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About JudyG

  • Rank
    Sea Nettle

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  • Location
    Vancouver, British Columbia

Additional Info

  • Camera Model & Brand
    Nikon D100
  • Camera Housing
  • Strobe/Lighting Model & Brand
    Dual Ikelite DS-125
  1. This is a big, group effort trip report from a fantastic trip to Indonesia. The report covers the Archipelago Adventurer II live-aboard (Banda Sea Itinerary), Scuba Seraya Dive Resort on Bali, and Maluku Dive Resort on Ambon. As a group, we covered resort and dive operator reviews, lots of details and stories about the diving we did, literally hundreds of pictures contributed by the many photographers on the trip, some awesome video clips, plus some tips for traveling in Indonesia. We hope you enjoy, and that the report will be helpful to anyone planning to travel to this part of the world. Bigass Indonesia Trip Report
  2. Well, I've been on more than a few liveaboards, and other than diving off a dedicated rear dive deck (Turks & Caicos Explorer, California Truth Boats and Nekton Rorqual - and the trade-off there is you have to find the freaking boat as it is on a fixed mooring ), we've been required to somehow transfer from the mother ship to the tenders. A few steps down, with willing and able assistance from Junk crew, was seriously no big deal, and nothing near as difficult as stepping off the Galapagos Aggressor, fully kitted up, onto a bucking panga in six foot seas. Ymmv. The Junk is no Archipelago Adventurer, but in our opinion is a fun, modest budget option, although not particularly well set up if there were several photogs with large vid or dslr rigs on board. Whalesharks were reported as been seen in the week previous to our visit (December 2007). How fortunate for you that you were able to dive Thailand before it became a diving mecca. I consider myself quite well-traveled and have seen alot of healthy reefs - Fiji (Bligh Waters/east coast Viti Levu) , far northeastern Australia (Raine Island, detached reefs), Banda Sea, etc - no doubt that most if not all reefs are under at least some pressure from development, global warming, imbalances due to over-fishing and harvesting, but I thought that most of the reefs we visited in Thailand were in good condition (in fact, as I wrote in my report, in better condition than I would have expected for an area so heavily touristed) - I did not see evidence of coral disease or bleaching, and other than the areas I mentioned that appeared to be affected by dynamite fishing (a few sections on the Surin reefs) and tsunami damage (Koh Bon), the reefs looked very healthy and there was prolific fish life. Any less than stellar dives we did in Thailand were still (in our opinion) better than the best of the Caribbean that we've done - Cozumel, Bahamas (various locations), Roatan, Bonaire, Curacao, Cuba, Antigua, Turks & Caicos. I would be happy to dive in Thailand again, although I would not revisit during peak tourist season as there are not enough sites available to accomodate the current armada of dive boats and gaggles of bubbling, reef-whacking newbies. Thanks for your comments. J.
  3. I thought I would share a Thailand trip report I put together after a two week stay in Thailand in late 2007/early 2008, during which we did a one week liveaboard to Similans/Richelieu/Surins on the Junk, plus dove Phi Phi on a two day excursion out of Phuket. It's a behemoth report - so grab a cuppa before you settle in, and feel free to skip ahead through the flight from hell saga to the diving bits ;^) Thailand Trip Report J.
  4. Thanks so much for an excellent report and images. We dove the same area Christmas 2007 on The Junk and my takeaway on the diving was similar to yours - would have hoped for better viz (was a bit milky everywhere we dove - all the way up to the Surins), but generally greatly enjoyed the diving, most especially at Richelieu Rock and a couple of sites in the Similans. We did see mantas at Koh Bon, but between droves of reef-whacking newbie manta chasers and sploogey viz there were no decent photo ops to be had there. The leopard shark mating dance shots are great captures! J.
  5. Wow - what a heartwarming and beautifully produced video. I too love spending time with and photographing local kids when traveling overseas and have had some great encounters with some, including Fiji, Ecuador and on Banda in Indo. Thank you for sharing your work, and for reminding us that money is not always a prerequisite for happiness. J.
  6. This is a beef with me too. Many major airports worldwide offer secure, in-transit facilities to travelers, including Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Frankfurt, Tokyo Narita, Singapore, to name a few. There is, to my recollection, always a security check somewhere before you can go to the connecting departure gate, but these are smaller security stations as they are not receiving the masses streaming through the check in and departures halls, and although they are thorough, they do not have they typical half hour ++ line ups. I have stood in line up to 2.5 hours in Miami and in Houston, whilst in transit to Canada. In Miami, I timed the processing of passengers in front of me in the "Foreigners" line on a recent trip - the average time to process a passenger was 10 minutes. For in transit passengers who are not entering the country they are transiting, this is ridiculous waste of time and human resources, not to mention the added inconvenience of picking up in transit bags, clearing them through customs, and then resubmitting them into the baggage handling system. If not technically entering the US, just transiting through, why does one need to subject oneself to the US Customs & Immigrations boondoggle? J.
  7. Thank you for the warm welcomes! J.
  8. Thanks Mike. Oh, there are other adjectives, but I thought I better play nice as new kid in the sandbox ;^) I'm sure as his sometime roomie you are well aware of his particularities and peccadillos Seriously, he was a great Cruise Director. Our group had a blast (Simon's pom pom dances notwithstanding ) I'd like to have been a fly on the wall (well, maybe not really a fly - they're yucky) when Simon downloaded about our motley crew... ;^) I was born and grew up here, and have lived on the North Shore, in Kits, Marpole, South Granville and Richmond, as well as living for a halcyon year overseas (Switzerland - I wuz a ski nut in my salad years). Currently, the mountains are in my back yard :^) What about you? J.
  9. That is entirely disconcerting. So, I guess I should count myself lucky that I didn't get busted for the two D100 bodies I had in my camera backpack. In fact, although we sailed through, a couple of other divers in our group were busted for attempting to bringing in 2L (Gasp!) of alcohol, instead of the 1L allowable. Guess who had a nice bottle of Cabernet with dinner that night? Good to know about this scam policy - I will hand off one of the cameras to another family member when we return next year. J.
  10. Simon - the most handsome Cruise Director? I'll take the 5th on that one - but as you know, Ellen, our group loved the boat and thought the crew (with the exception of flagrante and frequent wagging on the part of Simon were outstanding. Sounds like you can't go wrong with either boat - likely just an issue of picking best timing. J.
  11. We flew Air Pacific LAX - NAN return last July. We had no issues at check-in at LAX with dive bags (which were slightly overweight - we were prepared to pay the overage if asked), nor with carry on bags being weighed, however on exit from Nadi, not so much. Again, checked bags went through with no overweight charges, and we thought we were home free as we headed through security. However, at a random bag weigh in the chute into security (not, apparently, by a Fiji Air official, but instead by a security employee ?!), I got nabbed for my rolling carry on bag (legal size), which was just a few pounds overweight. As an aside, Air Pacific's draconian carry on baggage allowance is 5 kg - imo, ridiculously low for a 747, and especially for international travel. Knowing in advance that they were tight on carry on bag weight, I, for the first time ever, took the chance of checking my housing (well wrapped in neoprene), as well as strobe arms and any other non-delicate bits. As I was traveling with my better half (non-photog), I split the strobes between us, had my prescription dive mask tucked in there as well, and a few pieces of clothing so the stuff wouldn't bounce around too much. I was informed by the whippersnapper that my bag was overweight and would have to be checked. I looked back into the check-in area, and the Air Pacific lineups were out the door. I made my case, saying that the bag was not significantly overweight, that I had brought it down with no issues on the same airline (and, as it ended up, the same aircraft) out of LAX, and that if I needed to return to the check in to check the bag of "delicate camera gear", I would likely miss my flight. Still no budge from whippersnapper. Meanwhile, whilst I was pulled aside, I watched as numerous folks scooted past him - one woman had a large pelican rolling bag, and when questioned, she told him she had camera gear in there, and he waived her through. Hello? So, I'll admit I snapped (a little ;^) I opened my bag and said "Okay, then, watch this" and I started to layer on the few bits of clothing that were in there. To make my point, I even put on my dive mask (I suspect much to the amusement of other passengers using my diversion to scoot through security before they got nabbed). The (no doubt) incredulous dude decided that perhaps he should let the crazy lady go through - which I did (admittedly very hot and bothered) - and as soon as I was on the other side, I peeled the layers (and the mask ;^), repacked them, and headed for the departure lounge. Just so you know... For days after the trip I was still peeved about the incident. For catharsis purposes, I wrote the following ditty and shared it on another forum. I hope it gives you a smile. Carry On Blues [To the tune of Summertime Blues, with a little poetic license]: Well, I'm gonna raise a fuss, I'm gonna raise a holler Been working all year just to pay big dollars For a crappy seat with leg room for a dwarf And food & beverage service that makes you wanna barf And every time I take a flight, I get nuthin' but grief Treated like a terrorist, or some at least some kinda thief My bags they get picked over, and all liquids are taboo The bastards even took my 3 oz tester of shampoo Sometimes I wonder how a girl's gotta pack To keep the airport monkeys from climbing on her back Well my dive buddies told me, "you gotta carry on your gear†Cuz TSA will break it, if they think that it looks queer The scanners and the handlers they ain't got no respect So cameras and regs n stuff fer sure are gonna get wrecked Well you can't carry it on cuz they say it weighs too much And you can't check it in cuz of baggage chimps and such And if you chance to check it, don't count on its arrival So many bags are lost in space: it's a fustercluck revival Sometimes I wonder what a girl's gotta do To get herself to a dive trip, with her gear bags too When I tell my travel agent about these sorry woes "I'd like to help you girl but that's just the way it goes†So I'm gonna stuff two bags, gonna sneak 'em past the scale I'm gonna carry on my stuff, the chimps can go to hell Since 9/11 the airline industry’s a joke Only nobody's laughing, they're just hassling us good folks Pat downs and shoes off and secondary screening Have left this forty something housewife positively steaming Sometimes I wonder what I'm a gonna do But there ain't no cure for these traveling blues So bring on databases, and retinal scans I've got nothing to hide, and neither does my man We just wanna travel in peace, without all this crap And get some basic respect from grumpy airport staff Give us a decent bag allowance, most times it’s much too low And let us carry on our camera stuff, it's delicate you know The guy sitting next to me weighs a quarter ton & overflows his seat He's packing 5 carry ons or more, measured out in meat Sometimes I wonder what I am going to do Cuz there ain't no cure for these carry on blues It's all about dollars - finding a way to pad the fare They forget it's a competitive business, to get us from here to there My dollars are going to airlines that go easy on the weight And have a decent record for not arriving late J.
  12. I have been lurking in this fine forum awhile. I have been a regular contributor over at Scubadiving.com for several years, but thought I would expand my horizons a bit and play here too. I am another cold water junkie - fortunate enough to live only a few hours from the wild & wonderful diving at Nanaimo, Campbell River and Port Hardy. However, even a hardy West Coast Canuckian kind of chick needs a warm fix every now and then, so I regularly strain/drain the bank account with adventures afar. I've met a few of the regulars here (most recently the ever-entertaining Simon Buxton, who DM'd a recent trip aboard the Archipelago Adventurer II from Ambon to Banda) and recognize quite a few names. My (non-commercial) website is Awoosh.com. I enjoy sharing my experiences via multiimedia shows and photoessays, so if armchair diving is your bag, hopefully you will find something there to entertain you a bit. J.
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