As most people do, I have a bucket list. Things in my bucket list are things like, go to Japan, go to Okinawa, go sky diving, learn to surf, and go scuba diving. Over the weekend of March 1st, 2019, I got a chance to cross something off of my bucket list. This was to go scuba diving.
Back in January, I was talking to a friend of mine, Colin, a fellow American living here in Bangkok. We were talking, and he told me how go goes scuba diving. I mentioned that it scuba diving was one of the things I've always wanted to try. Colin looked at me and said I should try what's called a Try Dive. What that is, is you a dive instructor teaches you some of the very very basics of diving, then you go out and you do one shallow dive, and one dive a little bit deeper. This sounded really go to me, but I said I would think about it. A few weeks later, and I had heard that Colin was really excited to go diving with me, which got me excited about it. I started to think about it seriously. So after discussing it with Tracy, we decided we would do it. Tracy would sit on the boat with Colin's girlfriend and Colin, Stef and I would all go out.
About two (2) weeks before we went, I was contacted by a guy named Alex that does dive training. He asked me a few questions, which were pretty easy. After talking to him for a few minutes on the phone, he told me that I will have to fill out a questionnaire, which was no big deal. Alex also explained a little bit about the dive to me, it's called Discover Scuba Diving. He gave me the option doing the basics on the boat and in the sea, or I could meet him at his place, and we could go over the basics and go in the pool for clearing my regulator and my mask. I chose to go to his place before the dive so it would be one less thing I had to think about before the dive.
So I arrived at my dive instructor's, Chris, condo. He came down and got me and brought me up to his place. The first thing he showed me was called a Buoyancy Control Device (BCD). Basically, the BCD is a vest for diving. There are straps on the back of the BCD to hold the air tank in place, there are also areas on the vest to clip pouches/lights/cameras or whatever you want to connect there. There is also a high pressure hose connector to connect your air tank to your vest for the air bladders (buoyancy), and lots of emergency release valves. When diving, you want to keep your BCD deflated, and not really use it to control your buoyancy, you want to use your breath to control your buoyancy. When you're on the surface, you use your BCD to keep you on the surface.
The next thing I learned about was the regulator. The different parts of the regulator are:
- First Stage - Which you connect to your air tank
- Console - Which you use to tell how much air you have in your tank and your depth
- Low Pressure Hose- which you connect to your BCD so you can fill it with air when needed.
- Regulator - Which is what you use to breath
- Octopus - Which is your second breather, which is usually yellow.
Chris then explained to me how to clear my regulator when in the water, which is, you put the regulator back in your mouth and then blow out through it with a longish exhale, which will force any water out of it.
Next up was the diving fins, which he explained how to easily put on and how to take off before getting out of the water.
The last thing he showed me was the diving mask. With this, Chris showed me how to check the fit of the mask. To do that, you place the mask against your face and inhale with your nose, which will create a suction, and the mask should stick to your face for a couple of seconds, if it fits properly. Then Chris explained to me how to clear water from the mask, because sometimes, masks get water in them. What you do, is take a deep breath from your regulator, hold the top of the mask against your face, and blow out through your nose. This causes your mask to fill with air, and it wants to escape from the top, but since it can't, it pushes down, forcing the water out the bottom of the mask.
Once we did all this, Chris took me out to his condo's pool so I could show him clearing my mask and also clearing my regulator, using a snorkel instead. Down at the pool Chris explained things to me again, and about how to make it so your mask doesn't fog up, you could use anti-fog, you could use spit, or you could use baby shampoo. Baby shampoo?? I know right, but he said it works great, which I will explain later.
After this, he explained to me how to jump into the water with the tank on my back, you are standing on the diving platform at the back of the boat, and you take a big step out away from the boat. It has to be a big step, because you need to clear the tank from the diving platform. Once in the water, Chris explained to me what some of the main hand signals are.
- OK - touch the index finger to the thumb in a circle and the rest of the fingers pointed up
- Ascend - thumb pointing up
- Descend - thumb pointing down
- Something wrong - hand horizontal flat and rock thumb to pinky and back and then point to what is wrong.
- Direction - use your whole hand to point in the direction, fingers first
- Buddy up - put index fingers together side by side
- Split up - split side by side index finger apart
- Shark - make a fin with your hand and place on your head
- Trigger fish - make a gun with your hand
- Turtle - place one hand on the other hand, palm to back of hand and lace your fingers together
Chris then showed me how to let water into my mask and then clear it, and had me repeat it, then filled the mask full of water and then cleared it, he demoed and I followed. We did these a couple of time, until I could do it consistently.
After this, Chris showed me how to clear my regulator, replacing the regulator with the snorkel. This reminded me of when I was a kit and I tried using a snorkel. I never really like them because they always seemed to fill with water on me or they seemed so hard to breath through. I hoped that breathing through the regulator would be easier.
The last thing Chris wanted me to do for the day was to show re-pressurizing my ears, so we went down the toe bottom of the pool and I pinched my nose and gave a slight blow to re-pressurize my ears. Sorted, all ready for Saturday!
Come Friday night, we met Stef at her condo and then we met up with Colin and Emma and we all climbed into the SUV with our bags and headed out to Pattaya, which we arrived at roughly about 2 a.m., checked into our crazy room (really should have taken some pictures of it as it was really cool and interesting. They had a stage and pole for pole dancing right in the room, and tub with a jacuzzi in it, dancing lights, karaoke machine, three (3) TVs in the room, one with regular porn on it, one with ladyboy porn and the last one was turned off. We actually didn't waste a lot of time as we had to be up in a few hours to meet the Divemaster, Dave, and my instructor, Chris. We were all up and heading to the cafe at about eight, where we all got some coffee and something to eat. I had a blueberry danish, one of my favorite things. Chris and Dave met us at the cafe. After we all ate, we headed off to the boat. Once the rest of the other party showed up, we got underway.
On our way to the dive site, I talked to Chris and he we went over again the things I needed to know, clearing my regulator, clearing my mask, and then we set up my dive equipment. Chris showed me how to choose a tank that has been filled, and then I had to show Chris that I remember how to do all of this. Then he had me inflate my BCD to show me that you can't over fill it, there are safety releases that will automatically release any extra air. Once my BCD and regulator were all set up on the tank, he showed me how to see if my regulator was OK and see if there were any smells coming from the air in the tank, and everything was ok. After that, I went back up onto the top deck to be with the rest of my group.
The water was really choppy this day, and for the first time in my life, I started to feel a bit sick. I controlled it with my breathing pretty well. When we got to our dive site, I met Chris down at the prepping area and started to get ready, putting my wetsuit on and my diving gear. Once I was all set, I stood there, talking to Chris about some last second things, and sadly, I just couldn't hold my breakfast down, and I got sick over the side of the boat. I felt horrible, but everybody kept telling me that I will feel much better once I'm in the water, so once I rinsed my mouth out, I walked over to the dive deck, Chris jumped in, I put my flippers on and I jumped in.
Once in the water, it was a lot better on the surface, but it was still quite rough, but no where near as bad as on the boat. Once in the water, we defogged our masks, cleared our regulators and checked in the water. One of the bad things, is there were a lot of sea urchins on the bed, so we had to swim around on the surface a bit to find a place that didn't have as many urchins. Once we found a place, we put our masks on, our regulators in and released all the air from our BCDs, and started sinking. I only went a little way under the water, so Chris had to add more weight to my weight belt, and then we sank down to the sea bed. I think at that part, we were at about three (3) or four (4) meters deep. Once there, I showed that I could clear my mask, took me 2 times, but actually not a problem. After that, I had to clear my regulator, which is, so I took a deep breath, pulled my regulator out of my mouth, help the nozzle up so all the air came out, then put the regulator back in my mouth and exhaled. Easy. Next he had me find my regulator, which is I had to take a deep breath, take my regulator our, put it behind me and release it. Then I had to swing my right arm around, slowly backwards in windmill motion and hook the regulator with my arm and bring my arm all the way around so the regulator is in front of my body, then grab the regulator and clear the regulator. Pretty simple stuff. Then I had to make my body horizontal, and breathe in and out normal and try balance my body in the water, then breathe in to raise my body, and out to lower my body.
Once I got this down, we started swimming around. Talk about an amazing feeling! We swam over some coral, saw quite a few urchins, some some interesting fish, and then saw this really really amazingly blue fish, which I think is called a Blue Damsel. It kind of looked like the fish off to the right of this paragraph. I was shocked by how blue it was. While were were swimming around, we saw a squirt gun, some rope, and only one little pice of trash, which Chris picked up.
We spent about forty (40) minutes under water, when Chris signaled that we should start heading for the surface. At this point, he inflated his safety sausage, and then headed up to the first holding point, which is about 5m, and sat there for a few minutes, then we headed to the surface and inflated our BCD. The water seemed to have gotten rougher, but that could have just been in comparison to what it was like under the surface. Also, Stef, Colin and their group had surfaced as well. We all swam to the lifesaver ring on the rope and started working our way to the boat. We had to wait for the waves to settle a bit for each person before we climbed out. Once out of the water, I worked my way over to tank rack and dropped off my my tank, took off my BCD, then my mask.
All in all, it was an amazing dive, and I found out that I had gone down to about seven (7) meters. Shortly after being back on the boat, they served lunch, but I started feeling sick again, so I decided not to eat. While I was talking to Dave on the top deck, I felt like I was going to get sick again, so I worked my way down to the lower deck to hang out the window, just in case. Although I didn't get sick, I didn't feel much better by the time we reached the next dive site, and I didn't feel well enough to get back in the water. I did eventually take one of the sea sickness pills, but it didn't take effect soon enough for me to get in the water. I ended up laying down on one of the chairs on the top deck and taking a nap, which I felt loads better after I work up.
After this, I really want to do my Open Water Certification, which means I can go down to eighteen (18) meters and my Advanced Open Water Certification, which means I can go deeper, thirty (30) meters and other options. I absolutely loved it.
Always Remember: If you have a bucket list, you should start doing the things on your bucket list now!