize my air (The day before I'd barely go thru a 1/3 of my tank before having to come up).
Again the speedboat took us over and we tied up to a couple of other boats with new divers going for their open certs. The dives I did however were not hampered in any way by the classes or other divers on the boat which was really nice. Vu and I got to take our time.
So as we cruised along I kept looking for the tiny things as we swam along over the coral. I finally decided to stop and look around and that's when I realized we were surrounded by a mounds of hard and soft coral in a rainbow of colours. It was really gorgeous.

Saw a few nudies - not as much as day 1 - but also saw some giant clams - really nicely sized ones with scutes n all. Gorgeous variety of mantel colors as well.
The sea cucumber we spotted was pretty big as well and trucking along with its tentacles out in front. Never saw one moving/feeding like that before.
There were a few shrimp as well including a rainbow mantis that tucked itself away under some coral. Gorgeous, scary thing! Frog fish, lion fish. And again, more of that long spined black urchin everywhere.

All in all a much better day of diving for me. I'd love to check out that site once more if I ever got to come back.
I hope Vu didn't think I was a pain in the butt!

kumimonster: (dive)
(part 1 here. copy/pasted from scubaboard thread).



So here's another update!
Ended up diving for 3 days in the end. There were some great and good experiences and some hiccups too but in the end it all came through. (However it's not rocket science, it's a holiday and really it shouldn't be that much trouble!)

But before I recount my experiences, I should clarify again, that I am staying at the Six Senses resort. It's not actually near the city and accessing the resort requires a boat. The guests arriving and departing the resort are transported to/from the mainland via speedboat. Other than private hires and booked excursions, guests are pretty much "trapped." (Can one say "trapped" when you're talking about some super fancy luxury resort? I've got a freaking butler assigned to me here!). Anyway, four times a day staff is shuttled back and forth as well but on a wooden boat that takes just over 35 minutes. The dock it stops at is called Pearl Farm and almost 30 minutes' drive north of the city. In my post above, I thought that the Rainbow Divers' boat would be able to pick me up directly from the resort however I learned that no boats are allowed here without prior permission from the resort manager - so it's definitely something that needs to be sorted out in advance.

So to start, my first day of diving was with Rainbow Divers. It was Kerry P. that I communicated with for the majority of the time. It was Kerry that was most pro-active about responding to my e-mails and getting my questions answered. And it was Kerry that finally got an answer out of the resort about my transfer over to the mainland: instead of hiring a private speedboat at $120 (the price quote I received was $150), I would take the am staff boat at 0645 which would get me to the mainland (approx 0715). From there a car would take me to the dive shop and then to the main harbor. Luckily, since I was hiring a speedboat for my dives, I wasn't under the same time constraints as those that were diving via the main boat! Things seemed to be getting later and later as departures got slightly delayed. FYI, this whole time I had Kerry's mobile number in case things didn't go smoothly. (She did call the driver to find out where he was after I waited at the Pearl Farm dock for almost 15 minutes).

I didn't bring any gear besides my mask, computer, warm water gloves, and an SMB. So I used the shop's gear. I also paid for a Rainbow photographer come along (Iain Wood).
My dive companion for this day was Mr. Anh and he was a great buddy and quite skilled at spotting all the little things.
When I asked other companies about this dive site - Electric Nose - most of them didn't go out there and/or said the diving there wasn't that great. They also mentioned that it was not in the Marine Park and that a lot of dynamite fishing occurs there. I found one review online that raved about the dive site with details and explanations and a few one-liners that said that it wasn't worth the trip. My opinion: it was well worth the trip! Also, best to get 3 tanks and make the most out of the journey!

We primarily swam around rock walls that went down to about 45 meters /147 feet (that's what people say). There's no need to go that far down however. Actually, there's not really any need to do much swimming because there's simply a lot of life hanging out in various outcroppings of a single wall. From coral to stars, clams to sponges!  Lots of little and not so little hermit crabs hanging out, and of course the nudies! So many different kinds in more easier to see sizes (about 2-4 inches) to the ones that could comfortably fit on the top of a pencil. And in such a variety of colours! Saw a few flatworms too. If you're looking for big fish, there are some here but they're not *that* abundant (We did spot a barracuda swimming along). Come here to check out the super small things!

I wore a 3mm full. The water temp in this location changes constantly as you swim between rock faces and it does so at various depths.  The dives here are deeper than at the Hon Mun Marine Park and even there I wore a 3mm full - granted they were rental suits had quite a bit of stretch in them so I had a decent amount of water flow. But then I'm used to the cooler Monterey water so maybe that helped me out a little bit.
On this day there was a small amount of current but nothing to write home about. As most of the online sources say, it is not a site for new divers.

The nitty gritty: Rainbow Divers charges $95 (US) for a 3-tank dive. The private speedboat out to Electric Nose ran me $150 (US). There was a fee for the photographer and yes, I did tip out as well. All in all, slightly a bit on the pricey side for 3 tanks but then running a boat out for a single person isn't the most cost efficient practice (there was the capt, and 2 DMs (one in the water with, and one out). In addition, I knew I wasn't going to be on a boat with a ton of other divers/snorkelers. I know that's a prime selling point for a lot of divers. I read on some other site that another company charged a couple around $65 for 3-tanks - but then that just seems a bit crazy low for me. In any case, if I had time to go out again, I'd go out to this dive site and I'd book with Rainbow Divers to take me there.

(thanks for reading! more on days 2/3 later)

Also Iain posted with some photos from our dive at Electric Nose.
I'm the white q-tip head so just disregard the human in those shots.
Also, I hate weight belts. And those fins. The tops of my toes aren't happy.

http://soulflyer.com/gallery/electric-nose.html
kumimonster: (dive Turtle)
So I'm learning that the resort I'm staying at outside of Nha Trang is pretty damn remote. Or it might not be. But I do know that getting out of the resort and into town at odd hours will set you back $150 - each way.
I guess it's one of those places that would rather you stay within the resort - or at least use the vendors they work with in order to get away.

This means that another wrench has been thrown into my diving plans.

This also explains the $200 2-tank dive price at the resort with Sailing Club Divers. We're just a further distance away from the Marine Park as well as city harbor where most of the dive boats start out.

I wrote to the resort a couple of weeks ago and shot-gunned off a number of questions. I really would've wished that they could've supplied this information with me before I looked into booking dives with other operators. (Why not say, "FYI we are some distance away from town and further away from the dive sites so we work with a dive operator here at the resort in order to save you some time/money. However you can contact other operators, but they leave from the main harbor in nha trang and that is FAR AWAY! BTW, if you want to leave the resort at odd hours to meet other dive boats we can totally arrange that - $150. each way." BAM!)

I can't help feeling a little resentful at finding this out now.
Oh, and another thing that annoys me is how the first responses I get to my initial diving inquiries pretty much pushed taking PADI dive courses (open water, AOW, EANx, rescue... )
I could understand that if I wrote asking about trying out diving but I did not. I included my cert information. I also asked questions regarding other things like water temp, thermocline... I don't know. Maybe I just think that the process seems kind of like a PADI machine where they feel a need to get people into the system rather than treat them as divers with (some) experience. (I can't help but think about how great my dealings with Ed Robinson's Dive Adventures in Maui was. It seemed there, divers were treated like divers rather than new meat for the PADI grinder).

I'm determined to make this work. Even though this is starting to become increasingly insane! The boat rides are starting to cost 3x more than the dives themselves!!!

I'm still going with Rainbow Divers - Nha Trang for the first day though even tho I'm going to shell out $300 for the private speedboat to the Electric Nose dive site (3 tanks is only going to be $95).
Because from what I've just learned, the boat from the resort to their Pearl Farm harbor is $150. Then I'd have to take a 30 minute car ride via taxi into town (about $20). Then if I stuck to my original plans, I'd shell out another $150 for Rainbow Diver's speedboat to the dive site. So instead, I'm splurge and get the direct pick up from the resort and give RD some more of my cash. I hope this dive site is worth it!

I sent a response off to Sailing Club and asked about getting more details for diving with Richard on the 27th. I asked about adding a 3rd tank option. Hopefully they'll respond. But either way, it looks like we'll probably go diving with them instead of RD on Wed.
kumimonster: (dive Plane)
Wow. This has been a little difficult.

I'm sure the time difference hasn't helped but initially it seemed like I really had to press people and send multiple e-mails in order to get my questions answered!
Unlike my previous experiences with EdRobinsonsDiveAdventures or Extended Horizons in Maui where I was able to book almost immediately, this has taken a couple of weeks. Actually, one place took over 2 weeks to respond to my e-mails!


Vietnam has not been known as a dive destination in the past but the industry seems to be steadily growing in Nha Trang.
With the initiation of the Hon Mun Marine Protected Area in 2001, diving seems to have become more attractive to locals and tourists alike.
As with many other countries in SE Asia, uncontrolled fishing practices have destroyed a lot of the sea life but in the MPA, coral and other flora/fauna have been able to grow and develop.

"The Nha Trang Bay MPA is about 13,000 hectares and comprises many important habitats including coral reefs, seagrass and mangrove areas. Nha Trang Bay houses the highest coral reef diversity of any surveyed location in Vietnam. Due to its biodiversity values, Nha Trang Bay is an “area of highest national priority” for marine conservation and coastal tourism."

localmapmun-island-nha-trang

So I have to do a little bit of research to figure out where I'm going and even though Nha Trang is the major city, it's not actually where I'm staying. The map I posted here I found online on some resort's website however it's just about where I'm staying (Ninh Van). Mun Island is where most of the divers go.

After hitting some online forums to get some information on the local diving, I wrote to a handful of dive operators - the ones that had the best reviews on Tripadvisor. I also contacted the Six Senses Resort about their offerings and they explained that they do work with a local dive operator (that maintains a "shop" at the resort) and sent me a pricelist. I immediately balked at the $200 2-tank dive price.

I eventually contacted Sailing Club divers and learned that they're the operator that the resort works with and instead of sending me a pricelist for dives leaving out of Nha Trang, I once again got the price-list featuring the 4,000,000 VND 2-tank dives ($200 US approx). I was also told that 3-tank dives aren't offered because of the hours of the Marine Protected Area - apparently the boat at the resort leaves later than boats from the city. They meet up with regular boat operations already in progress. I'd rather get up early and get in 3 tanks!  Oh and I was also told that I could just pop over to get these dives scheduled. (There's a dedicated staff at the resort). I guess I'm used to planning things in advance because there's just less disappointment that way.

Also, in my initial e-mails to operators I do explain that I am a certified diver that isn't interested in taking an open water PADI course. They keep trying to push the courses! My buddy is certified as well (however still a novice) but he had taken a refresher a couple of weeks ago.
I've been asking which areas are suitable for a new diver and current water temps and suggestions about gear, etc. I also mention that getting 3-tank dive days is important for me because I want to take advantage of my time there!
Each time it's like pulling teeth. For ever 10 questions, I might get answers to 2 or 3. I seriously started to wonder if these places really want my business.

I learned about a place up north about 2.5 hours called Whale Island from the Rainbow Divers website which is a remote and nice area as well but according to one person I contacted the whale sharks that used to be in the area aren't really out there any more. My initial excitement about planning that excursion has passed. This might be a good thing because it'd be $100 for the journey up there via road, otherwise a $600 speedboat ride - either way it also required a super early AM wake up time. It's not totally out though, there are afternoon/evening shore dives offered.

--------------------------------------

So far I've primarily been in contact with Rainbow Divers and it looks like they're the company that's going to be taking my money.
Finally getting dives sorted out. I wanted to try out a couple of operators but I guess it's going to be RD since they're are the only ones that seem to be actively responding in the most timely manner. The time difference also makes things a bit more of a hassle.

rainbow-divers-nha-trang

Apparently Whale Island no longer lives up to the hype so the 26th I'm going to take a private speedboat to the Electric Nose dive sites even though another operator told me that I'd probably not enjoy it due to the dynamite fishing. Yeah, I suppose whale song is a better soundtrack to dive to but I'll just have to live with the fact that it's not going to happen EVERY time I get underwater... Speedboat is gonna cost me $300. 3-tanks is going to be just under $100. I get picked up at the resort.

v-nha-trang-s dive_map_sm

The 27th I'll be diving with Richard at the Hon Mun Marine Protected Area - a variety of nice and easier sites for 3 more relaxing dives! Thought it'll most likely be on one of those nice n full boats with a bunch of other people. We'll get a $30 transfer into the city to get our paperwork and gear sorted out, and then we head out! Afterwords, there's a bar attached to the dive shop. I think that's where we'll be!

There are other activities in Nha Trang but I'm so very tempted to book a third day of diving... !!!
We'll just have to see how things progress!
kumimonster: (mann argyle)
picked up some new scuba gear before the hawaii trip
just a pair of boots and gloves
but i gotta say, wow. love them both!

from my facebook:
So the first time I saw the Aqua Lung series created for women I wanted to try it out. It features vibrant, gorgeous purple accents (NOT PINK!) and I could appreciate the details that were taken into consideration... (list of details on website:
http://women.aqualung.com/women/us/gear/details-by-aqua-lung )

Didn't have a reason to really get new gear before but I figured it was time so I made 2 little purchases yesterday and got the Cora gloves & the Ellie Ergo boot (7mm).



I got the thicker version of these boots (7mm instead of 5mm). I figured I could wear them in Hawaii (warm feet no problem!) and when I get back home to our colder California waters. There's no zipper so I'm curious to see how the boot will work with my ScubaPro semi-dry (they never made a boot to go with the suit!!). I think they'll work a LOT better than the aqualung boots I have now especially since the layering will now be a lot smoother with better surface contact. I should get another pair so I can attempt to put some liquid latex at the top so it'll "stick" more with the 2 inner semi-dry "sticky" layers of my wetsuit.




These boots are so comfortable. I feel like I'm walking on marshmallows while encased in warm marshmallows too!

---
So far, these gloves are super! Rather than a simply shrunken man's glove, it has slightly longer, slimmer palms and fingers that seem to fit a more feminine hand. Well, they say that on the website anyway but it's really true. I really like how these gloves fit! My normal glove size is 6.5 and in these I got an XS. I can't wait to put them to use in the water (obviously I got these for warm water use).

----------
OK! so back from Hawaii and got in about 9 dives. (4 days of diving, 2 tanks per day except one day which had 3 tanks).
The boots were great and super comfy. Though I did get some water inside at times. But then I didn't layer anything over the boot so that was expected. I've yet to try them out in our cold water with my semi-dry Nova Scotia suit. Sure it's easier to take the boot on/off with a zipper but I kind of like the feel and look of the smooth unzippered piece.

The gloves worked out great too. I just prefer having something over my hands. They were comfy, they fit great and worked as they should while underwater. So far they've retained their shape/fit after my use. We'll have to see how they hold up after more dives!

Kumi Monstar's photo.

kumimonster: (mann argyle)
as usual, i've been neglecting my LJ
so here's a post.

my new year's resolution was to dive more.
which i did the before the first week of the year was done!

oversized landscape shot!


https://31.media.tumblr.com/f79b90ce40799bbda33e1cfacbbafa40/tumblr_mz0aebvUJg1qz6w4ko5_1280.jpg

monterey was gorgeous (and the rest of the US was dealing with a lot of snow and freezing temps).
kumimonster: (mann argyle)
Early in September I went diving.
It was gorgeous
so I just gotta share this pano shot i took with my ipod
loving the panoramic photo ability!



moblog link
http://kumimonster.tumblr.com/post/60084990288/2013-september-01-monterey
kumimonster: (mann argyle)

hello LJ world.
yes. I need to use this more.
at least I keep my moblog updated.
it's June now. another year half-gone.

just been working, schooling, and rockmed-ing.

oh, and trying to get more diving in too.
Did my first boat-dive out of Monterey.
I've only ever did shore stuff up here.
Gotta say, it was nice not having the long surface swim out, and not having to climb up a sandy beach.
It was also great seeing humpback whales put on a show.
What sucked was a delayed start (captain was late) and a long trip out towards Carmel.
Actually, it wasn't the length of the journey, it was the boat and the diesel fumes that wafted back and seemed to settle where the tanks and gear were set up. You know, at the aft, where the majority of seats were? And in the enclosed cabin space? There too. In fact, I started to get drowsy and feel sick due to lack of oxygen (motion sickness isn't a problem for me). I ended up going forward where waves pelted the other divers - who were pretty much all in full dive gear (minus tanks & BCDs).
I skipped the 1st dive because of raging headache and feeling ill - which was a good idea. Did the 2nd and 3rd dives tho.
Over all, fun day. Not sure I'd charter that boat again, cuz the diesel issues just sucked. However the crew was super great and friendly.

kumimonster: (dive)

A few days ago, the steps to ban possession and sales of shark fins started to move forward in Sacramento, California. Hawaii has already passed laws against shark fin possession (restaurants do have a grace period to get rid of their current stocks).
The Mariana Islands (U.S. territory east of the Philippine Sea and west of the Mariana Trench) just passed a ban last month. Guan

Our local news sources have been posting a new flood of articles on the subject - most of them supporting the ban and obviously biased for the new bill.

PBS hosted a discussion on the topic: (article and audio).
They also touch upon non-threatened species and opposing view points (but not a lot).

http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/feb/22/legislation-ba…

change.org article:
http://news.change.org/stories/california-considers…

sign the petition if you'd like:
http://www.change.org/petitions/join-the-apa-allian…

-------

 

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/20…
kumimonster: (janaGrin)
pretty much what i've been doing.

oh, but some things once in a while

like i finally sorted out my primary/secondary care certification so now i'm a certified rescue diver. that's kind of cool.
otherwise, working on the finding work thing. might have had a lil breakthrough. I'll see in a bit.

followed up with a nice visit to Monterey/Carmel for a dive. wow! cold. water! but even colder surface interval! then on the 2nd dive, my suit decided to get a lil leaky so that got a little miserable.

2011 january 10 - carmel

2011 january 10 - carmel

2011 january 10 - monterey

2011 january 10 - monterey

dive was followed up by yummy diner at Hula's in Monterey. nom nom nom!

a couple days later drove up to some place called megalia with my parents to visit family. it's in the middle of close to nowhere. north of yuba city. I've never been there before - at least as far as i can remember. (my uncle says i have been by but i don't recall).

hmm. i was going to write more but i'm tired. what a wimply blog. must do better (as i've said before). but this little bit is better than nothing. ugh.
◾ Tags:
kumimonster: (sdgPiraeus)
I've been seriously craving a diving trip but unfortunately, funds are an issue. I have to save so I can blow it all in Hawaii! But still, after I got back from Texas, I didn't want to spend a stagnant week just bouncing around craigslist and other places (still looking for a new gig).

While I was looking up dive operators in Hawaii, I realized some of them charge over 2-3x more than here! So I decided to just get in some scuba related stuff this week regardless by signing up for the Rescue Diver course. :-) Which I did.
Saturday required a trip down to Monterey and some in-water sessions at Breakwater. It seemed like it was going to be a chore because of the weather forecast but in the end, the skies were clear, the sun was out and the water not too terrible after all!
Oh and to make my trip easier, I drove half way down to Santa Cruz to spend the night with [livejournal.com profile] rjkeener  and [livejournal.com profile] misscon . We hit the Jury Room for a show while I avoided pounding shot after shot of JD (didn't want to be feeling like shite in the am). I woke up with the sun (and my alarm) and bundled up for the drive down CA-1 along the coast. That was pretty damn nice too!


2010 november 19 - santa cruz

2010 november 19 - santa cruz

2010 november 19 - santa cruz

2010 november 20 - santa cruz to monterey

2010 november 20 - santa cruz to monterey

2010 november 20 - monterey

2010 november 20 - monterey
kumimonster: (dive)
In the end, I went with two dive operators.
My dentist gave me a Saturday off so I booked a Gordo Banks trip with Manta. I woke up really early for the trip - (especially difficult after a sunset jungle booze cruise - 200 pesos, all you can drink gahhhh). I got to the shop only to find out that the 4 other people who were supposed to go canceled. that sucked. They ended shifting me to the local dives trip which was cool, especially since I ran into a friend i'd not seen in 10 years! Her friend dove with Nacho, and we ended up going with Mr Polo.  I love the morays! Swimming with sea lions is always fun (tho after a while I prefer other things). Saw some mantas jumping into the air but of course, I didn't get those on camera. GRRRR!

2010 october 16 - cabo san lucas

2010 october 16 - cabo san lucas

2010 october 16 - cabo san lucas











There's a lot more underwater photos here in my LJ scrapbook - and even more at my facebook gallery.

Manta was pretty awesome but a bit on the pricey side for the local dives. I also had to pay an additional $20 to use a computer which isn't included in the dive gear rental price ($25). I splurged a bit and paid $30 for photos. oh, and I used Nitrox - 3 tanks. The morning's dives set me back a little over $200.

I also scheduled an afternoon dive with Cabo Deep Blue - recommended by my hotel activities desk. Manta was kind enough to allow me to hold on to the dive computer I used. When I got to Deep Blue, I spoke to Oscar, the owner and he actually suggested I not go diving with them since I would be going to the exact same spots. He said it would be better to go another day. I really appreciated his honesty! I asked about other dives they were planning and he told me all were local. But in the end, they offered to set up a corridor destination for me on a Wed am. awesome!

I ended up having a full Tuesday off. I woke up early and attempted to find an operator. I called around to a few places but all were doing local dives. One operator stood out from them all: Amigos Del Mar. I could hear the owner in the background shouting questions to the person I was speaking to on the phone. He kept asking, "When was her motherfucking last dive?" or "Where was her god-damned mother-fucking last dive?!" The man on the phone translated, "Excuse me, Miss, when was your last dive?" I replied, "3 days ago, with Manta." The guy in the background kept repeating himself because he obviously didn't like the answer. Also, I think I heard him say something about Manta not being good enough. The guy on the phone translated this into "We require all divers to do a local dive - with us." I said that it wasn't going to happen. In the end, they offered me a Gordo Banks trip on the Wed AM and I declined. I already had the Deep Blue Wed AM booked. I told the guy on the phone that he sounded very nice and I thanked him for his help. I also told him that his boss sounded like a right cunt and I was sorry he worked for a god-damned mother-fucking asshole.

Later, I was to learn more about this operator from other local dive instructors and customers!

The funny thing about companies requiring divers to do a local dive with them might seem to make sense, but in the end, it really doesn't. They don't ask you to set up any gear, in fact it seemed to me that it was discouraged.  Divers were on holiday so didn't need to. Of course, when I pressed they didn't mind. Dive computers are not required - at least for the local. All that is asked is that divers stick with the DM/DI and not go deeper. Ah, and safety sausages weren't required either - though I brought mine with me and actually ended up needing it!

The local dives (Lands End, Pelican Rock, Sandfalls, Neptunes Finger, etc) actually should require a sausage. There's so much boat traffic that it'd be easy to run over a separated, surfaced diver. Below, the water is nice, the sea lions fun, but the constant noise of the engines is pretty annoying.

So then, Tuesday. After my wonderful phone call with Amigos Del Mar, I decided to give up and headed to breakfast since it was too late to get on any out-going, non-local dive boats. I saw Oscar, the owner of Cabo Deep Blue in the hotel lobby with a group of Japanese divers. (He speaks Japanese fluently). I spoke to him a bit and then decided to just go diving with them albeit the local destination. They were really nice and I wanted to be under the water! On this day, a couple of the divers were finishing up their certification. There was also a cruise ship in town so I dove with a lady who had to get away from her shopping buddies and a guy who just wanted to get one dive in - plus his g/f didn't dive (WTF??!?)
The girls went down with their DI, and we jumped in the water with Garry.
Only did 2 dives that day. Got gear but no computer. No Nitrox. It cost me $85.
Afterward, I went with Garry and got some sushi nom nom nom. My treat!

2010 october 19 - cabo san lucas

2010 october 19 - cabo san lucas

Wednesday, I booked 3 dives with Cabo Deep Blue. We headed out to the Corridor and started at the Blowhole. I went down with Garry and another diver (who I'd see the following day too).  There was also another DM there from the shop diving solo and shooting images. (GRR he saw sharks, turtles, and some other stuff). Saw some different life which was nice. Loved seeing the zebra moray. And some rays. Also, it was a lot more peaceful. There was no constant droning of boat engines. It seemed like we were actually diving. We all cruised along at a slow but constant pace and it was nice. The second location was Twin Dolphins. Again, great dive but a lot more current. When we surfaced we couldn't see the boat at all, but I had my sausage so once that was inflated, the boat came and found us. (I have one of those cheap $10 things but damn! It's like 7 ft tall and does the job a lot better than those fancy fold-up stick things or the little 3 ft tall self-inflating ones! It is a bitch to fold up tho.) The other guy had only 2 dives booked so we headed back to the Marina to get another tank (the other DM who was solo used one of my nitrox tanks).

My third dive of the day was just with Garry. We headed to the local dive area and straight for Middle Wall. There we jumped in and headed straight down to 130 ft. Now that was cool. There were no other divers in the area and it was almost eerie with some tall outcroppings and little passages. Some different life too. My computer was beeping a lot. lol. But we slowing swam along the wall while going up a bit. I really liked this dive - I think I liked it more than the sea lions. Yeah. Definitely.

The 3 dives for that day were just over $100 (including the gear rental, 2 nitrox/1 air tank, + dive computer). NICE!

2010 october 20 - cabo san lucas

2010 october 20 - cabo san lucas

2010 october 20 - los cabos

2010 october 20 - los cabos

2010 october 20 - los cabos

The last dives of my trip were with Manta. I woke up early and rang them up around 7am after checking their website and seeing they had a Gordo Banks trip scheduled. I spoke to Kiki on the phone and he said to come on down. I asked if Mr Polo was working and he said he was too!
I got my shit together and walked over to Manta. BTW, after coming back from the dive, I noticed that the prices on the Manta and Deep Blue sites are listed the same ($175) for this dive - though it seems the rental gear is a little different - and I wonder if sometimes Deep Blue includes the gear in the price. In the end, it works out the same since I tip out the DM and boat captain sometimes. Ended up spending over that though cuz of the Nitrox and computer rental in addition to the gear.

This dive was a little crowded with about 10 divers. It was also a little rougher out on the water and some of the divers were not happy with the boat moving to and fro. Personally, I like it. It took about an hour and 15 minutes to get there and we were the only dive boat. But there were fishing boats out. So then, this time, I had to throw on a full 3mm suit. The water was still around 85F but at 125 feet down the were a dramatic change which we noticed immediately. It wasn't too bad for me but I noticed at least one diver look a bit uncomfortable. Basically, we all head straight down the line to about 60 feet or so. Maybe it was 80. In any case, it's basically so we can hunt for the sharks. By hunting, I mean look for. That way we can then swim deeper towards them without using up all the bottom time. Unfortunately, for both dives we didn't get to see any hammerheads. But it was still enjoyable.

Oh, and on this dive, I met a lady who happened to have been in the Amigos del Mar shop the morning I made my phone call. She said she, as well as everyone else in the shop, got to listen to the owner screaming and cursing live! HAH!

2010 october 21 - los cabos

2010 october 21 - los cabos
^^kikimolamola^^

2010 october 21 - los cabos
^^mr polo in the middle - the guy on the left was diving with me the day before too!^^

2010 october 21 - los cabos

so yeah. manta and cabo deep blue were awesome. i would definitely recommend both and dive with both again. !!!!!




kumimonster: (dougKiama)
i completely dropped the ball on the 22nd.
why?
well, too busy diving!
omg. water was sooo nice!

but i did get some photos

2010 july 22 - San Clemente

  2010 july 22 - san clemente

I even spent time in between dives on the top deck getting sunburned - topless when no one was around - when i could.
yeah. i remember the dives this day were great. lovely kelp and great sunlight poking thru...

2010 july 23

headed back to ensenada finally.
on the way back we saw a grey whale off in the distance.
then while watching the photo montage the captain spotted a huge pod of dolphins off to starboard so we changed direction to put ourselves into the middle of them... there were 100's!!!


after the dolphins, i went below to pack up my things...

  2010 july 23 - off ensenada

final photos on board
  2010 july 23 - ensenada

  2010 july 23 - ensenada

in case you forgot you were in mexico, there was one giant big ass flag to remind you:
  2010 july 23 - ensenada

  2010 july 23 - ensenada

  2010 july 23 - ensenada

  2010 july 23 - ensenada

  2010 july 23 - ensenada

  2010 july 23 - ensenada

and then the drive back to san diego via tijuana, etc...

  2010 july 23 - ensenada to san diego

  2010 july 23 - ensenada to   san diego

  2010 july 23 - ensenada to   san diego

But I didn't go home after that. Ended up staying in San Diego for a couple of days.
That get's its own blog...












kumimonster: (dive)
OK> now this is going to be from memory since I just about stopped writing every day while I was on the boat. I was just either too lazy or... too busy! haha. Luckily I have the moblog images and the occaisional tweets that may have helped a bit!

2010 july 21

as usual woke up early and had the first breakfast as we cruised over to the dive site. omg. the water seemed like it was going to be cold too but as we were headed to the Eureka Oil Platform, I decided not going in was not going to be an option.

 2010 july 21 - eureka oil  platform

So yeah. i did the first one. and yeah. it was cold! But I saw some neat things, even harbor seals that played in the water though most were just chilling out where they could.

 2010 july 21 - eureka oil platform

 2010 july 21 - eureka oil platform

 2010 july 21 - eureka oil  platform

I skipped the 2nd dive. Brrr! But after lunch, we headed over to Santa Catalina where the sun decided to make an appearance. Some of us got to dive around Long Point and then afterwards we were offered the option to dive again, or hit Avalon - I did the latter where we found establishments that served beverages that were made from alcohol. *hic*

 2010 july 21 - santa  catalina (long point)

 2010 july 21 - santa  catalina (casino point)

 2010 july 21 - santa  catalina / avalon

mango margarita ! and some shots of tequila from melody...
 2010 july 21 - santa  catalina / avalon

 2010 july 21 - santa  catalina / avalon


then it was back to the boat.
i had dinner and then ended up going to bed.
i heard lots of the others that went ashore entertained themselves and the other divers by dancing and drinking a little bit more.
dirty divers!

there were hangovers the next day! haha







kumimonster: (dive)
2010 july 20

Woke up early again today as we pulled into Ventura Harbor. Got to check emails but still no real internet access as far as posting things n what not. Posted a few images to the moblog but kind of halted with the video postings. Cant figure out my password for google mail dammit. Anyway, got to run ashore to chase down cigarettes at the local shop. Nice.

 2010 july 20 - ventura

 2010 july 20 - ventura

Now back to sea and headed to Anacapa. Hopefully the weather clears up for some better diving today!

 2010 july 20 - anacapa

Cathedral Bay. went down with 3300 up wit 1100. supposed to have giant bass below but didnt see any. sea hare, nudies and cucumbers. lobster shells too. sea lions were swimming along side the boat but didnt see any underwater either. temp was warmer too even tho no sun. around 65 at the surface and 61 at the bottom. only about 40 ft at most. nice enough dive. kelp is always awesome. bit of a current but not so bad near the bottom. around the kelp was more surge tho.
2nd dive a couple hundred metres away. got dressed but enormous cramping started happening so i'm skipping this one. back in bed to sit it out. grrr.

 2010 july 20 - anacapa

 2010 july 20 - anacapa


kumimonster: (dive)
2010 july 19

2010 july 19 - san miguel

Early AM rise - 06h00. Showered and then got dressed for the first breakfast and first dive briefing. Lots of sea lions on the surface got me excited to jump in regardless of the much colder temps. Off near the small beach on the island were larger seals. This time used my 1mm suit under the semi-dry. Lots of sea hares and some kelp. Star fish, urchin and a crab. Didn't run into any sea lions among the kelp though. Short dive. Got a bit cold but bearable with the suit. The double layer did end up compressing against my arms though which slowed down circulation so it was constantly in the back of my mind. Oh, and low vis. Not the best dive of the trip so far.

2010 july 19 - san miguel

2010 july 19 - san miguel

About to hit dive spot number two now. I think I'll take a siesta. The sun is still not shining yet. There are still sea lions popping up out of the water. It'd be great to play with them but I can't see jumping in right now.
Second dive underway. Still seem to be the same conditions only even more sea lions popping up above the surface. They seem like they are ready to play and as much as i'd like to play with them it's just too cold and i'm a bit tired. There is the option to lower the kayaks but one of the crew says it's a bit too foggy and difficult to see us if we end up going out too far so they suggested we wait until the next stop. Which is fine.
cuyler harbor. (north) to prince island. 2 dives
Ended up passing out for the 3rd and 4th dives as well. so only one dive for me today in the cold water!

2010 july 19 - san miguel
kumimonster: (Default)
2010 july 18

Awoke this morning with internet service on my phone. Got a quick update on the MotoGP Germany results and headed up to breakfast.
Catalina Island was to our left and we cruised past Avalon and stopped by Long Point which ended up being our first dive site of the day.
I jumped back into my suit and decided to test out Sten's recommendations of last nite. He has the same semi-dry suit. He told me to jump in without any weight which I did. I was unable to even make a short descent. Meanwhile, Frank's drysuit ended up with a hole so he jumped out to fix it. I added 6 pounds to my waist and then tried again. It seemed to work better but I went down a little too quickly. Unfortunately too much current to really dial it in. Oh well, next time. Breakfast! Yum! Eggs benedict!

2010 july 18 - santa catalina

Right now at Goat Harbor for the 2nd dive of the day. I almost fell asleep but bell rang for dive meeting. I'm thinking about skipping this one although I should go and make another attempt at the weight issue. Feeling too lazy though. Grr. Broke a nail on my left middle finger. Craptastic. Fuck it. I go get dressed.
Almost seem to have gotten weight sorted out. 6 lbs around waist and 1000 in the tank. 4 more lbs added to the tank. then 2 more. so back at 12. originally started with 14 on the first day. maybe try again but around the waist. Third dive coming up in 30 minutes. same location. maybe i'll skip this one. we'll see. want a siesta!
Had a siesta and then went down for the 4th dive of the day near Seal Rock. Everything went much better. Saw a raw and a huge pile of spaghetti which i found out was a bunch of eggs for the California Sea Hare. Kelp forests diving is nice. Especially when the sun shines through :)
2010 july 18 - santa catalina

Grilled salmon for dinner tonight. YUM. Bed @ 9pm. Tomorrow headed for San Miguel.
kumimonster: (Default)
2010 july 17

Woke up with the waves hitting the porthole and eventually stopped near the Coronado Islands.

At North Coronado island, we all had breakfast and then geared up for the first dives of the trip and day after the meeting. The water temp was a little warmer than expected.
2010 july 17 - north coronado island

2010 july 17 - north coronado island

My diving suit is a new one. It's a ScubaPro 6.5mm semi-dry suit with hoodie and gloves. The boots I'm wearing are Aqualung and don't actually go with the suit but they worked out fine. Steel tank full at 3400 - nitrox. Unfortunately I was weighted down with an additional 14 pounds. First dive of the day felt comfortable enough. Suit works great although there's some leaking at the wrist - the interior of the suit gets wet up to my forearms. At the legs, my ankles and lower calves get wet but the middle part and back are fine as the neck and hood create a pretty nice seal. Initially the water seemed cold but it wasn't really - or else the suit is doing its job quite well! I'd be curious to know how it'd work with the proper boots.
This first dive was pretty awesome, saw a smattering of fish, but also quite a few sea lions that decided to come out to play. One swam around me quite a bit and then at one point when I was near the bottom, one swam up under me and stopped. Then while I looked at it, it started to do some barrel rolls while keeping eye contact! Fun! It seems like if you react to play with them they stick around. If you do nothing they get bored and swim away to find someone more engaging that will play with them. :-)

2010 july 17 -  between the coronado islands & san diego

Second dive was pretty much the same but saw a few other things. This time though, I was having problems equalizing with my right ear. Eventually it got sorted out. Saw some sea hares and other large slugy things. Again, then sea lions came out to play.
Both dives went well enough during, but near the end I was having problems popping up too quickly around 20-25 feet. Seems the issue might be the BC - need to try and completely dump the air out of that thing, also, i'm sinking too quickly. Need to drop some weight.
For the 3rd dive of the day, the ship cruised over to some kelp beds. I skipped this dive.
Then we headed into the USA and into Shelter Island in San Diego to go through customs. After that, back to sea!
kumimonster: (Default)
2010 july 16

woke up early and dad and uncle jack dropped me off at SFO.
2010 july 16 - SFO to SAN

United Airlines. meh. middle seat. short enough flight tho and uneventful which is always good.
Landed at SAN and the weather was great! F showed up about 30 minutes later and from there we took a cab to the Ramada at Point Loma where the other divers were all meeting up. Departure time for Ensenada wasn't for a few hours so we took a walk over to Point Loma Seafoods for a bit of late lunch. YUM! Good karma came into play too! As we were walking to toss away our rubbish, I took a hesitant step, looked down at my phone, and avoided some avian bombs that fell just a foot in front of me! yippee!
2010 july 16 - SFO to SAN

2010 july 16 - san diego

We still had plenty of time so took a walk towards Shelter Island along the waterfront and enjoyed the view.

2010 july 16 - san diego

Eventually headed back and then decided to have early dinner at a great resto called Old Venice. YUM! (again).
Again, walked back to the Ramada where a few of the divers were upstairs at the bar.
Eventually the coach arrived and we all loaded up for the drive to the US/Mexico border.

2010 july 16 - san diego to ensenada

2010 july 16 - san diego to ensenada

There we were stopped and were selected to go through the process so all the bags were unloaded and checked as well as our passports. A little less than 2 hours later we were en route to Ensenada. A few people slept while I watched Top Gear with some divers from New York :-)
Finally, we arrived. Everyone boarded the boat while the crew loaded up our luggage. Jumped into the shower and then climbed into bed while the boat rocked me to sleep.