Open Water course at Aur and leisure dive at Tioman
11.09.2009 - 13.09.2009 28 °C
I am sure I have said "I'm going to learn to dive" many many times and then always wimped out. But after saying I wanted to give it a go I found myself learning the theory one weekend in June with my boss Charlie at the Living seas office in near Bugis MRT. Leon was brilliant, really patient despite our ability to confuse each other regarding buoyancy and our maths was well not always right, but by the end of the day not only had we heard many stories that seemed to revolve around coffins (ways to end up in one, recompression chambers are coffin shapped!!) but I think it was beginning to go in. The following day was the pool session. After swimming 200m and treading water for a while we learnt how to kit up. Wet suits donned we set up the BCD, Tanks, weight belts, fins and learnt how to jump in. I started with 3 weights and had a slight issue with actually getting under the water. Everytime I breathed in I bobbed back up. But 4 weights (8kgs) and I could stay under. I think my biggest fear had been what to do if your mask fills up with water. Well one of the first things we had to do was fill then up, then empty it (breath out through your nose). Mission complete and we headed off for a few laps at the bottom of the pool. The water wsn't exactly clean but I was slowly getting the feeling of control by breathing in and out. We learnt how to breath using our buddies spare regulator, and then we had to take off our mask and be lead about the bottom of the pool blind. We could take off our BCD under water and put it back on again (in case we get stuck on something) and learnt how to control our accent. Living seas (who I learnt with) follow the GUE methods, so rather than wait for 3 minutes at 5 m to control the release on N2 bubbles we stop at 9,6 and 3 m for 1 minute each to keep the bubbles from growing. Anyway the following weekend was the open water course.
We set off for Pualu Aur (Malaysia) on Friday evening on the coldest bus ever (may be a bit of an exaggeration) but I was thankful I had brought a jumper and a coat. Around midnight we boarded to slow boat to Pulau Aur, there were lots of us in not a lot of space on a rocky boat. I fell asleep and apparently was very close to falling off on numerous occasions.
We arrive near the island at about 4am and had to wait for the small boat to come pick us up. The wade to the steps and climb up. Not too bad only it was dark and I was tired (and feeling a little seasick)
But I made it and was then shown the hut I'd be sleeping in. Initially there were 3 of us, myself and two local girls. The grabbed the bottom bunk and I grabbed the top one. They then turned on the aircon to artic and I froze so had to put on my socks, trousers and jumper (that was easier than climbing over their stuff to turn the aircon off - there wasn't alot of room). An house or so later there was a knock at the door and a french girl appeared and shared the top bunk with me. Umm glamerous these diving lodgings!! Well they look nice from the outside and at least mine was near sea level (Charlie had to climb 60ft up to get to his)
Bright and early the next morning (8.30) after breakfast we kitted up for our first dive. There were four of us, Myself Charlie, Jasmin (10) and another guys whose name I forgot (sorry). Sat on the edge of the pontoon Charlie lost his mask (we were told never to leave it lying around incase it falls over and true enough it sinks - it ws recovered later). So with a new mask we jumped in and bobbed about. Looking down we could see a rope 8m down and thats where we headed. But initially I was going nowhere. After letting out all the air from my BCD I just didn't sink. So with another weight (10kgs!!!) off I went. Its alot further than the 2m in the swimming pool. Once down there I began to panic less, it was very peaceful. Charlied had had a more stressful descent. His new mask leaked like crazy and he had to swop it. Thanks to the training last week that was achieved with no trouble. Quick practice of drills and off we went. Its all a bit of a blur now but we swam along the house reef. Afterwards we had lunch and recapped what we did wrong. That was the routine for the day. Dive, eat, recap. 3 dives down and I was feeling a tad more confident. It was fun.
The following morning it started raining while we were kitting up, but we jumped in and looking up you could see the rain hitting the surface. This was by far my favourite dive. We saw big bumphead parrot fish and got as deep as 18m (the maximum on OW). The final dive was moe stressful, I burst and O ring while setting up (load sudden emission of gas from the tank - but I was pleased it happened on the surface). It was also more crowded as we joined up with the leisure divers and I kept losing my buddy. But all in all it was an awesome weekend and Leon everyone from Living Seas really looked after us.
The view from Aur
So when Yiling (a girl from work) said she was doing her advanced course with Living Seas I decided to go along too. However due to hockey I couldn't make the classes so went as a leisure diver. This time we headed to Tioman, another Malaysian Island that you can get to from Singapore in a weekend. A less cold bus ride this time, and rather than sleeping on a boat we stayed at Mersiling and got the fast ferry in the morning.
This time I dived with leader Dag, Dennis (my Buddy), Charles and Janet. All of whom were already Advanced divers with lots of experience and me with my 5 dives behind me. Oh no.
They had packed the kit for me and most of it was what I'd used lastime excpet for the wetsuit, which I was told was a similar size. Either I have lost a heap of weight or they remember me being a lot bigger than before but I could have got someone else in with me. So I ended up with a short wetsuit from the place on Tioman. I was a bit worried I'd feel the cold, but headed off and for the first dive we swam out from the beach. Dag had to change the plans when he realised is wasn't advanced and I felt a bit bad, but we still found the wreck and got to a depth of 22m. Dennis and I even found a cuttlefish, which changed colour and everything. It excited me anyway, then when we returned Leon asked if we'd seen the whaleshark. No was the answer, some people have all the luck!!
Dennis was a great buddy, opening the gas tanks for me as I have a highly useful talent of picking the toughest ones each time. Did three dives on the saturday, but no shark sighting. I was feeling more and more comfortable under water. We swam through a cave, through a sea fan garden and generally had a great time. There was less food than on the previous trip. But while everyone else headed off for the night dive (need to be advanced to do that - I need to learn how to use a torch/flashlight for the americans) I admired the stunning tan lines i'd aquired because of the short wetsuit and ate ice cream.
A night of drinking Rum (with a dash of coke) and they asked if I'd be happy going a bit deeper to see a wreck. Yup I think that would be ok. (Well I hope so anyway).
So the next morning the 4 leisure divers joined those on the advnaced couse and we went to Tiger reef. Moments after sinking I saw a snake, moray eel and after drifiting with the current for a while a turtle. I was really excited by that, but everyone else missed it despite my frantic waving.
The final dive to the wreck was good, there are finally photos which I have stolen from Althene (Yilings Buddy) to prove I went. At the bottom even the most buoyant person (me) had to put air into their BCD to stop from sinking to the sea bed. Saw some big fish and the two wrecks - great fun. You don't have use up your air fast down there though. Coming up we stopped at 15, 12, 9, 6,3 m and that was a good test of controling buoyancy. Before I rattle on for ages here are some photos of me, dennis and Dag all under water
So the outcome of all of this is that I want to go again and do my advanced course. YEAH.