09.02.2013 - 11.02.2013
So we re now certified scuba divers! Woohoo!
This has been a dream of mine for a long time. In fact I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was younger but those dreams were put aside when my chemistry teacher said I wouldn't get good enough grades...Talk about inspiring your students! That's how I ended up in the world of advertising instead of the world under the sea. It's all worked out fine though as here we are about to become Advanced divers!
Becoming advanced would mean we would be able to dive to 30m which would open up lots of other dive sites. We would be travelling through Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia which have some of the best dive sites in the world and we wouldn't want to miss out on those.
As part of the course we would be doing a Deep dive, night dive, peak performance buoyancy, navigation and dive computer dives.
Slight diversion but this is Mimi the scuba dog. She spends her days 'guarding' the dive shop...I'm not normally a fan of tiny dogs but she's such a cutie.
We had the day off to relax before heading to Alvaro at 5.30pm to get ready for our first night dive! As the sun started to set we made our way over to Buddha rock, I think you can see from the pic why its called that.
Once on the boat we set up the kit and had a briefing with Steve about night diving. We were joined by two other people from France on the dive as well as Anna who was completing her dive master course and would be helping to make sure none of us got lost from the group in the dark. I'm not going to lie the thought of getting in the water with only the beam of your torch to see by was a bit daunting. Who knew what would come out of the dark!
Once in the water we were handed torches and made our way to the buoy line and started our descent, one hand holding the line with the other clutching the torch. As there were 5 of us in the water it wasn't as dark as I had thought it would be which was comforting, but as soon as you looked in a different direction from your torch and everyone else it was pitch black!
Within minutes we saw our first sting ray which was awesome and our torches showed up the blue spots on its back.
We also had the treat of seeing three cuttlefish or they may have been squid, we weren't quite sure. We stayed with them for a while as they seemed to suspend and glide effortlessly in the water. They looked a bit like three old men hanging out as their tentacles looked a bit like a beard...ok you may have to use your imagination but that's what I thought
At one point Steve signed for us to all kneel on the seabed in a circle. Then we all put our torches to our chest so we were in complete darkness. You couldn't even see the person next to you. Then Steve moved his arm and suddenly there was shimmering phosphorescence lighting up in its wake. We all started to move our free arm too and its was so magical to see this underwater light show. Definitely a highlight of our dives.
Ecstatic at completing our first night dive we all shared a few beers on the way back to the shore.
The next morning we were up early for a morning of diving starting with our first deep dive to 30m! As an additional bonus this also would be a wreck dive too as an old battleship had been sunk to 30m for diving.
We went through a large shoal of Rabbit fish on the way down the line. Visibility wasn't great so it came as a bit of a surprise when the top of the ship emerged next to us. We followed Steve down the side of the wreck until we were at the bottom and he showed us that we were at 30m. When you dive deep there is a possibility of getting Narked due to too much nitrogen so to check this Steve got us to do some simple maths, although i think Dan got his wrong which he is putting down to not understanding the signals but I'm not so sure! It's a bit hard to get your head round that there is 30m of water between you and the surface with no quick way of getting up there, not the time to panic! But we were calm and enjoyed the rest of the dive exploring the wreck. We watched other divers posing by the gun unfortunately we didn't have a camera with us. We also got to dive through the top tower of the ship which was cool to go through the doors and you could watch your bubbles float up and get trapped under the roof. We didn't stay too long on the wreck as the visibility was bad we surfaced and swam a bit before diving down again where it was clearer. Steve pointed out some of the smaller things such as Jans pipe fish swimming around the sea urchins and different types of nudibranch, some with unfortunate names like Varicose Wart slug!
We had about an hour back on the boat before our next dive at White Rock which looking back on our dives was my favourite dive site for all the colours and lots to see. This was our Peak Performance Buoyancy dive for us to master our buoyancy so we would be able to keep ourselves at the level we wanted to be at making observing the sea life easier without flapping about trying to keep in position! We had already learnt how to use our breathing, a slow inhale would take you up and a slow exhale would bring you down. We practiced this some more and also the floating Buddha where you crossed your legs and use your breathing to maintain your depth in the water. Then Steve placed three spoons in the side a couple of feet apart, we then had to turn ourselves so we were vertical and upside down and knock over the spoons one by one using our head! Then we had to suspend ourselves upside down over two spoons with only our finger tips touching them and remain in that position. It was fun to do other things under the water, there is no way I could do a head stand on land!
New skills mastered we continued the dive round White rock and it wasn't long till we put them into practice as I spotted a Moray Eel peeking out from the coral. This was on our checklist if things we wanted to see and we hung upside down above it to get a closer look.
It was great to see so many fish and corals all around us. At one point I felt a tug on my fin, thinking I might have kicked another diver I turned around only to be met with the sight of a Titan Trigger Fish with its mouth open coming at me! It had bitten my fin and was coming back for more. Remembering the briefing we had that their territory spread out like a cone as you go up I kicked hard to keep going horizontally and not up and he soon backed off. Heart beating fast I turned back round to try and get the others attention and my breathing went out the window so I started to go up so I had to calm to go back down again. Dan and Steve were unaware of what had happened as I was behind them. It wasn't till we surfaced that I could tell them "I was attacked by a Trigger Fish" and the bite marks on my fin were the evidence that proved it too!! Mental!
After an exciting morning of diving we spent the afternoon chilling by the beach waiting for the next exciting event...my reunion with Vanessa! Vanessa and I went to university together and we hadn't seen each other for 7 years. By pure coincidence she was coming to Koh Tao with her boyfriend Fillip to dive too and was arriving that afternoon!
A little nervous we went to meet them as the sun went down, 7 years is a long time, I needn't have worried though as soon enough it was like old days as we hugged and walked arm in arm to the restaurant. It was great to catch up in person rather than on Facebook and to meet Fillip too
Our final morning of diving started with Navigation at a dive site called The Twins. Anna joined us on this dive too to assist Steve. Dan and I were both given a compass and a dive computer and Steve took us through the dive plan. After making sure we knew how to use the compass under the water Dan and I were sent off together on our own, to navigate the dive site ourselves, without Steve! The idea of this made me a bit nervous but as he reminded us we re certified divers now so we can do it on our own.
I was to lead the dive first with the great task of Finding Nemo! I'm not joking either. I navigated with the coral on my left before taking us southwest where we found him defending his little patch of coral. A ring of rocks had been placed at a distance around his territory and divers were told not to swim over it. If you looked closely you could see little tiny baby Nemos in the coral too I had found Nemo sooner than expected and still needed to lead the dive for a bit so I took us back to some coral we had passed. I also saw a Trigger Fish at this point and after the incident the day before freaked out a bit but it swam past no worries. It was then Dans turn to lead the dive and his task was to navigate to the West pinnacle and also take us back to the boat. Dan had been given the diver surfacing marker which he needed to inflate before we surfaced, it was a bit tricky to get the hang of but he did it and we surfaced not far from the boat. Success!
Our final dive was back at White Rock for our dive computer element but the dive itself was more of a fun dive. It was great to be back at White Rock and we had the most amazing experience of seeing a Hawksbill Turtle! It was the biggest thing we d seen so far and it calmly grazed as we all hovered around it. Awesome Dudes! We were some of the first to find it but soon enough other divers were there taking photos so we moved on so it wasn't too crowded. What a great way to end our dives here!
We are now Advanced Divers!! Boom!! Thanks again to Steve who made diving so much fun, it ll be odd when we next go diving without you!
We met up again with Vanessa and Filip in the afternoon and just lazed by the beach catching up and hanging out.
They took us to see the turtles that were going to be released by the dive school they were at.
We also spied some kittens!
After the sun went down we moved on to our favourite bar Bubaloo for some celebratory cocktails under the stars!
Our time in Koh Tao had been incredible and we were sad to be moving on from what had become our home for over a week. I could get used to this diving and living on an island thing...but it was time to move on to our next country...Malaysia!
Bye Koh Tao and bye Vanessa, lets not leave it so long next time (that's to both of ya!)
Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles!