Friday, May 15, 2015

Certified Open Water Diver!

Yes I did it! I really did!

It was a gruelling 4 days 3 nights. We departed KLCC around 11pm and arrived at Marang around 8am. Had a yummy breakfast at a local stall, nasi dagang of course and boarded our speedboat to Redang Island around 9.30am.

The boat ride was enough to scare the pants off me. I was grippy the seat infront of me so hard my knuckles turned white. The sea was really choppy and we were flying through the waves. The experienced divers seem calm. The lady next to me was dozing off. I was praying hard haha!

When we finally got to the island all fears disappeared. It was a gorgeous day and the sea was jaw dropping blue.

There was 39 of us on the bus, and 2 or 3 cars of our colleagues from Kerteh. Of the group 11 of us were there for our open water class. Some were going for their advance course and others were all leisure divers.

We were greeted by the Seamonkey guys at the resort restaurant, we checked into our rooms and even before lunch, we went in for our first class.

There were 5 modules, ie 5 videos to watch, a quiz at the end of every video and a final written exam at theend of the day. Barely recovering from our bus and boat ride, we kept dozing off during the videos. We finished our exam around midnight and amazingly I scored 98%!

Day 2 we did our confined water sessions. My first breath in the water was strange. Not quite what I expected. It was weird breathing in water but nice at the same time. Our class of 11 broke into smaller groups and my group had 4 of us. Our instructor Che Wan was real kind and patient. Super thankful as I was already doing my distress wave in hardly 2 meters deep and 5 meters from the beach! The waves were real high and honestly I was struggling with the snorkel and was confused at how I should be breathing. Hilarious now that I think back about it. But not that funny at that time. With all the equipment and flippers, it was really awkward and confusing.

So in our confined waters we learned all the survival skills. Some are scary to do, like removing the regular from your mouth and replacing it again. Or letting water into your mask and clearing it. But they are all very essential and we must be able to do it.There were SO many tasks that we need to do in confined water and in our day 2, we had 3 confined waters and a total of 5 to finish. It was exhausting. Do to the limited time, we did as many tasks as possible in the 3 confined waters and continued it in our first open water. We had I think 4 open waters to do. So thats 9 dives to complete the course over 4 days!

At our first open water, I was getting better at descending and breathing. My 3 other group mates were doing great too. Especially the guys. There were two guys and they aced each task with no problems.My buddy had a bit of panic with mask clearing but in the end she could do it with no problems. Our first open water was only 7m deep and for 52 min. No wonder I was shivering with cold! I definitely was not wearing a rash guard or anything like that. Just a bathing suit with t-shirt and shorts.

Our second open water was further out. Depth was 13m and we were down there for 42 min. I took a slow descent, equalizing and clearing my mask all the way down. Once down, I was struggling with neutral buoyancy. Was struggling not to crash into any corals and definitely trying not to hit any sea urchent which I saw aplenty hiding in between the rocks. The corals were not so pretty and there were not many interesting fishes. But still it was a great experience diving at that depth. We also did the CESA at 9m.

Our final, and graduation dive was at Che Esa. It was further out to sea. The sea was pretty choppy. We had to do the backward roll into the water, but because I had to clean my mask, it was so hard to do that in choppy waters! I was hanging onto the trail line and trying to clean my mask and putting it back on again. And again I had to take a slow descent and one of the instructors had to be by my side the whole time because I was last and hesitating. But he was SUPER. Reminding me to breath, clear mask and equalize. These guys are really so great.

It was an interesting dive spot. It was like a hill with corals on it. Again there were not so many interesting fishes or ocean life. Depth was 18m. But once at that depth I found that I did not need to equalize that much. I was focusing on controlling my buoyancy but reminding myself to look at the fish and corals too! Once in a while float way to high up and sometimes too low, but it was a great feeling finning and looking around. The only fish I was familiar with was of course nemo! Although a good friend of mine lent me her (china made) go-pro, but I really could not cope with yet another equipment to manage at this time. Was too focused on breathing and buoyancy.

Suddenly there was an urgency by the instructors to get back to the trail line. I was happily finning around, but I realised that I was not moving all that much. I signaled to the instructor to wait for me. He came to me, grabbed my tanked and pushed me to the trail line. I panicked for a while as he was pushing me forward quite hard. He asked me to grab the line. It was only then I realised that there was a strong current going on. It felt almost like a storm to me. So we inched our way up and out of the water. Turned out our dive was only 32 min. The instructors apologised for the short dive but stated that the currents were just too strong. But we rejoiced anyway  because we managed to finish our final dive and graduate yay!

We were so happy that we made it. After the 3 tiring days we finally did finish and are certified open water divers.

I will definitely do another dive soon.Hopefully at prettier sites.Can't wait for my next trip!  

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