Issue 18 September 2009
|Special point of interest:||
Thailand News from the Bad Tamel - 2009, Part Deux
The trip to Bangkok airport was uneventful but, the flight to Krabi was a trifle turbulent. Just to make things interesting, we were greeted with a thunderstorm and lots and lots and more lots of rain. Eventually, after several ferry rides and hours in mini buses, the gang (now increased in number by The Astle Bunch) arrived at our residence in Koh Lanta. Which comprised of apartments some 100 metres from the beach and considerably less from the bar. It was then that we were reunited with the “Maltmeister” Rich and Sue Mace, our guides. Rich guided us to the bar; bless him, where they both proceeded to fill us in about things local. The subject of creepy crawlies cropped up, in particular “snerks”. Cobra type “snerks”. Lots of cobra dudes on Koh Lanta. Bl—dy marvelous. It was now very dark and nice as our gaffs looked inside, they also looked ideal for things to hide underneath. Namely, yes you got it. “Snerks”. I don't like “snerks”, specially the biting kind.
With this in mind, would I sleep? Well, yes, I slept very well until the beer wore off. All forty minutes of it. Which incidentally is about the same as Chris manages every hour. What was keeping me awake? Could it be the air conditioning fan? No. It was the 27 litres of Rolls Royce Merlin engine driving the Xxii* thing outback! Kept the “snerks” away though.
Morning arrived with a thirst. Breakfast and slob out on the beach with lots of beer pints. And what a breakfast. Cereal, tea or coffee followed by bacon, eggs, noodles and rice dishes, pancakes, breads. It was purgatory. Stuffing our faces for an hour and a half, but hey! Someone had to do it. The slobbing out and endless “beerpints” unfortunately didn't materialise. We were brought to our senses by someone who had picked up on the fact that we were divers and the only wreck dive available that week would take place that afternoon. “Pigs bottom”!
“Lanta divers” arrived and transported expectant aqua noughts away from the “pop shop” to their head quarters to sign in and sort out cylinders etc. Nitrox was at no extra cost. Boat was sweet.
The ride to the only wreck was about 4 hours. Fortunately Chris fell asleep, because at this point I spied a rook of real live page 3 girls “among some none descript bloke dudes”. Apparently they were our dive guides. Phil, “Bombardier Phil”, that is, came running over in a state of panic. “Al we've got problems”. “What's all this, WE, paleface”? You’re D.O. I replied. “Have you seen the womens? Says he. “No. No. No. Well yes” says I “What's the problem”? “The problem is Chris. We have to keep him chained up and heavily sedated”! Point taken. We opted for the second.
The dive was a total “smeg up”. “Don't go in the wreck” were the strict instructions by page 3 girl no. 1, namely Soy. Good instructions. We couldn't get inside for fish. The poor little s-ds were hiding from the current. Divers clung on to anything cling-on-able and came out exhausted.
Back on board some serious “scran” was waiting to be devoured on the journey home to Koh Lanta, good job as well, we needed it. “Who is up for a night dive?” cried some tosspot. Reluctantly we gave in. Well they painted such a rosy picture, you see. The truth is at best it raised the yearly dive total, at worst it kept us from drinking. I leave you to draw your own conclusions on this dark desert dive. We didn't get home till eleven. Could things get worse? No, No, no, no, no, Yes.
Firstly the morning dives pick up would be 6.45. I can't believe it now even writing it, but even worse, some nastie creepie crawly, bitie animal dude had broken Fay. When we arrived back she was in bed (not drinking) with a foot the size of a balloon. I described the symptoms to Rich. He diagnosed “alcohol deficiency”. To me, it was obviously the “werk of snerks”.
Morning came to soonly and we had to miss brekie at the hotel. Those diving headed for town. Lin stayed behind to get Fay sorted and keep her away from any “neck oil”. Cheryl and Ali went shop hunting. Not shopping. Shop hunting. Very thin on the ground. Jo, Zoe and Phil were working hard at keeping a balance of colour and alcohol level. Very sensible in such terrain. Their two friends * being under close tuition. They learned fast.
Back to the diving scene, another long trip out was on the menu but so was breakfast and not back at all. Neither was our guide. Femmie. A blond Dutch girl. If she led us into a sceptic tank, I think the guys would have followed, those checked shorts. As it happens she led us to see Leopard Sharks and all manor of erotic, sorry exotic creatures never before to have blessed our vision. She knew where everything was. So did Chris but he would never get near it? I have to wonder just how sedated Phil was keeping him.
Diving that day was superb. Just enough current to polish pristine corals and bring in food for the naughty fish. Viz was to die for. We headed home reluctantly but happy. They even fed us. Again! Some of it was a bit authentic and frisky. Nothing could dampen our spirits. Lie mode, cancel.
By the time we moored up, all but pick- up, was out in use. Meaning we had to travel back home in the open in a thunderstorm, which seemed to be the order of the day (and night) anytime after 2pm. If only we had been suited up. My computer logged it as a dive. Phil signed it!!
Seeing as we were back reasonably early we headed for town to sample some Thai food, in particular sea food recommended by Sue and Rich. Little did I know that those firstly in town, were treated to Papaya salad. Swine’s! It was at this moment in time that our beloved leader picked up the “big girls blouse” award for eating or rather lack of it. My mole tells me that he was over shadowed by hard man Chris. Chris it would seem had the ped version (ped meaning Hot) however Chris being heavily sedated, thought ped meant standing up. That’s how he ate it. In fairness they both looked the worse for wear as we entered the fish restaurant. Rich recommended the prawns. I couldn’t see any “There they are, have you got your lenses in?” Scuse me dude. Traditionally prawns are smaller than fish. “ What do these muthas eat.” I was quick to answer. “Well mainly rodents and small children our expert informed me.” “How do they tell the difference?” Food was botty spanking naughty, but on a more sober note, in a matter of hours, “El Babbo” would be 50 and “EC Tamel” woulde be 60.
I went to bed hoping it would be all a bad dream. The birthday cards and Zimmer frame confirmed the true horror. With mixed emotions I joined the team to go and dive. Lin came along (hoping to pick up the insurance money) leaving our offspring to look after themselves. I was greeted on the boat by Femmie, who gave me a hug and kiss and wished me happy birthday. My memory almost returned. After a pleasant, no, bostin days diving with the pick of “Lanta dives” guides the evening’s celebrations had to be considered. There was no way on earth I was leaving Koh Lanta without sampling a “Papaya Salad,” especially on my birthday. That’s the way to start a meal. Thank you so much Sue & Rich. Have you noticed by the way how everyone is being well behaved, albeit sedated? Disturbing isn’t it. Well at the seafood restaurant El Babbo and myself rebelled against orders to bet “blathered” (largely because the beer was crap) and asked of the D.O. “Can we dive tomorrow instead of getting trollied on this bilge water.” He took pity and said “yes.” A visitation from the “Carrot Fairy” may prove worthwhile after a night on Abbot or East Street Cream, but not Singha. I have no idea of El Babbo feelings on the subject, but personally I missed yoyou daft bl—dery and the rest of my family on this milestone of my life. But I tell you what. When I get to 70, I will take comfort in the fact that El Babbo will be 60.
The next day our luck ran out. Instead of diving with a dolly type bird, we ended up with a guy, sort of blokie type person. Rats b----ks! He didn’t set the world on fire on the dive scene either, leaving me to find the sole leopard shark. (That’s not a cross between a sole and a leopard shark incidentally). Our anonymous guide spent the largest part of the dive investigating cracks and crevices for things already pointed our previously, more efficiently and more attractively by Femmie. However he did provide us with the most exciting dive of the holiday directly afterwards. Whether that would be to his credit or condemnation. I’ll leave you to decide.
Storms at sea are by nature intimidating. The lightning, thunder, rain etc got closer and louder. Waves got bigger. Would we be safe on board our boat? Well a dam site safer than in the water, which is where we ended up.
A competition seemed to be developing between guides. Our team had only seen my one leopard shark, whereas the opposing dive mater had found some ten or so “black tips” on the other side of the reef. So, eager to regain his cred, our man exclaimed “we will be quite safe, there is no current and we will be picked up in the shelter of the island on the other side.” I should recognise lie mode by now. His nose grew some four inches. Phil’s face dropped at the thought of going to an autopsy in one form or another. Over we went and down has fast as our ears could clear. Now I may not be the sharpest tree in the forest, (that doesn’t sound right) but barracuda traditionally eat other fish. These, however were biting on coral. The reason behind this phenomenon was soon to reveal itself. In a word, current! Loads of fast serious, “Slack water” current. About 8 knots of it to be precise. Fish even, hung on to anything available (artistic license/exaggeration mode) whilst the very cream of Prima (gross lie mode) was thrown about the ocean like tin foil (truth mode). We changed buddies and dive leaders time and time again. Everyone kept looking franticly at their air supply. Would they we have enough to reach our “safe” lagoon? And would the bl—dy thing be safe anyway? But then the guide found some shelter and was pointing to something. Could this be the “black tip” shark, the purpose of the dive? Yes, yes, yes, No! It was a piggin “snerk”! If the sea or the storm don’t get you the “snerks” will. Having visions of me with a foot (or worse) the size of Fay’s directed me and Lin back to the maelstrom. Just As we all were about to “cry barley”, our even more attractive “finder of fishes” sent up his DSMB insisting that, in the interest of safety, we did our decompression stops (even if some of them had less than 10 bar) prior to having our heads smashed in the transom of the boat in our “safe lagoon” with 1- foot waves. How we all survived is a miracle. “Did anyone see any sharks?” asked he who could not lead a pig to a market. Phil’s face grew darker and had it not been for the quick thinking of Chris, I’m sure terrible things would have happened to our guide’s person. Salvation came in the form the Thai Whisky. The shoe was on the other foot. Phil became sedated by Chris. Dry land suddenly became the only thing on our minds. But it was not that dry when we arrived. Never mind we felt safe once more.
At last well stocked fridges were allowed to relinquish their hold on cool alcoholic beverages, so that dry throats could be quenched. And we all gathered on the porches of the apartments to drink them, didn’t we? And we all fell asleep, tired and drunk, or both. Didn’t we. And guess what else gathered at the porches. No not “snerks.” Fortunately. Mozzies and flying cockyroaches all keen to sink their teeth into drunken flesh did so without reservation. Bombadies Phil did a wonderful impression of a “potato man.” No one escaped.
Sadly the last day to dive at Koh Lanta arrived; even more sadly, alcohol was banned from the boat. So we dived, behaved and said “goodbye” to the lovelies and not so lovelies. Finally we had our day of rest before the early morning trauma of heading to our second location. What a mammoth journey that was. The final stage being aboard a very rapid hovercraft to Koh Tao.
Part 3 Coming Soon
Don’t forget to book your meals for the Prima Dinner Dance, Saturday November 28th. Prices frozen from last year, £18.50 per person. See Lil for details.
Diving at Trefor
“Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Bangor”
Well maybe not Bangor but not too far away, we met at the Blue China café, Criccieth, as usual; looking out over the bay the White Horses were galloping along, not good - the rest of the Country bathed in warm Sun light and we’re covered over in low cloud. (Well it is Wales and Tom Jones sang about the green green grass of home and not the brown brown dust bowl). Then Lin who was desperate not to let any one down, thought for a moment and at the speed of light came back with” well there’s always Trevor” Trevor who? I thought, is he a local Welsh Druid capable of calming the sea? So off we went, about an hour after arriving, with Alison whispering in my ear “Charlie and I would have had time for breakfast”. The thought of Charlie having breakfast after a long journey then going on another journey straight after and Alison sat right in front of him conjured up images of my beloved wearing a cooked breakfast hair extension, like a demented Tracey Emin looking for the next major art breakthrough!
Trefor, it turned out, was a small coastal village with a pier and harbour where small boats were launched. Having parked the cars we set up camp, well Al opened his van doors and out came the diving equipment. After kitting up we had a surface dive to the end of the Harbour then down to the sea bed, a six metre dive; keeping under the peer and diving the length you would be rewarded with countless crabs Blenneys and sand eels. Lin was convinced she saw a Sea Bass! Al wasn’t, although he didn’t dive so couldn’t really be sure one way or the other, but who would question the intuitive power of a Tamel, especially a fishing Tamel? I wouldn’t. The reason Al didn’t dive was he had already completed a 68 mile cycle ride for charity with Ash the day before!
Everybody had a second dive, having plenty of air diving at those depths and spurred on by the thought of seeing the lobsters which Wendy and Babo had found and gave us directions to. George was straight back in upturning tons of steel plates and wood until he eventually found a small but feisty Lobster and straight away made friends with it, in a George kind of way.
After the dive Al put his cooking hat on and lit the BBQ. Al set to like a Michelin Chef with the occasional cry of “what the smeg are these woman?” as he reached into the cool box which was full of food wine and beer. In no time food was cooking on the hot coals “any one for a burger or a Keeebab on a stick?” asked Al. There was no shortage of takers. The girls drank wine out of glasses made from plastic bottles whittled down by Richard, whilst some elected to drink it straight out of the whole plastic bottle; very soon Lin found the combination of wine and the pull of gravity too much and decided it was probably best to give in to them: collapsing and laughing in a heap.
You can’t guarantee the dives but you’re always sure of a good time.
Scallops in the shell
Ite for Sale:
PRIMA POLO SHIRTS
Various colours. S,M,L, XL £10, Extra for names.
Order early to avoid disappointment. .
If you have any ite for sale please let us know
people as a first course)
double cream (150ml)
necessary to cook scallops gently or they can become tough) When they're
cooked, strain them reserving the liquid.
Scallops are edible bivalves similar to oysters and cla. They are found both in bay waters and in the sea. They do not attach theelves to a permanent anchorage, but move theelves through the water by opening and closing their shells. As a result, the muscle that controls the 'hinge' of the shell is much larger than that of oysters or cla. The two halves of the shell (valves) are usually fan-shaped, except for a winglike projection at either side of the straight hinge. The shells are 1 – 6 in. (2.5 – 15 cm) long. They may be smooth or ribbed and red, purple, orange, yellow, or white. Cilia filter microscopic plants and animals from the water and move them toward the mouth. They also possess eyes with a lens and retina, which are more complex compared to other bivalves. Their eyes can't see shapes, but can detect light and motion.
The scallop family is unusual in that some members of the family are dioecious (males and females are separate), while other are simultaneous hermaphrodites (both sexes in the same individual) and a few are protoandrous hermaphrodites (males when young then switching to female). Red roe is that of a female, and white, that of a male. Spermatozoa and ova are released freely into the water during mating season and fertilized ova sink to the bottom. After several weeks, the immature scallop hatches and the larvae drift in the plankton until settling to the bottom again to grow, usually attaching by means of byssal threads. Some scallops, such as the Atlantic bay scallop Argopecten irradians are short lived, while others can live 20 years or more. Age can often be inferred by annuli, the concentric rings of their shells.
The bay scallop is much smaller than the sea scallop, and the edible muscle is less than an inch in diameter; usually a half-inch (about a centimeter) or smaller. The sea scallop's muscle can be as large as two inches (about 5 centimeters) in diameter. Sea scallops are sometimes cut into smaller shapes to pass as bay scallops.
The scallop shell is the most familiar of shell-shapes; Shell Oil uses its distinctive fan-shape on all their service station signs. The shell is the symbol of the apostle James, and 'coquilles St. Jacques' means 'shells of StCrusaders of the Order of St. James wore a scallop shell as a sign of their allegiance.
Wreck of the Month
Any further articles for next months edition would be appreciated, (any gossip, scandals, etc that’s printable) so let us know by 20th October 2009.
If anyone would like to write a profile of their diving career, please let us know.
Hope you enjoyed this issue.
Thought for the month
; Did Noah have woodpeckers on the ark?;
The King Cruiser Wreck
Location:- between Phuket and Koh Phi-Phi
Shipwreck GPS Locations N07.47.830, E09.83.889
Depth 32meters ; Suitable for air, nitrox, technical diving
length:- 85m, Vessel type:- Steel car and passenger ferry, Displacement 2,250 tons.
The King Cruiser sank on the 4th of May 1997, apparently miles off course, after striking the popular Phuket dive site Anemone reef on it's way to Koh Phi-Phi from Phuket.
This recent wreck lies upright on the sandy bottom and comes up to within 10m of the surface. It lies about 1.5hours offshore from Phuket and about 2hours from Krabi by the normal 'slow boat' trips, and is a popular destination for divers from both places. Though the wreck was almost completely intact after being released from the salvers, it is of low cost construction and deteriorating quickly.
Barracudas and Whale-Sharks are often seen patrolling the wreck, with the usual large grouper and lionfish lurking in the darker more 'technical' penetration areas. The Big open passage ways, car deck, and bridge area are relatively safe penetration for all but the most muppety divers, but strong currents and rough seas (due to it's exposed location) generally make this site more suitable for experienced recreational divers
Thanks to the Editors: Lin Noakes, Wendy Munday, Phillipa Cresswell, Sue Mace