Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Who Do the U.S. Navy Divers Call When They Want To Dive the Grotto? Axe Murderer Tours!

I got a call last weekend from a friend I met a month ago or so, his name is Randy Duncan and he's the Chief Warrant Officer of Company 16, Mobile Diving & Salvage Unit One, based out of Hawaii. He and his crew are currently stationed on the USS Safeguard and have been removing coralheads from the shipping channel in the Saipan lagoon. He said that he and a bunch of the Navy divers would like to dive the Grotto and they wanted me to lead the dive for them. These guys dive for a living and take it very seriously, so they know the inherent risks with diving a spot you're not very familiar with, and of the importance of having someone who knows their way in and out of all the holes. I was quite honored that they chose me to be their dive guide for the day. It should come as no surprise that Axe Murderer Tours gets the call when the military wants to go diving though, we have a long and colorful history together.

Speaking of Axe Murderer Tours, now that I'm an instructor and getting things going with instructing, I've decided to finally make my fictional tour company official and went in to get business licenses for Axe Murderer Tours both as a dive instruction company and a professional dive guide service as well. So Axe Murderer Tours is now in business and is ready to become a professional dive service on Saipan. Hopefully I'll stay pretty busy with military, Americans, English speakers or Japanese who want an interesting American dive guide. So it's probably time to look into getting a clothing line, and diving accessory line going with the Axe Murderer Tours logo on it that is affordable. Cafe Press is convenient and doesn't require an investment on my part, but it's not cheap. So I'll be checking into a few different options locally, and also seeing if I can get some good deals from companies abroad to supply me with scaps, mask headbands and rash guard dive shirts, and maybe even bikinis and board shorts.

There may be some pretty big developments in the coming months regarding diving on Saipan and my future, stay tuned and I'll keep you informed. But in the meantime if you want to get certified to dive by the old Axe Murderer himself, or you want a custom Axe Murderer Tour yourself, let me know. Axe Murderer Tours is open for business and is official, FINALLY!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Best Job In The World!

Every so often something comes along and you realize it was custom tailored just for you. That was the feeling I got after reading a story Kelli forwarded to me. I showed the website to a couple friends of mine, and they both said, this is unbelievable, they are looking for you, they just don't know it yet. Here is the story:

"An Australian state has launched a global search for candidates for "the best job in the world" -- earning a top salary for lazing around a beautiful tropical island for six months.

The job pays 150,000 Australian dollars (105,000 US dollars) and includes free airfares from the successful applicant's home country to Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland's state government announced on Tuesday.

In return, the "island caretaker" will be expected to stroll the white sands, soak up the sun, snorkel the reef, "maybe clean the pool" -- and report to a global audience via weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates.

The winner, who will stay rent-free in a multi-million dollar three-bedroom beach home complete with plunge pool and golf buggy, must be an excellent communicator and be able to speak and write English.

"They'll also have to talk to media from time to time about what they're doing so they can't be too shy and they'll have to love the sea, the sun, the outdoors," said acting state Premier Paul Lucas.

"The fact that they will be paid to explore the islands of the Great Barrier Reef, swim, snorkel and generally live the Queensland lifestyle makes this undoubtedly the best job in the world."
Lucas said the campaign was part of a drive to protect the state's 18 billion Australian dollar a year tourism industry during the tough economic climate caused by the global financial meltdown.

While the campaign has elements of some reality television shows, a candidate's looks will not be a prime requirement, Tourism Queensland chief executive Anthony Hayes told AFP.
"No, I don't think beautiful is what we want, I think charismatic is what we want," he said. "The reality is we are looking for a fantastic communicator.

"What we want this person to do is travel throughout the Great Barrier Reef and just try every experience, every adventure they can find and report back via blogs and video to tell the world why Queensland is a great place to come for a holiday."

Tourism Minister Desley Boyle said some people might question whether it was risky to let an unknown person become an unofficial tourism spokesperson for the state. "I think the biggest risk will be that the successful candidate won't want to go home at the end of the six months," she said. "This is a legitimate job which is open to anyone and everyone."

Applications are open until February 22. Eleven shortlisted candidates will be flown to Hamilton Island in early May for the final selection process and the six month contract will commence on July 1."

So let me see if I got this straight, they are offering $105,000 US plus airfare and expenses to the winning candidate. They are looking for someone to stroll the white sands of the beach (I love wandering beaches), soak up the sun (I always soak up all the sun I can, and never use sunscreen, I think it's for tourists), snorkel the reef (not only will I snorkel it, but I'll dive it extensively, and I'll even certify anybody I run across who wants to learn to scuba dive), clean the pool (it will be sparkling when I'm done with it), and report to a global audience via weekly weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates (seriously, I mean this is sooooooooooooooooo me it's scarey!).

They are looking for an excellent communicator who can speak and write English and has charisma. Seriously, after 28 years in radio, I don't think I could possibly be any more custom tailored for what they're looking for. And then they say a candidate's looks will not be a prime requirement, they are not going after beautiful, they are going after charismatic! Not that I haven't been told I'm beautiful by certain blind fans of mine in the past, (they were obviously big fans of the bald is beautiful movement), but it's awesome that they aren't looking for beautiful, again I am totally their guy! They are looking for a fantastic communicator who isn't shy and can effectively promote their islands and diving. I've been doing it for free for Saipan for the past 13 years, without so much as a thank you from MVA or any government entity, just think how much more effective I can be in a situation where they want to help me promote them!

I need to put together a 60 second video telling them why I'm the perfect candidate for the best job in the world. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head it feels like it's ready to explode. Once I get my video posted on the site as an official applicant, I'll be asking for all of you to go there and give me a high rating on my video. Wish me luck, this could be a life changing job!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Scott Swimming With a Turtle

Just in case you've always wondered what it would be like to swim with a turtle, this video of Scott swimming with a green sea turtle at Lau Lau might give you an idea.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Meet Lisa - My Latest Student!

When I went to the dive shop on New Years day to get my tanks filled, Mr. Lee told me about an American couple who were here looking to get the wife certified to dive and asked if I would be interested in taking care of it that weekend. He said they wanted to get her certified as soon as possible. I called and left a message at their hotel, and as I crawled out of Lau Lau for my 2nd dive of the new year, my phone was ringing in my truck. Lisa's husband Scott was calling to see if he could arrange to get Lisa certified. They wanted to buy a mask and fins for her, so I arranged to meet them at the only real dive supply store on island and help advise them on equipment for her. We got her a mask and decided to hold off on the fins for the moment and see what style she liked using in the water. Lisa is coming out of the water in the picture above, after her final confined water training dive, very happy that the confined water training portion of the course is over.

Scott is an F-18 pilot on the USS George Washington, and Lisa teaches English in Japan, so they were perfects candidates to be the next victims of Axe Murderer Tours. Kelli and I asked if they would like to join us at the Seaside Grill at Pacific Islands Club for Happy Hour drinks and appetizers. Since they really had no plans or agenda, other than getting Lisa certified, they seemed more than happy to join us. We met up with Randy and Dayl, who I had been taking diving earlier in the week. Randy is a Navy professional diver, and he wanted Dayl to have an awesome dive experience, so he asked if I could make that happen for them. Not a problem! So we all enjoyed the sunset, a few drinks and appetizers, and Randy dutifully told Scott and Lisa that I was a great dive instructor. You would have thought I had paid him for the commercial, but he was just being nice.

So the plan was to pick up Scott and Lisa for lunch Friday, and then head to Sugar Dock for her confined water training. I decided to stop by the Post Office before getting them, and sure enough, Kelli's and my new cameras were there!!! What great timing! Lisa was an awesome student and put up with way more harassment from Scott and I than anyone should have to endure. It was starting to get a little dark though before we finished, so we decided to finish up the final two confined water dives on Saturday morning, and then head off for an open water dive.
Here you see Scott and Lisa in the water at Lau Lau. Even though we were getting some very gusty trade winds, and high waves on the other side of the island, Lau Lau was calm and beautiful. The visibility was the best I've seen there in a very long time. Almost as if on cue, as soon as we came to the end of the rope going in at Lau Lau, we ran into this guy.
He was munching on seaweed and algae right next to the pipeline, and let us get right up to him for a good look. I can't think of a better way to get someone hooked on diving than spending some quality time with a green sea turtle on their very first open water dive. He was also very cooperative about posing for some pictures as well.
I know I've said it many times, but there is truly something magical about just swimming alongside of a turtle. You tend to forget about everything else and just exist in the moment with the turtle. It was an outstanding weekend all weekend for diving at Lau Lau and the turtles were everywhere.Here is Scott just watching as this turtle decides to go up for some air. It was a great weekend of diving, and Lisa is just one dive away from being certified now, which will be happening this afternoon. My next 2 months are going to be packed full of dive students and classes, but there is always room to fit in another if you're interested. I'll introduce you to my turtle buddies at Lau Lau.