my open water journey – part 2

Posted in Diving, Malaysia, Solo Travel by

 

I stared at the choppy water and grimaced.

I wasn’t mentally prepared. I thought the schedule said that we would be having breakfast first. Anyway, waking up to a rocking boat made my stomach feel a little queasy.

So, hearing the words, “Gear up!” Didn’t give me the same thrill it gave to the others. I looked over at my buddy and he was expressionlessly gearing up. After my last dive the evening before (where my mask was too tight and continuously flooding), I didn’t want the same thing to happen. So I approached the DM who was with me when it happened and asked him to help me.

After adjusting my mask, he patted me on the shoulder. Then other DM walked past me and (I’m guessing) he could see the apprehension on my face. He winked and I got another pat on the shoulder.

I asked my instructor how deep we would be going. He told me not to think of the depth but to focus on equalizing my ears and to just follow him.

I geared up and put my fins on. It felt loose. I was scared that being in the choppy waters would dislodge it. So right before I took a step in the water, I changed my fins (I know, troublesome, but I had two pairs there). The instructor and my buddy had already jumped (or stridden) into the water and were waiting for me.

With two DM’s at my side, I placed one hand over my mask and regulator and the other over my weight belt. I took a deep breath and a stride of courage into the water.

The current immediately tossed me around and I had to fin a little to the rope. The instructor motioned for my buddy and I to move along the rope behind him. Then he started moving. I followed behind, occasionally turning around to make sure N (my buddy) was okay. He wasn’t. Somehow the rope got tangled around his gear (I asked later). Back on the boat all I could see was the DM (the same one that helped me with my mask) dropping his weight belt and jumping into the sea to help N.

N got untangled and continued. Though my head was above the water, I was already breathing though my regulator since every few seconds would see a wave wash over me. N was using his snorkel and I bet drinking lots of seawater. When we reached the buoy, my instructor asked if we were ready to descend. I said no. I needed a few seconds to calm myself.

As we stayed afloat, I just breathed deeply. I’m sure N was behind me rolling his eyes. A couple breaths later, I locked eyes with the instructor and said I was ready. Without pausing he told us to put on our regulators and gave the hand signal for decend. The second the water closed over us, everything went calm. It was amazing.

The water was a little murky so we could only see the rope. With one hand holding his BCD and the other hand over my nose equalizing with every breath, we started our descend to the sea bed. Every few seconds would see my instructor asking us if we were okay. We were.

When we knelt at the bottom, I could see schools of barracudas circling us. We moved away from the area to make space for the next group.

The next 30-40mins were spent seeing sharks, lots of sea urchins, huge cobias, schools of fishes, Nemo and other unidentifiable creatures.

All to soon, N’s air was getting low and we had to ascend. We were told to let our instructor know when we reached 100bar. Since N consumed air faster than I, after the first few times the instructor just checked N’s air. After making sure that the line wasn’t used by anyone to start our ascent, the instructor motioned that we would be going up. At about 5m, he paused. I was wondering why when I remembered that we would be doing our safety stop. We just bobbed along the current for about 5mins, holding on to each other.

All too soon we reached the surface and started being pushed around by the current. We slowly used the rope to get back to the boat. In seconds I pulled myself aboard. It was exhilarating.

We sat around waiting for the next group to ascend. It was only when I saw them at the surface that I realized how small and vulnerable we are when in the sea. It brought back memories of the song I use to sing as a kid, “Wide, wide as the ocean”.

We had breakfast and hung out at the top deck. By this time, we were all quite comfortable with each other and were laughing  and joking around.

We had to wait longer this time before going for our second dive. So everyone had quiet time. Some fell asleep in awkward positions on the bench, some guys decided to suntan, I sat at the side of the sundeck and just stared at the waves. It was peaceful and calming.

Then my instructor called me and said it was time to get ready for our final dive. I couldn’t wait! The last dive was quite fun and I managed to control my buoyancy. The only thing that needed working was my navigation skills. Hah.

We geared up and went down again. This time, the vis wasn’t too good. We still moved around though. It was a little crowded at the bottom since we didn’t venture very far from the other groups. I also almost hit one of the DM’s leading his group. Yikes.

When we got up, I immediately pulled off my wet suit and told my instructor and buddy that I was going to take my shower. I didn’t want to wait for the others to surface and have to queue up. Also, I wanted the inside bathroom and not the outside wet toilet/bathroom.

When I got out (all fresh and clean) I made my way to the sundeck with my journal in hand. I had about 30 minutes of quiet time before lunch. Loved all the alone time I could get.

After lunch, the other two groups decided to work on their log books. I felt a little tired so I went back to my bunk and slept. J woke me up some time later and said that we would be reaching soon. I just needed to pack up a few loose items and we were ready to leave.

 This post was written in October 2015 right after my LOB trip.  
February 22, 2017
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