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Dec 22, 2013

Rinat Shaham's new project | Episode 185

Israel's Rinat Shaham has a new project:

A couple of nights ago I set up a film camera to shoot Rinat and her friend Nadav performing for a small audience in Manhattan. Here's the first of a series of videos:

One of the most beautiful and complex songs  composed in Brazil today, by the guitarist, arranger and composer Luciano Fleming (Brazil).  This is a live recording from a concert at the Spectrum, New York City. December 19, 2013

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Dec 7, 2013

A weird Month : Episode 184

Breakfast on Hollywood Boulevard, as the artist who has flown me here sleeps til noon.
We're shooting a nude model in a swimming pool - footage to go into a larger scale project that I saw the beginnings of in Brooklyn. Unusual stuff.

On the hard drive at home in NYC are two underwater video projects: One : a sizzle reel for a tv pilot about seafood, caught locally, for which I was taken out on a small boat in rough seas to film some lobster grabbing on a shipwreck in 120 feet of dark and murky water (risky, gnarly stuff); the other project: Cozumel's Northern reefs, an exposé of the recent exploration of some local divers on this quiet Mexican island.

Next Month, I'll head back to Mexico to shoot a freediver in one of the incredibly beautiful cenotes, for a huge screen in a theatre production. Could be interesting....

Nov 27, 2013

Fun Dive filmed for client: episode 183

A client was after a nice video of him diving in Cozumel with a friend's daughter. The Nurse sharks came out to play:

by the way:
I need help: I have a documentary in process (More info here )

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Oct 24, 2013

Diving on the Dykes | Episode 182

Last Sunday, I broke in a new rig on the Dykes.

Off the coast of New Jersey, there are many shipwrecks within reach of our small diving community. This particular wreck is very close to the coast and in quite shallow water, relatively speaking.

With my other camera in a new housing, I shot some test footage which came out well. Smaller rig, but heavier in the water as there is very little air in it.

More to experiment with soon, but so far so good:

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Oct 18, 2013

Learning to hover | episode 181

Teaching your young to fly might be simple if you're a bird. Teaching someone to breath underwater and move about comfortably can also be the most natural thing in the world even though humans may not be designed for immersion.

Aquatic Ape Theory aside, I've had some students lately that seem more at home underwater than they are on land. It's fun to watch them 'take to the water' and experience that feeling that is somewhat like weightlessness.
I had two students (see video) last night who experienced they joy of submerging beneath the surface of the local swimming pool's water, and learning how to hover.
Watch them as they overcome their battle with buoyancy:

Learn to dive with Pete

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Oct 9, 2013

Ban Leaf Blowers, and a poem

Aren't leaf blowers infuriating?

Nobody likes a leaf blower except the wanker using it. There are all manner of websites published by angry people who consider their lives to be noisy enough without these machines that should require a permit for commercial use only.

Here's the simple google search for "Leaf Blower Ban"

I feel somewhat powerless, so I wrote a poem:

Ode to a Leaf Blower.

Leaf Blower, Leaf Blower  please break down
At least malfunction and burn that clown
Perhaps 20 pounds of noisy mass
Could go up in flames of exploding gas

Please make that guy out there feel
His fingers get caught in the fan belt wheel
Our peaceful gain would be his loss
A bloody stump shown to his boss

Health and the Environment:
A Grand Jury convened on the subject of leaf blowers in California, concluding that, “Considering the evidence…the health hazards citizens are exposed to from two-cycle leaf blowers outweigh the possible benefit they provide.” The Grand Jury went on to recommend that all cities within that county initiate a phase out of leaf blowers.

Most professional gas leaf blowers use a two-stroke engine - a major polluter because it burns oil in addition to gas. The exhaust, along with the particulate matter that is blown into the air, lowers air quality, and foists noise pollution upon anyone within a few blocks’ radius.

According to the California Air Resources Board the types of air pollutants emitted when using a gasoline-powered leaf blower for half an hour are equivalent to those emitted from 440 miles of automobile travel at 30mph average speed. Compared to an average large car, one hour of operation of a leaf blower emits 498 times as many hydrocarbons, 49 times as much particulate matter, and 26 times as much carbon monoxide.

Read More about the health hazards caused:

Dave Astor wrote a fun article at the Huffington Post.

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Oct 3, 2013

A New York Fishing Story (true) | Episode 180

An afternoon supermarket run with the wife in the chevy to Fairway, threw the fishing rod in the back.
My wife went in to the supermarket alone as she loves it and I hate it... so I'm just the driver.

Fishing for the pure novelty of it, I would never eat anything that comes from upstream;

The old guys ten feet away had caught a couple of big ones, and had already sliced and spiced....

I caught a snag.... hmmm there goes my lure.... but no! It comes loose... sort of.... and I hoist it slowly up to the surface.
It was very heavy, as the murderer had put the gun in a sock and the sock had filled up with Hudson river sludge.

I was relieved it wasn't a head....
It was a .38 automatic nickel plated hand gun. One slug missing.

I took it to the 34th Precinct, cops gave me a hundred for it. Guns for Cash, no questions asked.

Went to the supermarket and bought some fish.


Oct 2, 2013

SCUBA diving : an adrenaline sport? | Episode 179

Extreme? Yes, diving involves an environment that is alien to us these days, and we require a system of life support to be able to survive it.

Last night while teaching in a New York swimming pool, I watched a scuba student (also a ballet dancer) experience elation as she broke free from the force of gravity. She became a mermaid right before our eyes. The other instructor wrote on his slate: "You're a fish !" to which she replied only with a smile and kept swimming.

Diving can be one of the most serene experiences of your life, especially with a bit of training to get you to the 'effortless' level. Sure, there is adrenaline involved, but still, scuba diving is kind of like a mirror image of skydiving.

Here is the video from last Saturday's dive inland at a water filled quarry. The girl is wearing her tanks 'sidemount' style.

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Sep 25, 2013

Great Barrier Reef Video: A week out with Mike Ball Dive Expeditions | Episode 178

After six Months in Australia, I'd done the bulk of the editing for a few short underwater films.

It took an invitation to present them in New York City to bring me to finish this one off with a bit of narration and some titles. I spoke last night to a nice crowd of scuba divers, showing them this video and a few others. I have just uploaded this one to youtube. Take a look:

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Sep 19, 2013

Episode 176: Scratching around in the dark with John Chatterton

Doing the Advanced Wreck Penetration Course with diving legend John Chatterton, in the cold waters off the coast of New Jersey... not your everyday SCUBA training.
Photos by Pete Bucknell and Mike Rothschild

2012: I bumped into a tall dark stranger with a cheeky look in his eye on the gangway of a dive boat in New Jersey. I had no idea what John Chatterton looked like, or how well known and highly regarded he was. No possibility of being struck down by the man's reputation if you don't know when he's standing right in front of you.

He was conducting his advanced shipwreck penetration class from the boat that I was about to dive from, so I ended up spending the day in his vicinity. At the end of the day while filling tanks I found myself telling him the most off-color stories I had in my repertoire of off-color material. He passed the test by not being shocked, but amused. I could be myself around this guy.

A year later, one of my dive buddies called and asked me if I was curious about actually taking Chatterton's course this time around.
Class began a Month later.
as the silt, angered by our scraping fins, brought the visibility in the stairwell to zero, I let my camera rig drop to the deck as I began to undo the penetration line
Navigating a wreck
Chatterton took the class through the anatomy of a solo dive on the Andrea Doria (wiki) as his old log books were passed around. He talked about the multi-pronged approach to navigating inside a wreck, which, unlike an underwater cave system, needs more than just a line in to follow out again. Flashing strobes left along the way, the general direction of a compass needle can work, architecture etcetera.
Dive Boat the John Jack

Before the sun came up, the clank of tanks being brought aboard the dive boat woke us. Today we'd be training at 80 - 100 feet on the wreck of the Algol.
There wasn't much chatter on the way to the site, but on arrival the days exercises were laid out:
Dive 1: Basic drills at 80 feet on the deck of the wreck which lay upright:
-Deploy and stow each piece of gear (both lights, both knives, both reels, both bags etc.)
-Follow a penetration line into and through the wreck with your buddy.
-Repeat, but with a blackout mask (so you are blind) simulating a silt-out.
-Repeat, but your buddy is also now out of air and must breath from your tank too.
The Author in full rig
You get the picture... running lines from reels of nylon, avoiding entanglement, not getting lost... Good fun scary stuff if you haven't done it before.
The Author:Reel Practice
Five dives later, we'd covered the course requirements and then some, and we'd become acquainted with some ideas and skills that we all vowed to ourselves that we would improve upon.

Dive 6 was a 'try out your new skills' dive. My buddy and I tackled a second deck penetration which involved a flight of stairs. I was sent up the stairs first by my buddy, as I had my video camera and he wanted me to be able to shoot before the visibility went to shit. The reel was tied off to the base of the stairs and left there as I headed up, knocking loose rust and silt, clouding the way back.

It was time to turn, so with a couple of shots in the camera, headed gingerly back down the stairs into the blackness. The silt, angered by our scraping fins, brought the visibility in the stairwell to zero, I let my camera rig drop to the deck as I began to undo the penetration line. Time and air ticked down slowly. 
After what seemed like 5 minutes, but was probably only 15 seconds, I had the reel winding in the line to the exit, where I handed it back to my buddy. He struggled with undoing the primary tie-off so we cut it and headed up the mooring line, where we spent some time with our teacher and the video camera, before a boat ride to Jersey. 

An intense weekend, and I will likely never forget it.

Mats Stahlkrantz, John Chatterton, Peter Bucknell and Mike Rothschild .......... in blackout masks

Read John's Blog: Shadow Diver

I need help: documentary in process (More info here )

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Sep 10, 2013

Episode 175: Diving the Shipwrecks of the 1000 Islands

Who knew that so many ships could sink to the bottom of one river?

After crossing the border into Canada, my dive buddy, Scott Della Peruta, steered the heavily laden SUV into the parking lot of the waterfront motel where we'd spend the next four nights. We had ten cylinders in the back, including some pure oxygen, two drysuits and a long list of dive equipment packed in milk crates and dry bags, but no mosquito repellent.
Caiger's Motel

Scottie assembling the Inspiration Rebreather
Scott spent a couple of hours preparing and testing his rebreather for the four shipwrecks we'd be diving the following day.
Passing out at 9:30pm, I was still severely jet lagged, having just returned from a European assignment (The Australian Youth Orchestra Project) - I was due for a holiday, and not a short one, but this 5 day trip would do for now...
Early next morning...
Members of the New York Sea Gypsies
This was a 'club trip' which meant that we knew almost all ten souls aboard the small aluminum dive boat The Osprey. It takes some getting used to, assembling your life support equipment on a crowded and often lurching boat, but you get it done because there's no choice.
Early morning starts for the next few days began with motel eggs, scuba equipment and searching for passports, as we would dive on both the Canadian and USA sides of the St Lawrence river, littered with well preserved shipwrecks that had gone down over the last century. Exciting stuff, a limited access museum which you enter 'weightless' .. almost. 
Author entering with Camera Rig

Four days of exploring the bottom of the river occasionally involved 'going with the flow', which for me meant at one point that I was heading down stream with my surface marker buoy, having a lovely time but watching the dive boat grow smaller as I headed further into Canada. Picked up by a friendly rubber dinghy, I was back on the boat in 5 minutes, having practiced Francaise on the nice couple who hoisted my gear out of the water for me. It was all part of the plan of course....
Decompressing after a long dive, camera hanging
There is a video to come from all the great footage collected, but thankfully I have clients to look after this week, so It'll burn a hole in my shelf for a few days...
Shooting Video on the wrecks of the St Lawrence River
Photos by Mike Rothschild and Pete Bucknell

I need help: documentary in process (More info here )

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Aug 21, 2013

Episode 174: A wrap up video, the Joshua Bell tour with the Australian Youth Orchestra

Rip through the tour with this fast paced look at the 2 week tour.
Fitting was the music provided by the final encore played by the orchestra in Gstaad at the Menhuin Festival.

More info about this tour on the Tour Company's site:

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Aug 18, 2013

Episode 173: Joshua Bell interview, Australian Youth Orchestra Tour

I'd been planning the interview with Joshua Bell for a while. The schedule had been very hectic, and Bell tends to be a bit touchy on performance days, so the timing had to be just right.

He's a very easy character to interview, once you manage to get him into the room. He and I agreed to leave it until after the Amsterdam Concert, and the interview took us about 7 minutes to shoot.
Turns out he is facebook friends with my wife, whose career he is following.

The concert footage was a challenge to film, as the Kurhaus in the quaint German city of Wiesbaden didn't seem to have an inch of floor space that didn't contain an audience member; so hardly any room for a tripod (let alone two!).

Take a look:

Read my other blog posts about this tour

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Episode 172: A Look Into A Young Percussionist's Mind

The town of Kassel, Germany. The home of the Brothers Grimm. This was the scene for today's video shoot, while on tour with the Australian Youth Orchestra.

ABC Classic FM's Emma Ayres helped me out on this one as she did the last video, with a few introductory words to camera in her trademark calm radio tones. This one focuses on the thoughts of the orchestra's principal timpanist and his role in Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

Read my other blog posts about this tour

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Aug 17, 2013

Episode 171: William Barton, Aboriginal musician, performs "Birdsong at Dusk"

My tripod was arriving later in the day by freight, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to film William Barton in action with a string quartet drawn from the Australian Youth Orchestra.

They performed his 7 minute piece: Birdsong at Dusk:

Watch more of this series of videos

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Aug 16, 2013

Episode 170 : Joshua Bell concert in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the city known to all good classical musicians as the home of the Concertgebouw, a concert hall that rivals all others.
This was last night's venue for the latest miniature film of the Australian Youth Orchestra.

 Maestro Eschenbach's plane was slightly delayed which gave me the opportunity to do a quick spot with ABC FM's Emma Ayres who speaks so beautifully on the radio. This was the launching point for the rest of the video. Eschenbach, as usual provided a few verbal gems for the camera along with some compelling rehearsal footage. Have a look at the fifth installment of this series of videos:

Read my other blog posts about this tour

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Aug 13, 2013

Episode 169: William Barton: didgeridoo master teams up with the Australian Youth Orchestra in Europe (video)

A tiny village in lower Austria called Grafenegg is the set for the latest video, shot during the Australian Youth Orchestra's tour of Europe. William Barton is a true character and good fun to be around.

He's  the star of the large scale orchestral piece by Peter Sculthorpe, called "Earth Cry", which features the didgeridoo.
When I interviewed him on the castle grounds with a hand held camera, I realized for the first time how big he is in stature. I had to really hoist the camera up high to get a well framed shot of him. He had some nice words to say about youth and music. Have a look at the video below, it's just over two minutes.

Joshua Bell and Christoph Eschenbach have been chatty and fun back stage after concerts, even though they are in the throes of performing a piece for the first time: Scheherazade by Rimsky Korsakov, which has a ripping solo violin part throughout. I'll interview Joshua Bell in a couple of days after the Amsterdam concert is out of the way and he's a bit more relaxed.

Anyway, here's William:

I need help: documentary in process (More info here )

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Aug 12, 2013

Episode 168: BERLIN: The Australian Youth Orchestra begins their European Tour with Joshua Bell

I managed two days of rest in New York before getting on a Berlin Air flight, seemingly crammed with screaming babies.

The film project continues, with three webisodes up on line now, and five more to go. I'm producing one for each concert day so it's going to be a busy time. Thankfully, I managed to get some sleep on the plane despite the chorus of tiny vocal chords.

The orchestra management has booked us all in to high-end hotels, which means nice big breakfasts with fruit, eggs, prosciutto and smoked salmon, all mixing together in the one stomach....

I paid a visit to a couple of monuments to shoot some B-roll to match an interview with Martin Alexander, 22 year old violist, who had gone off and rented bicycles with a group. Brandenburg gate was their destination. When I was here in the eighties, the monument was near the Berlin wall, and fenced off from the public during which time I'd crossed at Check Point Charlie, changed money on the black market at 5:1, and had dinner in revolving restaurant in the TV tower with an American tourist who got so drunk that when got up to leave, he buttoned his chair into his coat and dragged it across the room. So easy to drift off topic....

Dinner last night with Emma Ayres the ABC Classic FM presenter, who turns out to have been a professional violist in a past life. She's sending back podcasts each day.

The hard part about this gig is keeping batteries charged and all the camera equipment ready to go, amidst bus trips and early morning domestic flights, while keeping the artistic planning of the videos at the forefront of my mind.
Last night, a spanner in the works: "not permitted to film during the concert"... so I had to string together bits of Joshua Bell playing a 'stop-start' rehearsal, but it came out nicely. Take a look:

Read my other blog posts about this tour

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Jul 31, 2013

Episode 167: Interviewing Christoph Eschenbach for the Australian Youth Orchestra

Christoph Eschenbach had already made quite an impression on the young orchestra when I arrived for the second film shoot of the series of videos I'm making for the AYO's 2013 European tour.

Glenn Christensen and Yuhki Mayne both spoke well on camera before rehearsal, even playing a couple of orchestral excerpts for the short documentary that will come later in August after the tour's over.
After moving the cameras around the orchestra, finding those special shots amidst a sea of bows and music stands, I managed a few minutes with the Maestro, who I had met previously in Philadelphia when my wife was performing with the Philly Orchestra (after which she and Eschenbach performed some Schubert Lieder much to the delight of the audience).
 Finding the story trail that leads through three different interviews and tying them together with music, footage and the right transitions is quite a puzzle and a bit of an art form. So at one in the morning, after the upload was complete, I landed in the soft hotel bedding, satisfied that another one was in the bag.

Episode 2 of the Australian Youth Orchestra's 2013 European tour project: 

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Jul 25, 2013

Jul 24, 2013

Episode 165: Film shoot: warm-up rehearsals with the Australian Youth Orchestra

Nice interviews this morning with two of the next generation of Australia's formidable classical musicians.
The Australian Youth Orchestra is preparing itself for the arrival of Joshua Bell and Maestro Christoph Eschenbach who, no doubt, will be really surprised at the high level of this group of young musicians (16-25 year-olds). After the concerts in Sydney and Melbourne, the European Tour begins.
Check out the itinerary.

I spent a couple of hours filming their first run through of Rimsky Korsakov's Schehrazade. Impressive. Video to follow in the next episode. (here it is)

It was an early morning start: moving out of Sydney accommodation (I'm heading down to Melbourne for the week as Rini's done with her latest opera at the Opera House). 
The edit was slowed down by the difficulty of deciding what to cut from the interviews, as they were so good. Positive stuff that you really want to include, but you have to keep it short.
Check out the orchestra's youtube channel:

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Jul 20, 2013

Episode 164: Things go awry on a deep dive on one of Sydney's old ship wrecks: The Tuggarah

Interesting day on Sunday, dove the wreck of the Tuggarah, which was in "150 feet of water", just off the coast of Sydney.

The current on the surface was strong enough to push the small boat into the breeze. It took them four or five tries to hook in, dragging the anchor over the wreck using the fish finder as a visual aid. Not easy in these conditions. Eventually one of the old blokes, double tanks and all, did a commando dive head first over the side and went with the anchor to hook it in. Came up with one eardrum bleeding…. didn't make any fuss, just kind of joked about it. They make them tough here.
I suggested he see a Doctor, and he said he'd just look at it with the shop's scope that he inspects tanks with. A good sense of humor given the circumstances. Made me smile anyway.
Tank inspection/eardrum damage assessment scope

He reported the conditions :
"a ripping current, all the way down to the wreck. It's really up to you whether you want to dive it…."
Everyone looked kind of blank….

Somehow, despite no decision really being made, we, with four exceptions who were either seasick or smarter than us,  found ourselves gearing up.
My buddy and I looked at each other and talked about being careful, as there'd already been some 'mishaps'.
We'd already talked about this crew's plan of action for the scenario of a diver losing the anchor line. ("see you in an hour hopefully... you got a big surface marker buoy?" same as the North East Atlantic diving that I'm used to)

I had double steel 100 cubic foot tanks and a smaller 40 with 53% oxygen for decompression, and borrowed regulators, buoyancy compensator and halcyon harness all of which I'd dove before....  and a camera with lights (pic).
The plan was to do 18-20 minutes at 150 feet which gave us about 25 minutes of decompression including some deeper stops during our ascent. 

I was surprised as I jumped in and grabbed the line off the back of the small dive boat that the current was so strong.
It was probably doing about 2 knots. I was having to hold the rope with both hands to stop from being pushed back. It was hairy, but dive-able if you were used to heavy currents.

Juggling the video camera so I could clip its tether lanyard on to a D-ring on my harness, I could now let it go and get back to the business of making hand over hand headway along the boat's water-line railing to the anchor line, which was running almost horizontal.
My dive buddy, experienced, and a big strong bloke carrying a large Gates housing was straining to do all of this one handed, unbeknownst to me, as he couldn't manage to clip the camera off because it was a two handed job. It looked to me like he was doing just fine, but looks can be deceiving.

At the bow of the dive boat, I had an elbow around the anchor line which I was worried would rub a hole in my drysuit as the boat heaved up and down. 
"Do you want to rest here for a minute and catch your breath?" 
I yelled at my buddy through my regulator as he reached the end of the railing. 
He nodded, and we paused.

A few minutes later, after beginning our slow descent, I looked up the line from twenty feet to watch his progress. He was making a methodical, repeated one handed pull motion towards me. The current was blowing us both upward too, so getting down the line took some muscle. He seemed fine still.

Looking back up the line from seventy feet, I saw the line flick forward out of his hand as the boat pulled it taught. He immediately gained some depth, but he was away from the line and couldn't get to my fins to pull himself back to the line, and gave me a very hurried "I'm heading up, you go ahead" signal.

I paused for a moment on the anchor line to make a decision: "Go, or No-go".
Quickly realizing that I could no longer offer any help to him, as letting go of the line would mean two exhausted divers instead of one diver needed to be handled on the surface and brought back on deck.

Having been trained in solo diving, I switched into 'solo diver' mode, and put thoughts of 'how is he going to get back to the boat' out of my head as much as possible, and started checking gauges.
The double tanks held lots of gas, and I was just running a few minutes behind the plan, which was fine.

Things were much calmer at maximum depth on the sand, and the silver lining was: the current was blowing very clear blue water over the wreck, so you the visibility was great for video, but I'd just spent 8 minutes of my planned bottom time muscling down the anchor line, so only about 10 minutes left.
After spending some time filming a beautiful specimen of a wobbegong shark, and having a bit of a look at the remains of the wreck, I saw that my time had come to an end.

This video starts with the Tuggarah wreck footage, and the large wobbegong shark:

Garvin Hook on a Jon Line
Decompression was entertaining in the current, and I wished I had packed my jon line. The Aussies hadn't heard of a garvin hook before, which I reckon would sell well here (invented by a skipper whose boat I dive off in New York) , but it would have been great to have a bit more space at 20 feet where 4 of my colleagues were doing a similar amount of decompression.

My buddy had surfaced 10 feet behind the boat's safety line, and was kicking as hard as he could but not making any headway, and by the time they let the line out ten feet for him, he was so exhausted and crippled by lactic acid build up that all he could do was hold on while they pulled him and his camera rig in to the boat and hoisted him aboard, one piece of equipment at a time. Safe.

Moral? Be able to use both hands at all times. Always carry a Nautilus Lifeline. Be fit. Descend together close enough to your buddy to be able to lend a helping hand.

Here's a nice little interview about diving in Australia: ScubaDiverLife 
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Jul 18, 2013

Episode 163: A little interview from a Scuba Dive Blog

Jessica Shilling, from Scuba Diver Life, briefly interviewed me last week about diving in Australia:
I chatted about the Great Barrier Reef and the seahorses just off Sydney's coast.

"Australia has some hidden gems " says Peter Bucknell.... “of course everyone knows about the Great Barrier Reef, which is a must see, and there are a few ways to go about it. The live-aboard experience for 3-7 days aboard the 'Spirit of Freedom' or with 'Mike Ball Dive Expeditions' will satisfy most dive junkies, especially if the weather's good enough to dive out on Osprey Reef. If you like bigger animals, try coming in June for Minke Whale season, but the cod hole is year round, and the 'potato cod' are so used to divers that they almost know how to pose for photos.” 

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Jul 16, 2013

Episode 162: Australian Youth Orchestra to bid farewell in two concerts with Joshua Bell

An orchestra made up of many of Australia's finest young musicians will give two farewell concerts before boarding a plane bound for Europe.

The Sydney Opera House will be the venue on August 3rd, and Melbourne's Hamer Hall will host them on August 5th with an excellent program including Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, starring Joshua Bell, whom we are so lucky to have visiting our shores, the first time in over two decades.
Christoph Eschenbach will be conducting.

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