Why I’m happy I became a scuba instructor…

Why am I happy I became an instructor? I made my first scuba dive in 1977. I became an instructor in 2017… some might say it was about time ๐Ÿ™‚

I became interested in scuba diving at a very young age… I was about 10 years old when I discovered the old television series Sea Hunt with Lloyd Bridges. I used to rush home from school every day to watch re-runs (Sea Hunt actually started filming before I was born and was in re-runs by the time I discovered it). Living in a small Texas city at that time, far from the ocean, I was fascinated.

Watching Sea Hunt had me looking for books on diving at the library.ย  I’ve had a life-long love of reading and I’m prone to look for a book whenever I’m curious about something. One of the first books I found was “Silent World” by Jacques Cousteau who became one of my early inspirations. When I was 13 and just out of 7th grade I was in Corpus Christi with my father. As we were driving I saw my first dive shop (Copelands one of the oldest dive shops in Texas I later discovered) and convinced him to stop. I used money I had earned working in my dad’s warehouse that summer to buy a set of snorkeling gear. It was Scubapro and the first quality set I owned. Much better than the cheap plastic drugstore variety! When I returned home to Bryan I found a “skin diving” course being offered at the municipal pool and talked my mom into taking me. That first scuba dive happened later in Virginia, my first year in the Navy.

Looking back at my IDC (Instructor Development Course) and time I spent at Dive Oahu in Hawaii, I have to admit it was a hectic period of time.ย  We started with Assistant Instructor the first half of the course and then moved on too Instructor which was more practice!ย  Successful completion of the course requires an in-depth understanding of everything! The PADI teaching method, standards and practices, dive theory, rescue, practical application and demonstration of diving skills. It was an intense experience to say the least!

I have to say even though I’ve been diving a long time, it was a bit challenging at times.ย  I remember one day in particular that was not a fun day!ย  We did a beach entry through what I considered (still adjusting to Hawaii and I’m not as young as I once was) to be fairly heavy surf. This was followed by a surface swim out a good 300 yards.ย  We presented the skills we’d been assigned to teach. We were doing makeups so we had 4 skills in all to present. Some at the surface and some that we taught underwater. Everyone took turns. We had a bit of current that wanted to push us south and there was surge to deal with as well. We were in the water a good 3 hours (obviously not underwater the whole time).

After we’d all finished teaching our assigned skills, then it was time for rescue practice which we practiced on every open water training dive we did throughout the IDC. Rescue practice consists of keeping someone afloat while removing all of their equipment and your own, all the while doing rescue breaths every 5 seconds.ย  Did I mention there was a current?

By the time we headed back in I was exhausted and frankly not in the best of moods… then out of the blue, I came face to face with a sea turtle! He went right and I went left as we passed each other. At the moment I saw him my mood was lifted and I thought to myself how cool that was! ๐Ÿ™‚

My biggest concern and probably a big reason why I never became an instructor all these years was that I might somehow lose that feeling… the feeling of joy, the feeling of adventure, that feeling I get when I see something amazing, whether it’s a new nudibranch species, or a shark, or a turtle… Those who dive know that feeling ๐Ÿ™‚

Why am I happy that I became an instructor? Because now I get to share that feeling with others and THAT is even cooler! ๐Ÿ™‚

Catching up…

I realize that it’s been several months now since I last posted. Being a full-time college student has frankly been a bit of a bear at times ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve also still taught the occasional scuba course and of course I still want to do some fun diving ๐Ÿ™‚ So, picking up where I left off….

During the 5 week break from school I made 23 dives. A mixture of shore and boat dives. I’ve made close to a 160 dives (my largest single year total to date) in Guam since moving here last year. That total would have been much higher if I’d not gone back to school last August. I will get to writing about the diving in Guam here eventually ๐Ÿ™‚

I went back to school on January 23rd. On February 16th I made my last dive with Colin Ross. We did one of my favorite dives here, the Kitsugawa Maru, a WW II Japanese wreck in Apra Harbor. Colin was one of my first students in Guam. He and his wife Virginia did their Open Water with me last year. Colin went on to do Advanced Open Water, Enriched Air, and Wreck Diver. He, along with Joe Seremba and Jayson Trucksees, was one of my regular dive buddies here for fun dives last year when I wasn’t busy with school or teaching. Colin’s in Navy Dive School in Florida now.

I went to the Philippines and dived Puerto Galera during spring break the last week of March. My friend Joe Seremba from here on Guam came along. Joe has done his Open Water, Advanced Open Water, and Enriched Air with me. We met my friend Ron Brannan from California who was on his annual dive trip to the Philippines. Ron and I have been diving together in the Philippines for a few years now. We met in 2016. Last year he was my first “official” student after becoming an instructor. Ron completed his Advanced Open Water and Enriched Air with me last February. He’d done over 200 dives by the time he got around to doing Advanced Open Water. He figured it was about time ๐Ÿ˜‰ It had been over a year since I’d last dived in the Philippines and I discovered how much I missed it! We stayed at AAA again and dived with Frontier Scuba.

I’ve not done a lot of teaching this year (too busy with school) but I have worked in a few classes. So far this year I’ve done only six certifications… Cynthia Mulliner earned her Advanced Open Water cert and Kasia Merline and Joe Seremba both earned Enriched Air certs. They were all certified in April. In May, Amanda and Daniel Perez who were visiting Guam from Virginia (actually Amanda was here for work and Daniel came out to spend some time with her) completed their Open Water certs. Anne Freeby completed the requirements for Scuba Diver.

On May 11th before heading over to meet Amanda, Daniel, and Anne at MDA I participated in the 3rd Annual Merizo Pier Project. This is an annual event that conducts an underwater cleanup of the reef around the Merizo Pier here on Guam. Jayson Trucksess, who did his Advanced Open Water and Enriched Air courses with me last year was my buddy. We were there early and were part of the first group of divers to hit the water. It was my first time diving at Merizo and it was a nice dive. Plenty of coral and fish. We recovered the usual assortment of fishing line, cans, bottles, and other assorted trash that we see all too often these days.

After a busy weekend, I had my last week of classes at UOG. Final exams were the 20th to the 22nd. My second semester back in school ended up being a bit harder. I struggled early with Biology I. Turns out there is a fair amount of chemistry that is part of the study of biology. Not having had high school chemistry (which would have been over 40 years ago anyway) hurt. In the end I ended up with a C. On the bright side I made an A in World Regional Geography (I’ve added a Geography minor to my degree plan) and an A+ in Marine Biology so it wasn’t all bad ๐Ÿ™‚

After finishing the semester I made my second trip this year to the Philippines with my friend Joe Seremba. We arrived in Olongapo on May 24th and spent a week diving Subic Bay. My last time diving Subic I gave Arizona a shot but I’m back diving with Johan’s again. Johan has built a brand-new resort just down the beach from his previous resort on Baloy Long Beach. I do like Johan’s a lot. I like the atmosphere and the people there ๐Ÿ™‚ My past several trips to Subic I’ve stayed at Coffee Shop Rooftop Hotel in Barangay Barretto which is across the street from Arizona Dive Resort. They were full this time (first time that has ever happened) and we ended up staying at Arizona for 2 nights. This was my first time staying at Arizona and frankly I thought the rooms were overpriced. I’ve stayed in nicer places in the area for much less money. Having said that, I still like their restaurant and have nothing bad to say about their dive operation.

We arrived back on Guam on June 2nd. On the evening of June 3rd I went to the Navy Hospital here on Guam when I started feeling chest and back pain with numbness radiating down my left arm. It was no where near as bad as what I felt in Singapore two and a half years ago but it felt enough like it that I decided better safe than sorry.

They treated it as a heart attack and administered drugs accordingly. Symptoms (pain in chest and back, pain and numbness radiating down left arm, shortness of breath) were relieved fairly quickly. The symptoms are very similar for heart attack and angina. We thought initially when I recovered so quickly, that it wasn’t a heart attack. That turned out not to be the case.

They did a blood test for cardiac-specific troponin levels which is used to detect injury to the heart muscle. Initially it was negative but they kept me for 3 hours so they could run the test again as it can take that long to show up in a blood test after initial symptoms appear. When the second test came back positive I was kept in the hospital.

My echocardiogram showed a reduction in my ejection fraction. Ejection fraction refers to how well my heart is pumping blood. Other than that my heart continues to more or less function normally. I have a normal EKG and am not suffering from any kind of irregular heartbeat. I’ve never had high blood pressure.

I was kept in the hospital until Thursday morning when they let me go home. I had a follow-up last week on Tuesday with my Primary Care Manager. I met with my new cardiologist here on Guam this week on Monday. I’m scheduled for an angiogram next week and we’ll be able to see exactly what is going on. The damage was relatively minor based on the lab results. Depending on what the angiogram shows I may be cleared to dive as soon as next week… Just have to wait and see at this point.

In the meantime I’m staying at home and taking it easy. I decided I would work on my blog a bit since it’s been so long ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a post on choosing a BCD (which I mentioned in my last blog post back in January) mostly written (it’s been mostly written for 6 months ๐Ÿ˜€ ). I may work on some more posts in my “Choosing Equipment” series and I do need to write about some of the diving on Guam ๐Ÿ™‚

Until next time…

Choosing a Snorkel

This is the second installment of my series on choosing equipment. I’m writing this series more for the beginning diver. As always I recommend that checking with your instructor is a good idea (they may not agree with all my ideas ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). You’ll find that the retail staff at your local dive shop can also be a great help when purchasing dive gear. Having some information to start with though can help provide a basis for discussion. The first installment, if you missed it, was on “Choosing a Mask”. This time I’m going to write about snorkels.

When I was 12 I purchased my first set of really good quality snorkeling equipment from Copeland’s in Corpus Christi, Texas. (in case y’all were wondering that would have been in 1970 ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Copeland’s was the first dive shop I ever went in. My father was working in Corpus Christi and I was visiting him for the summer. When I saw the dive shop I begged him to stop. (I’d already became enamored of diving from watching Sea Hunt re-runs and The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau on TV). I walked out with a set of ScubaPro snorkeling equipment ๐Ÿ™‚ The snorkel, of course, was the simple J type. With a little practice, it did the job quite well and it would actually be a few decades before I used any other type!

A snorkel is a required piece of equipment in the open water course. Below I’ll write about the two primary types of snorkels I believe are appropriate for scuba diving, and what I personally use. First I will discuss some of the reasons that having a snorkel is a good idea.

Here on Guam we are very fortunate to have many quality dive sites that can be dived from shore. It’s easier to find your descent point (the place you want to begin your dive) with your face in the water. That means breathing from a snorkel or your regulator. Although air consumption at the surface is minimal, that doesn’t mean that a diver doesn’t want to save all of their air for the actual dive!

Anyone who dives from a boat will likely find themselves at some point, coming up a distance away from the boat… not always by choice ๐Ÿ™‚ If seas are choppy or rough then keeping your mask on your face to avoid water in your eyes and something in your mouth to breathe with is a good idea! A snorkel in these conditions comes in handy while waiting for the boat to pick you up.

Lastly, you may end up surfacing away from the boat or your exit point and have a long surface swim back.

In my opinion (some might not agree) for scuba diving the choices are really between the traditional “J” type snorkels or the “Semi-dry” snorkels. A dry snorkel is great for snorkeling, but not so much for scuba diving (or even freediving) in my opinion. They generally work quite well at keeping water out. But, since it doesn’t allow water in, the snorkel is filled with air and therefore is buoyant underwater. This may pull the mask away from your face breaking the seal. They normally use some type of valve to keep water out and this is another failure point (If you purchase one of these types spend the money for quality). The mechanism at the top of the snorkel that keeps water out also makes the snorkel a bit more top heavy. Some people swear by them for snorkeling and if by “snorkeling” you mean floating on the surface and observing what’s below, I can understand that. Again, just my opinion, but I don’t like them for scuba diving.

For those reasons, I consider either the traditional J style or a semi-dry type to be the best choice. For both of these snorkels, you want to look for a comfortable mouthpiece made from silicone. Tubes can be from half an inch to an inch in diameter. The largest diameter is easier to breathe from but can be harder to clear. I personally own one of each type.

The traditional “J” snorkel, is basically just a tube in the shape of a J. These are the simplest design and what we all used when I first started snorkeling in the early 70’s. There have been a few improvements, mainly in areas like materials and comfort of the mouthpiece, but the basic idea remains unchanged. This is still the type preferred by many free divers and spearfishermen. They are very simple but require a certain amount of skill and practice to use. Swallowing seawater is no fun! Water can splash into the top and the water has to be blown out using your own lung power. There are two methods which are both taught in your Open Water course. There are both rigid and flexible types.

One innovation of this old design is materials. I have an Aqualung Nautilus Travel Snorkel made from soft silicone which rolls up, has it’s own case, and easily fits in a pocket. No purge valve or splash guard. This is the snorkel that’s normally attached to my mask these days when I’m teaching and shore diving in Guam. I saw this one in the shop after I came to Guam. I liked the compactness of it when it was rolled up so much that I bought it!

The Nautilus Travel Snorkel is a traditional design made up of soft silicone. It can be rolled up and put in a pocket making it readily available if needed.

The “Semi-dry” snorkel has a splash guard at the top which helps keep water out at the surface in the event of a wave or splash. This normally is accomplished in the form of slits or vents to divert water that splashes over the top. They don’t keep water out when fully submerged though so you will still have to clear it at the surface before using it. A purge valve at the bottom for water to drain out makes this easier. There is an area for the water to collect below the mouthpiece and a one-way valve there. Although this makes them much easier to purge, some would argue it’s a potential failure point. This is less of an issue for a snorkel than a mask in my opinion just due to the way a snorkel is utilized. I will say that I’ve had mine for years and it still works fine. The area between the mouthpiece and the tube that sticks out above your head is corrugated and flexible so that the mouthpiece will hang out of the way when the snorkel is not in use.

I’ve owned an Oceanic Pocket Snorkel for years. This one folds up and has a band to secure it. It’s not as compact at the Nautilus, but it still fits easily in a BCD or thigh pocket.

I really like both these snorkels. The semi-dry is definitely easier to purge and this is likely a factor to consider for a new scuba diver. The J type is normally less expensive if you purchase a traditional one. One like mine made from soft silicone so it can roll up is a bit more expensive.

I consider a snorkel to be an important piece of safety equipment. In a real emergency, in choppy seas, and with an empty tank and no boat in sight a snorkel could make all the difference. Although it’s never happened to me, it has happened to other people, so I think of it like insurance. Even when I take mine off my mask (for example when I’m diving in an overhead environment like a wreck penetration), I have a snorkel in one of my pockets if there is even a remote possibility of need.

Jellyfish can pack a wallop!

If you have ever been swimming in the ocean and felt a burning pain somewhere on your exposed skin, there is a good chance that you were just stung by a jellyfish! Some species are quite small and your first inkling that they are there is when you are stung! In Guam (and other parts of the world as well) jellyfish can be a threat to swimmers, scuba divers, and other water sports enthusiasts. Encounters with most jellyfish fall somewhere between mild discomfort to excruciating pain. In a handful of species even death may occur.

“Jellyfish” is the common name associated with the medusa phase of the sub-phylum Medusozoa which make up the majority of the species within the phylum of Cnidaria. There are four classes which include Scyphozoa, Cubozoa, Hydrozoa, and Staurozoa. Most jellyfish are free swimming marine animals with a shape like a bell or upside down bowl with trailing tentacles. The tentacles are armed with stingers called nematocysts that they use to capture prey and/or as a defensive mechanism. It’s thought that interaction with chemicals on the skin is what causes the nematocysts to fire and inject venom.

Another member of the phylum Cnidaria, the Physalia utriculus, also known as the Indo-Pacific Man-of-War, is also spotted in Guam waters (and of course, throughout the Indo-Pacific region). It has a smaller float than the Portugese Man-of-War and only a single tentacle. The Physalia utriculus is not a true jellyfish, but a siphonophore. It is made up of medusoid and polypoid zooids. These are tiny animals that are connected to each other and perform the same functions as organs or tissues do in multicelluar organisms. A gas sac keeps it afloat and it is at the mercy of wind, waves, and current. They look like a small blue bubble floating in the water. Just remember that long tentacle hanging beneath it will sting you!

In Guam, box jellyfish seem to gather approximately 9 days after a full moon. This likely has an association with the reproductive cycle. Although not of the deadly variety, they still can pack a painful sting. These jellyfish are normally 3-6 inches long, with a four-sided, transparent bell. They have four tentacles, one on each corner of the bell.

Washed up man-of-war and box jellyfish under moist conditions can still sting for weeks, so keep an eye out when walking on the beach. As a scuba diver, my primary protection is to minimize exposed skin by wearing a dive skin and hood if I am expecting them in the water. Most divers wear a rash guard as a minimum.

For first aid, use something to scrape any parts of the tentacle that have stuck to the skin off or use tweezers if you have them. Do this carefully as they can still sting! The usual advice is to rinse liberally with saltwater. Vinegar if you have it may help. Soaking in very hot water (no more than a 113F) can help break down the toxin. Soak for at least 30-45 minutes. An analgesic like aspirin can help with pain and a hydro-cortisone cream or oral antihistamines can help with itching and swelling.

If there is a sign of a severe reaction such as intense pain, difficulty breathing, swallowing, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, numbness then go to the emergency room immediately. Getting stung in the face, around the eyes (more applicable to swimmers than divers), or in the mouth, especially if any of the tentacles get in the mouth causing swelling of the lips and tongue, then see a doctor immediately.

For most jellyfish stings first aid and following up by treating the welts with ice packs (for swelling) and antibiotic cream for infection while they heal should be enough.

Currently in Guam box jellyfish are expected July 8th-11th according to Brent Tibbatts, a fisheries biologist with the Guam Department of Agriculture. Box jellyfish are expected in shallow waters around Merizo, Piti, Tumon, Pago and Talofofo. Expect the Indo-Pacific Man-of-War to be seen on the north and east coast of Guam where prevailing winds and current pushes it onshore. Sightings should be reported to the Department of Agriculture by calling 735-0289 or by email at guamfishinfo@gmail.com.

Moving to Guam

I first thought about living in Guam after I made a dive trip here in December 2007. I was stationed in Japan at the time and I really enjoyed the trip and the diving. When it was time to transfer I tried to get orders to Guam. Unfortunately, I was one month shy of being able to do a full tour and had to return to the United States for my last tour before retirement. I was stationed in San Diego.ย  I did get to dive in California and Mexico as a result of that so it wasn’t all bad ๐Ÿ™‚

Those of you who follow my blog already know my story. How I decided a few years ago to sell everything and just travel full-time. You’ve also read about my visit to Guam and my trip to Chuuk last year.ย  How I decided to become an instructor 40 years after making my first scuba dive and to move to Guam to teach.

On the night of March 25th I flew out of Manila on a United flight bound for Guam.ย  Both United and Philippines Airlines have regular flights between Manila and Guam.ย  I arrived in Guam around 4:30 AM on Monday, March 26th. After passing through Immigration and Customs, I picked up my rental car from Alamo.ย  I ended up at Denny’s where I had some breakfast, used their wifi, and drank coffee for a couple of hours.ย  I decided around 7 AM to go for a drive. I still had a couple of hours to kill until I met my real estate agent at 9 AM.ย  ย 

I decided to see if I could drive around the island since I still had some time. The road traveled along much of the coastline and I was struck by the differences in water conditions. The Marianas Islands, including Guam, Saipan, and Tinian, lie upon the eastern border of the Philippines Sea. I noticed that the seas were relatively calm on the western side of Guam. On the eastern, Pacific Ocean side the waters were quite rough. It also explains why most dive sites are on the western side of the island!

Miyuki Atsuta from Ellen’s Realty was my agent. Decent low-cost apartments that were currently available it turned out were in short supply.ย  By Thursday I’d seen everything on the MLS that was relatively close to the area I wanted to live and was within the budget I’d initially chosen.ย The problem was availability! Everything that was currently available also had people on a waiting list. I had a chance at getting one of these apartments, but no one seemed in a hurry. One complex said there were six people in front of me and they were going down the list and waiting for people to get back to them. Another complex that my agent had submitted an application to before my arrival, we were also still waiting for a decision. He seemed in no hurry and given the demand I could understand why!

I was debating getting on a waiting list and then flying back to the Philippines until an apartment was available. After some thought I decided that I was going to have to increase my budget.ย  New apartments appeared on the MLS on Thursday.ย  I picked 4 of them to see on Friday and emailed Miyuki.

After looking at all four apartments I chose one in Asan based on it’s proximity to the dive shop.ย  It’s literally 2 minutes from Micronesia Divers Association in Piti where I will be teaching.ย  It’s less than a 15 minute drive to the Navy Base which is important to me as a retired Navy sailor.ย  Having easy access to the base for shopping, buying fuel, and using base facilities like the gym and swimming pools was important to me.ย  I’m also near the Navy Hospital where I will be getting medical care. My new apartment is a 500 square foot studio with an ocean view, a swimming pool and a great location! Miyuki did a great job and if you are looking for a place in Guam definitely give her a call!

Micronesia Divers Association Headquarters in Piti on Marine Corps Drive.

On Saturday, I rented a PO Box, paid my deposit for electric and scheduled it to be turned on Monday, then went by the apartment to finish paperwork and pick up my keys. On Monday, April 2nd,ย one week after I arrived, I moved into my new apartment.

My 2nd week in Guam was busy.ย  In between looking at apartments, I had been looking at vehicles.ย  Once I paid my deposits and knew I was staying, I’d found a vehicle at AutoSpot over the previous weekend.ย My salesperson was Jeri Miyasaki and she took very good care of me. I got a great deal on a 2006 Nissan XTerra. I picked it up on Monday.ย  Alamo Rental Car gave me a ride back to the auto dealership after I turned in my vehicle and didn’t even charge me!

It’s been a few years now since I’ve owned a vehicle… I needed something with a bit of room to haul dive gear around. 2006 Nissan Xterra.

I’d bought a bed at the Navy Exchange on base over the weekend and I picked it up on Tuesday.ย  I got that home and set up.ย  Monday night I’d slept in a beach chair… the bed was much more comfortable!ย  On Wednesday my high-speed internet, cable, and home phone were hooked up.ย  I’d gotten my cell phone service on Saturday.ย  I bundled all of this with GTA.

On Thursday, I went to the Social Security Office and ordered a new social security card.ย  I’d been told that an original social security card was required to get a drivers license.ย  I then went to get my business license.ย  I dropped off a copy of my business license, tax form, and my contract at Micronesia Divers Association.

I picked now to get sick with a pretty bad chest cold.ย  Obviously I wasn’t going to dive! I spent the weekend and the beginning of my third week in Guam mostly staying home trying to recuperate.ย  Later in the week I was feeling a bit better and stopped by MDA and bought two new tanks.ย  ย I’ll be writing about choosing a scuba tank in an upcoming blog piece.ย  I also had the chance to talk a bit with Eric McClure, one of the Course Directors, and with Lee Webber, who owns MDA with his wife June.

I’m finishing up my 4th week here now.ย  I was at the instructors meeting at MDA last Sunday.ย  I got a chance to get a look at the logistics a bit.ย  Where the classrooms are, the pool and how to schedule that for training, where to take students for open water shore dives, how to schedule boat dives, and a look at how everything works.ย  MDA runs a number of promotions to help bring in students and they give a lot of support to their instructors.ย  One of the reasons I chose them.

I worked on Friday, taking a diver from California who was in Guam on business, diving. The first client of my new business! That was a really enjoyable day! I took him to San Luis Beach and Gab Gab Beach and we had two nice dives.

Weekends at MDA have free beach dives. Anyone can show up and go for a dive. Parker Van Hecke and Kim Harris, long-time instructors at MDA lead the group. The Saturday morning dive this week turned out to be at Dadi Beach on the US Naval Base and was a nice dive. I tagged along and had an enjoyable morning! If you want to get an introduction to Guam dive sites that you can do from shore, this is the way to go. Dives are at 9 AM and 2 PM on Saturdays, and 2 PM on Sunday. Always a good idea to check with the shop ahead of time.

Currently, I have an Advanced Open Water class scheduled for May 2nd and an Open Water class for May 7th.ย  If you’re in Guam and interested you can sign up through MDA or contact me directly and I’ll take care of you. I’m also available for guiding and can set up private or semi-private lessons for you as well.

2018 has been a pretty good year so far.ย  I started with dives on New Years Day in Hawaii. I traveled to the Philippines the end of January and stayed until late March. Now I’m in Guam and looking forward to experiencing some great diving here along with introducing new people to the lifestyle I love.ย  It’s going to be an awesome year!

Back Home

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog posts for a short announcement… ๐Ÿ™‚

Just got home to Texas yesterday…. I was gone 7 1/2 months this time. To sum up (for those who are new and aren’t following my blog yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), I missed over 3 month’s of diving because of the heart attack in November, but have made up for it a bit after I was cleared to dive again in March.

This trip I made 91 dives between March 10th (my cardiologist cleared me to dive on the 8th) and June 26th. In the Philippines I did 80 dives split between Puerto Galera, Subic Bay, Moalboal, Malapascua Island (I went there twice), Leyte, Panglao Island (Bohol), Dauin/Dumaguete, Apo Island, Anilao, and El Nido. I also made a side trip to Micronesia where I dived Chuuk Lagoon, making 21 dives in 5 days there.

As I mentioned you can read about a lot of this here in my blog. I’m working on Chuuk now and will write about El Nido after that. I have a few things to take care of while I’m home but I will be getting back to writing again in the next couple of days (someday I’m going to catch up my blog ?).

Although I was cleared to dive back in March, my cardiologist did caution me I wasn’t completely recovered (even though I’d met the standard set by DAN to dive)….. but she also said that she’d never had a patient recover as much as I had in such a short period ๐Ÿ™‚ (so thanks to all my friends and family who thought good thoughts and said prayers for me!).

I’ll be meeting with a cardiologist here in the US next week. I’m expecting more tests and hopefully he’s going to OK me to continue diving. I have no reason at this point not to believe that will be case, but I’m being cautious ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope to do some diving here in Texas and if that happens I’ll be writing about that of course. Also as soon as my doctor here confirms that I’m still okay to dive I plan to schedule my IDC and finally become an instructor (after being certified over 35 years ago and being a Divemaster for almost 8 years maybe it’s about time? ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

If all goes as planned I expect to be returning to the Philippines in September. I’ve made many friends in the Philippines over the last 10 years that I’ve been diving there. I originally met many of them through the Philippine Paradise Divers sub-forum at https://www.scubaboard.com/ Recently a few of us were chatting about the fact that although we’d known each other for years, and met in person several times since meeting online, we’d yet to dive together! The group used to get together when members from other countries would show up in the Philippines. Sometimes DOR’s (Dive-O-Rama’s) would be organized. We’re tentatively planning now to put something together for mid-September. Stay tuned as I will do a blog post on that. If you are in the Philippines or think you might like to attend message me. I know they are having some discussions about where to have it now. Anilao is the easiest for most, but there are other destinations that are being discussed also. When we start nailing it down I will let everyone know. We’d like to do it the first weekend that I’m back in the Philippines. I have a tentative plan to fly back around September 12th, but that will be dependent on my cardiologist, when I do my IDC, and of course when I can get a good deal on airfare.

After the Dive-O-Rama I will be going to Dauin near Dumaguete for a few weeks to do some photography for my friend Mark Gormley. He is opening a new dive resort right on the beach in front of the Dauin Marine Sanctuary! Can’t ask for a better location than that! I’ll be writing about it in my blog so stay tuned for that. I’m pretty excited at the opportunity to really explore Dauin in depth!

After Dauin I’ll be leaving the Philippines again and headed to Guam where I expect to spend at least a year. Guam has decent scuba diving itself and I plan to teach scuba diving while I’m there (the reason I’m going to do my IDC while I’m home). I decided a bit of extra income to supplement my retirement will allow me to do more trips. My other reason for going there is a simple one… one of the biggest drawback to diving Micronesia for most people is cost of airfare. I plan to take advantage of the money I will save in airfare, by living 7,000 miles closer, along with the extra income available to me for teaching, to make multiple dive trips around Micronesia! So stay tuned for more stories of underwater adventures!

We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog ๐Ÿ™‚ Next up will be diving the world famous Chuuk Lagoon!