Diving Richelieu Rock Khao Lak Thailand

December 19th, 2019
Richelieu Rock

During my two month stint in Khao Lak Thailand working on my divemaster certification I was mostly diving in the Similan Islands and Koh Bon. Having access to a number of local dive professionals during downtime on the boat I of course asked around as to what other dives I absolutely had to do before leaving and the answer was always Richelieu Rock.

So as my DMT was winding down I came back from the boat and asked the shop to arrange a day trip out to see it for myself. And bloody hell if it didn't live up to everything people said!

Living the Life of a Divemaster Trainee in Khao Lak Thailand: Working The Similan Islands & Koh Bon Via Liveaboard

November-December 2019

So far I've written about life when I'm around the dive shop and a trip out to a local wreck but what about the main thing that attracted me to doing my divemaster internship out here?

The Similan Islands are located off the western coast of Thailand and have a reputation for being some of the best diving around. Looking online you see pictures of crystal clear blue water and people diving in almost nothing thanks to the warm water.

(Actually about 90% of these seem to have been taken at Richelieu Rock to the north but I'll cove that another day...)

Living the Life of a Divemaster Trainee in Khao Lak Thailand: Dive Guiding The Boonsung Wreck From A Long-Tail Boat

November 2019

Since arriving in Thailand and starting my divemaster internship all of my dives have been out in the Similan Islands. While that is the local diving hot spot (and it is quite spectacular!) there are a few other dive spots around and thanks to a client booking today I had the opportunity to shadow my instructor Peter while he guided the Boonsung Wreck!

Living the Life of a Divemaster Trainee in Khao Lak Thailand: A Typical Day Around The Shop

November 2019

Leading up to my departure I had grand visions of spending my two months in Thailand getting to dive in the ocean or be in the pool teaching almost if not every single day. And sure enough my first few days did get me off to an impressive start with a solid 10 dive tour across the Similan Islands on the dive shops liveaboard the Similan Quest.

But of course I'm not here just to have fun. My other main goal is to complete my SDI divemaster certification and that involves a theory portion requiring time spent in a classroom. Basically you go back and for all those cursory rules you learned in Open Water and Advanced Open Water you dive a little deeper and *sigh* learn how to do the math. And of course I'm getting exposure to the ins and outs of how things work around the Sign Scuba shop and how they run the boat. This is how my non-boat days typically go.

Living the Life of a Divemaster Trainee in Khao Lak Thailand: Great Wall of China Toboggan, Arrival & The First Week

November 2019

As I mentioned in my recent site update I decided to forgo returning to gainful employment for the moment and with no small amount of encouragement from my ever supportive girlfriend decided to take the opportunity to fly out to Thailand for 2 months to pursue my divemaster certification.

The divemaster certification is different from the other scuba certifications I've been collecting as it's the start of the dive professional track aka it's where I can start guiding and assisting in teaching basic courses. (Also it's something completely different from the master diver certification which is basically a pat on the head acknowledgement you've done about as much as you can on the recreational track.)

I looked at options for doing the program locally in Southern California but the part time nature of most of the dive professionals out there meant it wouldn't be quite as involved as I really wanted. Meanwhile it just so happened that my free time corresponded with the start of the diving season in western Thailand and a friend and former student of mine had a connection with a local Thai dive shop there in Khao Lak. The shop was named Sign Scuba and they operated a liveaboard out in the Similan Islands meaning I'd get lots of opportunities to dive out there in addition to pool and classroom learning.

So one day after wrapping up my commitments to the Fall Advanced Mountaineering Program and 2019 Wilderness Travel Course in a slightly frantic weekend out in Joshua Tree I said goodbye to Jen and flew out of LAX at 1:40 am to spend the rest of the year out of the country.

Why I'm Not Going Back To Work Right Now & Site Updates

Back in May I wrote about how with the unwavering support of my lovely girlfriend I was leaving my problematic IT job and spending the summer adventuring.

And adventure I did. I racked up another 77 -ish dives. I started and finished my scuba master diver certification. Jen and I had an amazing trip to Indonesia including an incredible 8 days diving around Komodo on the Mermaid II liveboard. We then returned home for a single day before leaving again on a 17 day road trip epic of hiking, backpacking, hot springs, paddling, and diving visiting Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Banff, Jasper, and Vancouver Island. Among other things.

Jen and I did the John Muir Trail southbound in 11 days then I learned about another 280 mile Sierra thru hiking trail called the Theodore Solomons and promptly went back out and did that in 16 brutal yet memorable days. I led about 10 experience trip backpacks for the Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course with a wide range of awesome individuals culminating in the biennial Mount Starr King trip with Jack Kieffer.

In the meantime I dropped about 20 pounds and according to my doctor my blood pressure went from problematic and possibly requiring medication to looking great.

Once the weather turned cold I came back home and spent a frantic month diving every moment that conditions and dive buddies would allow. At the same time I wrapped up the 2019 Wilderness Travel Course while coordinating the 20th Advanced Mountaineering Program both of which had record years as far as things going slightly haywire.

So all in all it was a summer for the record books.

So here I am at the end of October which is a bit past the original deadline for returning to gainful employment. And instead of writing this from a cubicle I'm actually sitting in an airport about to fly to Thailand for two months to work on off my scuba professional certifications and hopefully spend a whole hell of a lot of time underwater in an amazing place. After that I'll be back home for the 2020 Wilderness Travel Course / Spring Advanced Mountaineering Course and and after that it's looking increasingly likely that I'll be making an attempt at the Pacific Crest Trail.

For anyone following along on my exploits you've no doubt noticed that I've done some fairly major things that I never wrote up. Those write ups are partially done and will be posted just as soon as I'm sitting still long enough to finish them. Stay tuned!

So once again I leave you with my anthem for 2019:

Diving The Cleo Street Barge (aka Foss 125) In Laguna Beach

October 11th, 2019
[Matt's Scuba Map]

Welcome to another extended weekday diving morning thanks to the whole not being employed thing!

Jack and I have been taking advantage of the recent ideal Laguna diving conditions and I was eager to try out some locations other than our usual Crescent / Shaws / Divers hangouts. I remembered seeing a post about the Cleo Street Barge which is one of the rare wrecks to can easily reach from the shore around here.

Two Days of Morning Dives at Crescent Bay and Shaw's Cove Laguna Beach (With Bonus Sea Turtle!)

October 6th & 7th, 2019
[PicsSunday] [PicsMonday]
[Matt's Scuba Map]

Jen still had her rental gear after yesterday's trip to the oil rigs and with shore diving conditions looking better than we'd seen in months I wasn't about to not dive.

After all:

Diving Oil Rigs Ellen, Elly, & Eureka With The Sundiver Express

October 5th, 2019
[Matt's Scuba Map]

I'm back in town for a few short weeks and busy letting my feet rest after a summer filled with hiking. And what better way to do that then diving my butt off?

There are three active oil rigs off the coast of Long Beach that you can dive from a boat. They are difficult dives since they take place in open water and you have to enter and exit from boats drifting around the structure. Also they all sit in water so deep that you don't have the option of reaching the bottom. And they are some of the most unique and impressive dives I've done in Southern California.

Jen and I dove them for the first time in June with the Asante dive boat and had such an amazing time we couldn't wait to go back. But a slightly frantic summer filled with out of town activities caused a bit of delay...until now! After weather conditions killed plans for a paddling / hot spring / camping trip and we were overjoyed to find last minute openings on the Sundiver Express going out this Saturday.

Diving Crystal Cove At Reef Point & Pelican Point

October 4th, 2019
[Matt's Scuba Map]

After yesterday's all day excursion to La Jolla Jack and I had another morning free and wanted to try something that involved a bit less driving. So we decided to head over to Crystal Cove which is located not far north of our usual stomping grounds in Laguna Beach.