Monday, February 3, 2014

Scuba Refresher and "Fun Dive"

CMAS certification card (not mine, just off the net)

So, staying at Koh Tao, where there are 52 scuba schools (one for every week of the year!), and having brought my CMAS certification card, I thought it was time to go for a dive.

We walked around Sairee village a little, looking at dive shops, and for whatever reason, the Seashell Dive Resort caught my eye, and I enquired about prices and availability.

They have the morning dive boat leaving at 6am (!!!!) and the afternoon boat leaving at noon, which we'd just missed.

But as it turned out, since it had been quite a while since my last dive (well over a year), so I was required to take a "refresher".

I even got some homework to do for it!

I filled out all the fun paperwork - the usual "I won't sue you" stuff as well as the medical questionnaire with "I'm healthy enough to dive" and booked the refresher and a "fun dive" - what they call a non-course-related dive - for the next day. 1,300 + 900 Baht, totalling about AU$75 - not too bad a price.
I saw another place advertising "fun dive" at 800 Baht, but c'est la vie.

Speaking [of] French, my instructor and dive master, Thomas, was from France. As with pretty much every other French person I've met, he was a really nice guy. (I'm not sure where the stereotype of the arrogant French comes from, but I haven't been to France, so I might find out there..?)

Anyway, the next day arrived and I met Thomas at the dive shop. He outlined what we'd do and then we got into it:

We sorted out gear for the afternoon boat (the noon departure). I realised later that I had slightly too large fins, as they moved around enough to give me blisters on the tops of my toes.. :-(

Then, we went through my homework sheet to cover the theory aspect of the refresher course - I had two silly things not quite right, but all the safety-related stuff was perfect, yay!
Apparently, most people don't bother finding dive tables to do the calculation questions, so I was a good student. :)

A break for lunch, and we met back at the boat just before noon.

The boat

I didn't take any photos, as I didn't want to risk my phone dropping in the water, but the boat (as seen from our resort the next morning) looks like this.

There was plenty of space, as the boat has a capacity of (I'm guessing) 35-40 people, and we were about 12.

Dive log

Log book
[I bought a log book, so I'll have a record of my dives.]

The refresher

This was basically the whole skill set from the PADI Open Water diver course (equivalent to my CMAS 1-star course), which included a skill that was new to me: breathing from a free-flowing regulator. I thought that was a bit scary, but when I did it, it was really easy.
After the first time flooding my mask, I was a bit stressed, possibly as I got more water up my nose than expected, so we went to the surface for a few minutes.
Japanese Gardens dive
Thomas was really cool about it, and after I calmed down, we went back down and I had no more issues.
We went through a lot of skills, and got in some time just looking around, too - so it was like half a 'fun dive' in between the bulk of the skills and the two skills done at surface (also new to me, actually: take off weight-belt and BCD at surface and put them on again).

The location for the dive was the "Japanese Gardens", which is pretty shallow and has sand where we could kneel while doing the skills. According to Thomas' dive computer (and now, my log book), we went to 8.2 m.

The fun dive

After the Japanese Gardens, the boat made it's way to "White Rock", where there was no skills to demonstrate, just a dive to enjoy.
We saw a couple of blue-spotted stingrays, angelfish, a pretty big groper, and several triggerfish.
Triggerfish are aggressively territorial and have some pretty ugly teeth, so I made sure to give them plenty of room!

White Rock dive
This site was deeper, and we maxed out at 16.8 m. I think I've only done about an 18 m as my deepest, so this was pretty close.

The "problem" with diving deep is that you use more air, so you can't stay there very long. But as you usually don't want to accumulate too much nitrogen, that kind of works out..

In summary, the dives were fun, the staff were great, and I hope to do more diving elsewhere in the world. There are plenty of free pages in the logbook!!