It’s been a while!

Where have you been?! - Photography by Diverkat

And for good reasons – so many new things, so much news, and loads of things going on, things to do, and things to celebrate!

Firstly, I’m really excited to be able to say that I’ve been made one of the trustees of the White Shark Conservation Trust.  I’m stoked to be working with Bruce and David, and I foresee lots of fun things in the future in that respect.  Both of them are brilliant, and the balance of personalities between the three of us is different enough to really create a dynamic group, and I hope that we can continue to grow the Trust in a way that expands our influence and our reputation in a positive way, for the benefit of our cartilaginous friends.

Second on the list, I’ve picked up studying again – I’m doing part-time study at the University of Auckland for (surprise) Marine Biology/Ecology and Conservation.  So yay!  Loads of work on though, but it’s all very interesting.  I’m halfway through week 3, and it’s pretty full on, but really great to be working my brain again.

As predicted, the diving work with Global Dive over the summer has taken up loads of time, but not without some fruits of the labour; some excellent photos taken by yours truly and good friend and fellow instructor Will Fox below.

More plugging for Sustainable Coastlines – these guys have been busy!  The weekend of 2 – 4 April 2011 is the Great Coromandel Coastal Clean-up, and if that one doesn’t suit you geographically or temporally, then there’s always the North Shore Coastal Clean-up, which is on 15 – 16 April 2011.  I am planning on attending the Saturday, come along and play if you can!

Also, as a trustee of the White Shark Conservation Trust, I will continue to shamelessly plug the events that we hold in the future.  Due to the tragedies that have befallen Christchurch and Japan, we feel that it is not appropriate to be holding any fundraisers for the foreseeable future; however raising awareness and promoting education are still ongoing projects, and I will continue to work on those when I am not studying.

One more thing that I want to mention, because conservation doesn’t have to just be in the ocean – anyone in the Auckland area who is interested in learning a bit about the reforestation/reintegration efforts being done on the islands in the Hauraki Gulf should try their hand at doing some volunteer work on Motuihe Island. Every other Sunday or so they have volunteer days where you can catch a ferry from Auckland to Motuihe, and do some work with reforestation, collecting seeds for growing seedlings, work in the nurseries, take a hike around the island, or whatever needs doing – the project is funded by sponsors of the Motuihe Trust and the Department of Conservation, and it offers a wonderful opportunity for one to learn more about native flora and fauna as well as the methods they are using to restore the endemic species.

And now, photos!

My favourite photo I've taken, ever. - Photography by Diverkat

Coming over the ridge - Photography by Will Fox

Spiny Sea Urchin - Photography by Diverkat

A close up of Scorpionfish, Scorpaena cardinalis (Grandfather hapuku) - Photography by Diverkat

So, you wanna be a hero?

Come on!  Be the hero!

Come on! Be the hero!

Or maybe you just want to learn how to prevent problems, or handle a problem, you know, just in case?

If so, the PADI Rescue Course is the place for you!

Learn how to effectively deal with panicked divers, treating injuries, handling emergency situations and develop a sense of confidence in your own dive skills, all while having the best time ever!  Ask any experienced divers and they’ll probably tell you that the rescue course was most rewarding course they’ve had.  I know I had heaps of fun!

Contact me on alexandria@diverkat.com if you’re interested in finding out about training dates; our next course begins on 27 May, 2009!

Success tastes so good – even in 2 metre swells.

Shot from the beach, with 007, our boat, in the foreground

Shot from the beach, with 007, our boat, in the foreground

With all the horrible weather warnings in place, and just about every other dive operation in the north island battening down the hatches, I was relieved to know that our little spot in Deep Water Cove would still be safe for our students – so off to the Bay of Islands we went. Friday afternoon looked to be a bit of a last minute scramble at Global Dive, trying to ensure we all had the appropriate gear sorted for the weekend. We then headed north, arriving quite late and having a quick tour of the Cowshed – which was quite flash, I was expecting… well, a cowshed – I crashed and burned into the pillow while listening to the rain patter down on the roof. Bliss.

The dead don’t sleep as well as I did that night. Had it not been for being in work mode, there’s no way I would have left that duvet/pillow combination without a bloody good fight. Being an advanced course in unfamiliar diving territory, there were several logistics that needed to be ironed out and hurdles overcome before we would head out into the swelly blue – the ride out was going to be bumpy with large swells bringing us lots of seaspray and loss of balance. Deep Water Cove is well protected at least, and the dive spots were very calm.

The dives our divers chose to do were Deep, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Wreck, Boat and Navigation. The first day we did Deep, Peak Performance Buoyancy and Wreck, and all went off without a hitch. Might I add, the Canterbury has become a new love affair for not only me, but a few of the other divers as well! Jennifer especially was really into it – I have a feeling that girl is going to be getting into her tec courses as soon as possible; she was not satisfied with the short glimpses she got of the wreck. A great time was had by all and so we headed back in to rinse our gear, debrief, and get through the rest of the theory and book work, and finally, eat.

Tom F, Gregory, Jennifer, Alex, Brad, Tom C, Lee, Claire and Hoon

Tom F, Gregory, Jennifer, Alex, Brad, Tom C, Lee, Claire and Hoon

Sunday was a less hectic day, with just Boat and Navigation left to do. I was a bit apprehensive about the Navigation dive, only because of the very likely possibility of losing divers. It nearly always happens. However, I had nothing to worry about – thanks to all the navigation specialty course practise with Pete Mesley, I was able to pass on my exemplary Nav skills to the divers – none of them got lost, none of them even needed to surface! With 4 divers doing their skills, that’s nearly unheard of. I was so proud.

I can say with conviction that this weekend, torrential downpours notwithstanding, was a success. And yes, the Cowshed was everything Lee said it would be. I must go back soon. Very soon. I’m not done with the Canterbury just yet.

***Thanks to Jennifer Charlet for the photos***

Hello, Cowshed. At last we meet.

First Advanced Open Water Course is on this weekend – Four of our divers from last weekend’s Open Water course have decided to continue their education (yay!!!) with us, and from what Tom (the other instructor) has told me, everyone wants to do the Canterbury wreck – yes.  Oh yes.  My obsession will rub off on most of my student divers if I have anything to say about it. 

When I was younger, my first desire to sink beneath the waves came from a Discovery Channel feature – some random ship had sunk off the coast of somewhere, and divers were exploring it.  That was it for me – I was going to learn to dive (when I was old enough), and I was going to go diving on wrecks. 

Tonight Lee and I are driving up to the Bay of Islands and staying in the Cowshed. The Cowshed is a place of legends; I’ve not been yet, but I can tell you one thing – if wreck diving is what got me into the water in the first place, it’s definitely the thing that keeps me going back.  The first experience I had on a wreck was a little houseboat purpose-sunk in a quarry for training, which I dived on my Advanced Open Water course.  It was completely stripped, very boring.  But still, I was fascinated.  I wanted more. 

 The HMNZS Canterbury has been in my dreams of late, and even though the weather is looking dismal, diving the wreck should be alright due to its sheltered position  in Deep Water Cove, which lies on the western end of the Cape Brett peninsula.  I’ll let you know how it goes after the weekend.

-Diverkat