Tag Archives: Travel

Bull sharks at Cuba, Santa Lucia

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Last week I came back from a 9 day-holiday in Santa Lucia, Cuba. The location on Cuba was located at the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere about a 3 hour drive west from Holguin. Although the weather throughout the holiday could have been less rainy, on the day and times we planned some activities the weather was on our side.

20091111-Bullshark-01One of the most breath taking moments we had in the holiday was the opportunity to go scuba diving with bull-sharks. As we were down 25 meters below the surface at a location called La Boca, it was a marvel to look at the bull sharks being hand fed by the diving master. Of course it’s even better to have seen them in their natural environment, without the help of a human touch… But I think wikipedia also describes the bull sharks as dangerous to humans, so for me this was more than a good chance to see them really close. When I write really close I’m talking about within arm’s reach, but I think ‘don’t touch’ had the upper hand in my mind ;).

20091111-Wreck-La-BocaThe day after we had the shark feeding we tagged along to go to La Boca again but now for some freediving, as there also was a wreck on the bottom. The fore was situated approximately 8 meters below, going all the way down to 25 meters for the aft of the ship. As known with wrecks they are invested with fish, having made their habitat of this ship once roaming the seas. The location also featured a tricky timing when you want to freedive without the currents of the changing tides, we had a window of about an hour. It was a very nice spot to go freediving, a lot to see and a perfect training ground to do some different depth’s.

20091111-Cuba-Escalera-Lion-FishIt was a very good training & learning holiday for my girlfriend Marieke, who’s enjoying freediving more and more since our trip to Dahab and Dominican Republic. During this holiday she asked me if she could do some statics to improve her breath hold time and confidence. So this was her first ever static and within 2 or 3 tries she managed to go up to a time of 2m39s. Most impressive and makes me proud! As for depth training, during our trips to Dahab she had been down to the entrance of the fish bowl at the Canyon at 17 meters deep, but at the time she wasn’t confident enough to do more. Now she knows that she could at least hold her breath longer than a minute, her confidence gained. As we were diving the wreck at La Boca she kind of had her mind set on reaching somewhat greater depths, I agreed to swim down to 20 meters with her following me. When I see with how much ease she does these depth’s, I thought to myself there is more than ‘just’ 20 meters.

So later that day when we tagged along another scuba diving boat, we got to go freediving at the same place the scuba divers went down to ‘the stairs’ location. A beautiful coral featuring a stretched coral in the shape of stairs starting from a big plateau at 8 meters, the first drop took you down to 20 meters for the 2nd plateau. The 2nd drop went down into the abyss, which made it an amazing location to freedive.


Marieke now had her new 20 meter personal best and she was easily doing dives to the 2nd plateau, she watched me do a 27 meter dive and was inspired to try a deeper dive as well. So now I took the safety skills acquired in my freediving courses and applied them to her freedive into the deep. I waited at the surface to the point she was 16-18 seconds down and followed her down. At around 15-18 meters I watched her turn and swam up with her to the surface again, where she did a perfect surface protocol and showing a very much easy freedive down to 25 meters in 1 m19s 😮 . All I can say is that I can really learn from Marieke, she showed me a really relaxed and at ease freedive, where-as for myself I tend to sprint down too much.


This was a perfect holiday filled with a lot of under water time, which we both very much love. Above the surface we had a great time at the resort as well, although for our opinion hotels can leave their animation crews at home, because enjoying the rest, sun, reading, sketching and peace of mind isn’t working when these guys are around ;).

Video: Bizzy Blue Hole 2008

[gravatar size=18 align=absmiddle email=sanne.buurma@gmail.com] This is a post by [the_author_posts_link].

Last year’s Bizzy Blue hole competition was a successful event for me. I’ve set new personal bests on 3 depth disciplines; -40m in CWT, -35m in CNF & 33m in FIM. Marieke made some excellent footage of these freedives and I found some time to combine the footage with the results from my D3 freediving watch.


These are the statistics from the different dives (keep in mind that the data shown below is from my own watch not the competition watch. The competition watch is attached to the wrist reaching for the tag.)


CNF – Dynamic No Fins
Dive time: 1 minute 33 seconds
Max depth: 36 meters
Announced depth: 35 meters
Judge: White card


FIM – Free Immersion
Dive time: 1 minute 16 seconds
Max depth: 32,6 meters
Competition depth: 33 meters
Judged: White card


CWT – Constant Weight
Dive time: 1 minute 16 seconds
Max depth: 39,3 meters
Competition depth: 40 meters
Judged: White card

Yugyug’s trip to Australia

As yugyug joined up for training and freediving with us last year, I’ve asked him to write a small report on his journey to Australia. Enjoy the story:

Hi Sanne, here is a little bit of news about my trip back to Australia over the new years break. It was really fun and I felt like I really needed it, coming from winter in Eindhoven. In fact, I went to the doctor for a medical check when I was in Sydney and was told I had low vitamin D in my blood, from lack of sun! I was determined to go to the beach as much as possible, but actually I never got very tanned , because every time I went to the beach I went spearfishing, covered up in a wetsuit… The Australian sun kills far more people from cancer each year than sharks anyway, so I probably chose the healthier option.

guy_keulemans_australia_01.jpgThe spearfishing turned out to be a lacking in big catches though. I had been hoping to catch my first australian kingfish, and I speared a big one, about a metre in length on Christmas day, but the fish was actually too big for my gear. It fought like hell for a minute, bent my spear out of shape, then tore off. Damm! Fun, but a shame I didn’t land it.  This was at Bondi beach, in Sydney. The photo of the spearfishermen with the kingfish is not me, but a guy I’ve been spearing with a few times in Australia, his name is Scubapete.

One of the nicest things about Sydney is that you can go spearing easily almost anywhere. Bondi and many other beaches are 10 or 20 minutes from the centre of the city, and you can even jump in and spear inside the harbour if you want. Mostly the conditions were a too rough for deep diving, so I was diving less than 15m,  which is actually fine for most fish in Australia. Only once was the sea calm enough for me to feel relaxed enough to dive more than 20 metres, but I didn’t have a buddy so couldn’t really push it.

guy_keulemans_australia_02.jpgLater I went for a trip down south to the country town of Pambula, where I caught a fair bit of bream and whiting, including a rare blue morwong, which are very delicious, one of my favourite fish. Unfortunately I lost my camera a few weeks before, so don’t have many photos. My friend Oli took this one photo of my girlfriend and I in our wet-suits, just before we dived down the Pambula river, looking for flathead. It was pretty fun, we used the currents to take us down, and also take us back when the tide changed. There were lots of big sting rays around. I used FRC diving so I could drop below the surface silently by simply exhaling. Sinking down like this would not disturb the fish and was easy enough because were not spending energy swimming.

Oli and I made it all the way up the river to the lake mouth and relaxed until the tide changed, lounging around eating wild oysters off the rocks. But my girlfriend had gotten cold and got out halfway down the river to warm up in the sun. But the sun was hidden behind clouds and she couldn’t warm up. There was no way to walk back to the car as we were really far out in the bush. Freezing, she eventually managed to wave down a passing boat and they dropped her back at the river mouth. But then she discovered that her car keys, which she had tied to her wetsuit zipper, had fallen off in the river! So while Oli and I were cruising back down with the current, having fun eating oysters and shooting bream and whiting, my girlfriend spent the next 2 hours using an old piece of wire to open the door of her car. She was a bit annoyed when we eventually came back! But you can’t stay mad long when you have a summer night, a crate of beer and a bucket load of fish to enjoy 🙂

cheers! yugyug

Bizzy: Looking Back

20080415_Day_One_07_autocolor.jpgLooking back on the past few days of competition and training I must say I’ve learned quite a lot about the freediving to depth, techniques and about my approach. The depth part is a new and undiscovered area which I really like to explore more.

20080418_Day_Three_57.JPGBesides that I also liked the competition and to meet all competitors and enthusiasts. Good to see there a lot more people out there having the same thing with freediving. All freedivers were very open to each other, helping with technique and helping out with anything.

For me I think the best for future training and depth-options in the Netherlands I’d best be of with doing FRC-dives, which give me the possibility to train for deeper dives within shallow waters.

20080417_Training_Blue_Hole_08.jpgThe stretching which Jorg already told me was very important for deep dives, has proven it’s point and this should be in my preparation for future deep freediving.

Coming here I think my body was well prepared and my ears have seen multiple depth’s without tiring out on me. In my opinion the pool exercises and training from the past weeks/months really paid of in this event.

2008_BizzyBlueHole_Results.jpgPutting it all together this whole event was about training, getting into depth’s again and totally for exploration. But in the results ending up with a reasonable 100+ points and respectable depth’s (CNF: 35m, FIM: 33m & CWT: 40m & All PB’s) on a 13th place overall is good inspiration for the future. I really like to compete in more depth competitions and explore the capabilities and moving the boundries for my body in depth.

Overall feeling I have with competitions is still that it brings a certain structure and planning which really suits me…For the Bizzy Blue hole depth-competition I liked the fact of choosing my own time of entrance to the water, which makes it like the approach Jorg and I always use for pool competitions.

Dahab – Canyon

20080419_Canyon_01.jpgToday we agreed to meet up at 9:30 to do the relay freedive where 2 teams head up against each other in a speed relay session. the dives should have all the 3 styles; free immersion, constant weight with fins and without fins to a depth of 20, 30 and 40 meter. The team can decide which style to go with which depth.

20080419_Canyon_02.jpgI teamed up with David and Muir and we were up against a danish team, Muir got his first 20m without fins properly and David did his 30 meters with fins and with hang-over, after which I headed down for the free immersion to 40 meters. But at 33 meters the equalization proved to be a bit harder, which must have been the stress of time related competition. So I returned to the surface without a tag and we were disqualified :). Actually we didn’t really stand a chance against the first danish team. They got all depth within 2 minute and 30 seconds. Good fun to participate in!

20080419_Canyon_03.jpgFor the second part of the day we set out to the canyon, which is a dive area nearby the Blue hole. David, Marieke and I went in the water with a buoy and got out to the point where the entrance to the fish bowl was. Prepared the buoy for easier descent. The entrance of the fish bowl is at about 16,5 meters, which we descent to with a free immersion style to save energy. First David showed me where the entrance was and after that we took a few minutes of rest and prepared for a dive through the first part of the canyon.

20080419_Canyon_04.jpgWe dove down and got into the fish bowl, which was a kind of underwater underground cave in the shape of a bowl, at the end of the bowl the path bended down to about 23 meters to end up underneath a massive crack through which we ascended to the surface again. Breath-taking to do this and really got imprinted in my mind. We mad e a second dive down there and I filmed David going through this cave…awesome pictures and never to forget, this is what freediving is about!

At around 16:00 we headed out to sharm el sheikh to have the rest of the holiday in the Reef Oasis Beach Resort.

Bizzy: Competition day three

20080418_Day_Three_010.jpgThe last day of the AIDA competitions and I feel very confident in doing the 40 meter constant weight. It was about 10 o’clock when we arrived at the Aqua Marina and the weather had settled a bit since yesterdays 10 mph wind speed. The water still was a bit choppy, but over the Blue hole the waves were not too high.

20080418_Day_Three_015.jpgPreparing the dive with a few stretch exercises and planning this one only with valsalva technique. So no mouthfill, just on pure relaxation and focus on good equalization. As the water was a bit colder than yesterday, I decided to go in only 15 minutes before my official top (OT).

10 minutes before my OT I did a 1 minute 20 seconds static at 10 meter, which should let my body know that I’m about to dive deep. I felt really at ease and confident that I would make it. 4 minutes left to OT and I get called to the line and the safety prepares the depth gage and connects the lanyard to the competition line. I hear Marieke telling me I’ve got plenty of time down there, which reminds me that I do indeed; so no lightning decisions.

20080418_Day_Three_021.jpgI start the dive and descent with my normal speed rate (~1 meter per second) and reach 25 meters without any problem. I start the sink phase and focus more on the equalization, just as I think the equalization starts getting harder I see the bottom plate within normal reach. I choose a tag to bring up, put it in the side of my cap, finish the turn and head back up to the surface. A total of 1 minute 16 seconds dive time and I resurface and do my surface protocol within 2 breath’s, gave my tag to the judge and got a white card presented. This is how a freedive should go, feel and be executed. I’m very very pleased with this dive and depth! I recall Sebastian (organizer) saying this was one of the best dives on execution of that day.

20080418_Day_Three_097.jpgLater that night at the meeting there was a BBQ arranged. Also a small pop-quiz with some freedive related questions, which was really fun to do. Everybody drinking Sakara’s and having fun. A really festive night and kind of closure of the event.

Bizzy: Training Blue Hole

20080417_Training_Blue_Hole_03.jpgLast night we decided to go training in the Blue hole with a few other freedivers. So we arranged our taxi to be there at around 10:30 and we were of to the blue hole. The weather was a bit on the rough side, yeah you might put it that way… 😉 The waves luckily rolled over the reef and were not as high anymore when they passed over the blue hole.

20080417_Training_Blue_Hole_08.jpgThe training dives went pretty well and I wanted to train my equalizing thing I learned yesterday, but my ears weren’t really up for it. So I tried a few times, but had to call it a day with a 31m dive.

Dave actually felt much better than the day before, although he wasn’t fully recovered. He started of with a practice dive for constant weight without fins, but had to come up free immersion style. After that he did a few really good free imeersion dives to 40m and they looked real easy on him.

Marieke tried a few dives as well and surprisingly she dove down to 16 meters without any problem. I think it’s a good thing she enjoys the deep waters just as much as I do.

20080417_Training_Blue_Hole_07.JPGTomorrow the last day of the AIDA competition days is up and I think I’ll be registering for a 40 meter constant weight. As Dave, Marcus and Allan already told me…just try and relax and the equalization will be just fine. This is actually what Jorg has been telling me since a long time, but now it seems to make more sence as the 33 meters or more are getting easier, it all comes down to being able to do more depth training in the end.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings and I’ll report back later.

Bizzy: Competition day two

20080416_Day_Two_06.jpgToday the 2nd day of bizzy Blue hole’s Aida competitions were up. The first official top time had been moved to an earlier time, so the freedivers had to readjust their taxi appointments a bit, but everybody was right on time. Dave, which whom I share the taxi with, had to cancel due to ongoing belly problems. So Marieke and I got the taxi at 9:00 and got to the blue hole to sit and relax for a while.

Daan had swapped with Martin and so he had is dive in the beginning. Daan did a good 44 meters constant weight without fins, which was good for a new national record as he got the white card presented.

20080416_Day_Two_10.jpgI started preparing 35 minutes before my official top and got ready with a small hang at 10m’s. The hang was about 1 minute 20 seconds, it helped me great to prepare for my dive. At 11:38 I was up and arrived at the small yellow boat and got the d3 attached around my wrist and the safety took care of hooking me up to the line. I prepared and took off a few seconds over official top. My duckdive wasn’t optimal which loosened my weight belt, never the less it was no problem. At around 23 meters I did a mouthfill, which actually got me to the 33 meters without equalizing just holding the pressure on my eardrums. At the point of 33 meters, I wanted to top up my mouthfill, but instead of topping it up, it slipped back into my lungs…startled as I was I turned around and headed back to the surface. That was the stupidest thing to do as I had enough air left to just relax and refill the mouth again. In the end it’s never too late to learn from moments like those. I surfaced after a 1 minute 16 seconds dive without a tag and lesson learned.

20080416_Day_Two_29.jpgI’m very pleased with the dive as it was my first ever successful mouthfill performed 😀 Although now I’ll have to train a lot to get this thing right the next times. Also I instructed Marieke to remember me that I must realize I have enough air and should take my time down there. Never make the quick decisions as I normally do when I’m down there. The fact of having enough air was confirmed later this day when I did a test for lung capacity; without any packs I got it to 6,9 liter and with a limited pack I got to 7,8 liters. I was kind of surprised and on the other hand it helped me gain some confidence.

20080416_Day_Two_11_edited.jpgAfter the competition Marieke and I were going out in the water again to check out the bells. Unfortunately the sun was hiding behind the clouds so we did not have all the proper light to make the pictures. We managed to make a few, but never the less we enjoyed it. I think we’ll go out there again sometime later this week and then with proper sun shining over the corals.

Registration is due, so i’ll head out and maybe post back later.

Competition Day One

20080415_Day_One_03.jpgToday was the first of the competition days organized by Freediving.biz for the Bizzy Blue Hole. We met up with Dave at around 9:00 and arranged for a taxi to pick us up and bring us to the Blue Hole and back. Once we’d arrived we just got into the relaxing Aqua Marina lounge bar to sit a couple of hours. Dave was feeling quite a bit sick from last night’s food, but eventually he decided to do his first CNF (Constant weight No Fins) dive anyway. He made his depth of 30m’s but his stomache didn’t agree all to much.

20080415_Day_One_02.jpgI got into the water at around 11:30 to swim out and do a warm-up dive to about 25m’s. The warm-up felt really good and I was confident about my 35m CNF-dive.

After the warm-up, at around 12:00 it was my turn to make my freedive to 35m’s without fins. The first part went really smooth; duck-dive, the first strokes and equalisation were fine. 20080415_Day_One_07_autocolor.jpgAt around 16m’s I got into the sink-phase and I could focus more on my equalization, but it wasn’t as smooth as I’d hoped it to be. I looked for the plate and it was only a few meters away and just descended a bit slower, grabbed the tag and returned for the surface with the tag still in my hand.

20080415_Day_One_08_autocolor.jpgI surfaced after 1 minute and 33 seconds immersion and took 3 breath’s, performed my surface protocol and gave my tag to the judge. A white card was shown to me, meaning the dive had been judged as valid. I’m very pleased with this nice performance, it shows me that I’m capable of doing a little more with some more practice hours.

Tonight’s registration will be at 19:00 and I might have list of the performances of today with the points and I hope to have a list of the starting times for tomorrow aswell.