After a day off to recover I went back to complete my open water course. After some more book work and a test – which I passed of course – it was time for the last two dives of the course. This time instead of diving from the beach we took a long tail boat to Karon rock. At a maximum depth of 18 metres, this was the deepest I had been so far and the deepest I could go on an open water certificate.
After a spot of lunch it was back on the boat for the last dive at Kho Pu where we saw False Clown Anemone fish (nemo), Barracuda and a painted spiny Lobster. I was now an Open Water diver.
It wasn't a tough decision to continue onto the Advanced course. Not only would it be more experience, but it would mean that I could dive deeper – a must for some of the dives we wanted to do in the Philippines. With no time to lose I booked myself on to start the following day.
For the Advanced Open Water course I had to complete 5 adventure dives. Navigation and Deep dive are
Spot the Stonefish
Look but don't touch!
compulsory, but I could pick the other three myself. I chose Night dive, Multi level computer and Fish ID.
My first dive was Navigation, this was the one I was most worried about, anyone that knows me knows that navigation is not one of my strong points, I have got lost on more than one occasion just returning from the toilet in a bar- sometimes with no alcohol involved. I need not have worried, much to Andy's surprise I managed to navigate a perfect square with the compass – although Andy was convinced that I paid Alexia to say so.
For my second dive I had to wait for the sun to go down – well they don't call it a night dive for nothing. Being underwater in the dark was a very strange experience, almost spooky. Visibility is as far as your torch can shine and fish seem to appear from nowhere, which is ok unless its a poisonous one.
After another day of rest we were picked up at 8am for my final day. We spent the day on a boat visiting three different dive sites.
The first was King Cruiser passenger ferry. It
sunk in the late nineties, but there is a lot of speculation as to why. The most likely story seems to be insurance fraud. As we descended into the depths my breath was almost taken away. To dive and see the underwater world is amazing in itself, but to see a sunken ship with all the life that goes on in and around it is just stunning.
The second dive was at Shark Point. As we were about to descend Alexia told us that we may have to fight the current a little to get down. I was prepared for it to be a little tough, but not for what actually happened. As we started to descend the current was immediately noticeable. All I remember is taking one look at Andy before disappearing off to the other side of the pinnacle. Andy said it looked like someone had just opened an air lock and I had been sucked out – it certainly felt like it. I then had an incredibly tough swim against the current to get back to everyone with my little fins going ten to the dozen. Unfortunately a tough fight against the current meant that by
the time I caught up with everyone I had used a lot of my air. The rest of the dive was great and thankfully went without any hitches – although we had to come up sooner than we would have liked due to air consumption. We went back to the boat and for a well deserved lunch.
The last dive of the day was at Kho Doc Mai. Although the visibility wasn't that good I still enjoyed it immensely. With no strong currents and no excess air usage we were able to float around the rock and take in all the beautiful sights with very little effort. It was a lovely relaxing dive to finish the course with. I was now an Advanced Open Water diver ready and excited about diving the wrecks in the Philippines.
The remainder of our time in Phuket was spent much as we had started. Days on the beach and evenings catching up with everyone. When the time came to leave we were very sad to say goodbye. It had been a lovely break. We were able to recharge our batteries and get ready to put our rucksacks back on – well all
except for I was coming down with tonsillitis again - why does this seem to happen when I’m about to travel.
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