TAL Scuba Blog
Off we go from Thresher Shark resort again loading directly from the beech via a gang plank, just so easy.I had a awesome Thresher Shark dawn dive getting back around 7am this morning check out my blog on that Dawn Thresher Shark diveThen I had a nice brewed coffee and a great breakfast and chilled for couple of hours then at 9:30am it's time to head out to the wreck of the Dona Marilyn sitting in 32m. She was a inter-island ferry that sank on 24th October 1988 while sailing from Manila to Tacloban City.looks like a big wreck.Looking forward to this dive. Should take us about 90mins to get there.My Filipino dive master guide Vic has checked I have everything I need and he completed the boat briefing and now it is time to sit back enjoy my coffee and chill as we head to the dive site.I will be diving 32 Nitrox EAN on the first dive then air for the second.The dive boat is a traditional Filipino out rigger design with a friendly crew I met earlier in the week. One of the crew used to live in York... it's a small world.I would recommend a dry bag for your dry gear though as these boat are not very dry, water seems to come from every direction, including through the deck lol catching you out every now and then!!Sea conditions look good and it's a nice 32 Dec C.A very pleasant cruise out to the dive site watching a few of the smaller 7000 Filipino islands on the horizon.I have to say I am having a good time here at Thresher Cove Resort on Malapascua island. It was worth the 3 hour drive from Cebu to Maya Port and 1 hour crossing from Maya Port to Malapascua island. This is my last day diving and I wish I was staying longer. I have met some very friendly people during my stay. But I will be back as we are planning a TAL Scuba Divers club trip / holiday.We arrived on time and spent 10..15mins dragging with an anchor and using visual reference points of islands in the distance to find the wreck.... real old school as No one on the island seems to use GPS.Once the wreck was secured we descended down the line with a very strong current hand over hand..The wreck sits on the bottom at 32m rising up to about 18m from the surface.Vic my Filipino dive master and guide kept a careful eye on me as I penetrated through this large 100m wreck.She was caught in typhoon Unsang and sank leaving 389 dead, there were only 147 survivors.The Doña Marilyn was the sister ship to the Doña Paz which was the deadliest every none wartime maritime disaster.She is 100m long and sits on the bottom lying on her starboard side. Covered in encrusted coral and old fishing nets she has a bit of a spooky feel.We enter the wreck and made our way through her to the other end staying at around 25..30m for most of the penetration. Interesting Wreck but she is starting to break up so this is an advanced penetration and I would recommendation that most divers stay on the out side.When we reached the end of the wreck and turned Vic pointed out a shark hiding under a plate, though I can not remember what he said it was called, anyone know the name of this shark?We also saw a few large rays before leading me back along the shallow side of the wreck showing me several more interesting nudibranch on the way back to the shot line.Viz was about 15m and diving on 32 EAN we just managed to stay out of Deco during our 34m 33min dive.We ascended up the line in strong current to do our stops before exiting the water up the ladder or rather stairs between the out riggers and hull.For the second dive we are going to do he 30m long tunnel on Cato island.. Another good dive see my blog on Cato island.All in all a good dive and worth the tripIf you would like to join us on one of our holidays check out our trip page... or join our dive club... TAL Divers check out our holiday pages...You might also likeTrevor - TAL Scuba
Update - Up close with Thresher Sharks in the Philippines, Malapascua IslandI did the Thresher Dive again this morning and (See my previous blog, Scuba diving with Thresher Sharks)
Wow Just amazing... Awesome...I did a second Thresher Shark dive this morning with Thresher Cove Resort and saw at least 5 Thresher Sharks of various sizes.. probably about 8, it is hard to keep track as they appear and then slip back into the dark water..They came so close about 1m straight at me and over the top.... so close I think I could have touched them...Was just amazing to see them so close up... so excited I forgot to take pictures to start with...Coming from.the left...the right even left and right at the same time...One came straight at me..about 1m from me and when I moved the camera did a hard left and powered away at great speed... so agile... such acceleration... you have got to come and see this for yourself...I took these with my Olmpus TG5 no strobe or light, I have so got to go back with a Go Pro or better, the dawn light is poor, they were just so close.I have got to do this again...why not join us... check out our holiday pages...
Time to see Thrashed Sharks up close and personnal..
Dawn dive with Thrashed Cove Dive centre here on Malapascua Island, Philippines
Dive Site Monad Shoal
Malapascua is the only place in the world you can expect to see pellagic Thrasher Sharks who rarely come shallow enough for scuba divers to see. They normally spend there time at 200 to 600m. Thresher Sharks grow to almost 4m in length including their over sized shocking tail! These graceful sharks stun their pray with their tails, nature is so amazing.
Up early with the cockerels
I can hear 3 or 4 cockerels in the back ground making a right din and off to the dive centre I go.. boat should be here any min.
Time to enjoy the Sun rise
Fingers crossed I get to see Thresher Sharks today... really looking forward to seeing Thresher Sharks up close and personal.
As the tide is out we are taking a tender out to the dive boat from the beach. The crew have loaded and assembled our scuba kit... I analysed my tank.. Nitro EAN 32...
There only 4 of us diving this morning with 2 dive master and 5 boat crew.
Time for a cup of tea while we travel out to Monad Shoal, Only about 15mins to the dive site.
To see Thresher Sharks it needs to be a dawn dive as they arrive at the cleaning station at dawn as the cleaner fish awake and go to work. Then they descent back into deep water.
Camera is ready computer set to Nitrox, gear checked... fingers crossed
Kitted up... excited.. Here we go.. Jumped in with Vic my Filipino guide and descended slowly to about 28m hung around for 10min and WOW my first Thresher Shark at about 32m... awesome... really close maybe 2m but I made the novice mistake of not prepping my camera on the way down.. about another 10mins and my second sighting and another Thresher swam around us a few times really good sighting... guess I will be signing up to dive again tomorrow as soon as I get back to Thresher Cove, Just have to get some more awesome Thresher Shark sightings tomorrow morning. It has to be good to make me want to get up for another dawn dive!
Must bring my Prism rebreather next time so I can stay longer.
The Thresher Sharks swim up from 200..300m to the cleaning station to be cleaned in the early hours... Vic tells me you have a 95% chance of seeing Thresher Sharks every morning. I talked to others on the boat and they had also seen sharks the day before. No flash photography so a Go pro or similar would be a good choice.
Pelagic threshers sharks are one of 3 species of thresher sharks. They’re more tropical than the common and big eye thresher species, and only found in the Indian and Pacific oceans.
Thresher Cove Malapascua, Philippines
Here we are back at Thrashed Cove
Looking forward to doing it again tomorrow.
Now where is that fresh brewed coffee and breakfast
why not join us... check out our holiday pages...
Trevor - TAL Scuba
Dive site Gato Island with Thresher Cove Resort - Home of the Thresher Shark
A June day scuba diving with the team at Thresher Cove Resort and Dive Centre on Malapascua Island in the Philippines, home of the Thresher shark. Heading out today to see white tip sharks at Gato Island which is a marine reserve and I am told a paradise for photographers. I left the Thresher Cove Dive centre, boarding directly from the resorts beach onto the local dive boat via a ramp and we headed off to dive site Gato island for 2 dives. This is about a 45min boat trip. I was offered Tea, coffee and water on board. When we booked the dive the day before we were asked to choose a sandwich or salad, I opted for Tuna salad.
My Aqualung and Apex dive Kit was assembled and waiting for me on board. Vic my Dive Master and guide introduced him-self and made me aware of the safety gear, drinks and loo extra. It was a very brief briefing but I am sure a much more in-depth briefing would have been given for a less experienced diver. A good start to the day.
I am looking forward to diving Gato Island as it sounds fun, especially the tunnel! My DM made sure I had a torch and said I would need it! Conditions are good, 32c. Slightly lumpy sea conditions in open sea and these traditional local out rigger boats are not the most stable and definitely not dry lol as spray surprised me once or twice. Good job I am water proof.
Arriving at Gato Island, we jumped in for the first dive dropping down to 20m for a 45min dive. Viz about 10 to 15m and a bit milky as the weather has not been great for the previous day.
Lots of Nudibranch, Cuttle Fish, Puffer Fish, Sea Snakes, Moray Eels and more.
Surfaced close to the island and then swam out a few mins for the boat to pick us up, the usual ladder that drops down between the boats side floats and the hull.
Removed fins and walked up the steps in full kit. Crew lending a hand though you do not really need the help – it was more like walking up steps than a ladder.
During an hour surface interval with lunch I had a really nice Tuna salad sandwich I had chosen before the dive (very fresh and tasty). Had a coffee and a chat with Vic, dive master / guide who has worked for Thresher for about 4 years since they started. He has many years’ experience with other local dive centres before joining Thresher Cove Resort.
Vic’s a really nice Filipino who speaks very good English, the rest of the crew were helpful and did all the re tanking and putting together kit before and between dives... Just sit back and enjoy the day.
The second dive was through a tunnel that runs right through the island, from one side to the other, about 30m I guess. Saw a great big lobster and some White Sea Horses which were awesome. Unfortunately the current was strong, so we could not go see the Black or Yellow Sea Horses. I did see some really interesting friendly Cuttle Fish, White Sharks, Lion Fish, Nudibranch, Puffer Fish and much more! We then swam around the island and back to the boat... A really pleasant dive that I enjoyed. Viz on this dive about 5 to 10m but much better in the tunnel. I could easily have spent another half hour in the tunnel and would like to dive it again and explore more.
Back on the boat to Thresher Cove, to be dropped off and enjoy the rest of the day. We left about 10am and arrived back around 14:30. The crew again unloaded all the kit and washed it, before hanging it all to dry. I watched them throughout the day and they took great care of every ones kit, better than a lot of boats I have been on. A really great team.
why not join us... check out our holiday pages...
Trevor - TAL Scuba
We have 2 spaces just become available on our Truk Lagoon holiday in March 2018 Week 1 scuba dive trip to Truk Lagoon to see some of the worlds best wrecks. This will be my 3rd trip and I have to say it is the best scuba diving I have ever done anywhere in the world.
I love wreck diving and I love Truk
Truk Lagoon - On Board Dive Boat Odyssey 11th-18th March 2018
5 Dives a day, free Nitrox, All inclusive
"Best Dive boat I have ever been on " - Trevor
Departing London on the 9th March for the first week in Truk or the 3rd if you want to do a week in the Philippines first.
Cost of the boat is $3295USD which should work out at around £2400 with todays exchange rates.
Plus 5% sales TAX $164.75 USD
Plus $50 Chuuk (Truk) Dive Permit $50
£500 non refundable deposit balance due early December.
What you get
TAL Scuba is pleased to announce our Truk Lagoon holiday, we have again booked the Odyssey Liveaboard in Chuuk / Truk Lagoon - (We have the whole boat same as last time!).
Dive some of the best wrecks in the world!
Truk Lagoon - A small atol in the Central Pacific, part of the Federated States of Micronesia, with constant average temperatures of 25 - 32 º C both on the surface and in the water! It became famous in the Second World War when during Operation Hailstone the United States sank 12 Japanese Warships, 32 Merchant Ships and a total of 249 aircraft were destroyed. - In Short the majority of the Japanese auxiliary fleet!
Today it hosts the capital of wreck diving and is dived all year round by hundreds of lucky divers. Highlights include:
- •Massive shipwrecks (60 + ) including destroyers, freighters, and gun boats. Not to mention submarines, flying boats and the odd plane wreck!!
- •Huge amounts of swim throughs and wreck penetration, allowing you to see the remains of the fleets operations. Peering in the holds you can see row upon row of fighter aircraft, tanks, bulldozers, motorcycles, cars, and railroad equipment. Munitions galore, including torpedoes, containers of ammunition, radios, more weapons than you could imagine, plus the billions of personal and smaller items carried for the troops aboard.
- •And for the non-wrecky type there is masses of fish life, including Manta rays, sharks, and fish galore!
"...seeing is believing, words can not describe how awesome it really is!"
Where is Truk Lagoon
The Dive Boat
The Odyssey - Diving - Every Day is different
The dive deck is located to the stern of the main deck, and has individual tank ranks, seats and storage facilities. Most diving occurs from the ship therefore you can leave your equipment set up during your stay.
After your dive, you can rinsing off under the fresh water showers.
The day aboard begins at 7.00am with a hot breakfast and the first dive briefing on the sun deck at 7.45am. Usually you are able to have 2 dives before lunch, where you will usually move to a new site. After lunch there is the option to do another dive or relax on the sun deck and usually a late afternoon dive is available. Around 6.30pm is dinner and then you can relax in the lounge with a movie or you may have the option of a night dive.
No typical day aboard The Odyssey, and schedules will vary depending on site, and requested activities. We have the whole boat, so can choose the best bits!
Flights ATOL bonded book your own or £1845 from London Heathrow with us.
We have secured ATOL bonded flights which we can still offer (16/9/17) for £1845 with a £750 non refundable deposit for flights.
Why not add the Philippines 3rd March to 11th March 2018
We also have the Option to add the Philippines for a week before the Truk trip departing on the 3rd March to 11th March 2018 then on to Truk for as week via Guam.
PHILIPPINES : 3rd March to 11th March
Saturday, 3 March 2018 : Depart London Heathrow at 1340, arrive, Anda (Bohol Island)
- 7 nights full board accommodation in Luxury chalets.
- 5 days unlimited diving with 3-4 boat dives per day, and house reef diving too!
Then TRUK LAGOON : 11th March to 20th March
Return home Tuesday, 20 March 2018 : Arrive Heathrow 1350
Guam Option - add a few days on the way back
We also have the option to do an extra 3 days in Guam diving or just site seeing on the way back from Truk to London. We fly back from Truk via Guam.
Why not give us a call on 01202 473030 or message us on face book
Call us on 01202 473030 - Closed Sunday and Monday - Message us on Facebook anytime
Stuck Pins on Hollis Explorer cables and Chargers - not charging.
I number of people have been having problems with their MK1 and MK2 Hollis Explorer chargers / USB Cables.
Now Hollis are not replacing them I thought I would remind people to look after their chargers and USB cables as they are expensive and the MK2 are difficult to get hold of.
The problem is normally pins getting stuck down inside the sleeves so that they no longer make contact. This is normally caused by corrosion or over tightening.
Mark 1 Hollis Explorer Rebreather Charger Problems
On the MK1 you screw the connector on the charger or USB data cable on to the LSS and you ONLY need to tighten it enough to make contact, if you screw it on hard you push the pins hard down into their sleeves and they get stuck. I do not know a way to "UN stock them" so you end up needing a new charger or USB data cable.. For those that don't know the USB data cable with also charge the Explorer, so you in effect have 2 chargers with the MK1.
This has been over come on the mk2 by having a bayonet connector. See picture below or my blog on the MK2.
The other major problem seems to be corrosion cause by damp and sea water.
I expect that some people are not drying the contact on the LSS and maybe going for a dive, the connecting the LSS to charge without thinking about the fact that the LSS may still be damp of have salt water around it. This transfers to the connector on the charger/cable and over a short period of time corroded the pins and they jam. End of cable/charger.
Other people seem to keep their chargers in with the LSS in the bag, great idea...NO as the LSS is often put away damage again causing the bag to be damp, only has to be very slightly damp for this to corrode the pins and again charger is ruined.
Mark 2 Hollis Explorer Rebreather Charger Problems
The Mark 2 uses a standard USB charger and a USB cable to connect to the MK2 LSS.
The MK2 has basically the same problems with damp. The bayonet connector stops the over tightening but the MK2 does not have a cap over the charge points on the LSS and this makes it worse as they are even more likely to be damp or have water droplets on the points when you connect the bayonet connector. ALSO the MK2 has a single USB charger/Data cable and they are very hard to get hold of as not many MK2's we produced. There is also only the one joint charger/data cable so when you damage 1 you can not charge your unit!!! and it's not much good with out the batteries charged... SO LOOK AFTER THAT CABLE
There have been some changes at Hollis Explorer Rebreather Front, AUP / Hollis seem to have been bought out by Huish, this has caused some supply problems as Huish have moved the factory to Utah.
Update have since been told
Two unknown guys bought Hollis Rebreathers and Huish will distribute their product only (The Prism 2).
Hollis Rebreathers LLC is a newly-formed Wyoming limited liability company affiliated with but operated independently of Huish Outdoors with North American operations out of a shared facility within Huish Outdoors’ headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT.
Huish continued support of the Hollis Prism 2
Huish have set up a new company called Hollis Rebreathers LLC and they are now producing the Prism 2 again and Prism 2 parts. CE approval for the Prism 2 I am told is still on the cards and hopefully will be with us shortly, Also a back mounted version of the Prism 2.
it looks like another company may be taking over support/supply of parts for the Hollis Explorer Rebreather MK1 and MK2 but can't get any more info at this time.
Huish drop the Hollis Explorer
Sad to say that Huish are not continuing with the Hollis Explorer MK1 or MK2.
No support from Huish on the Hollis Explorer
Huish are not taking on liability for the MK1 and MK2 Explorer from Hollis and will not be supplying warranty parts. They say they are not making any more LSS (Electronics heads for either MK1 or MK2 Explorers)
Apparently it is a liability thing, therefore Huish or the new Hollies Rebreathers LLC will not supply warranty parts for repairs, this is I think they want another company to supply/support MK1 and MK2 Hollis Explorer Rebreathers.
Help is at hand with TAL Scuba
Don't panic as TAL Scuba in Dorset can carryout most repairs in house here in the UK, But we can not manufacture parts. We can often repair handsets and various other parts of the Rebreather.
We can replace handset OLED screens, buttons, reed switches and make other handset repairs. When the OLED displays fail or the colour fades we can change the screen for you, this is not a job you would want to do yourself.
We are working on changing the batteries in the MK1 LSS electronics ourselves and re potting them (This is the hard bit), and this is not an easy process so it will take a while for us to master this, but hopefully we will get there, but we can not do it yet. We need more info on the correct potting compounds, vacuum chambers and repair procedures.
Future of the Hollis Explorer
I think and hope that someone will produce a MK3 Explorer sometime soon, there has been far to much money spent on development and the unit is way to good for it to go down the tube. I think this is likely to be basically a MK2 with a few software improvements and some small electronics changes to improve the HP circuit hopefully within 12 months, fingers crossed.
I would guess that an upgrade from MK1 or MK2 Hollis Explorer to a MK3 version will become available in time.
I will post any developments when i find out more
I have 3 of my own units, so I feel the pain as well but we need to make the best of it and keep diving and keep enjoying the Hollis Explorer even if it will probably now cost us a bit more to keep the units going.
Roll on the MK3 or whatever they will call it!
PADI Hollis Explorer IT, Instructor and Hollis Explorer technician
Having problems with your Hollis Explorer? LSS red light will not go out or will not let you dive as all 3 batteries are not fully charged. Common problem on the Hollis Explorer MK1.
The first thing you need to do is see if it is a battery cell problem in the LSS (Electronics head). To do this we need to see the charge level of each of the 3 Batteries in the LSS and the battery in the handset.
How to access hidden Service mode battery data status
This can be done using the technicians data available on the handset when in Service mode. Watch the video to see how to get to this hidden screen, You can also check the o2 cell (Oxygen cell) mv readings (millivolt readings that indicate health of oxygen cell) from here. This is a very useful screen to access when trouble shooting your Hollis Explorer Rebreather Mark 1 or Mark 2.
How to install a Oetiker hose Clamps on the Hollis Explorer and Hollis Prism Rebreathers
NEW Hollis Explorer MK2 Rebreather Upgrade
We have had a great time selling and teaching the Hollis Explorer MK1 user and Instructor courses over the last 3 to 4 years but there were a few things that niggled - Nick Hollis has explained the improvements that have sorted all these issues with the NEW Hollis Explorer Upgrade kit and Upgraded Mark 2 Hollis Explorer Rebreather SCR unit.
Having just taken delivery of our first shipment of the MK2 Hollis Explorer rebreather a few days ago, I had time to have a real look at the new unit and be prepared to ask Nick some tough questions.
So what has been upgraded on the Hollis Explorer RB?
Brand New designed LSS (Life Support System) Head - So what has improved
The Sensor module is now an integral part of the LSS not a separate unit. The new combined LSS is more reliable with much better comms than the separate LSS/Sensor model of the MK1. So we should not get the occasional HP reading errors you sometimes get on the MK1.
Major advantage is that the unit now has a set of 3 easily replaceable, rechargeable batteries, these can be changed by your local Hollis Explorer technician. These are accessible from the outside of the LSS by simply removing a few screws and inserting the 3 new rechargeable batteries. We have had a few battery problems on the MK 1 so this will help. The unit takes 18650 rechargeable batteries. These can easily be changed by Hollis Explorer technician.
Better LSS Cables
Improved lighter and stronger LSS and Hud cables with better connectors. These new cables are hard wired and can not be change in the field.
New O2 Cells
The Explorer MK2 has been updated to take the same O2 Cells as the Prism 2 Rebeather for better connectivity and easier supply. This improved Molex type connector helps reduce problems sometimes found on the Mk1 caused by moisture on the pins that can cause corrosion.
Improved Heat Sensor probe
The heat sensor probe that goes inside the scrubber basket to give an indication of scrubber life can now be unplugged making it easier for flying and transporting the unit. This used to be part of the sensor model but now plugs into the combined LSS/Sensor module.
Co2 Sensor stays the same
Co2 sensor remains unchanged and still works very well.
Improved charging / data cable
The new charging cable now plugs into your normal USB charger, Laptop, USB car charger just like you phone but with a new improved date/charging cable. This should give us better data transfer than the old MK1 opt-icon cable. This new cable is also more robust, thinner and more water tight. The connection is now a true wet connection and does not have a cap covering the connector.
The Hollis designed handset housing is now a die-cast metal housing (Similar but not the same as the VRM) and seems to be better made, stronger and with better buttons. The buttons can be stripped and cleaned by your Hollis Explorer technician if required. Another improvement, is the top cover is now part of the die-cast so no more covers popping off when you are diving.
You will be able to upgrade the MK1 Hollis Explorer but we do not have any pricing information yet, upgrade kits are on the way, due before Xmas 2016. email the shop on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01202 473030 for price updates and to reserve your upgrade. We will update the website as soon as we have info.
Easy to upgrade yourself
It is a very easy job to upgrade your MK1 Explorer, Basically you just install a new LSS and away you go. The upgrade replaces the LSS/Sensor module, probe, handset, Hud and Cables. It does not need a technician but we are of course happy to help you for free or install the upgrade during your annual service with us.
The Hollis Explorer just got better
In my option I think the Hollis Explorer MK2 is a considerable improvement on the MK1, a great rebreather just got even better.
Even has a bungee to hold the inflator to stop it going behind your shoulder when diving.
All in all some good improvements to a really great rebreather and I look forward to diving the unit.
Although the MK1 Hollis Explorer has been replaced and only the MK2 Explorer is now supplied by Hollis the MK1 will still be fully supported including MK1 LSS repairs. We will still be servicing the MK1 for years to come.
Trevor A Leyland
PADI Course Director, Hollis Instructor Trainer and Explorer technician, with a lot of Explorer dives and courses under my belt over the last 3-4 years.