Pohang Diving – July 11-12, 2015

Congratulation to Nick Pappe, our newest 38th Parallel diver who completed his PADI Open Water certification and Enriched Air Diver (EANx/Nitrox) certification on July 12 at AquaBelle Dive Resort Pohang,  Korea. We were able to complete 4 amazing boat dives off Josa-ri (Beach). The water was a warm 20c, plenty of fish and around 6 meters of visibly.  Great conditions to learn and enjoy the dives, way to go Nick can’t wait to dive with you again.

Cold Water Diver Survivors

This past weekend was one of the busiest weekends that we have had in a long time.  Our days were packed full of training: Open Water, Adventure Diver, Advanced Open Water, Enriched Air Diver, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Dry Suite Diver, Sidemount Diver and dives toward the Rescue diver certification.  We told you we were busy!

First of all CONGRATS to all the 38th Parallel Divers on becoming new and more experienced divers, excellent job this weekend we know we asked a lot of you!

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 21.56.10In between all of that training we managed to even do a large beach/coastal water clean-up.  We pulled several hundred pounds of debris from the local environment, pallets, tires, rubbish even an anchor and pipes.  There was some friendly competition to gather the most poundage which resulted in several of our divers winning some sweet Oceanic and Hollis gear courtesy of Aquatic Frontier.  Our divers walked away with a Hollis Mask, Oceanic Viper fins and an ultra dry snorkel…. not too bad for a few hours of work,  congrats divers!

2014_11_08-09_008_1Saturday was less than ideal for ocean conditions, we had an totally overcast day with a moderate surge on the beach but our divers truly are a tough bunch because they showed up with smiles on eager to start training.  Despite visibility ranging from 2-7 meters everyone was able to knock out almost all their dives.  We dove from sun up to sun down on the east coast on Saturday so it was no surprise that everyone was eager to wash up and eat some cheese burgers, grilled sausages (and even some veggie burgers).  Once everyone was full and paperwork was processed we sat around and talked about diving all over the world and what could be next… for some the only “next” they looked forward to was a good night’s sleep in preparation for another busy day.

2014_11_08-09_002Sunday came early with a planned boat dive at 0830.  Everyone met at the diveshop and grabbed some fruit and pastries for a breakfast appetizer before dive 1.  On dive 1 we had 2 groups conducting different training (deep and sidemount).  The deep dive went off without a hitch and the sidemount divers entered the water and donned equipment.  On descent the sidemount divers went into their skills and mid gas sharing a diver’s mask strap came off.  I was extremely impressed that my student reacted in the perfect manner.  He effectively communicated the problem, didn’t panic, held the mask on his face (all while holding a good trim position and constant depth).  Situations like these, while irritating, are excellent learning experiences and litmus tests.  Unable to correct the malfunction we ascended (ensuring to complete our safety stop) and ended the dive.  Great job Austin!  Once back on the boat we fixed the mask and prepped tanks for another dive to makeup skills.

2014_11_08-09_013After the first boat dive everyone came back to get some FOOD!  Sarah, Mandy and I cooked up the bacon and eggs for the divers to slap onto some sandwich bread (or just scarf down) and fill their bellies.  With everyone full we extended our surface interval a bit and prepared for the remainder of the day.  The remaining dives would finish up Advanced Open Water, PPB and Sidemount.  We even managed to get some of our divers their first non-training fun dive.

As we cleaned up and prepared to leave for home George and I processed the student’s certifications.  When I had entered in the last certification that I had completed I was finally able to apply for and obtain my Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) rating.  I would like to personally thank all of the students this weekend for being great and being a part of my new PADI rating!  I would also like to thank George for allowing me to certify his students, couldn’t have made it this quickly without you, thanks!

2014-11-09 19.22.49 2014-11-09 18.39.07As we were heading out we decided to go into Gangneung and eat before we leaft for home.  It was a great way to end the weekend, with bellies full of fire grilled bulgogi and kimchi jigae (kimchi stew).  Of course because that wasn’t enough we all snuck over to Mango Six for some dessert…now it was time for the long ride home where everyone could fall asleep and be driven home (thanks dive buddies;)).

Stay tuned because now that I have reach MSDT I have met the requirements for some really exciting things that will shortly be available for our club members!!

Advanced Open Water – Namae-ri, Nov 1-2

This past weekend we conducted the PADI Advanced Open Water diver course and several nitrox dives.  While this weekend didn’t give us warm, sunny beautiful days we did have some great diving and good visibility (for the most part).  We were pretty lucky on the way to the coast because we didn’t hit much traffic at all.  We arrived at Namae Dive shop early and immediately prepped for diving.

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 15.08.52On Saturday we conducted 3 dives: Underwater Navigation, Search and Recovery and then finally Peak Performance Buoyancy.  Saturday gave us some good visibility and we wanted to take advantage of it because Sunday was predicting 40km/hr winds around noon.  This weekend we decided to skip the BBQ and go into Gangneung for some great BBQ pork and beef with delicious sides.

Sunday we woke up really early to make sure that we got in on the first dive for the day.  Wake-up call was at 0600.  We met downstairs around 0645 to grab some quick pastries before our 0730 dive.  Going out from the harbor the seas were flat and the air war fairly warm.  We hopped in the water and completed our Deep dive.  On the way up we noticed that the seas were getting rough, our safety stop required some good buoyancy skills.  The wind had definitely picked up meaning that we would have to push up dive two.

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 16.07.04Once we were back at the shop we took about a 2.5 hour surface interval to make some breakfast sandwiches…MAPLE BACON, eggs and cheese!  Yes, maple bacon!  After a proper breakfast we suited up for our last dive of the weekend and the last dive of the day due to weather conditions.  We hopped on the boat and got in the water…finally the egg made it to depth.  After some tricks with an egg at depth we explored around some massive rock formations and saw a school of small fish, some nudi’s and even a shrimp (not too bad for Korea).  We had to put our navigation skills to use this dive because the seas were so rough that the line had snapped while the boat was moored.  We swam to the pre-determined direction and launched an DSMB to begin our ascent.  On the surface the waves had really kicked up and we were glad to get back into the boat instead of be on the surface in the water.

Once back we cleaned our gear, hit the warm showers to clean up and packed up.  Logging dives as we cleaned up and conducting final checks we finally left for home.  Traffic wasn’t too bad until we were about 1.5 hrs from home where we hit deadlocked traffic.  So we took several detours and definitely the scenic route home.  All-in-all this was a great weekend that definitely put those Advanced Open Water diver skills to the test…congrats to Andy for completing his certification, well deserved!

Yeongdeok Daejin Scuba


1412064200223What a weekend !!! The past weekend was a big one filled with a lot of adventure and new experiences. We went down to explore the seas at Yeongdeok (The town famous for crabs) It was a long drive but also a beautiful drive to get to the resort. As we stopped at the resort we were greeted with big smiles and willingness to help us get started. The one boat captain called on his daughter who is a junior in high school to come help us with some English translations. Our first dive was a beach dive to just to get everybody use to the water again and we also did a search and recovery dive. We did a deep dive to 26m which was cut short due to poor visibility. We decided to continue diving the following day in hope for better conditions. We had 1 night diver which we conducted in the comfort of the harbor and actually saw an abundance of sea life down in the dark. 

The evening was quite eventful. One of the owners of the resort invited all of us to join them for dinner and the nightly festivities which included barbecued pork belly to fill the bellies of just about the whole town and by my standards it was the best pork I have ever had in Korea. This was followed by another instructor making a chicken soup and another instructor serving us some sea cucumbers and so on. Felt like each instructor took their turn in serving and sharing some new experiences with us. And among all the festivities and feasting we promised our fellow Korean divers that we would dive with them the next morning at 7am pffff. That seemed like a good idea at the time. 

The next morning we were all finally ready at 8:30 and did our first dive for the day down to the wreck again with much more favorable conditions. The thermocline hit us quite hard at 19m but the visibility was much better and the wreck was really cool. We explored the wreck and then the resort instructor guided us to the underwater crab statues. After that dive some breakfast burritos were served up and thanks to Sora for pre-preparing them some studying and Knowledge reviews followed. Our last 2 dives were Search and recovery dives in which almost everyone were certified for.

Yeongdeok was an amazing experience with some fantastic people who were really kind and helpful to us. We would love to return to this gem of a dive site. Thank you to all who made this possible…CONGRATS to the new specialty and Advanced Open Water divers from this past weekend!  We are always looking for more 38th Parallel Divers!

Relaxing but not Dull

This past weekend we were able to get in some good diving despite a typhoon earlier in the week.  We went to the east coast early on Saturday morning (compared to our normal Friday night late night trip to the coast) and were lucky to hit zero traffic.

Namae037We arrived fairly early and were met once again by the friendly staff of Namae Dive Resort and some fellow Korean divers.  This weekend would prove to be an exciting one for sure.  We would be testing some minor tweaks to our Hollis SMS75 sidemount BCD (the addition of the SMS100/SMS75 back weight system).

The back mounted weight pockets (6 pockets in a semi rigid cloth plate) made trim absolutely perfect for the SMS75.  These 2 items should be purchased together by anyone who plans to dive the SMS75 with aluminum tanks or in the ocean.  Hands down perfect trim and extremely comfortable.

We Love Diving!Despite not speaking Korean there is always a common bond that is shared between everyone as the preparations for the dive are underway.  Getting tanks, analyzing gasses, going over equipment checks and pre-dive buddy checks…no matter what language or what training organization they are all very similar processes.  This means that we can easily communicate with having to speak.

Once on the boat we were all ready to get into the water, for some this would be their first dive in South Korea, definitely an exciting time.  As we descend and tweak our equipment we are once again reminded why we love this hobby so much; for me it is the self awareness and relative quiet that this sport offers.

Namae002After 3 fun dives on Saturday (ending the day with a great sunset dive) we were ready to clean gear and BBQ some burgers and roast some potatoes.  Once our bellies were full we headed off to bed for an early morning dive (these are always the best dives of the day on the East Coast).

Sunday morning came early and we started the day off with a nice sunrise and a side of Bacon, Eggs, cheese and English Muffin.  Now that we had some fuel for the day we were able prepare our gear for our dive and get in the water.  One of the best dives at Namae (at recreational depths) are the steel structures (Dive site Red #1).  There are 3 large steel structures underwater that are connected via thick line so divers can easily navigate from one to the other.  What a great way to end the dive weekend.  The only thing that made the trip better was not hitting any traffic on the way
home.

2014 Labor Day Weekend Dive Trip

This weekend we took advantage of the 3 day weekend that most of us had and we headed to the East Coast for some fun diving and training.  Our newest instructors (George, Larry and Mike) had multiple students and certifications to conduct.  We had Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Deep Diver Specialty, Peak Performance Specialty and the AWARE Specialty.  This was definitely a great way to kick off our first weekend training event post-IDC.  We also linked up with some fun divers and students from Aquatic Frontier’s group who got some of our swag.  Thanks guys!  It was great diving with all of you as well.

Mike cooking the bacon for the egg, cheese, bacon sandwichesWe started Saturday morning off by cooking our divers breakfast making sure to feed the grumbling stomachs and fuel the divers for a busy day.  We broke out our cast iron skillet and our Korean portable stove and went to town on some thick cut bacon and eggs… and even some turkey bacon for those health focused people out there.  With bellies fed we started into our dive shop orientation and dive briefings for the skills.Sunrise on the Korean East Coast

Saturday we had excellent warmth and visibility.  Saturday finished up Michael’s Peak Performance Buoyancy and half of Mandy’s Advanced Open Water (AOW) and JuJu’s Open Water (OW) courses respectively.  Our students had such a great day we were honored with requests to add additional specialties to their trip.  Sunday finished up Mandy’s AOW, JuJu’s OW and all but one dive of Michael’s Deep Diver specialty.

Sunday evening after diving we headed into Sacheon beach for some great Pat Bing Su (Red Bean Shaved Ice with fruit and ice cream) and coffee’s.  After that nice treat we headed back to the dive shop to start the grill to grill up some cheese burgers and some adult beverages. We finished up an AWARE Specialty at dinner time too.  After we were fed and ready to head to bed we met up with some new instructors form the recent (finished that day) graduates of the Korea IDC/IE.  We went over to congratulate them and they invited us to have some food and drinks with them.  It was a great night to sit around the table with people from all over the world and share this love of diving.  Congrats new instructors and thank-you for sharing!

Mike and Larry before the Deep DiveMonday morning came early…we had one last dive to conduct for our Deep Diver Specialty, a 30M dive!  We woke up around 7am to fire up the stove and get some food on the skillet (eggs, bacon and hashbrowns). Now that we were fed it was time to gear up to dive briefings and pre-dive checks.  Once again we had some great visibility and warm waters this time we had a strong current.  For this dive we had all the new instructors, the shop owners, most of the shop workers and even the Course Director go with us.  We had a great dive, it was awesome getting a chance to dive with everyone that always makes sure we have great trips…the crew at Namae Dive Shop is amazing!  With that dive complete our final student of the weekend finished his Deep Diver Specialty…congrats Michael!  You did some great diving this weekend, it is great to see the improvement you have made since our first Scuba Tune-up session, stay wet.Seorak Mountain View

Since we were traveling back on a Monday versus a Sunday we decided to take the scenic route back.  We drove through Seorak Mountains and were able to take our time and enjoy the beautiful weather.  What an amazing weekend.  Thanks again to all of our students that we had as well as the new friends we met from Aquatic Frontier’s group.  Hope to see everyone in the water soon!

Most people think that Labor day (beginning of September) signifies the end of the summer…for us (38th Parallel Divers) this marks the beginning of the best diving in Korea.  From now thru November-December the water is warmer than any other time of the year.  The ocean is generally more clear and better weather.  So come join us…check out our Facebook Event page for more details.  We have an Open Water course starting shortly (confined water 13-14 Sept / Ocean 20-21 Sept) AND an Advanced Open Water / Specialty Diving weekend 27-28 September.

Becoming a PADI Scuba Instructor – Our Experiences

So you are thinking about becoming a PADI Scuba Instructor, check out our club’s video of our IDC / IE experience.  I know for me personally this was a big decision,  because of the responsibility, time and costs.  First of all if you are a diver (and at the point of considering becoming a professional scuba instructor) you know by now that this endeavor isn’t cheap.  First you really should have your own equipment at this point, if not then perhaps you should come back when you do.  Secondly you have to have a minimum number of dives, these are cheap either.  Finally there are all the costs associated with getting to the Instructor Examination…

  • Divemaster Course (if you are not already)
  • Emergency First Response Instructor Course (EFRI) – course and processing fees apply
  • Instructor Development Course (IDC) – minimum a week or longer (Assistant Instructor & Open Water Scuba Instructor Course) — price will vary here by your Course Director and location.  We went with Platinum Course Director Camille Lemmens (www.idcthailand.net)
  • Instructor Examination (flat fee for exam but does have processing fees not included, dives not included)
  • Specialty Instructor (we completed ours with Camille, he gave us a great rate too).  There are Course Director (CD) Costs plus PADI processing fees too.  Dives may/may not be included depending on CD
  • Lodging – don’t forget you need a place to stay
  • Food – you gotta eat

Ok so you have the money…now your ready right?  Ummmm maybe.  Skills need to be perfect and at demonstration quality.  You also have to be ready and comfortable to present knowledge development in a classroom and conduct confined and open water skills.  Hopefully you haven’t forgot what oyu have learned in your other courses because you will need all that now.  You must consistently conduct an open water rescue and be prepared to recall all the physics, physiology, environment & skills, eRDP (or dive tables) and equipment.  Finally you still have one test left…and open book Standards test.  This test isn’t as easy as it sounds, they ask some very specific and intricate questions that will have you searching everywhere to verify it isn’t a trick question.

Don’t be scared though, if you have a good Course Director (like we did) it will be a constructive learning environment that is as challenging as it is fun.  Read our daily blogs below from our experiences:

  • IDC Day 1 – Practice Tests and Skill Evaluation
  • IDC Day 2 – Pool and Knowledge Development Presentations
  • IDC Day 3 – Graded Skills
  • IDC Day 4 – Graded Knowledge Dev. & Confined Water Presentations and Rescue Diver
  • IDC Day 5 – Graded Theory Test & More Presentations
  • IDC Day 6 – Graded Confined Water Presentations, Remainder of Presentations
  • IDC Day 7 – Open Water Presentations & Rescues
  • IDC Day 8 – More Open Water Presentations and Rescues
  • IE Day 1 – Dive Theory & Standards Exams, Graded Skill Circuit, Graded Confined Water Presentations
  • IE Day 2 – Open Water Presentations, Rescue, Knowledge Dev. Presentation and GRADUATION! Night Diver Specialty
  • Specialty Instructor Day 1 – Search & Recovery, Navigation
  • Specialty Instructor Day 2 – Wreck Diver, Sidemount
  • Specialty Instructor Day 3 – Deep, Nitrox, Emergency Oxygen Provider, Gas Blender

 

 

Specialty Instructor – Day 2 (Wreck & Sidemount)

Sacheon-myeon Instr specs group

Today our Course Director (Camille Lemmens) had three dives to do with us. We have definitely kept him very busy (and well funded) while he has been here. We started the day off with a late work call (0900…finally) at the dive shop. Everybody was doing the two dives required for PADI Wreck Diver Specialty Instructor. Both dives were at Ocean Park wreck site. The site has a fishing boat and a large man made metal structure. This made for a great site. Dive 1 we could map/survey the wreck and determine penetration points and also practice laying line through the tight spaces in the metal structure. Because of the depth 25m it was slightly cold for some of our warm water divers, around 10° C. Once all performance measures were complete we all slowly ascended for warmer waters. Once on the beat we headed back for about a 2 hour surface interval.

Dive 2 was a staged drop off. In buddy teams 5-7 minutes apart we descended down to the wreck to do a penetration, lay line and recover line in teams. The wreck is on a heading of 330° in 25 meters of water. 3 years ago the wreck was about 50 meters south of it’s current location and it was sitting perfectly upright, now it is laying in her left side partially collapsed. Once everyone had penetrated and exited we returned to the surface where everyone was eagerly looking forward to a break for the day.

Camille, Allen and myself went out for one last dive of the day. I was interested in doing the Sidemount Instructor course and needed to log a dive and conduct all the skills for sidemount. Usually I dive my PRISM 2 rebreather but for the past few months I put anyhting Tec/rebreather related away to focus on recreational diving for the IDC/IE. I completely forgot how comfortable, streamlined and awesome sidemount was. Once we entered the water and descended the tanks trimmed out nicely and perfect trim was easily achieved, no weight on my back and completely comfortable. Now THIS is the way to dive!! Makes me wish I didn’t sell my Razor bcd. I can’t wait to teach others this most excellent way to dive!

After we all got out of the water I think all of us were ready for some relaxation. We all came back to the hotel, washed up and tried catching a few winks…and of course making sure to update our blog.

course 1

course 1 seafood

full course 1

seafood stew

course 2

last dinner of IDC
We finished the night off with a short drive to Kyung Po beach for a walk on the boardwalk and some food. We got a 3 course dinner, Raw fish (Hwey), Sashimi mixed platter and seafood stew. It was a great way to spend our last night in Gangneung.