After a break of nearly one year, I have tasted tropical water again in March-April 2011 with a trip to North Sulawesi, Indonesia. I spent a week in Lembeh, split between Divers Lodge and Lembeh Cottages, and then headed to Kima Bajo to dive in the Bunaken National Park with Eco Divers.
The magazine features an article about Jamie who gets thrown straight at the deep end after joining a 2-week liveaboard in the Northern atolls. In this issue of Narked Diver, you can also read about the discovery of the spreadeagle ray and get new tips on natural buoyancy skills.
I’d like to thank all the participants for making this trip memorable.
We were delighted to welcome the Queen on an informal visit to Lifeboat Pier in central London, where the crew of RNLI Tower Lifeboat is based. Her Majesty spent a lot of time talking to the crews of the four Thames stations, as well as RNLI staff and fundraisers.
Here are a few images from the Royal visit .
Lifeboat crew members from Tower RNLI lifeboat station in central London had a phenomenally busy Saturday when they were involved in rescuing a total of 106 people who were participating in a rowing race on the River Thames.
Who said the Med was dead ? Steve Warren, from Ocean Optics gave me the opportunity to spend a few days in the company of pilot whales in the Mediterranean. It was an unforgettable off-the-beaten-track experience and I never imagined that snorkelling could be so much fun !
I travelled to the town of Funchal on the island of Madeira to dive the wreck of the Bowbelle, the dredger that was involved in a collision with the pleasure boat Marchioness in August 1989, in with 51 young people lost their lives.
Having discussed the possibility of a seal photography trip with Alex Mustard for a while, I called Clive Pearson at Clovelly Charters to see if he coud accommodate a few snappers for a couple of days. Staying at Millcombe House on Lundy, Alex & I were joined by Eleonora Manca, Dan Bolt and Dan Hopkins. The trip was quite productive and the grey seals were extremely playful !
I had the priviledge to be able to take part in a joint RNLI / Royal Navy SAR exercise on the Thames with Gravesend and Tower Pier lifeboat crews. After meeting-up for a briefing at Lifeboat pier with the helicopter crew, we headed towards Dagenham to practise winching with the Sea King.
This portfolio contains a mix of images from Layang Layang, Sipadan, Si Amil, Maratua, Kakaban and Sharm el Sheikh.
More information on this portfolio is available on the BSoUP website.
After a week diving around Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai and Siamil by liveaboard, we took the public ferry from Tawau in Sabah (Malaysia) to Tarakan in East Kalimantan (Indonesia) where we spent the night. Tarakan isn’t a tourist destination, and the people out there were just the friendliest people ever.
From Tarakan, we travelled 3 1/2 hours by speedboat to Maratua island and spent a week there, diving around Maratua, Sangalaki and Kakaban. Although it was the monsoon season, we had some great encounters. Images from this trip are available in the Malaysia and Indonesia albums.
The new Dive: The Ultimate Guide is out and available on Amazon. It contains new destinations and chapters, including one on Layang Layang, which my friend Gill McDonald asked me to write. I only managed to have a quick look at this second edition at the Birmingham Dive Show and so far, I haven’t managed to secure my own copy, but it’s very exciting to be involved in my second book project after the Dive Red Sea book. Although Monty Halls is still the main writer in Dive: The Ultimate Guide, several new authors and underwater photographers have contributed to this guide, including Gill herself.
Over the last couple of days, there has been a lot of press coverage of the medals we recovered from the Thames on 20th September. Since this story has generated a large amount of interest, I thought I ought to share some information about the events.
Last week, I had calls from Malcolm Miatt, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Teddington RNLI station where I work as a volunteer helmsman, and John Tough, the Deputy Launching Authority. John is also Commodore of the Dunkirk Little Ships Association, and his grandfather, Doug Tough was heavily involved in Operation Dynamo, which evacuated nearly 350,000 allied troops from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk in May-June 1940. You can read the full story in the Articles section
Spanning the 60th parallel, the Shetland islands enjoyed the sunniest month of August in the UK. This, together with great company made the week we spent on board MV Halton extremely enjoyable.
Unfortunately, the plankton-rich water did not allow us to experience the usual 25m visibility the islands are renown for, but the diving was superb nevertheless.
Images from this trip are available in the UK gallery.
The annual pilgrimage to Sharm with friends from BSoUP went well. This year, our floating home for the week was was Tornado Marine Fleet’s MY Whirlwind, operated by Tony Backhurst Scuba. Resident dive guides Shaun and Chrissie where often hijacked to be models.
Keen to play with the resident snappers (the Lutjanus bohar kind, not the Homo photographicus aquatiquem species) at Ras Mohammed, I had brought along my old Dolphin rebreather, to try and figure out whether the reduced amount of bubbles does indeed make a difference when it comes to getting closer to the action. I have to say the jury is still out on that one, especially as the schooling snapper weren’t there in full force. But we had great time with the Giant Trevallies and more importantly, we had great fun.
Images from this trip are available in the Red Sea gallery.
Not many people know about this Malaysian resort. A tiny speck of land in the South China Sea, north west of the province of Sabah, it is often overshadowed by the more popular Sipadan in the south-east, famous for its big schools of barracuda and jacks, and for the sheer number of resident turtles. Layang Layang Island Resort is surrounded by a shallow lagoon and most dives take place just outside it, often on steep walls or ledges, after a 10-min boat ride.
I was elected Chairman the British Society of Underwater Photographers at the November AGM, replacing Martha Tressler who was standing down after three years. BSoUP is a fantastic source of inspiration and a great way to meet fellow underwater photographers, some of whom recognised internationally.
I have just returned from Scapa Flow.
At the end of the First World War, the whole German High Seas fleet was interned at Scapa Flow, a British navy base in the Orkney islands north of Scotland. On 21 July 1919, unaware that the WWI armistice had been extended, and fearing a new start of hostilities, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter decided that the ships should not be seized by Britain. He sent the order to open the seacocks and sink the vessels. In all, 74 ships went down in one afternoon in what was the biggest mass-scutling in history.
Most of the vessels have now been salvaged for scrap metal, but some battleships can still be visited, such as the 24,000-tonnes Kronprinz Wilhelm and Markgraf. Several light cruisers (5,000 tonnes) like the Desden, Brummer, Karlsruhe and Coln also offer very interesting dives.
Although there is a UK section on this site, Scapa Flow deserves its own album!
Paul had prepared a full-on programme to show me that the Mayan Region could offer world-class diving, and something totally different to the usual scuba holiday. During my stay, I would get a taste of cavern diving in the cenotes around Tulum and discover a much talked-about area, the Chinchorro Banks, way south near the Belize border.