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Indonesia Trip Report

Wow. Let’s start with that, shall we?

We’ve just returned home from a fantastic 10-day dive trip to Indonesia. This is our story!

We  began by all meeting up in Singapore; there were 8 of us in total, and we began our collective journey with a wonderful, authentic Chinese “hot pot” dinner. Two types of broth (one spicy, one not so spicy) boiled in a vat in the center of the table, while different plates of thinly sliced meats and veggies were dumped into each broth. A few minutes later, voila; ready to eat. Scrumptious!

hot pot in Singapore

Hot Pot Dinner!

The next morning, we hit the airport for our flight to Manado, where the folks from Murex Bangka would meet us and transport us to our first destination. Bangka Island was a late change to our itinerary, but it proved a positive addition to our trip! It’s a very small, quaint spot, with beachfront cabins all with a view of an active volcano, a single room for dining and entertainment, and a wonderfully friendly and accommodating staff. We all put our shoes aside for the three days we were here; who needs shoes!

Murex Bangka, Indonesia

Cottage at Murex Bangka

This was our first taste of Indonesian diving, and it did not disappoint! The reefs here are colourful with tons of soft corals, loads of fish life and loads and LOADS of critters. We did a checkout dive on the house reef when we arrived, to ensure we all had our weighting dialed in, and then did two days of boat diving, three dives each day.

bangka island indonesia

Leaf Scorpionfish – one of Bangka’s early treasures!

Saturday was our transfer day. We had our luggage ready bright and early, and then got our dive gear on and boarded the boat. While our stuff was moved over land to Lembeh Resort, we enjoyed two dives along the way. A quick lunch and check in at Lembeh, and we were ready for the third dive of the day.

Lembeh Resort

Lembeh Resort

Lembeh Resort was beautiful. Less rustic than Murex Bangka, it’s built into the side of a huge hill. The wonderfully appointed cabins had great views of the strait, and of the “mainland” (the island of Sulawesi) across. Food was good and quite varied with a mix of buffet dinners and a la carte. Lunch and breakfast were buffet style, along with a “how you like them” egg station at breakfast. Between dive snacks were available, provided by a smiling staff member as we stepped off the boat, along with coffee, tea and drinks poolside.

Lembeh Resort dive staff with Atkins Scuba group

Fantastic group with our Lembeh dive staff!

Here we are with our boat, Larnia, in the background, and our awesome dive staff! (Thanks to Stephanie for the photo!)

Dive service was valet style – thrown off slightly by the sidemount rigs that Matthew and I brought with us – so our gear was brought to the boat each morning and set up, ready to go. Boat rides to the dive sites were generally short, dive guides were knowledgeable, and a mix of muck diving and coral reef sites provided plenty of opportunity to see TONS of stuff! Thanks so much to Fandy and Ramly (our guides) along with Yanti, our boat staff, all the hotel staff, Miguel and Ana at the Lembeh Resort, Kristine, Lauren and Dimpy at critters@lembeh – we had a great time!

We also had some achievements to celebrate: Celia had a birthday, and then did her 100th dive, as did her husband Larry (the 100th dive, not the birthday). Nicole completed her Divemaster program, along with her Peak Performance Buoyancy course and her Deep course, and she also completed – along with Stephanie and Debbie – her Digital Underwater Photography program. And Steph also finished up her Enriched Air Diver program! Lots of moving forward, and we are very glad to have been a part of all of it – way to go, divers!

Dragon Nudibranch Lembeh Strait Indonesia

Dragon Nudibranch, Lembeh Strait, Indonesia

You can check out a few of Kari’s underwater photos here, or here on the AtkinsScuba Facebook page. One of our participants, Riley Tanner, took some wonderful photos, which he has shared on PhotoBucket, here. Thanks, Riley!

And if this whets your appetite for diving, check out our trips to Cozumel in 2015, and join us!

sunset bangka island indonesia

The sun sets on another awesome dive trip!

Emergency First Response Instructor in the house!

One of the best things about being a scuba diver is that there is always more to learn. At Atkins Scuba, we are firm believers in continuing education, and that includes for ourselves! At the DEMA show in November, Kari took some next steps and became an Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer. This means that in addition to being able to teach you the provider course and work on your EFR skills, she can now make you an instructor, ready to teach your own students! It was a fantastic experience, and it feels GOOD to keep learning!

CPR edmonton

CPR is for everyone

AED with CPR edmonton

Learn how to use AED

 

Congratulations, Open Water Divers!

Summer in Alberta is a beautiful time of year, and by August, Narrow Lake has warmed up considerably! We headed there last week to complete the Open Water dives for a family of four, and it was a fantastic two days in the water. As we learned in class, if the ears don’t clear, call the dive and come back another day; it was a little disappointing when one guppy had some trouble equalizing on the last dive, but we’ve rescheduled her for the first week in September.

Congratulations, Allaries! You did a great job!

Kari, Maya, Christie, Emma, Matthew and Kent

Guest Post: Brian Wright

As I prepare for upcoming trips to Cozumel, I thought I’d post this report from one of the participants on the March, 2011 trip.

Brian

It had been a couple years since I certified and with only one “pool” refresher under my weight belt, I was trying to find a trip to ENJOY diving, not just doing skills for certification.  I stumbled on the Ocean Sports trip to Cozumel in March 2011 and thought the price, especially the small single supplement cost, was great.  It was a big leap for me to travel and dive alone in a place I’d never been.

I was concerned about a lot of aspects of the trip but was really wondering if I could “hold my own” with experienced divers and would my lack of experience be a safety risk.  (p.s. – I wasn’t the diver who assembled their rig backwards on day one).  I had swapped a few emails with Kari, Ocean Sports and the Blue Angel dive shop in advance to ask a few questions and get rental gear set up – whenever I mentioned to anyone I was diving with Kari and Matthew the response was the same – “you’ll have a great time, see a lot and be perfectly safe.”  Ocean Sports even matched me with a roomie for the trip.

When I arrived, Kari recognized me right off (she’s a Facebook stalker I think) and made me feel welcome.  The dive group ranged in age from mid-twenties to mid-sixties; some were just certifying and some were very experienced dive veterans; some had been on the trip before and some were rookies like me – everyone was welcoming and easy going. It developed in to a fantastic trip and a great holiday.  The whole dive group was very supportive and fun – I left with many friendships and “future” dive buddies. 

I saw so much during the dives that always seemed to uncover some new wonder.  The Blue Angel was a small resort but a great place to stay – dive boats docked out front every morning, dive shop staff were helpful with everything and the food in the restaurant was great (at a good price and wonderful staff).  I also got to visit great local sites and eat at places that weren’t in the guide book, as Kari and Matthew took the group out to some of their favourite haunts.  The whole package made for a relaxed, enjoyable week.

Matthew and Kari were professional and knowledgeable (OK she’s a bit of a fish nerd) in my “book” learning (I completed my Advanced Open Water course on the trip) but also impressed me with their love of diving.  I always felt I could push my personal limits but whenever I looked around, they were there to suggest, encourage and scold (a couple times I deserved it).  Kari even hid her laughter (until after) when Young Bryan and I did our version of underwater navigation. The biggest testament to Kari and Matt is that I went down a struggling newbie and came back with my Advanced Open Water (so some days were 4-tank days) but also with the huge confidence in my abilities and a renewed passion for diving. 

I’m already looking at the calendar to see which trip next year I will return on but the difference next year is I will stay longer…

making underwater navigation look easy!

You can find Brian on twitter @MrBrianWright and you can read the trip report from Brian’s adventure here.

Congratulations on successful completion of the Advanced Open Water Diver course, and since this post, Brian has also completed his Enriched Air Diver program as well! As always, we’re so pleased to be a part of a positive dive experience! And we can’t wait to welcome Brian back on his next Cozumel adventure. You can be part of it! Check here for trip dates for winter 2011/2012!

Congratulations: Rescue Divers!

Many divers will tell you that their Rescue Diver course was one of the most challenging and also rewarding diving experiences they’ve had. We welcome two new members to this group! Congratulations to Amy Walczak and Jon Hudson, who completed their training in Narrow Lake on a rainy Friday in July!

Amy and Jon bringing an unresponsive diver to shore

Way to go you two! And thanks to Ross Lockwood and Warren McKay for their able and much-appreciated assistance!

Ross Lockwood, Amy Walczak, Warren McKay, Jon Hudson

You can see more photos on our Facebook page.

Guest Post: Ross Lockwood

We met Ross Lockwood in early 2010 when he visited Cozumel with the U of A Scuba Club. Ross completed his Advanced Open Water during that trip, and he hasn’t looked back. I asked Ross to share some thoughts on his experiences; here’s what he had to say…

Ross

I’ve had the great fortune of sharing the last year with Kari and Matthew Atkins. After completing my Advanced Open Water course in February 2010, it was a no-brainer for me to continue my training with them. Throughout the summer I worked on improving my dive skills with them in the pool and in Alberta Lakes. Over the summer I completed my Rescue Diver, Enriched Air Diver and Emergency Oxygen Provider courses and began my Divemaster course. Now that my Cozumel trip for 2011 is over, I’m happy to share that I’ve completed my Divemaster program, along with seven specialties: AWARE – Fish Identification; Digital Underwater Photographer; Night Diver; Peak Performance Buoyancy; Underwater Naturalist; Deep Diver and Search and Recovery Diver. I’ve also received my Master Scuba Diver rating.

It’s no small feat to complete that much training in so little time, especially when both student and instructor have full-time jobs! It’s a testament to AtkinsScuba that so much could be completed so efficiently. Add on top of that my personal feelings that I received the highest quality training available, and it’s not hard to see why I chose to train with them, and why I will continue to dive with them in the future. It’s difficult to articulate how thankful I am for Kari and Matthew – they’ve definitely made one of my life goals a reality. THANK YOU!

Ross Lockwood: Divemaster (self-portrait!)

We’ve obviously spent a lot of time together! And we continue to do so. Ross is now a regular contributor to AtkinsScuba, and is currently assisting with a Rescue Diver program as well as an Open Water course. Thanks, Ross! Congratulations!


Congratulations: Enriched Air Divers!

If you’re a diver, you probably have heard of “enriched air” and may even use it yourself, or have questions about what it is and perhaps what it isn’t. Four divers in the Edmonton area had all their questions answered at this event last week. Congratulations to four newly certified PADI Enriched Air Divers: Mylan Worthington, Bryan Hayward, and brother/sister buddy team Nicole Bremault and Marc Bremault; way to go people!

Marc Bremault and Nicole Bremault

Date for the next Enriched Air Diver course will be announced soon!