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Published: January 26th 2010
Back to the jetty at 7:30 for our 6th dive, we motored out to shark island only 200m of the south eastern mainland point. Part of our training would include a deep water dive, so we suited up and jumped in. We all gave the OK and submerged into the deep, we got 10m down and we still had no visual of the bottom, 15m and the bottom came into view. We settled on the bottom at 27m deep and Jean Michel had showed us a colourful card that had allot of reds and oranges whilst on the boat, when viewed deep under water all the reds and oranges had turned to a bluish colour. The reds and oranges are the first colours you lose when diving at deeps greater than 12m. He also gave us a simple equation to add up while on the bottom to demonstrate the effects of Nitrogen narcoses. Deep down the air you breathe is so full of Nitrogen that it can give you a giddy feeling and it can be very hard to concentrate on the simplest things. It’s exactly the same as doing an equation while you are on laughing gas which is the
same gas (Nitrogen) or laughing gas. I looked at the equation and could not add it up in my head, so I used his pencil to add it the old school way, but none the less it was still difficult. We only stayed at 27m for 3min so the Nitrogen didn’t build up to quick in our system, we then ascended to 15m to carry on our dive around Shark Island. We saw a few blue spotted stingrays, Nutibranchs (seaslugs), corals and loads and loads of fish. We headed around the eastern side of the Island and the current was very strong and we used allot of air to push through it. Kyle was low on air so we surfaced and swam around the island and through the current back to the boat. Just as we arrived at the boat a couple of divers came out and greeted us with excitement in their voices. They had seen a whale shark gliding right past the boat and tried to swim with it. It was roughly 6m long and they could not believe there luck and they didn’t stop talking about it the whole day. I was sad that we were 27m
down when it happened but that’s the way it goes. Just to make everyone feel better we made jokes all day how they didn’t see a whale shark and they were smoking too much drugs or it was a large plastic bag that looked like a whale shark. Our next dive was in shallower water at Aow Leuk Bay and we had to learn how to navigate. Jean Michel went through our required task and we went back into the water an hour later. We brushed up a little navigation on our night dive so it wasn’t going to be as stressful as that. Jean Michel strung out a line 15m long which enabled us to calibrate our fin kick to distance ratio. He then gave us our compass bearings and we had to swim 30m away and do a reciprocal compass bearing back to him by following our compass. That was easy but then we had to navigate a square formation under the water swimming and on the boat Jean Michel made a point that he would give us an easy heading of N, E, S and west to navigate our square. When we were under water Jean Michel
came me a 30deg compass bearing with a right hand turn and a length of 35m, 35m,35m and back to the start point again. I looked at him with a joking smile under water and he made a gesture with his finger touching his head indicating you have to think on this one. I took the 30deg compass bearing and set off into the barren sand flats with no structures or references. Basically swimming with one hand pointed out straight and the hand at right angles looking at the compass bearing, also counting fin kicks that we had calibrated earlier to know exactly how far one fin kick would take us and also keeping our depth even at the same time. I reached 35m and from 30deg I had to add another 90deg to make my new heading 120deg. Sounds easy but would you believe with a simple addition like this I struggled to concentrate and questioned whether I added up correctly. I could not work this out in my head for the life of me and I had to count out with my fingers to make sure it was right. This blew me away and I started the 120deg compass bearing hoping I was going in the right direction and not going to end up halfway out to sea by the end of the practical as it only takes a fraction of a degree to make a huge difference to your final destination. Halfway through the fin kicks I started to question my counting and whether I counted coreectly, I almost lost count half a dozen times and struggle adding 90deg to every compass heading. On the final leg home and still nothing insight my confidence was sinking and I reached the 25m mark and saw some diver’s right in front of my heading. Relief came over me but as I got closer it wasn’t Jean Michel and Arnold, I swam right through the middle of them to my last fin kick and looked around. I’m sure they were wondering why I was by myself in the middle of nowhere. I searched down at my compass and added all the bearings again to check if I was even close to the right spot. I scanned the quiet ocean floor again for any sign of Jean Michel, BINGO I saw a skinny silhouette around 8m away and the divers that swam past earlier must of hide my view of him and I think he mistaken me for one of the other divers in a different class. He swam over straight away to greet me, and I sensed he was happy to see me just as I was happy to see him. He gave me a big A OK and shook my hand congratulating me on not getting lost. I ended up 7m away from the starting point and it was enough to pass the subject of navigation. We all meet up again and It was Kyle’s turn to lead the group and he took off in a flash without looking back to check on us. After 20m Jean Michel went after him and got his attention, Kyle had not checked his air and he was very low. Jean Michel signed to me to be the leader and lead the other instructor back to the boat. Remembering the compass headings from the boat to the shore, I took a reciprocal heading and lead the way checking behind me every 10m to make sure my instructor was not left behind. We swam for 60m until Arnold gave me a tap on the shoulder and pointed up, I looked up and a massive silhouette of our boat was right above us with a big yellow sun halo around it, I was so proud of myself for being able to find and bring us back right under the boat. We got back on board and compared our excited thoughts to each other, I was relieved when Kyle told me he had just as much trouble adding up the compass bearings as I did, and he miscounted his fin kicks and lost all concentration and had to start again.
Getting back to Asia dive I was totally exhausted. I still had not had a decent sleep for 5-6 nights and it finally caught up with me. I had a small nap before resuming my theory for tomorrows dive. While I was doing that I also watched an Adam Sandler movie called Bedtime Stories. I laughed and thought it was one of his better movies.
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