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Published: January 26th 2010
We got up at 7:30 to catch the boat, I had another shit night sleep because my neck still has not recovered from previous travels and the excitement of the dive got the better off me. Today was a dive at Chumporn Pinnacle around 6km offshore 30m deep but we only dived to 18m. It was great to see all the fish including big potato cod, groper, barracuda, trevally, angel fish, bat fish, clown fish, trigger fish, parrot fish and the list goes on. The largest fish we saw in the water was a 2.5m Bull shark and it was impressive to see the size and power of such a graceful animal. This Visibility was around 15m and there were allot of divers in the water training. It was different to the last dives and the ocean had allot more swell than before making it hard to balance and stand on the boat while wearing all the gear.
As with any dive it’s over before you know it and you are rising to the surface wondering where the all the time went. It certainly gives you a buzz to see the canyons and valleys and the clear blue water and fish
swimming everywhere in-between. The boat picked us up and with all divers accounted for we were off to the next dive.
The second dive for the day is White rock around 1km offshore and only 18m deep. We dived for 38min and there was a practical test simulating no air and surfacing from 10m deep with only one breath at the bottom. We had to let a continuous stream of air out the whole way up without taking another breath of air. Around halfway up and I let my air out to fast and run out, I continued to rise until the pressurized air ballooned and filled by lungs to start the stream again, this only took around 2meters or so and I passed the test when I reached the surface. The other two students Kyle who is a half Scottish Australian and Paul who is Irish, both had to do it three times each to get it right, once we all passed we carried on with the dive and had allot more time to look at small fish and coral as we basically hung around the 9-12m mark enabling us to stay allot longer and use allot less air.
On a high from that dive it was time to get back to the jetty and fill out our log books. We were now qualified Open Water Divers and it was a great felling to get through all the training. I still feel as though I’m not ready to tackle a dive without someone very confident to follow but I think with a few more dives this will pass and confidence will build.
We were due back at the dive shop at 5:30 and then back to White Rock again by 6:15 for our night dive and to also start our Advanced Open Water training. This is an extra course you can do on top of the Open Water course and it qualifies you to dive down to 30m deep which is more than enough. Our Dive Master Jean Michel who is a Frenchman is best described as being a Frenchman on happy gas, he is always laughing and joking around and he is a fantastic teacher. I’m very happy to have him as our instructor and it makes this allot less stressful when you are diving.
Jean Michel gave us a briefing of the night dive and the different
hand signals used and what to expect. Paul couldn’t do the dive because he dived into the hotel pool and cut his hand on a chipped tile requiring 5 stitches, he also had to get his $7650THB rein burst for the Advanced Open Water Training that he had only just paid for. So it was just down to me and Kyle to do the dive with Jean Michel and Arnold the trainee instructor. We were suited up and went through all our safety checks. I felt a little anxious about the dive and Kyle really starting to feel uneasy about the whole thing. He was thirsty and then had to go to the toilet then he started to take big breaths and he was very very nervous. It made it worse by waiting around so I made the decision to get in the water first so at least I would be more comfortable in the water than out because of the weight of the gear. I jumped in and looked down at the bottom and there were 1000’s of fish swimming below. I felt great about everything and did not really feel nervous again until we started to submerge below
into the black ocean below. Jean Michel gave the A OK to everyone and we all submerged all together, Kyle was so nervous that he submerged below the surface without his regulator in and had his snorkel in instead Kyle had taken one breathe and sucked in a mouthful of ocean before coming up to the surface again coughing and spluttering to put in his regulator in. I submerged into the black deep juggling between deflating my BCD, holding the torch, equalising, looking at my depth gauge, having visual on the other divers and not to mention remembering to breathe properly all at the same time. It was a strange feeling and you learn allot about yourself in a stressful situation like this. We levelled out on the bottom and collected our thoughts for a moment. Once I was on the bottom and rechecked my gauges I started to get more comfortable and my breathing returned to normal. We follow Jean Michel and started to look around at all the hiding fish under rocky shelves and all filtering corals, plants, and animal life that is more prolific at night. We came up to a large sandy patch the size of
four tennis courts and the strangest site I had ever saw and I only wish I had a video camera that would of caught that moment in time. There were a bunch of divers from the other boats swimming across the sandy bottom around 10-15m away from me. There were probably around 15 divers and with the black ocean all around I saw a single torch beam coming from each diver all going in the same direction, with some of the most farthest divers heading in our direction and meeting up with divers swimming across our path there torch lights cast silhouettes around the divers in my foreground and I witness what I would call a school or pod of divers. It was almost like a herd of migrating dinosaurs slowly moving through the dark cold night and the divers slow unison fin movements made then seem like huge animals in the distances. I’m sure I was the only one that had experienced this feeling as I tried to explain it to the others and they didn’t quite understand what the fuss was about. Maybe it was just one of those personal experiences that only you can ever appreciate.
Michel made eye contact with us and gave us our task of navigating in the dark with a compass and torch. Because of the stressful and disorientating nature of navigating in the dark your dive buddy always follows behind you holding onto your tank to keep your depth in check while you take the compass bearing and keep your heading straight as you can be. Your buddy counts his fin kicks to give us an idea of how when we reach the pre determined distance. So with two of us heading into the black night it quickly got very quiet and lonely and with no visual of my buddy it felt like I was swimming by myself 5km below with deep water creatures shadowing in the distance. Moving slowly through the dark, plankton and silt reflect of your beam of light and give you some idea of forward movement, as the little particles stream past the base of your torch and you imagine the particles continuing undisturbed through your body and out the other side. The only noise you can hear is your slow breathes in and out, the bubbles are more noticeably louder but yet everything seems quieter at
the same time, your heighted self awareness keeps everything real but surreal at the same time.
If anyone has seen on TV deep ocean submersibles gliding through the deep then this is exactly the same sight, it’s almost like being on another planet and exploring the unknown for the very first time. As I was swimming I started to wonder how far until we had to go back Kyle gave me a tap on my shoulder and a feeling of relief came over me, we both swapped positions and Kyle took a reciprocal compass heading back to Jean Michel and Arnold, during the swap we assumed our correct places and I realised we had risen 3m of the surface floor without even knowing. I swam Kyle back down to depth and started to count fin kicks. Jean Michel dive master and the other dive instructor Arnold turned their lights off and it wasn’t until we almost passed them I noticed a shadow in my peripherals and two friendly lights turned, relief again.
With the worst out of the way it was time to enjoy the rest of the dive and start to explore the aquatic life. The artificial light the
torches put out do their best to illuminate colours that only exist under water. The difference in colours as fish move past you change and if you blinked you might mistake them for a totally different fish. Jean Michel also got everyone to turn off their torches, he waved his hand in the black ocean and a swirl of glowing phosphorous particles glowed from every finger tip. Kyle and I immediately followed his actions and before long we were both waving our hands backwards and forwards violently to light up the small particles, it was pretty cool.
Before long it was time to surface, I had no clue where I was and with Jean Michel navigating we surfaced only 15m from the boat. Back on the boat and you could hear excited chatter throughout and as I started to get all my gear off, everyone exchanged stories and experiences in excited voices.
We had a debriefing back at Asia dive and prepared our minds for the dive tomorrow.
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