Trip Four on our Similan liveaboard the MY Bunmee II features some blasts from the past returning to dive with us and Stephanie overcoming underwater fears to finish her SSI Open Water Course in style.

A stunning sunset dive at Similan dive site, Koh Tachai Pinnacle, an unexpected present from Switzerland and “just one more”. Is that just one more beer or just one more trip? ;)

Similan Liveaboard with Thailand Dive and sail

Blasts from the Past on our Similan Liveaboard

It’s always great when divers return to dive with us. Michael has dived with us a couple of times in the past when both Clive and myself were tour leaders on Similan liveaboard MV Jazz, back in November 2007 and the legendary trip in December 2008 where I breathed a tank dry with a whale shark at Richelieu Rock. What’s more, Michael had already done one trip previously on the MY Bunmee II and signed up for a second consecutive Similan liveabaord trip.

Similan diving with Michael
Michael Hambug, as he is known on Bunmee II

Also returning was Warren, an old college friend from a former life back in the real world. We had dived together in 2009 when I was tour leader on the MV Pawara. His girlfriend Stephanie was going to learn to dive with me during the liveaboard safari as well.

Completing the passenger list was Vivienne and Winsor from Singapore who would be taking their advanced open water certification with Sarah. Also team France with Mathieu from Andaman Scuba.

Learn to dive on a liveaboard
The best classroom ever, Sarah and Winsor

With a great bunch on board I was really looking forward to my second trip tour leading the MY Bunmee II, trip number four to the Similan Islands.

Overcoming Underwater Fears Learning to Dive

Before departure Stephanie, Warren and I headed to the swimming pool to complete the confined water session as part of Stephanie’s SSI Open Water Course. I don’t think Stephanie would mind me saying this, but she was none to happy about putting her head underwater wearing scuba equipment. A previous bad experience trying scuba diving in a pool had instilled a lot of fear in her. Something we would have to overcome before heading out into open water at the Similan Islands.

We took our time gearing up and floating in the swimming pool. Getting used to the equipment before we started with the skills. Normally I like to float on the surface of the pool, breathing through the regulator before actually descending. This gives the student confidence in the equipment that it will deliver air once underwater. In Stephanie’s case this is where things had gone wrong in the past with an impatient instructor. I like a bit of a challenge so we had to figure out another way to get Stephanie underwater and feeling comfortable.

Diving in the Andaman Sea
Ready to go

We tried a few different ways and in the end found a system that worked. The problem was arising from breathing air through the regulator. Bobbing underwater with no regulator was fine. So our way was to descend underwater with no regulator and then put it in afterwards. Stephanie was still nervous but we were underwater and underway. Completing the skills was no problem at all. In fact I think it helped as it was a welcomed distraction and Stephanie’s confidence grew the more we practised mask clearing, regulator recovery and alternate air source breathing.

So after some initial hesitation we completed all the confined pool skills in good time and packed our equipment looking forward to getting out to the Similan Islands.

MY Bunmee II Similan Liveaboard Trip Four

Waking up in the Similan Islands on the first day was magical. After a fairly chopping crossing the previous evening we now had perfect conditions around the islands. The sky was a lovely blue with only a few clouds. The shallow waters around Islands Four, Five and Six were the typical Similan’s turquoise. Stephanie’s first dive had gone really well and things were looking all set for another fantastic trip.

Similan liveaboard Bunmee 2
Side view of Bunmee II

Highlights of Trip Four

It gave me immense satisfaction completing Stephanie’s SSI Open Water Course. From very nervous beginnings, by around the mid-point of the trip she was diving like a professional. Well okay, she still needed a helping hand from Warren now and again, but Stephanie’s confidence was growing with each dive and we were really appreciating the underwater life at the Similan Islands. The dive sites were getting more advanced in nature and we were taking everything well within our stride. Well done Stephanie 🙂

“Just one more…?”

This became Michael’s and my favourite question on the trip, enjoying every evening drinking just one more beer, then another, and another….. Luckily everyone else had gone to bed and didn’t have to endure and Depeche Mode playlists!

Also I have to say a big thank you to Warren and Stephanie for lugging the beast of a camera set up all the way from Switzerland. It is massively appreciated and has opened up a whole new world of underwater photography. Thanks also to Michael for your great photos and also your tips to help me get started with topside photography.

Pufferfish in the Andaman
Cute pufferfish at the Boonsung Wreck

The sunset dive I did with Sarah and Michael at Koh Tachai Pinnacle, the one with the raging current that went a bit deep and only lasted 30 mins. The one with vast amounts of action and fish life. Yes, that one…. still the best dive of the season so far. Brilliant!

So with my second trip done on MY Bunmee II things are really shaping up for another legendary season for Thailand Dive and Sail. The trip was so good I reckon Michael might just stay on board for one more. You are now forever known as Michael Hambug by the Thai crew, they miss you loads.

A big thank you to all our guests, Stephanie, Warren, Michael, Vivienne, Winsor, Michelle, Eric and Catherine, hopefully see you all again for more diving with a smile 😉 Especially Winsor and Vivienne, we have to complete a trip and get your advanced certifications done.

Returning after a great Similan Liveaboard
Returning after a great Similan Liveaboard