Archive for October, 2012

PADI Bag for our Project AWARE Finathon

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 @ 17:07 News, Project AWARE

Buy these PADI branded shopping bags to show your support for the Finathon and action against shark finning

Our Finathon is now only 4 days away and the excitement is building.

This Sunday, 4 November, Kota Kinabalu’s shark lover will take to the waters of the TAR Park just off Gaya island, for swimming to end shark finning.

The ultimate aim of the 1km Finathon, which participants will do either as individuals or as part of a team, is to raise funds for the fight against shark finning.

Fighting on our behalf are the good people from Project AWARE Foundation and all the money raised will be contributed to them to perpetuate their cause.

We have a few spaces remaining, so if you want to get swimming to finning, do get in touch with us soon.

Even if you are not participating in the Finathon itself, you can still participate by either sponsoring the participants, or by buying our Finathon merchandise.

These PADI bags, for instance, are only RM10. They are available from our dive shop in Kota Kinabalu’s KK Times Square and the entire RM10 will be donated to Project AWARE.

Email us for more information about the Finathon, or drop in at our dive shop in KK Times Square to purchase Finathon mechanise and support the fight against shark finning.

Swimming to End Shark Finning Goodies for Sale

Monday, October 29th, 2012 @ 15:49 News, Project AWARE

Swimming to End Shark Finning Bookmarks & T-Shirts

Our first ever Finathon takes place this Sunday, 4 November at our Dive Centre on Gagay Island.

Although we already have numerous participants, we also had a chorus of people saying they can’t go swimming, but they would still like to show their support.

Well, we’ve listened and we hear you!

So, if you’re unable to go Swimming to end Shark Finning, you can still be actively involved.

Buy 1 of these special, limited edition t-shirts or bookmarks, for RM 30 and RM 5 respectively.

We will donate 100% of the money towards Project AWARE Foundation and their Anti Shark Finning campaigns.

The shirts and bookmarks are available from our Dive Shop in KK Times Square. If there are any left come Sunday, then we will sell them at the Finathon on Gaya island.

When we stand together anything is possible and together we are making a difference!

Another Divemaster Qualifies with Downbelow

Monday, October 29th, 2012 @ 14:41 Courses, Divemaster, News, Professional Diving Internships

New PADI Divemaster Noah on the right with his qualifying PADI Instructor, Paul, on the left.

Downbelow’s Go Pro crew has been cooking recently, helping scuba divers make the leap from recreational to professional diving.

Recent graduate Noah became a PADI Divemaster just last week.

“Well done to Noah,” said resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann when he congratulated Noah on joining the realm of pro scuba divers.

Paul Jones, Noah’s qualifying Instructor, was also on hand to see him become a consummate diving professional.

“Great effort,” said Paul who is himself a Downbelow Alumni.

“We looking forward to welcoming you back for your IDC next year!”

Downbelow’s has a regular schedule of Instructor Development Courses, the next installment of which is coming up in less than 2 weeks.

If you want to join the exciting industry of scuba diving, drop us an email or visit our offices, and let’s talk about how you too can Go Pro with Downbelow.

Project AWARE Finathon – Swimming to End Finning

Friday, October 26th, 2012 @ 11:53 News, Project AWARE

Let's get swimming to end finning

“Together we are making a difference,” is what our resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann always says, and next weekend we’re going to do just that.

On Sunday, 4 November 2012, Downbelow is hosting a Finathon – a 1km ‘fun swim’ – at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre in order to raise awareness of the plight of sharks and funds for Project AWARE who is fighting for legislation to give sharks a fighting chance.

The funds donated to Project AWARE will help the foundation fight to stop shark finning, insist on full protections for critically endangered sharks at government level, negotiate stronger policies with the world’s decision makers to ensure a brighter future for all sharks.

“We think it’s a great fundraising and awareness campaign and are very excited about it,” said Joanne Swann, Downbelow’s Marketing Director.

“This is a perfect way for local schools to become involved and we’re excited to have both Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria and Tanjung Aru Resorts on board.”

The Finathon takes place form around 9am to 2pm and starts at the jetty in front of Downbelow’s beach house dive centre.

The Finathon route follow our house reef to the Turtle House dive site 500m away, before making a u-turn and returning to the jetty. You can tackle the course either as an individual or, if you’re not up for the entire 1km by yourself, you can join with others to form a relay team.

“We’re encouraging all participants to raise AU$ 100 (RM320) equivalent to the cost of a bowl of shark fin soup,” said Joanne Swann, Downbelow’s Marketing Director.

There are also prizes up for grabs for the top fundraisers, who stand a chance to win BARE Chillguards & Vaude Speedy Drink belts donated by A & L Adventure & Leisure from Kuala Lumpur.

Interested participants can still sign up until this Sunday by emailing us or visiting Downbelow’s offices in KK Times Square.

Product Review: Sola Dive 500 Underwater Light

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 @ 10:23 News, Promotions

Handsfree Sola Dive 500 Underwater Dive Light

There’s lots of buzz around the new product, Light & Motion Sola series of dive lights, which arrived in the Downbelow Dive Shop in Kota Kinabalu.

Avid pro underwater photographer and Downbelow’s resident PADI Course Director, rounded up his diving crew and took the Sola Dive 500 for a spin.

The light is attractive for various reasons, but, said Richard, one of its best selling points it the factory-sealed body.

Noting that the LED lights will probably never need replacing and the fact that the Sola lights have built-in Lithium Ion batteries, there is no reason to ever open the body, which means flooding is a thing of the past.

With the all the confidence in the world, Richard took the light along on a Deep Dive scenario he was conducting for our pro interns.

“The light performed perfectly at 30+m”, Richard said of the sturdy little dive light that packs a punch.

PADI Instructor Tim really gave the light a workout during our latest night dive, which he guided.

“Of all 8 torches used, the Sola Dive 500 was the brightest,” reported Tim, “with a much longer burn time to boot.”

PADI Instructor Vic went macro diving on a rather dull, cloudy day and implemented the Sola Dive 500 while searching for critters. “It had not been charged since the night dive,” he said, “but it still burned strong the entire dive.”

Thanks to the built-in batteries, which means no more discarding flat batteries, the Sola Dive 500 is environmentally friend. An instant winner with the Downbelow crew.

Richard clearly enjoyed the product. “All in all this is an excellent value, light but tough, virtually flood free, long lasting, rechargeable, eco friendly, easy to use, minimal maintenance hands free dive light.”

The Sola Dive 500 gets Downbelow’s professional vote. The product is available in our dive shop in Kota Kinabalu, but we also stock it as a rental light at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya island in Kota Kinabalu.

“I will be testing the Sola Photo next,” Richard said with an eager look, “which we also stock for sale and rental.”

To get your hands on this fine dive light, email us or drop by and visit our offices in KK Times Square in Kota Kinabalu.

Local Intern Pablo on his way to Divemaster and Instructor

Monday, October 22nd, 2012 @ 14:41 News, Professional Diving Internships

Pablo giving one of his first briefings to a "live" audience

One of our newest local interns, Pablo, has just starting giving dive briefing all by himself.

“Meet Pablo and keep an eye on this young lad,” said our resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann.

“I can see this one making it to Instructor level in the next 6-12 months.”

Pablo is part of Downbelow’s local internship program that gives the chance of a lifetime to local talent that shows potential for greatness.

They are absorbed into the Downbelow Internship Program and over 12 months are trained, to Downbelow’s stringent quality and safety standards, to enter the pro diving industry as Divemasters and instructors.

Nearly all of the top talent you can meet at Downbelow today are graduates from our successful local internship program.

If you’re interested in our local or international internship program, wether you want to become a Divemaster, a Dive Instructor or beyond, get in touch with us or send us an email, and let’s talk about how you too can Go Pro with Downbelow.

Pro Scuba Diving Intern Becomes Divemaster with Downbelow

Friday, October 19th, 2012 @ 15:44 Courses, Divemaster, News

Resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann on the left with newly qualified PADI Divemaster Insa on the right.

Divemaster Intern Insa have clinched the course and collected her PADI Divemaster certification.

Having been with us for the last few weeks, Insa has made an impression on the Go Pro internship program. Downbelow’s MD and resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann has seen her grow as scuba diving pro.

“You will be an asset,” Richard said when talking about Insa, “to the industry wherever you settle.”

“Insa is an awesome professional,” he said, “with a firm commitment to the environment.”

Insa met all the performance requirements for the PADI Divemaster Course and helped out on the numerous Project AWARE events Downbelow ran in October.

She went on to ace her Divemaster exams and now sets off to start her career as a scuba diving professional.

Congrats to Insa and good luck with your professional diving career.

We hope to see you again soon, perhaps when you return to become a PADI Instructor during one of our IDCs?

We Team Up with Hyatt Regency Kinabalu to Talk Trash

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 @ 15:42 News, Project AWARE

Downbelow and Hyatt Regency Kinabalu's joint Project AWARE Beach Cleanup.

We teamed up with Hyatt Regency Kinabalu yesterday to talk trash. The floating variety, also referred to as marine debris, which is the bane of our existence here on beautiful Gaya island in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

The 23-strong contingent from Hyatt arrived at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre, raring to start the Project AWARE beach cleanup we were about to tackle together to further marine conservation.

Resident PADI Course Director and Downbelow MD Richard Swann first briefed the troops. He gave an overview of the problem of marine debris and its origin, specifically here in Kota Kinabalu.

“What people do on land,” explained Richard, “affects the TAR Park”. Many of Kota Kinabalu’s residents do not realise that when they irresponsibly discard rubbish on the mainland, it eventually gets washed to sea and lodges on our reefs, beaches and mangrove forests.

Richard also shared a few tips on how to help the environment, such a reducing your plastic use, recycling what you can and disposing, in a proper manner, of that which cannot recycle.

Motivated for the collection challenge ahead, the volunteers, including Downbelow’s staff, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah Parks, a few of our Go Pro interns and even a couple of Danish adventurers, set off along the beach.

We were inspired to see Hyatt Regency Kinabalu’s General Manager, Mr. Arifin Darmawan, lead the charge as he literally jumped in feet first and started picking clean the beach and mangrove roots.

The rest of the day was spent, in beautiful weather we have to say, cleaning the beach, shallows and tree roots.

By the time lunch rolled around, the group of volunteers had worked up a sizable appetite, not to mention an equally large collection of rubbish, 99% of which were plastic.

“After it gets washed into storm-water drains,” Richard said, “the rubbish ends up in the ocean where wind and tide eventually brings it to our beaches.” Downbelow’s Gaya island dive centre is about 3km from Kota Kinabalu’s mainland.

Having enjoyed a scrumptious, fresh lunch prepared by the Downbelow crew, the volunteer group held the closing ceremony, during which Downbelow and Hyatt together presented a donation of RM 1,500 to Project AWARE, symbolised by a huge, mock cheque.

Richard handed out a Certificate of Appreciation to each and every participant to thank them for their participation and wishing them well on their quest to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Sandakan Politeknik Returns to Downbelow for Visit

Downbelow and the students from the Sandakan Politeknik, Oct 2012, Gaya Island, Kota Kinabalu

We had a fun Friday at Downbelow’s PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya island in Kota Kinabalu, because our good friends from Sandakan Politeknik returned for another visit.

The great bunch of students from the polytechnic visits us regularly as part of their Tourist Management studies.

This time around their group of 26 invaded our otherwise serene corner of Gaya island for a day of PADI Discover Scuba Diving programs, plus the ecologically valuable AWARE Coral Reef Conservation course.

Downbelow includes environmental components in all group programs, but it’s extra important for Tourism Management students to know that without sustainable practices, tourism attractions may well disappear.

“We host many groups,” said Downbelow’s resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann, “but we are particularly fond of these fantastic, enthusiastic students.”

“They are the future of our industry,” he added, “and we really can’t wait for the next visit.”

Find out more about our Group programs or contact us for a tailored solution to your group activity needs.

Interns Teaching Interns: Rescue Diver

Friday, October 12th, 2012 @ 15:47 Courses, News, Professional Diving Internships

Dr. Cheah on the left with Instructor Sam in the middle and Awang on the right. The students now are PADI Rescue Divers.

Successful graduate from the IDC Class of September 2012, Sam Brodie, has been busy this week putting his hard-earned knowledge and skills to work at Downbelow’s PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Sam stayed on with Downbelow after the IDC to complete his Master Scuba Diver Trainer Internship, all the while gaining experience and honing his skills with real-world assignments that will look mighty fine on his resume when he leaves Downbelow to start his dive instructing career.

Under the ever watchful eye of Downbelow’s resident PADI Course Director, Richard Swann, Sam took 2 Rescue Diver students under his wing, one of whom is Awang (Island Awang, not to be confused with Office Awang), a Divemaster intern on our local internship program.

Together with student number 2, Dr. Cheah – a Downbelow regular – they’ve been working through the PADI Rescue Diver course this week.

Sam wielded his expert knowledge while Awang and Dr. Cheah put in the hard work, which – as hard work often does – paid off today, when they finally completed and passed their PADI Rescue Diver courses.

A big congratulations to instructors and students for a job well done.