Monthly Archives: June 2013

Free Diving Bali Indonesia – Tulamben Liberty Shipwreck

I couldn’t wait to see this thing and just dive the site ! I had seen so much videos of the wreck, I had seen countless swim throughs and I just wanted to try it myself ! After our training Julia took us to the ship wreck for a fun dive to check out the site.

As a result of my plane trip, the airconditioning and the blocked sinuses, I was worried that I couldn’t equalise and wouldn’t be able to see the wreck but I think once the course was over I just forgot all about *class* *education* and *learning* and just went back to the relaxed “about to go diving woohooo” mode. At this point everything just snapped back into place and I think mentally and physiologically I was better ! I think what also helped was that I switched off the airconditioning the night before the dive and it really cleared up my sinuses. Lesson learnt :)

History says the Liberty was towed onto shore after it was torpedo’d by the japanese for salvage of parts but slide into the ocean when mount Agung erupted and destroyed the east side of Bali. The ship now resides in about 30 meter waters and the depth to the wreck from the surface ranges from 5m at its highest point to the bottom which is 30m.

One of the issues with this particular day was that the water was so murky seeing further then 5-8 meters was impossible. From the surface I couldn’t see what the depth was at each point and wasn’t able to see the swim throughs from afar so I would swim down until I got to the bottom. Only then was I able to asses if I could do the swim through, go into the rooms or go into the different crevices.

In many cases I would get to the bottom go slightly into the wreck and think *shit* a small gap, how far is that gap, do I have enough air ? I would have to go back up to ask and confirm I could do the swim through or at least have enough air to attempt it. The advantage now is, since I have been to that dive site once, the next time should be so much better. It always seems to be the case that at first its apprehension but on the second go because its clear its just much more relaxing and easy.

I really enjoyed the dive site and can only imagine how much better it would have been with better visibility. At least now I know what to expect when I dive into the rooms and the swim throughs. Looking at the inside of a wreck under the ocean is an extremely great feeling and is really a shock to the senses. Looking around and just taking it in gives you the feeling of being really really small.

This was also my first attempted at making a proper video with proper annotations and an attempt at a basic storyline. I am not in Bali every weekend so I thought I should make a decent effort of the video editing, introduce all the divers and add a little of what I was thinking at each part of the dive.

Hope you enjoy it :)

Learning To Free Dive Properly with Apnea Bali

IMG_0080

So I probably started to stuff around holding my breathe about 4 months ago. 4 months before that I was just swimming every morning in the cold water and just enjoying the ocean by just swimming, body surfing and snorkelling.

Then an introduction to a Ted talk by Stig Severinson by my mate Damir about how to breathe properly whilst swimming and even to relax the mind changed some notions I had about what was possible (Plus Stig’s 75 meter swim under the ice and 20+ min breath holds were pretty dam amazing and inspiring too). So we started to experiment after reading about free diving and helped each other out to execute longer breath holds based on information that was online. We were also careful to watch each other and make sure that when a breath hold was in progress we would give signs we were OK (so we had some basic safety in mind). Stig said to be careful so we were careful :P

We started diving some local places around sydney and got to some decent depths for couple of tossers – (idiots in aussie :P ) without any formal free diving education or any formal gear (shorts, snorkel, crappy mask). I didn’t get fins till about 1 month ago so I was diving without fins for about 3 months :P Some of the really crappy amateur shots of these can be found here on youtube :P

After a while though you start to realise that this sport is definitely much more then just going down as far as you can in the water or holding your breath for as long as you can. You also begin to realise that if you stuff up it could be pretty fatal. With this in mind I decided that I would try to get some formal education so I can be properly taught by experts what the safety protocols are, what to do and what not to do and to learn the finer points about free diving that you probably can’t get on the internet or experimenting on your own. Plus I wanted to go diving with this other group in sydney and it seems they all had done a course so I wanted to make sure if anything happened during a dive and I was the one up and they were the ones down, if they didn’t come up properly I could help them. I didn’t want to give them false confidence that I would know what to do if something bad happened to them and I was the one supposed to help them.

fb-logoI decided to take the course in Bali with the group from Apnea Bali. I emailed them initially asking about taking the advanced class as I thought the only requirement were depth and breathe hold times but I was suggested to take the first of the series of classes if I hadn’t taken any formal free diving education in the past. With this suggestion I enrolled in the first class which went for 2 days.

I was very happy that this turned out to be the case because in the theory we went over a lot of information around safety, biology and why black outs occur. There is much information about these topics on the internet but it was never explained as had been done by Julia (who was my instructor and operator for the two day course). The explanations around why blackouts occurred mainly during the last 10 meters of the dive during the ascent was really great and clear as I had always wondered why this was always considered the danger zone even for people that went down to 80+ meters (why not 30m or 20m from the top why always 10m regardless of the max dive depth). I was always under the assumption that its because your at the end of your dive and where you have least amounts of oxygen (which is partly true) but the relationship between your lung size, compression and danger zones relative to oxygen levels after lung expansion due to rapid changes in pressure were all new to me :)

We did rescue procedures which was good and makes me feel more confident that I wont let anyone down if the situation arises where I need to use these skills. I also know that when these blackouts or sambas happen (for the most part) its the body being smart and nothing to be to worried about aslong as you can help or be helped by your buddy. Knowing the difference between “drowning” and “blacking out without help” which ultimately results in death was also a good piece of information to have.

The main thing in the practicals within the water that I took away was how to equalise using my hands. In the past I managed to equalise pretty easily and it was never such a big deal because it just happened. I was never taught to equalise because when my ears started to hurt I would just do it instinctually.  The first few times I started diving my ears would start to hurt and I would do this thing with the back of my throat and my ears would pop and I would be OK. I read that equalisation needed to be done at regular intervals so your ears never hurt so I learnt to do that also. However after I arrived in bali with the flights, airconditioning and everything else I couldn’t equalise as I normally could and I couldn’t continue until I learnt to do equalisation with my hands. This was new to me as I had never had to do it this way. It sucked cause it was screwing everything up. Here I was ready to learn how to dive with everything setup, great teachers, depth, buoy and I couldn’t do something I had been doing for ages. It was annoying …

With that Julia helped me equalise with my hands, first I tried FIM face down and it didn’t work, then I did FIM feet first, that worked and then after I did face down again it was better, still not perfect but much better. On the second day though, I got comfortable with it and learnt to equalise with my hands. Now if for whatever reason I can not equalise how I normally do, I will always have a fall back. During our fun dive at the ship wreck, everything seemed to be back to normal and I could equalise how I normally have so it was good that for the most exciting part of the course things more or less came back to normal physiologically ! I was starting to worry that I might not be able to get shots of the wreck cause I couldn’t equalise :P That would have pissed me of big time !

All in all I had a great time in Tulamben Bali with the Apnea Bali team. The course was excellant, the accommodation was pretty nice and the food was pretty decent too. The idea is to get some free time sometime in the next month or so and come back to do additional courses and hopefully dive the ship wreck again when the water isn’t so murky.

Anyway, thanks to the Apnea Bali team ! Had a great time :)

Fresh Seafood @ Bali Jimbaran ….

IMG_0092

In sydney I cook most of my own food. I do that because its cheaper and I can make the food exactly as I want and not have any ingredients I don’t.

But what happens if you don’t have to cook the food yourself, BUT you can still tell them exactly how you like it, how you want it cooked and the food is so fresh that it was moving when you chose it ?

Welcome to Jimbaran, Jimbaran is a restaurant in bali which resides on the beach. It’s so “on the beach” that if your un/lucky (depend on how you see it) when the waves come in, they can actually come onto your toes and you can get your feet wet as you eat :) Its a nice place to eat and the food is so delicious and cheap. On the night I ate there I bought the following

IMG_0095

  • 2kg Squid – (Half grilled & Half in salt and pepper flour)
  • 4 x Crabs – (Half in sauce tiram half in black pepper sauce)
  • 2 x Groupers – ( One grilled one fried)
  • 2kg Pipi shells in Bali sauce
  • 2kg Prawns grilled in garlic sauce

This amazing dinner cost me $64 and I was stuffed with good satisfying seafood. I remember going to Jimbaran maybe 10 years ago and it was empty. Not a single person there and only a few people cooking then eating fish caught straight out of the net, now its become very commercialised and $64 is expensive in comparison. But with the new atmosphere (music, nice tables, good drinks) its worth the additional cost because really.. for food this good, whats $64 even for a cheap tight ass like me :P

So where is Jimbaran ? Everyone now knows where this is but to be more specific its south of Kuta (probably the most famous party place in Bali) and north of Ulawatu so its in between these two well know locations.

Check out the food selection prior to being cooked above…. :P and the beach atmosphere below. Awesome isn’t it :)

IMG_0100

The Bali Seas !

IMG_0065

So this blog has been mostly coming at you from the sunny east side of Australia (Sydney). Well sydney is freezing now so I am off and kicking it in Indonesia. Im actually here to launch our service but just cause im working it doesn’t mean I can enjoy myself by the beach every so often :P (I do that in sydney anyway) :)

I went to bali prior to going to Jakarta cause bali is just one of those places that you have to visit when your in indonesia. There are a lot of great places to relax and chill and the eating in bali is cheap and just so great. Of the many places I love to eat there these are my favourites “Seafood house in Kuta”, “Jimbaran beach” and “Queens Indian cuisine” dam great food and dam cheap too. Most of the guys at those places already know me so the service is just that much better also :)

One of the main reasons why I went to bali this time though was not just to eat but to also to go  freediving in Amed/Tulamben with a diving school called Apneabali (who are a hell of a great bunch of people by the way in which ill get more into in a later post). I have been diving quite a lot BUT I wanted to get taught how to Freedive officially and not just keep doing things my own way which could get me injured or worse.

We did the training in tulamben and stayed in some bungalows called Citra Lestari. Citra Lestari is as bare bones as you could get though the sleeping accommodation was very comfortable. The bungalow has warm water, internet, bed and aircon.  What else do you need on a diving trip other then that (and a great beach and seas of course). The people in the restaurant were great and the food was cheap and very nice too. We didn’t need to go to far to eat as the food was already really nice.

IMG_0039

They had chicken batutu (Tutu) on the menu and I wanted to order it but i had to order it a day in advance cause I think they actually had to kill the chicken first and prepare it haha. I gave that a skip and ordered other stuff instead.

Anyway this post is just a quick overview as I have many images pictures and some great videos to upload. At the moment my net kind of blows (well its good just not enough data to upload the images and videos I have) so I can’t upload anything yet, but when I finally do there will be a lot of great things to see :)

Anyway check out the panoramic images of the Tulamben sea where we did the training. Just a perfect day !

IMG_0057

Definitely coming back here again :P

Unforgiving Conditions – No Diving This Week :-(

Woke up at about 6am this morning. Had some tea and relaxed for a while to see what the weather would look like. Looked up at the sky and saw no clouds and that the sun was well on its way up. Awesome … time to pack my gear and head off to Clovelly/Gordons bay.

The air was still very chilly but that doesn’t matter as I like to get some cold therapy in the morning and go for a cold swim. Then when it gets to cold I can put on my wetsuit.

I arrived at Clovelly/Gordons and parked the car in the normal car park only to see massive waves breaking along the gordon bay area all the way through to clovelly.

Crap … maybe it will die down ?! Sat there for about an hour (enjoyed some more tea from the thermos I brought) whilst talking to some joggers (one with a GoPro strapped to his hat) and waiting to see if the conditions would get better.

The weather didn’t improve so I decided to head of to shelly beach and just go for a swim. The usual suspects were there and after the swim I sat in the sun, warmed up and had a chat with the guys about all sorts of random things. What can you do, if the weather doesn’t permit you dont force it :)

Check out the videos above and below to see the washing machine conditions both at Clovelly and Gordons. The video above is of the Clovelly pools and below is the entry to Gordon’s bay.

It’s Getting Coooooolerrrrr ……

IMG_0425

So we are truly getting into winter now. The water in good ol’e shelly beach was a balmy 18, 19, 20 degrees last week but its now starting to drop rapidly. I heard from the locals that it can get down to 12 ! Yes … 12 degrees Celsius :)

When that happens its going to be interesting to see who is still going to be at the pool’s, who wont and who will be using wetsuits :P I personally will give it a go, just my pants, fins (maybe) and goggles and see how long I can last before I need to get dry, jump in the car and put the heater on full blast.

I don’t think I have ever been in water that cold before for a prolonged period of time but since I have been swimming in these pools for the last 8 months I really want to test my tolerance to the water at 12 degrees. Some of the locals who have been going to the pools for the last 10 – 30 years still say they can maintain the same number of laps as usual so I guess their tolerance has really built up over the years … good for them !

Anyway, today I didn’t take the camera in the water, just did 30 laps, got dry and basked in the sun for about 30 mins. Needed to warm up my core body temperature before I left the beach.

Check out the image above of the temperature chart that is taken everyday by George ! As you can also notice the Air temperature is much much cooler than the water. This is why getting into the water is OK but its the getting out of the water thats the hardest.

Free Diving Training, 3 Min Slow Relaxing Breathe hold @ a Shallow Dive – (Uncut)

I am really loving the training and the exercises in freediving. However sometimes I feel that I’m just not spending enough time in the water. My dives usually last about 1:00 – 1:30 comfortably but I would really like to be able to do 2min + dives to the same level of comfort.

Right now in my pool training I start of with a nice relaxing long dive after breathing warmups. I have been moving (up and down depending on the day) between 2:00 – 3:00 minutes but getting beyond 2:20 means im starting to have to push it. It’s slowly getting easier and easier to relax and I just need to capture those moments when im really relaxed in the water and try to get into that state at will as I think this should really help prolong the dives.

In the video above I do a 3min dive in shallow water at the pools. Im just timing these dives to be exactly the interval I want without trying to do a PB at every attempt, that way I can have a goal for the session and see how much further I can push it the week or day after.

Also today, the water was also really cold, it was about 16.5 degrees Celsius and the air temperature was about 14 degrees though thankfully the sun was out so I could dry up under the warm sun instead of getting blasted by wind and rain (which is what would be expected as it is winter here in sydney right now)

When I get more comfortable getting right in between 2 – 3 minutes I will probably go to clovelly or gordon’s bay and try to do some longer dives in 8 – 13 meter waters.

Free Diving – Exploring Gordon’s Bay & GoPro Test

So after the quick swim through test of my new GoPro at clovelly I decided to take it to Gordon’s bay for another test run, this time with my wet suite and a bit of depth about 13m (I think it was).

Pretty much everything went well accept my buoyancy. I didn’t strap on my weights and  obviously became really buoyant. I thought I could get away with it but it seems that in the video above much of my head is missing in a few of the shots. This is because I kept floating up and for no weights, I had the camera angled wrong. In the Clovelly video I could get into the full shot because I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit and constantly floating up.

There were main 2 take away’s from these tests. The first is I think I need to angle my camera a bit over 90 degrees relative to the pole maybe 100 – 110 degrees so that I get less of the pole in the shot and more of myself.

Secondly the battery died just when I was following some scuba divers around the dive site. It was after about the 1-2 hour mark of constantly being on, so from this I can estimate the life span of the battery depending on how I use it which is also great. As a result of this I might also get a spare battery incase it runs out at the best of times.

One of the things that really annoys me is that there is no LCD screen to preview the shots. I know you can buy it but thats the thing (you have to buy it). I’m used to digital camera’s where you automatically take a shot and preview it on the back, even my cheapo intova had that feature. But I understand, I guess that is how GoPro make money so good on them for creating such a good business model.

I feel the app should allow you to preview the images and videos and it certainly isn’t a technical issue so I wonder if GoPro is holding of on this because they know it will impact their LCD attachment sales.

Anyhow, other than that it was a great dive and I explored parts of Gordon bay which I didn’t do before. I went to the usual wall and all the cracks and crevices  on both the east and west walls. I also heard the wobbegong shark was there again but after spending some time looking for it I couldn’t see the shark anywhere. Instead I finished the dive by followed some scuba divers around the dive site.

Enjoy the video above.

Freediving Clovelly GoPro Test

So this week I got my GoPro Camera and wanted to give it a test spin. I had to make my own GoPole because I wasn’t prepared to pay $69 dollars for something I know i could make for no more then 10 bucks :P

I went through all the functionalities of the GoPro and hooked it up to the GoPro mobile app that I installed on my iPhone. Its a great device and for a tech head such as myself it gave me lots and lots of ideas on how to add possible additional functionality to the GoPro.

What would be awesome is if GoPro provided an SDK for developers, this would surely get the juices flowing ! Not just for Adrenaline junkies but geeks who love to hack and write code on computers. I know I would jump on this in a heart beat ! Regardless, when I get some time im curious as to the protocol and will be running a sniffer just to see what the messages look like :P

When I finally charged the GoPro, I remotely controlled the GoPro, changed its settings to the best quality widescreen and did some quick experiments. Then I went to the hardware store and bought som PVC poles, some connectors, nuts and bolts and borrowed a drill from my friend Ed.

It’s a simple but very sturdy construction and I will do a video on how I put it together. I don’t think I have seen anyone exactly the same as I have but there is one that I found that is similar. Anyhow I think my design is still OK and might be worth showing on a later video for the guys out there not willing to pay $69 for a pole. At the end I finished of my GoPole by sticking the nice GoPro sticker that came with the packaging on the pole.

Just getting back to the GoPro, its got its own WiFi attachment (for the Hero2) and is built in within the Hero 3′s. This means that it shouldn’t be to far a stretch to check out what the protocol is between the iPhone and the Hero and see if it can be reverse engineered or Modified. Would be a fun project when I get some time.

I tested the GoPro at clovelly, my usual testing ground for new equipment and made sure that the pole was secure and that if my camera did fall off it wouldn’t fall of into the place that I couldn’t get too :) Clovelly is nice, easy and shallow, about 8M at high tide on the deepest end I think. It all worked out fine and after the clovelly dive I took the camera and connected it to my laptop to check out the videos and confirm I had the camera settings right. Want to make sure that I don’t go to Bali take some nice videos and see that they are all incorrectly configured :(

The videos were great and the camera angle was correct at clovelly so I was pretty happy. The hand made GoPole also did its job and was nice and secure. With everything working I headed of to Gordon bay for some depth tests so I put on my wet suite and went to Gordons bay to do some tests there.

Anyway Enjoy the video above, just a quick swim through of Clovelly ! Nice weather, nice conditions, great way to spend sunday :)

Shocking Weather … So, Just Another Pool Day

Weather has been pretty shocking this whole week and sunday was no different. The weather report said it would be a crappy rainy day and it turned out to be 100% correct. When I got up this morning I decided that I would just hit the pools to get some laps in and go home and do some work (cause I have alot to do before I have to go overseas).

I am about to go overseas soon for business so I thought it might have been a good thing that it was raining and the ocean conditions were not that good. That way I don’t have the beautiful weather outside, on a sunday hounding me to get out of the house, to stop working on code, paperwork etc and to instead go diving :P

Today I decided that I would just get (20 x 1min 10sec plus) dives in before I called it a day. Did a few 1:30′s (and there abouts) but decided not to push it to much because my buddy wasn’t around (Yeah, I know, I know …). I wanted to try a 2 minute + dive round the edges where the are some crabs, octopus and few other crustaceans but didn’t want to risk a samba all on my own. I have a feeling that I would still be OK at around the 2:00 minute mark but you just never know so all dives were well within my limits.

I don’t think I have ever taken any videos at the bottom of shelly beach pools, only above so I have added the video of the last dive I did whilst heading back to the beach to call it a day. There are a few small fishes and sea life at the pools so its not completely boring :) You can also see my mate Alan swimming along the top doing his usual morning laps. All up, I think it was a 1:10 dive, starts when you hear the watch timmer go *beep* at about 0:13 and ends at about 1:23 – 1:24 just as my head emerges from the water and the breathe hold ends.