Aleksandr Murzagaliev is a diver, a father, and a lover of life based out of Boracay. He’s been a highly active user on Deepblu for some time now, and we definitely needed to hear what he has to say about the sport. While normally I write a longer intro to the divers, Aleksandr had a lot to tell us, so I’m going to let him do the talking about his life, dives, family, and what the future holds. All photos courtesy of Aleksandr, who can be found on Deepblu here. If you're headed to Boracay, make sure to check out Sea World Dive Center.
What brought you to the world of scuba diving?
I came to Boracay island for the first time in august 2012 to work as a guide for a travel company. Everything was new for me, as it was one of my first travels abroad and my English proficiency was quite low. My friend, Viktor, from Watercolors, was inviting me to try diving free of charge, but for some reason I was quite hesitant to go underwater, not because I was afraid of it, but because I didn't have much time. In 2013, I traveled to the Republic Palau, a beautiful remote island paradise with only 20,000 population and only one city - Koror. Palau is all about diving, and after I came back to the Philippines I was eager to try it, and so I did...
When did you start?
I tried diving for a first time in 2014 with Watercolors dive center on Boracay island, and ultimately in April of 2014 I've got my first certification (PADI Open Water Diver). Because I really enjoyed diving, I decided to continue my training up to PADI Divemaster. During this journey I've met many wonderful people who influenced me as a person, and as a diver, in a good way.
How do you fit Deepblu into your routine?
I promote Deepblu among fellow divers in my area and online, I do log dives at Deepblu, but usually only when I have some additional material or information to share in order to make it interesting. Unfortunately, I still don't have my own underwater camera and it’s hard to motivate myself to log dives more often while diving in the same location. Almost all of my students and divers get introduced to the Deepblu log application and have their logs verified and signed online along with traditional paper logbooks.
Do you have a favorite dive spot?
My personal favorite is our Yapak dive-site, which is a very deep wall. Top of the wall is at 30-35m and it goes down straight 90 degrees to the bottom at 70m. Great chances to see white tip sharks, groupers, snappers, and sometimes a sailfish, however I've seen sailfish myself only once while doing a safety stop at 5 meters, and it was scarier than any shark encounter, because of its enormous size and sharp nose. He came to see me and my friend Nathan from the blue and made a loop at very close distance while making an examination of us with his left eye.
I have some tips for navigation at Yapak, if you see no bottom, then welcome to the blue, where the bottom is 70-75m, your compass course is correct (60 degrees), keep swimming until you see some fish around you, which means the wall is near. Don't freak out in the blue, because it’s all you’re going to see for a few minutes, trust your compass and be patient. If you see the bottom close to you, then change your course to reciprocal and swim towards the fall. This dive requires appropriate planning and use of tide tables and moon cycles. Best to be done on a rising tide, with current pushing you towards the wall from the blue.
What kind of gear do you take out?
I really enjoy diving sidemount (Hollis SMS 50 and DiveRite LT) and IDM (Ocean Reef Neptune Space G-Divers) because of the comfort, redundancy, and safety. Diving sidemount had a great impact on my teaching style, I learned and adopted a lot of techniques from it into recreational diving, continuously learning something new from the best sources available. I would like to say a big thank you to Steve Martin, in my opinion his online materials are priceless, I've learned a lot from Steve in order to become a better diver and an instructor. He also has free courses where you can learn something new, so don't miss your chance to evolve.
What I love about sidemount is that if any problem comes to you underwater, you always have a solution, because you have full access to every piece of your equipment in seconds, two independent tanks, twice the air, a two meters long hose, no back problems, and ultimate balance. What can be better? Recently I picked up Ocean Reef Neptune Space G-Divers IDM and was amazed by its comfort, now I dive with it every day during all courses except introductions and Open Water. What I like the most is the ability to naturally breathe through your nose while diving, experience no jaw fatigue, no fogging, it’s impossible to flood, its comfortable, lightweight, and safe.
For teaching I use an Apeks ATX200 Tungsten regulator and Aqualung LT Pro BCD, I'm very happy with both products. While not being the newest model, Apeks ATX200 breathes effortlessly and dry in all positions and at any depth. Aqualung LT Pro is one of the most comfortable BCDs I've tried so far, it’s lightweight and has great air distribution in the air-cell while diving, it feels very stable even when I have to add significant amounts of air during my deep dives to compensate the loss of buoyancy from a compressed wetsuit. Currently I'm using cheap Unidive fins and they work well for the price of 35 dollars, but my personal favorite is Mares Avanti Quattro, as they have best efficiency with frog-kicks and are neutrally buoyant with floaty tips. My feet are heavy and long, so neutrally or positively buoyant fins work best for me. The mask I would recommend to anyone is Gull Vader or Gull Mantis LV, they have best field of view in the market, comfort and looks.
How’s life at Boracay in and out of the water?
Boracay island is small, beautiful island, only seven kilometers long and up to four kilometers wide. I'm very happy here, because it has most of the good things that I want for my wife and my son. It has a good environment, clean air, and almost all kinds of diving: drift diving, tech diving, beautiful hard and soft coral reefs, wall dives and night dives from the shore, and of course we have two wrecks, Camia II (an enormous 35-meter-long shipping vessel, sunk in 2001) and TriBird (Russian Yak40 plane with a 27-meter wingspan, sunk in 2009), both at 30 meters deep. Every dive spot is located in a five to ten-minute proximity from the island by boat, visibility underwater can be from five to twenty-five meters depending on the time of year, tides, and weather conditions.
The famous Boracay White Beach features the best sunset views in the world and is four kilometers long, has three boat stations (there are no actual piers, it’s just the way we divide the beach) along the shore. Station One features the most luxurious hotels and great views. Station Two is the center of Boracay and its most crowded area is all around D-Mall with bars, hotels, and restaurants, all concentrated in one place. Station Three is a part of the white beach for people who like silence, live music, and no people around.
On Boracay we have two major dive equipment retailers, Aquaventure Whitetip (Aqualung, Suunto, Apeks, Seac) and Asia Divers (Halcyon, Cressi, Body Glove, and Waterproof). If you need your regulators serviced on the island, we only have Apeks, ScubaPro and Aqualung authorized technicians, battery replacements for your Suunto dive computers might take a week or two, because we send them to Manila.
Tell us a bit about your dive center, what’s offered there?
Sea World Boracay is the only PADI Career Development Center on the island. We offer a full range of PADI courses, from Discover Scuba Diving for the beginner up to Instructor courses, technical and sidemount diving, and beyond. We offer daily fun dives to a wide variety of dive sites. Small group sizes, quality equipment, and courses in English, Filipino, Russian, Chinese, and Korean. We also have four classrooms and a service room fully stuffed with tools for BCD and regulator servicing.
Boracay Island is an amazingly beautiful tropical paradise that has everything you'll need for your perfect holiday. We have more than 20 dive sites within 15 minutes by boat, and for the more adventurous we can organize day trips to remote sites.
Any advice for newcomers to the sport?
Choose the right instructor for your training, open your valves fully, with no quarterbacks, perform your pre-dive safety check every time, even if your dive buddies skip it, stay well within your limits, and look around, your favorite critter might be just under the next table coral!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I met my wife Jacqueline Rose in 2014 when I was doing my courses and moving towards divemaster, she is a very talented singer, rows dragon boat internationally with the teams "Dragonflies" and "Titans," and is also a certified rescue diver. We had a same instructor who thought us how to dive and ultimately brought us together - Jenny Jara. Now after 3 years together we have a son, my little happiness and inspiration - Vladimir (he is already one-and-a-half years old), named after my father and we are expecting our second son this January. Ever since we met, Jackie always wanted to continue moving towards her divemaster course to start a diving career, and it’s funny, but she failed twice - just before she was about to start her divemater course in 2015 she got pregnant with Vladimir and now in 2017, after our trip to Koh Samui, she was planning to finally get her divemaster again and... got pregnant for a second time. We are still thinking about our second sons name though. Of course, as an instructor, and as a husband I always keep her updated with new things going on in the diving industry and, funny to mention, but yeah, I still want her to continue with her diving career and become an instructor one day, just like me, I know for sure she will fail again. *He winks.*
On the successes he’s found, Aleksandr also noted:
I’d also like to thank my mom and dad in Russia, my wife Jacqueline, my best friend Aleksandr Strekalov (thank you brother, you never let me down), who is also a certified PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, and to one of the best instructors I've ever met, a person who influenced me the most - Jonatan Sanchez (IDC staff instructor, TEC Deep instructor, SSI Dive Control Specialist instructor and also a great UW photographer) for introducing me into sidemount diving and being a great mentor and friend.
Thanks for talking to us!
- Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor