PADI-certified!

Written by Stuart Revnell No Gravatar

Well, here we are in Thailand, after 7 weeks in India, and I’m pleased to announce that I’m now officially PADI-certified.

Diving is one of the things I’ve been looking forward to most on the whole trip, and it didn’t disappoint.  We booked up a four day / four night liveaboard trip with Big Blue Diving in Khao Lak, and visited some of the world’s best dive sites, apparently, including Richelieu Rock – one of the top ten dive sites in the world.

I took to diving quite well, I think – it felt a bit like the first time I went skiing, where I threw myself into it with complete enjoyment, and even the slightly difficult, scary bits felt rewarding.  Even the dreaded ‘take your mask off underwater at 20 metres, then put it back on again and clear it’ exercise didn’t faze me too much.  I’d like to think this is some innate combination of fearlessness and skill, but I fear it may simply be the same wide-eyed, excited response to something new which would make a dog want to jump out of a window if it heard a squeaking rubber ball four floors below.

Jane’s an Advanced Open Water diver with over eighty dives under her belt now, and there are a few people reading this blog who are even more advanced (a good friend, Theresa, is out in Central America at the moment doing her Dive Master qualification – check out her blog too), but for those of you who have never dived, it really is quite something.  There’s a magical, ethereal quality to being underwater which you have to experience to understand.  No amount of pre-trip chats in the pub with divers prepared me for the feeling of drifting alongside a reef, with a shoal of fish swimming around me, watching moray eels snapping at their prey from dim holes, lionfish drifting along with their fins splayed out, or an octopus changing colour and texture to blend in with the surroundings when it spots you.

We didn’t see anything big, despite daily briefings advising us that we might see whale sharks or manta rays, but that didn’t matter to me.  First off, I was happy to be completing my certification in the balmy waters of the Andaman Sea, as opposed to a freezing reservoir just off the M4.  Second, I was happy to simply drift along in the water, with only the rhythmic sound of my regulator in my ears, the occasional tap of my instructor, Pamela’s, metal pole on her tank (either to alert us to some interesting marine life, or more commonly, as a means to admonish me for going below the agreed depth for the dive) or the deafening roar of an engine twenty metres above us (sounds transmits very clearly in water).

At long last too, I got to use my fabulous Suunto D4 dive computer – a rather premature present from Jane for my birthday back in April as an incentive for me to go diving, but which finally came into its own in the balmy waters of the Andaman Sea.  I don’t know anything about these devices, but from the various “Wow – cool present!”, “Nice way to bribe someone to go diving with you”, etc. comments which came my way when people saw it, I gather it’s a pretty good one.

I tried reading the manual before I came out, but I couldn’t really understand much of it at all.  Then, as if by magic, all became clear when I went into the water.  This dive computer is great – you just jump on in, and it takes care of the rest.  I knew it started automatically, as I used to fill up the bath at home, and put my hand on the bottom to make it start, but that was as far I’d gone.  This time, as well as telling me how deep I went, it logged the start time of every dive based on when I went below a certain depth, and the finish time based on when I ascended above this depth again.  It beeped at me when I went below a certain level, and beeped again when I needed to ascend more slowly, or take a safety stop.  It logged all my dives, and has a neat feature where I can press a button and it replays each dive profile, showing me how deep I went, for how long, etc., with a nice scrolling graphic for the bottom profile.  Finally, it shows me a little icon which tells me how long I’m unable to fly for after my last dive.  Seriously cool.

Over four days, I did thirteen dives – the only I had to miss out on was the first night dive, since I hadn’t completed by four qualifying open water dives.  After this though, I did a night dive, a sunset dive, a wreck dive, and a deep adventure dive, down to 34 metres.  Among the highlights were the skirmish between two moray eels (good spot by Jane), ten divers hanging on to a guide line in a vertical stack due to a strong current, and feeling just how big the ocean is, while we floated in a dark sea under a clear sky filled with dazzling stars waiting for our pickup after one of the night dives.

So, definitely a trip highlight so far, and not the last time I’ll be diving for sure.  Off to Bangkok now – ping pong shows, knock off Converse and tom yum soup.  In the meantime, enjoy the diving pictures (all above water – fingers crossed Jane takes the hint and gets me a dive camera this year ;-)).

http://www.tohu.ltd.uk/

One Response to “PADI-certified!”

  1. CormacNo Gravatar says:

    Mate,

    That looks superb, I’m so pleased you’ve had a good dive experience. I took my PADI in Rottnest, Perth and it was amazing, a great experience. I’m very envious you’ve been able to get lots of other dives in, I haven’t done much since my course.

    Enjoy the ping pong, it’s fairly grim actually! Try to go to Phi Phi on a speed boat, it’s a good day out.

    Speak soon, love to jane.

    Cheers
    Cormac

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