Today is my final day of scuba training! This morning, we would take two more dives in different locations, practicing a different set of skills in each area. We set out to sea early in the morning to our first dive spot called The Pinnacle Rock. It was here that we would dive to our deepest depth yet – 18 meters underwater! Some of the skills we practiced mainly had to do with running out of oxygen underwater and how to ascend properly when you have no air left. Besides that, the dive here was pretty neat. We went along the anchored rope beneath the ocean, equalizing every few feet along the way. I could barely see the ocean floor below me, schools of fish were all around, bubbles were everywhere – I felt a sense of serenity. I was able to perform tasks fine during this dive, like the mask clearing, equalizing and other skills perfectly when no one was watching. I also noticed that I use up a ton of oxygen, more than anyone else in my dive group. I was aware of this last summer in Zanzibar, and it’s still the case now. Whenever Natalie would signal to me asking “How much air I have left in my tank”, my number would always be much lower than everyone else’s – especially the deeper I am underwater. Sometimes it’s so low that Natalie sends one of the dive assistants to resurface with me so I don’t run out of air. I asked her, is it normal that I use so much more oxygen than everyone else? She said that it’s completely fine and that everyone breathes differently. I just breathe heavier than the norm, even outside of the water. Overtime I will use less oxygen, the more I dive.
After diving at Pinnacle, we sailed to our next and last dive spot, Shark Island. It’s called Shark Island because the huge rock island is shaped like a shark fin.
This was perhaps the best time to dive; the water was super calm and clear, the sun was shining bright, and visibility was amazing. But it was also here that I was going to have to take off my mask underwater, put it back on, and then clear it. I was a bit nervous because I was going to have to do this on the ocean floor, and if I freaked out, it wouldn’t be good. We descended to the very bottom and Natalie had me watch Viola and the others do it. Piece of cake for them. And piece of cake for me…when no one is watching and testing me! Weird I know. But we went through other tasks, like how to navigate underwater with a compass, and floating at a neutral buoyancy right above the floor. Natalie decided she wanted me to wait until we were about to resurface to do the mask clearing, so first we went on our dive!
I brought my GoPro on this trip, mainly because I wanted to capture footage underwater. But I was told by previous divers that I would need to hire a videographer if I wanted underwater photos. The dive instructors wanted us to concentrate on diving and not fiddling around with a camera, especially while learning. I was disappointed…but there was no way I could leave this without getting some underwater footage! There was no videographer nearby our resort to hire and the one I found costed a pretty penny. Skip that man! I have my GoPro which is great underwater, it’s such a waste not to use. So my plan was to sneak it in with me and use it very subtly and when the instructors weren’t paying attention. I put the GoPro in my wetsuit, snug against my chest. During our final dive, I would casually pull out my camera and record everything while holding it close to my body so it wouldn’t look blatantly obvious. Sometimes, I would tap the others on the shoulder, pointing to my camera, signaling them to smile and wave. I grew a little lax and at one point, Natalie turned around and saw me with my camera. But instead of her signaling me to put it away, she made a full on rockstar pose and resumed guiding us. This let me know that it was okay to have my camera, then I started to record everything!
It’s hard to describe the sensation you get from freely diving, meters and meters under the sea. As cliché as this sounds, it really is like exploring a completely different world – like a strange alien planet. Except this time, you’re flying through this new world, weightless, and you’re always with other explorers who share the exact same feeling as you do. You never knew exactly what kind of marine life would pop out unexpectedly, or what ship wrecks you would come across.
It was nearing the end of the dive, which meant it was time for me to clear my mask! During the dive, along with recording everything, I was thinking to myself “What is it that I do differently on my own than when I’m being tested in front of Natalie?” I figured it out! For some very, very odd reason, every time I try and clear my mask with Natalie, I exhale out of my nose…and mouth which results in water flying into my nose. On my own, I naturally just exhale out of my nose when clearing my mask. I don’t know why I do that, but I figured thats the reason. I got to try it when Natalie tested me again and presto! Mask was cleared in one fell swoop. I could literally hear Natalie cheering with joy underwater as she pumped her arms in the water for me! Myself, I was relieved. 🙂
And that was that! We resurfaced and celebrated like kids! We took the boat back to Sunshine Resorts where the instructors gave us our temporary license (our permanent license will be mailed to us!). Later on, Viola and I went and enjoyed dinner with the Aussies who dove with us at a Thai restaurant down the road. Then afterwards, Viola and I drank away the night with the two Aussie guys at the beach, where we all went for a night swim under the moonlit ocean. The water here in Koh Tao is extremely warm, no matter if it’s day or night.
If I had more time here, I would continue my training for my advanced license which would include diving during the night and going through ship wrecks. Exciting! But, for now I have to put a hold on that because Viola and I were headed to another island called Koh Phangan.
There’s a full moon ahead…