Well my aim in life after recently (well in the last 4 years) taking up diving was to enjoy it to my best ability. I needed to get a prescription insert for my mask as I have a big + prescription, no problems off to specsavers and had one made I was now able to appreciate diving especially the Macro wildlife (If you have a standard prescription then speak to Tracey as prescription lenses are available for a number of masks)
I along with my wife decided it was off to sunnier climes to learn to dive, so off we went and took our PADI Open Water and then Advanced Open Water, next it was Nitrox course and then Deep diver course.. all in sunny Thailand. This was over 3 years
So I began to think a few more specialities and Rescue diver would give me the opportunity to apply for my Master Scuba Diver Certificate.. Right I thought lets do it, need to get up to 50 dives as well.
Off to see Tracey and organise a couple more specialities before off to sunnier climes in Thailand for my Rescue Diver and Underwater Photography Course.
Right so lets get sorted for the trip, Flight and hotel booked sorted some cheap travel insurance out for a single trip, right next thing was I had 30 Kgs of luggage and 7 Kgs of hand luggage, so I had to sort out my dive gear so started packing case dive bag in, Fins in, BCD in, Regulator in tucked in the bcd, Underwater camera housing in wrapped in my Rash Vest and Shorts. Still plenty of room in suitcase so toiletries in some tee shirts shorts and undies in, Can I fit my mask and prescription insert in yes there is room.. case weighed and 23kgs, great I have a small case where I can pack a few more bits and some chargers for my tablet, camera and phone weighed and 6kgs so within my limits.. Just my hand luggage to finish passports packed, money in, tablet in, tee shirt in.. Right thats me ready for the off.
Arrived at Birmingham for my outbound flight told the lady I had my dive gear and mask and underwater housing in big case, no problems she says she put a fragile sticker on the case, I was feeling a little better about it being looked after, so off to Amsterdam then Singapore before arriving in Phuket.. Immigration was throbbing, took over an hour to get through. Checked the carousel system to find that all the luggage from my flight had been taken off the carousel and dumped on the floor... found my small case no sign of big case with my dive gear. Off to baggage reclaim dept. to report the case missing, no problems form filled in they stated that my case would probably turn up on the next flight from Singapore (they did recompense me with about £50 in local currency) , so off to my hotel, later in the afternoon rang the airport to see if there was any news.. No still hadn't arrived. I was now getting a little worried as I had arranged to start my Underwater Photography Course in 2 days, so I rang the local dive school to let them know that my dive gear in the case was missing, no problems they said they would arrange for me to use the dive schools gear.... One big problem No prescription inserts for mask, so useless for a photography course. The next day I again the Airport again, still not been found. So I was off around the local Opticians to see if I could get some Contact Lenses No was the reply from them all my prescription with Astigmatism was too big for them. So I was back to square one, off to the dive school to cancel my courses, but was able to complete the written work for the Underwater Photography Rescue Diver and Emergency First responder which I needed to refresh.
I was beginning to think that I would not be able to complete any of my diving courses whilst there.
Saturday evening I get a call from the Airport they think they have found my case it had been at Singapore with no tags and a broken wheel they would send it to the hotel to see if I could Identify it... some 2 hours later it arrived, the case was missing a wheel but the rest was intact. So a call to the dive school and we were able to reschedule the dive courses.
So after reading the underwater photography book I set about making sure that all the O seals were all cleaned and the seals greased with silicon grease. Setup my Canon G7x so that the white balance was set up on function button
Off on my first dive down to about 15 metres tried to get as low as I could to take photos I was quite pleased with some of the photos composition was good. So after the first dive card out and instructor placed it in her laptop to see how the composition was and looked at histogram.. A few suggestions then camera back in the underwater housing, one of the O seals seemed to be a bit loose but went back into slot. Checked that the camera would switch on and off and functioning ok.. Off back into the water as we descended I went to switch the camera on and nothing, it didn't look like it was flooded, I just thought that when I had entered the water that I had moved the camera somehow. The instructor gave me her camera with a few underwater instructions more photos taken then off to the surface it was at this point that I saw that my housing was partially flooded.. ARRRGGHHHHH.
Checked the camera not working, even the card would not work..really pissed off at this stage anyway after a short time I got the card working still nothing with the camera though. The instructor had a spare camera and housing which we used for the 3rd dive. On the way back to port we went through the photos which had been taken and discussed composition etc. and also editing the photos.. we were getting close to port I still had on my prescription sunglasses on and could not see my logbook on my Zoop Novo so asked an instructor sat next to me if he could read off my 3 dives for me so I could get my log book signed by my instructor. He put the Computer on the desk in front of me, I then got my stuff together to disembark. On getting back to my hotel room I could not find my Zoop Novo.. Had I left it on the boat? I contacted Dave at the dive school who contacted the boat they had not found it.
Well I then looked at my travel insurance electrical items only covered upto £150 with a £100 excess per claim.. Ouch the Canon G7x was worth £500+. The zoop claim was the same £150 with a £100 excess .. oh and to get a report from the police of its loss was going to cost me just over £40. So insurance not worth the paper it was written on.
So expensive holiday - lost £500 camera, £160 Zoop Novo and also £80 suitcase that nobody will insure because it is external wheels which are not covered..
Think before my next trip I am going to sort out some proper insurance for my dive gear and my camera and housing.. Oh and I will be carrying my mask and inserts in my hand luggage.
Written by Pete Starbuck April 2018
It appears they have made it to the first resort in Southern Leyte, Philippines
All arrived safely at their first resort in the Philippines after starting out in the UK at Manchester and Heathrow airports. Then all becoming one after meeting up in Singapore - don't they all look fine in their Dive Rutland Trip Shirts?
From Singapore to Cebu meeting up with Tony Exall, our Dive Philippines representative who is doing an awesome job so far! and the other group making us a crew of 16.
Unfortunately, not everything has arrived. Remember the article in the Club Newsletter back in April 2018, about losing bags at airports? no have a read here
Well it seems there is a theme as that same person is now missing their luggage as it decided to stay in Singapore...we will let you decide who has to be the unluckiest traveller.
From Singapore to Cebu for an overnight stop where there was time for a quick dip in the pool for some, cocktails, beers and a group meal...followed by an early night before some could fall asleep in their dinner.
Next morning from Cebu to Ormoc for a boat transfer and then finally a road transfer to Southern Leyte... where the 2 Tones....or Tony's hadn't quite coordinated clothing plans...
Day 5 was spent back on the Roots House Reef. A great reef, with lots to see and watch..
Day 6: The group split with half getting up at 4am (yes really!). For a bus and zodiac ride to elphinstone reef and the rest after a lazy breakfast having a short zodiac ride to - well lets call it Clownfish Alley as I have never seen so many clownfish in one place the description of clownfish city is apt. They were everywhere.
The second dive ticked off Amanda's request for a turtle.... job done.
On trips like this you learn a lot about people and generally have lots of laughs and the rule "What goes on tour stays on tour" is applied, but let's just say pink bikinis will never be the same ever again!!!!!
And the saying "the window of opportunity is closed" although I am sure we came into that conversation at just the wrong moment or did we?
The holiday was like a liveaboard except on land and with more space - three meals a day for a week and great food at that. The house reef is great, need to go back and continue to explore, but time now to return to normality and maybe a diet or two..
Thanks to everyone at Roots Red Sea and Pharaoh Dive Club for making our stay such fun and we will most definitely see you again.
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