Simon

Writen by: Simon

Simon is a PADI specialty instructor whose hobbies include but are not limited to, underwater videography, photography and chasing really big fish!

Simon

Texas Holdem Tournament Nights

Texas Holdem Liveaboard TournamentTexas Holdem Liveaboard Tournament

It originally happened fairly spontaneously one fine evening on the Explorer, no one wanted to night dive so instead we broke out a deck of cards and taught some of the guests the ins and outs of Texas Holdem Poker, which is fast becoming the worlds choice of poker styles due to it’s intelligent betting and bluffing options and simple learning curve.

If you are not familiar with the rules, you are given two cards and three cards are put on the table, you then try to outwit the other players and form the best poker hand by betting or bluffing your way to two more table cards and a glorious victory or utter defeat. Obviously this is an over simplification of the rules, feel free to Google it, but the point is, that it is a super fun way to spend a few hours with your guides or fellow guests.

We don’t play for money on the boat, or as yet we haven’t, we typically use mints, sugar packets and pens to represent our chips, 5$ = One mint, 10$ = One Sugar Packet, 50$ = 1 Pen. It’s hilarious to hear your opponent shout, ‘I raise you 3 pens’, you know it is game on when that happens. But more commonly you will hear ‘I call your mint and raise you 2 sugars’.

We have had some great nights playing Texas Holdem for fun this way in a tournament style, lose your chips and your out setting, with 10 players to start and usually 2 players facing off against each other at the end for the glory and all the mints, sugars and pens we have onboard. It’s also a lot of fun to watch even if you went out early or don’t want to play, Texas Holdem tends to really bring out a persons character around the table, you’ll figure out pretty quickly which instructor and guests are practiced liars and those who can’t hide a good hand!

We usually try to get at least one game/tournament going per trip, so don’t hesitate to let us know if you are Texas Holdem fan and want to be involved. I’ll see you on the boat, bring your game face!

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Scuba Explorer Dive Deck

Dive deck on the Scuba Explorer Phuket luxury liveaboardDive deck on the Scuba Explorer Phuket luxury liveaboard

We have the biggest & safest dive deck in the Similans

Don’t settle for cramped dive decks, don’t settle for being shoved by inconsiderate divers and don’t put up with lack of space to properly fit your equipment, dive in style on the Scuba Explorer from our massive dive deck. The deck consists of 44 Tanks spaces and a set up table in the middle. As you may have noticed we only take 22 guests at maximum capacity so that means everyone has room to swing, no cramped conditions on our boat!

Our staff are also some of the best in the industry, our boat crew will help you in and out of your equipment and help you safely to the dive platform, which can easily stand several divers ready for entry. Our dive platform has one step to the dive deck, so no shuffling down staircases in your equipment, and no dangerous ladders to the deck or ribs.

Dive deck on the Scuba Explorer Phuket luxury liveaboard

Dive deck on the Scuba Explorer Phuket luxury liveaboard

Diving from the Scuba Explorer is truly a pleasure, room enough for everyone to gear up, dive deck space to move around on and staff that will make sure you are safe and comfortable at all times!

What more could you ask for? Don’t hesitate, book your luxury liveaboard holiday today and join us onboard the Scuba Explorer for the best diving holiday you’ll ever experience!

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The sunset dive to end all sunset dives

Sunset diving aboard the Scuba Explorer liveaboardSunset diving aboard the Scuba Explorer liveaboard

This story all begins with some very nasty weather, nasty enough to almost have our entire guest list and some of the crew hugging the porcelain and wishing they’d stayed on dry land. But we as divers were not about to let some ocean motion get the better of us. So we parked the Scuba Explorer in Bay 1 at Racha Yai, usually only 1 hr from Phuket, but it had taken almost 4 to get there this time fighting the ocean the whole way.

Thankfully Bay 1 was calm, conditions had funnily enough been great all day, with 15 + meters of visibility and no current at all, we’d managed a few really good dives, you certainly would not have guessed it was so nice under the waves if you had been looking at them from above. So we decided to do something a little different for the guests and organised a rare sunset dive. You jump in at around 6.30pm the sun sets around 7pm and your dive turns into a night dive, very fun and you get to see the reef night shift take over right before your eyes.

Hanging out with the night critters

Hanging out with the night critters

To make this dive even more interesting for me, our tour leader had decided to throw his nice shiny torch off of the boat in a fit of bitter disappointment at losing the Texas Holdem tournament the night before, thankfully though he had also turned it off so that there was zero hope of ever finding it again. To this day no one knows how he truly lost it, but pretty sure he just wanted to test our searching abilities in case we ever lost anything important, you know, like another torch.

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Diving the Klet Kaew wreck in Phi Phi – Southern Andaman

Klet Kaew Wreck Dive near Phi Phi Island ThailandKlet Kaew Wreck Dive near Phi Phi Island Thailand

When someone says Wreck dive in Thailand or Phuket, most people immediately think of the King Cruiser, probably because it’s an awesome wreck and easily accessible, but what if I told you there is an even better wreck, just as accessible, shallower, more intact, safer and just generally purpose built for penetrating & scuba diving?

Enter the Klet Kaew Wreck or due to misspelling sometimes also known as the ‘kled Gaew, klad gaew, klad Kaew’ just off of Phi Phi Ley in the Southern Andaman, right next to viking cave if you are familiar with the area. A 50 meter long 382 tonne ex Norwegian gun ship, purchased by the Thailand Royal Navy, purposefully sunk on the 19th March 2014 for scuba diving in only 24 meters of water. So Unlike the King Cruiser, you get much more bottom time and the ability to penetrate into large sections of the Klet Kaew safely because it is so new and very much intact sitting on a sandy bed at only twenty four meters deep!

I myself recently dove it and spent almost my entire bottom time exploring the inside of this magnificent ship, I spent over 40 minutes on the dive, which is rare on wreck dives, because the Klet Kaew top is actually only at 14 meters, the bottom is 24, so once you start getting low on deco time, you go up to the wheel house and captains cabin and start penetrating there instead. I also spent a long time filming a giant ball of Striped Eel Catfish that were making a home deep inside the aft of the ship, they actually blocked my intended exit and I had to look for another one, thankfully there are plenty and the spaces are quite open, so swam through a large doorway…

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Nitrox & enriched air diving on the Scuba Explorer

Nitrox Diving on the Scuba Explorer Phuket liveaboardNitrox Diving on the Scuba Explorer Phuket liveaboard

We highly recommend that when diving with us on the Scuba Explorer you dive on nitrox, during our cruises we do 4 to 5 dives per day, and nitrox will not only make you feel better and less tired when doing this many dives, it is also much safer and just generally better for you!

What Is Nitrox Diving?

Nitrox, simply refers to having a higher percentage of oxygen in your scuba tank, sometimes refereed to as a blend, NOX or EANX. Humans breathe air, and normal air is 21% oxygen, 79% Nitrogen, that is the same gas percentages we breathe underwater from our scuba tanks and it is the high percentage of nitrogen that causes us problems as divers. The main issue is that we can only absorb a certain amount of nitrogen while diving, this is how/why your computer calculates bottom time for your dive, and why you can run out of bottom time before running out of air. Excess Nitrogen is also the primary culprit when it comes to decompression sickness or diving related illness.

So if you can use a higher percentage of oxygen in your scuba tank, guess what? That’s right, you can increase your computers bottom time, decrease your surface intervals and also lower your risk of decompression sickness, as there will be less nitrogen to dissolve out of your body, because you simply absorbed less on your dives by breathing a higher oxygen percentage.

You may now be asking, why don’t we always dive on Nitrox if the advantages of enriched air diving are this awesome? Well the answer is simply that you need to be a certified Enriched Air Diver via PADI or one of the other training agencies to use Nitrox while scuba diving. Nitrox has it’s own pitfalls and peculiarities which you will learn about on the course, you’ll also learn how to handle and identify nitrox tanks, how to analyse the contents of a nitrox tank and how to set your dive computer to use the correct gas mixture when diving with nitrox.

Nitrox Certification – 4,000 THB

If you do not have a Nitrox certification we recommend completing it onboard with us. We offer the PADI Enriched Air Diver certification for a meager 4,000 THB including 2 dives on Nitrox.

The course takes about 2 hours and is by far the most essential certification you should do and have as a scuba diver, plus you will never find a cheaper way to do some nitrox diving, than doing it onboard with us and you certainly won’t find a better location or better instructors than we have for you!

Certified Nitrox Divers

If you are already a certified Nitrox Diver, we offer it as an added option for your dives on the Scuba Explorer, but you need to let us know when you make your booking if you wish to dive on Nitrox while onboard one of our cruises. Nitrox fills are 250 THB per dive, per tank, if you want Nitrox over the course of the entire trip, we will lower the price to 200 THB per dive, per tank.

If you want to know more about Enriched Air diving, Nitrox, EANX, you can read more about it by following this link, PADI Enriched Air Diver course.

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Rental equipment for liveaboard diving

Scuba diving equipmentScuba diving equipment

With out some equipment to help us dive we are going to have a very bad time chasing Whale Sharks or Manta Rays, with a BCD a Regulator, a mask and some fins our day is going to get a lot better. Diving equipment, is not included in the package prices, you have to rent it separately for the duration of the trip you book.

The reason it is not included in your package price is that many liveaboard divers have and travel with their own diving equipment, so why pay for something you are not using? Renting your equipment independently of the trip price helps keep the price of the liveaboard packages nice and low.

To make things as simple as possible, we of course offer gear rental, so when making a booking, we will definitely ask you to let us know exactly which pieces of equipment you will need. Weight Belts, Weights, Surface Marker Buoy & Tanks are included. So if you have absolutely zero bits of your own equipment, this is what you need to rent and how much it will cost per day.

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Night dives on the Scuba Explorer

Night diving onboard the Scuba Explorer liveaboardNight diving onboard the Scuba Explorer liveaboard

Night diving is one of, if not, the best form of diving ever conceived in the great minds of the divers that have come before us. Someone somewhere once jumped into the dark murky waters of the ocean at night with probably nothing more than a torch wrapped in duct tape to go in search of the reefs night time critters and wonders.

Thankfully night diving today is a lot less troublesome and is offered as an optional dive at the end of each day while you are onboard the Scuba Explorer. Our guides and Instructors are always willing to do these dives, so definitely ask them, most of the time they will probably be attempting to convince you to do one because it’s an amazing chance to see creatures that only come out onto the reef once the sun sets.

Night diving is exciting and completely safe, our guides and instructors are the best Phuket has to offer and safety is always their primary concern. Torches are provided for the night dives and your guide will have back-up lights just in case. When there a bigger groups of night divers the reef can be lit up like a Christmas tree for your viewing pleasure.

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Decks & cabins on the Scuba Explorer

Scuba Explorer deluxe cabinScuba Explorer deluxe cabin

Details about the decks and cabins onboard the Scuba Explorer

Check out the detailed views from inside the Scuba Explorer before even getting onboard, the layout is pretty simple and the spaces for your comfort are also very large, so come join us for an amazing luxury liveaboard holiday from Phuket to one of our amazing liveaboard destinations!

Sun Deck

Schematic of the scuba explorer liveaboard sun deck

(1) Sun deck

Lounge Deck

Schematic of the scuba explorer liveaboard lounge deck

(2) Outside lounge area, (3) Indoor lounge and refreshment bar, (4) Tour leader’s cabin, (5) Captain’s cabin, (6) Crew cabin (7) Wheelhouse

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Playing tag with a Giant Manta at Koh Tachai

Manta Ray at Koh Tachai in the Similan IslandsManta Ray at Koh Tachai in the Similan Islands

Diving on Koh Tachai is fun at the best of times, it can even become an awesome leg work out if the current is up to its usual tricks, which is to say, going bananas, but this day turned interesting when I was invited to play Tag with a Giant Manta Ray around the pinnacle.

We hadn’t been in the water very long and had slowly made our way to the North West side to look for Mantas, I went out a little deeper and away from the group in the hope of attracting some curious critters for the group to watch, but after a few minutes of fighting the current I decided I would be much happier looking for Octopus in between boulders, I turned around to swim back and my entire group of divers started pointing behind me.

When this happens it is a real poop your pants moment, your brain immediately thinks Tiger Shark and you get the sense you are now in a Hollywood film and what-ever you do, don’t turn around to look at the bad thing behind you. Thankfully this isn’t Hollywood though and my divers had spotted a Manta, literally in the moment I choose not to look, they appear.

[embedyt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqOFrGsVWG4[/embedyt]

This Manta was very playful and made some close passes by me, one of which he decided he like the cut of my jib and got a cordial invite to play tag with him, a little tap on the head.

Check it out, but watch closely for the camera shake, enjoy!

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The time I almost kissed a Whale Shark

Whale Shark in the Similan IslandsWhale Shark in the Similan Islands

The day had been fairly awesome already, we’d seen two Whale Sharks in the space of a couple hours at Richelieu Rock and we were hanging around on the North side looking for big schools of pelagic fish like Trevallies, Snapper and Barracuda, then out of nowhere a rather large and somewhat un-lucky Whale Shark tried to give me a big ol kiss.

If you watch the video closely it appears this poor guy is also blind on his left side, which is probably why he got so close to me, and because I was hanging silently in the water, not breathing too many bubbles or moving much if at all.

Big hint there guys for close encounters, stay still and chilled! The big guys are super inquisitive and will happily buzz past you if they think you are not a threat.

[embedyt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHn2cXSXUgY[/embedyt]

Anyway I got the whole thing on video, check it out.

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