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Diving Part 2 - Advanced Open Water, Koh Tao

THAILAND | Sunday, 20 August 2017 | Views [489]

We had arranged to have a day off and the start our Advance course with the same group we had done the Open Water with. This meant the course would fall over a day that the dive school visited Sail Rock. A dive site famous for its marine life and the sighting of whale sharks. The husband is obsessed with sharks, and over the weeks leading up to our visit to Koh Tao we had 3 friends dive there and see whale sharks. 


Then, Sod's law, I got sick. 


If we postponed for a day or two it would mean missing the Sail Rock trip.... so we decided we would stay in Koh Tao a little longer. We booked the Advanced course for two days later then booked onto the Sail Rock trip as a fun dive the following week. 


By this point we had changed our accommodation. We had moved to a guesthouse/hostel at the top of the hill just a 5 minute walk from the dive school and apart from the 500 steps up to the room, it was lovely (really it was about 50). Loads of space, clean and comfy, and it was a good job because we would be here for about 10 days! Thankfully it was also pretty cheap.


Delaying our course meant we would dive with a new group, or so we thought. The school was a bit quiet at the minute which was normal due to the Full Moon party on Koh Phangan. So it was just me and the hubby with our instructor. 

During the days I was sick we completed all of our theory papers. Most of it was self learn, using the books to read and find answers, then completing question papers.


Day 1 we started just before lunch, about 11. We spent a bit of time on the beach doing some navigation skills, learning the basics of orientation under water and how to navigate back to your start point. We had lunch then headed out for 2 dives. 

My nerves were still shot but I relaxed a lot quicker on this dive. 

We went to a new site, Lighthouse Bay. At this site we found a clear space at the very bottom and had to complete buoyancy skills. We had to show we could control our breathing to rise and fall in the water, that you can maintain trim (a horizontal position) and basically float freely.

The rest of this dive was just exploring, it was unreal just gliding around coral and rock formations with so much wildlife so close by.


 Dive 2 was at Mango bay, and this was where we would have to demonstrate our navigation. Always working in pairs (the buddy system) one navigates and the other counts kick cycles to determine distance. We took turns of each task, our instructor giving us a heading and a number of kick cycles to complete using hand signals. Our first heading was in a straight line out and back again, then we had to complete a square/rectangle from our instructor back to our instructor. This skill was the first time the instructor had been out of sight during our dives, and it was a bit unsettling, but with the hubby's confidence I stayed calm. We did it with ease and the instructor soon came back into sight. 

During the hubby's square, we were interrupted by the instructor gliding towards us waving his arms signalling for us to follow him. The skill was completely abandoned and we followed as fast as we could. He made it look effortless just gliding ahead of us. Then we spotted it, the huge turtle just a little further into the distance. It was a Hawksbill turtle and it was incredible, it seemed to just float through the water. And we just hovered there watching it. This kind of stuff made the panic worthwhile!!

So far we had been really lucky that the sites we were using were different. Depending on the days you dive and the conditions, sometimes you end up at the same sites.


Dive 3. Usually 2 dives in the morning and 2 dives in the afternoon is your standard day. But to pass an Advanced Course you have to complete a night dive. 


So our kit is packed, we were given a torch to attach to our BCD, and shown how to use our dive computers and signal in the dark. Loaded onto the boat and flapping a little, I overheard someone from the school ask our instructor if he would do top cover. This would mean he wouldn't dive with us. We were attached to another instructor, which was fine because she only had a group of 3 anyway, but it was someone who didn't know how terrified I was 😂

All went well on the dive and we were pretty much left to our own devices (obviously she checked on us regularly to make sure we were still there and do level checks) and we completed another navigation skill with her. But some of the other divers didn't seem as competent and it looked as though they needed a bit more support, so we just swam near the back and took in all the sights at night. It actually really helped with my confidence because as I watched her helping others, I realised I was coping perfectly fine. When we surfaced we had been brought up at the wrong boat. It took us a while to surface swim to our boat and it was bloody hard work. The conditions were choppy and we were swimming against the current so by the time we got our I was exhausted. Only 2 more dives to go!


Day 2. Dive site - Laem Thain Pinnicle. Our first dive was the deep dive, one I had been dreading a little. We would dive to a maximum depth of 30 meters. I had a little trouble equalising at first, the pain in my left ear was shocking, but I did what I'd been taught, went up a little, focused on equalising, then descended again slowly. It took a little longer than usual but I did it and we were off. This dive was very relaxed. We pretty much just spent the time exploring and it was brilliant. We had to focus a lot on our dive computers and provide our instructor with our tank levels more often but that was all becoming natural now. 

Tanote Bay. Our final dive! On this one we had to complete a fish identification. So we had to find a fish we didn't recognise, remember it, then draw it when we returned to the surface and find it in the I.D books. Again, the rest of the dive was just exploring, testing our skills, getting closer to the fish and the coral and enjoying the scenery. I didn't realise how distracted I got under the water until this dive. I picked a fish and forgot it twice so really had to concentrate on remembering it. I was so engrossed with everything around me without even realising. And my confidence got another little boost as I realised all my skills and breathing were becoming more and more natural.


I think this diving thing might be growing on me!

Tags: adventures, crystal dive, experiences, facing fears, new qualifications, scuba diving, under the sea, wanderlust

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