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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 96: My first scuba dive!

THAILAND | Saturday, 9 February 2008 | Views [903]

Saturday 9th February

After breakfast, Glenn, Agata and I reviewed our homework. It was all very uncomplicated stuff, and most of it was common sense really. We watched more of the video and broke up for a few hours, before we went out on the boat for the beginning of our practical learning.

At 12.30, we got our equipment (wetsuits, breathing and bouyancy jackets, masks, fins) and took the boat out to a dive sight called the 'Japanese Gardens'. I was quite nervous about the whole thing, not sure how I would take to it, and still freaked out about the whole 'lung expansion....paralysis.....death' scenario that comes from forgetting the golden rule of diving: never hold your breath!

Once on the boat, Glenn took us through the drill of assembling and disassembling our gear: checking the air tanks; attaching the bouyancy jacket to the tank; attaching the breathing apparatus and pressure/depth gauge to the tank and jacket; finally, we made sure it all worked. We went through this process, just to make sure that it all sunk in properly (if you'll excuse the pun).

There were about ten other people in total diving from our boat, so it took us a while to get our stuff on and into the water with all our equipment. On the boat, the whole kit feels quite heavy, but it all feels very comfortable once in the water. A bouyancy jacket – which can be inflated with air from the tank, or deflated when you want to submerge – makes sure that you don't have to waste energy staying afloat. I was still quite apprehensive about the whole thing, but I was increasingly convinced that Glenn was a very good, experienced instructor, and that we were in good hands.

Once in, we lay on our backs and kicked our way to the shore for the 'confined water' training. At this stage, we learned some of the essential skills required for diving, but in the more controlled environment of the shallow water. Of course, we got used to breathing under water, but we also learned how to clear our masks of water while submerged, how to use the alternative air source from our 'buddy' to breathe in the event that our own air supply gets cut-off or runs out. The most difficulty I had was with clearing my mask of water, despite the fact that the steps to do so are no more complicated than lifting the mask and breating out through your nose.

After this, we went for our first dive, and it was a great feeling, if rather strange. Being surrounded by a large expanse of water (at a depth of no more than 5m), breathing underwater for a prolonged period, in a relatively new enviornment, took some getting used to. Once I managed to relax, however, I started to enjoy life underwater, the beauty of the fish and the coral, and the utter peacefulness of it all....the only real sound came from my own breathing apparatus, as I tried to make sure that I kept on inhaling and exhaling at a reasonable pace. I was determined that my lungs weren't going to explode on that first dive!

Some of the fish that we saw were incredible, so weird and wonderful looking. It was awesome to see them up close, in their natural enviornment, just going about their business. You soon realise what a privilege it is to get the chance to see such precious creatures, none of which seem to take any notice of the diver.

After about 20 minutes, we ascended to the surface and got back on the boat. We reviewed what we had gone over in that first session, and discussed some of the skills that we had practiced. It felt good to have started the practical element of the course, as that is where you can put the theory to use, but I still felt that it would take me a while before I got completely confident, to remember all of the important information, and learn to relax and enjoy the experience.

We got back to the dive school, rinsed out our gear in the equipment room, and relaxed for a while. After dinner of Thai green curry and rice, I went back to the room to do my homework, crashing out shortly after, worn out from a good days diving!

Tags: Adrenaline


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