Advanced Open Water Part 06

Alright! The last post of my AOW is here. I’ve left out some details either intentionally, or I just plain forgot to mention.

At the end of my first dive I knew I had blisters on my big toe. I initially was given M sized fins, but I thought to switch out to S for a tighter fit since I read online before that fins tend to go looser as you spend time underwater from the softening of the skin. And these fins were rubbing on the cuticle area of the big toe and also on the last joint of my fourth toe. The results are not pretty, but blisters rubbed raw with the big toe being the worst hit. A bandaid was given to me but it didn’t hold. I rectified this by wearing my own aqua socks and using M sized fins. No problems from then on. Lesson point, just wear the darn socks. I don’t know why I felt weird to be shuttling back and forth between the dive deck and my bag to get stuff. Or maybe I thought to give bare feet a try since I had no issues with my OW. But socks on for me from now on.

At some point, one of the instructors actually taught us a good method to reduce descending problems. Bending your knees and holding your ankles tend to solve a majority of descending issues. This my original applied and said it worked very well for her. After our deep/wreck dive, she also told me that I appeared to be kicking as I descended. It’s very difficult to notice but she said I was doing it. I said I didn’t know I was doing it but now that I think about it, it’s probably more like me controlling my descend rate since I was carrying 4 weights but I may very well just have been an idiot an unconsciously kicking. I brought this knowledge to my night dive and I sank good but was hampered by equalising issues. I followed the tip with dive 5 but it wasn’t too good where I couldn’t balance myself very well. So I crossed my legs at the ankle and descended nice. With my trim adjusted during dive 6, my descending and equalising worked well.

After being cut by corals during the deep dive, as we continued to dive. I was inspecting the wound I sustained and I saw black streaks in my skin and I thought cool, just a light scratch and some dirt on my skin. I tried to wipe the dirt away but to no avail. It’s only after ascending that I found out the black streaks were blood with their colours lost underwater so they appeared black. My original buddy also thought her cuts were just dirt. After the dives have ended, she said she’d want to get a scuba pointer to safely keep herself away from the corals, and to anchor in against currents. I initially thought that was a little excessive, but now upon thinking, I’d want to get one as well. Will be going down to a dive store with her soon.

As we were leaving the boat, we actually saw a juvenile batfish in the waters just slowly swimming. We’d have thought it’s a piece of leaf if attention wasn’t paid.

Juvenile Batfish
Juvenile Batfish

And as we were walking, ahead of me was a couple and I was third and I saw a small crab on the platform that quickly hid in the gap of the pavement. The couple saw it and moved on. I reached the area where the crab was hiding and it was so cute sitting in the gap. The other people behind also started exclaiming when they saw it.

Unicorn Ice cream
Unicorn Ice cream

Above is the ice cream my original buddy bought. I took the picture using my phone since her hands were occupied with holding the ice cream and the wrapper in her left hand. Notice the cuts on her hands?

My cuts
My cuts

Nothing much to these 2 pictures except to point out that we both got cut at the same point of the dive and around the same area on the hands as well. HA! But anyway, we’ll both be going on to Rescue Diver next month. She tried asking my new buddy and the other guy but they both don’t seem too interested. We’ve also informed the 2 dive masters with us and we’ll all 4 be reunited on the same boat next month. Woohoo, on to rescue!


Advanced Open Water Part 05

Day 2! A restful start though I wanted to sleep more. My body is just not allowing it. So I joined one guy who was already up there eating breakfast. The same bread and spread as the previous day. This time I decided to toast my bread and no spread. Because I wanted to save some space for breakfast 2 which we were told prata was gonna be served. My original buddy soon joined us. I forgot the order of events but she eventually ended up with 2 inedible toast as 1 was burnt and 1 was dropped on the floor. So those were fed to the fishes below.

The boat soon came to life as more people awoke and came to the dining deck. The boat got started to prepare for the drive, and the automatic flush system got activated as well. That’s when it was noticed that brown stuff and toilet paper were flushed out into the marina. The conversation turned to poop stuff and I wasn’t aware why initially. Then I saw the toilet paper and got the conversation. There were actually a lot of other things that happened in the previous day that I’m not writing but I think I’ll be writing them at the end as a summary kind of thing for myself and others.

The boat was driving for a while and I saw some stuff skip across the water in a vertical position for a very long distance and very quick as well. I tried to exclaim it but only 2-3 persons managed to see it. No idea what that was, but it was rather long and thin, possibly 25 centimeters in length at least. That was a good start of the day for me. And it was also commented the waters for day 2 was very much calm, where the amplitude of the wave is almost level with the surface. Dive 1 soon approached.

We got down to the dive deck to gear up and I discovered that my weight belt was gone. Probably taken by OW folks as related by the divemaster. So I proceeded to grab an empty weight belt and proceeded to add 3 to it. Why not 4? Well, I noticed that I have better control with buoyancy and decided to ditch 1 from 4. After I sorted my weight belt, I found that the wet suit assigned to me disappeared as well. Okay, I took the remaining one which was sized XS. Got into it and all was good. My original buddy decided to go with no weights and we soon got into the water for our navigation dive.

Descend was given and I descended nicely with not a lot of equalising issues. I looked up and I saw my original buddy stuck on the surface. I continued descending as I saw a dive master going over to assist her. Down I went and all of a sudden I saw a piece of weight zip past me. The dive instructor who was already at the bottom tried to make a grab for it but couldn’t. He retrieved it and stow it while I reached the bottom. I was the 2nd diver to reach the bottom after the other guy, and for once I was one of the faster divers to get to the bottom. Everyone soon came by and we did our navigation exercise. I saw a group of fish on my left behind some reefs as my new buddy was doing her navigation. I asked around later when we were back on the boat and I evidently was the only one who saw them. 

Our dive soon came to an end and we also learned to deploy SMB (Surface Marker Buoy) either before or while we were doing our safety stop. I also noticed my original buddy doing funny things like swimming around, leaning on one side, holding a wide stance with her fins, literally just about everything that is not typical of her dive behaviour. Later found out it’s because she’s only got 1 weight on 1 side and she couldn’t balance herself. We got on board to chill and wait for lunch. I ate my fill and soon dive 2 came. I further ditched 1 more weight as I believe I could. The dive instructor then gave me some tips on the positioning of the weights and adjusted them for me.

The goal was to find one of the smaller wrecks nearby and we were all talking that one of us should navigate our way there. We were literally planning who should navigate, what depth should we travel in to maximise our air, what would our bearings be and stuff. So it was planned, head towards the lighthouse and swim at 5 meter depth, turn right and locate the wreck before exploring. We got into the water, and the plans changed. We’re gonna locate the wreck after placing ourselves closer to the lighthouse by surface swimming, bitch.

So swim swim swim we went which was a good distance I don’t know like 50 to 100 meters. It was also here that my suspicions were confirmed, my BCD was self-deflating so I had to keep pumping air to keep myself afloat and make my swimming life just a bit easier. There were also waves that made the swimming that bit harder. I was the last of the group to arrive. And the moment I arrived, the signal to descend was given. I was like “Noooo….” I quickly told the dive master to let me catch my breath. So we waited for about 10 or so seconds and then descend was given. My breath rate was still higher than usual, but I was fine with it since it was much better. So we descended.

Down to the bottom we went which was already at the reefs, we swam about and this time, with only 2 weights that were adjusted, I was freer in the water, I had to fight with buoyancy less and didn’t sink as much as before. It was the best dive experience in terms of pressure from controlling buoyancy, it was just freedom. The dive master found a moral eel that I somehow couldn’t see. Then a while later, a hand signal was given for turtle so I was excited. I went over but it was already gone dang… So it was just exploration, we found a big pufferfish hiding under some cover. The last big find was a big cuttlefish. The dive master was trying to irritate it a bit as it crawled on the ground. I was hoping to see it change colour but nope, it was just slowly crawling and swimming away. We left it and eventually came to the wreck. 

I don’t remember too much just that I know I was enjoying my freedom in the water. I remember seeing some sort of starfish on the side of the wreck that nobody seemed to have spotted…might have been a granulated sea star. It was just fat and thick and cute haha. A dive instructor entered part of the wreck to take a photo and a dive master was sort of close behind and I saw that he was floating up the a piece of the wreck that was jutting out above his head. I tried to speed up a little but he hit his head on it. There was this point where I checked my surroundings and I saw the other guy speeding up above me. I stayed level but maybe not enough, or he was going down and his fin hit me in the face and water entered my mask. Cleared it, moved on, and no big deal. Accidents just will happen underwater. This also proves why underwater skills are taught in OW, they’ll just come in handy.

Safety stop. Surfaced hundreds of meters away from the boat. We could see them, but they couldn’t see us as we were hidden by the glare of the sun. We waited, then decided to slowly swim up to it and eventually the boat spotted us and we regrouped and waited for the boat to come and pick us up. When the boat came we had to swim to the back of the boat. So I swam on the surface with my snorkel and was moving slow as hell and it was tiring as well. I switched to my regulator and full on swam dropping a little in depth. I was swimming and I realised that my view was all bubbles and more bubbles. I popped my head out of the water and noticed I was being dragged towards the boat, additionally, the bubbles were caused by the auto flush system of the toilets jetting water out to the sides of the boat. So I very quickly swam away from those bubbles and the boat and got round to the back.

I was one of the earlier divers to arrive and I got on to the ladder to strip my fins. Took one out and threw it on to the boat as the crew was helping at the other ladder. I didn’t throw it far enough so it was resting on a spot where waves can come from underneath and move it. So I climbed the ladder further to grab it and throw the fin into the boat. I dropped down the ladder to get back into the water since I still had 1 more fin to remove and my tank hit something behind me. I looked and it was an OW diver. I didn’t know what to say…like if you see a diver on a ladder, you just stay away since you never know if he or that tank or whatever else might fall back into the water and you’re screwed if you just happen to be underneath…

But anyway, removed my gear and proceeded to shower since that was the last dive of the day. We had lunch, chilled, went back to the marina and had about an hour to spare before the bus comes to transfer us to the ferry terminal. My group wanted to check the bar out and we went over and got disappointed as the bar was really small and smoking was allowed. So we went into a convenience store to see what we could get. That’s when we found out the store does not accept payment by card, nor foreign currency. The solution was to switch currencies at a nearby hotel. But I had 100,000 IDR with me and we proceeded to spend the next 10 to 15 minutes rationing what we could get with 100,000 dollars. We ended up getting 4 can of cokes at 10,000 each. I got some fried dragon fruit snack for 34,000. While I was making payment, my original buddy found an ice cream that she wanted but didn’t know whether to get it or not since there was a joke like it seems as if they were planning to spend all my money. She said it cost 25,000 so it will be everything I had. It was just 100,000 and I was prepared to give them a treat anyway. So I just encouraged her to buy. Turns out, the cost was somehow 95,000 dollars and I got 5,000 in return. So her ice-cream was actually 21,000 IDR. And I don’t know why I thought that the expenditure without her ice cream is 75,000 when it should be 74,000. But whatever. 

We got on the bus, got on to the ferry, and soon reached Singapore. And that’s it for my AOW course with GS-Diving!

Advanced Open Water Part 04

So down to the dive deck we went to gear up for our night dive. I also forgot to mention that at the end of dive 3, I was feeling a lot better, all of us in fact. The other guy got well at dive 2 and the rest of us were well at the end of dive 3. I remember telling myself that I’m gonna load up on dinner after the night dive.

We got our torches and was told to light em up once in the water. So we got in the water and were floating in the water when I noticed there was a buoy on my right. I was light drifting away from it due to the waves and I just aimed at the buoy and swam towards it. There were already two divers there and I made a grab for the line and the wave pushed me out. I attempted another grab and got it and the wave pushed me out again and I was grabbing some hands. I looked and there it was, my original buddy, recognisable from her pink mask and snorkel.

We rested for a minute or two before we were given the green light to descend. I was descending at quite a good rate until I hit equalising problems. so I had to ascend a little and attempt to equalise before going down. And very quickly I was left alone, I watched 3 dive lights moving away from me, I turned around and didn’t see anyone and I was telling myself “Catch up or you’re F-ed.” I didn’t actually think that at the point in time but more need to catch up quick, you get the drift… I was really concerned that I will be left alone.

So I swam towards the 3 dive lights a little while attempting to equalise. I did this about 2 or 3 times and finally managed to equalise and caught up to them. These 3 buggers were FAR gone like at least 12 meters. Caught up and felt safe again. We explored a bit while waiting and slowly more people joined us. Now in hindsight, I was never alone, there were people behind me just that I was in the middle of the front and rear pack and that made it seem like I was the last of the bunch and alone.

This night dive was a good one. We saw different critters like a small starfish crawling across the seabed. There was a small octopus crawling and moving away from the dive instructor who found it. And we also spotted a small crab out on the seabed crawling escaping from the light and eventually dug itself into the sand. There was supposedly a ray that I somehow didn’t get to see, perhaps it was found by another dive master separate from us. We were swimming and our attention was drawn to an area on the seabed. I’ve no idea what we were looking at but the dive master was signaling there’s something there. So there we were surrounding that empty spot until another divemaster stuck his pointer into the sand and dug something out.

I won’t say that’s the best thing to do disturbing a camouflaged creature like that but what came out was something alien to me. It’s got these sparse spines that are soft unlike that of a sea urchin and it’s height profile was something like a crab and it slowly crawled away but we eventually left and moved on. The unidentified creature was later identified as a heart urchin back on the boat.

I guess the best part of the night dive was finding another octopus burrowed in the sand and appeared to be waiting for prey. The dive master was using his pointer stick to coax the octopus’ curiosity. So the octopus was extending its tentacles trying to grab the object but it was cautious as well, never leaving the safety of its hideout. This coaxing and tempting thing took place for quite a while, I think we spent a good 10 minutes there just observing this creature. Once or twice it managed to latch on to the pointer and started chasing for about 20 centimeters as the instructor withdrew. Then the octopus will return to its hideout. Another coaxing and the octopus will reach its tentacles out repeating its behaviour.

One of the dive instructors was primarily taking photos and videos and his light was powerful. Which was a stark contrast as compared to the lights we were given. The lights we were given couldn’t even reach out to 30 centimeters. I should have brought my own dive light that I bought some 2-3 years ago as I wanted to start diving but hadn’t had the means to do so. I guess what stopped me was that since I was doing AOW, I didn’t want to have equipment get in the way of things. Just focus on the course, do what’s needed and enjoy whatever comes my way. Whatever other stuff relating to equipment can be done for my leisure dives.

So the dive ended. The boat was originally supposed to stay out at sea, but the trip leader decided to turn the boat back to the docks seeing that we were all sick on this first day. People showered in the boat’s toilet if they wanted, while some waited to use the showers back at the dock. Dinner was served and I joined my folks at the upper deck eating and talking. I took a fair bit of food and heartily ate while my butt was absorbing some rain water that splashed in on to the soft mat. We spend probably 2 hours talking, sharing experiences and eventually turned in for the night. Again, I slept on the upper deck, and this time it was a restful sleep, 6-7 hours straight.

Advanced Open Water Part 03

Remember how I said in my last post that my memory’s messed up? I just recalled that there was a point we were talking and I had to and turned around over the railing and retched all of a sudden. The divemaster asked if I was alright, but all I could do was to get down as quick as possible and get in the toilet before I released a whole lot of water and some bits of watermelon. I think it was at this point I asked for seasickness pill as a desperate measure and then my original buddy later tapped me to signal she needed to puke. I’ve no idea, my memory is just bits and pieces but all those happened. Also, at the end of the first dive, we swam quite a distance and then the boat crew actually threw buoys to haul us in. I was glad that happened as I was tired from the swimming.

Dive 2 came up and the waves rather quickly separated us we had to swim to gather back together. I also was on another BCD which I was told had some double deflate or something I didn’t quite catch. Anyway I was on my back at the surface swimming and whenever I kicked with my left leg, my thigh would threaten to cramp and I thought if I should skip that dive. But heck it, down we went as earlier on board my original buddy was saying she’d love to clock the dives.

The magic of the water, once under, my thigh was fine and it was another 40 minutes or so of diving. The first 2 dives were not very spectacular for me as the instructors were spending quite a fair bit of time poking about the sand but not finding much. I felt it was quite a waste of dive time, but that’s how it is with diving, sometimes you just see crap. I started feeling cold at the end of the dive. We surfaced with some bit of surface swim to do and when I got onboard, I was immediately shivering. Divemaster helped bring my towel to me, the other guy in my group brought hot water for me and I quickly warmed up. Joined them folks after a while to learn that lunch was served. Spaghetti, crabs and some other good stuff but alas…I didn’t have the stomach for it.

And yes…I now remember it’s at this point that I was sitting up there just hanging out and being sick where I retched all of a sudden and rushed down to puke. I went back up to join my group where my original buddy was eating the spaghetti and crabs and stuff while being also sick like I don’t know how she does it. I took like 5 strands of spaghetti and was trying to force it down my tummy for the energy. When she saw the amount of food I came back with, she said that that’s probably what she should do instead of wolfing food. Yes, it was here that I asked for seasickness pills, and then there were left over fried eggs where the other guy was given to eat considering that he lifts. Soon it was my original buddy and I alone and she tapped me to make way for her to puke. I then joined her and some other people I don’t remember, the other guy on the sun deck trying to get a tan. One of the divemasters came over to wake us up as our third dive was imminent. I’m sure I didn’t sleep for an hour, but I’m not sure if I even slept at all.

Dive 3 was the deep dive where we will also be exploring a wreck. Geared up, got in the water, and had to swim to the front of the boat damnit, to do a rope descend. My original buddy reached first and was holding on to the rope, I was next and grabbed the rope to rest from the damn swimming. I don’t know how, the waves pushed us in such a way that my original buddy was on the inside closer to the bow of the boat and I was outside. So I was shielding her from the waves, but it also meant that I was taking the bulk of the force and was pushed against her, I literally could not separate myself from her like there’s glue. I just had to apologise as we’re opposite genders after all. But she’s all cool and that’s good. The group were gathered and we started descending with me having problems again. I was going down slow and I slowly lost sight of my original buddy as she descended.

Slowly slowly slowly down I went, reached about 15-18 meters to a view of much corals as the rope ended and there was another section of rope going further down. I was on the wrong side and had to moved myself out, I used my hands for more propulsion and my left hand scraped the corals ouch. Further descended down to 25 meters and gathered around to see a bottle that the instructor brought down crushed by the water pressure. An egg was then cracked and we passed the yolk around. That was really fun. We then proceeded to explore the wreck where there were batfish and more fish were around us. We saw the propeller of the wreck and it was at this point where I felt something was odd. I flooded my mask and I found that my masked was previously all fogged up. It was literally brand new vision after clearing my mask so to speak. And very soon, my mask fogged up again, so I just left water in my mask and if I needed to, I’ll just look down to slosh the water around to clear the mask.

We went through a narrow space where I was kind of bringing up the rear. It was the dive instructor and divemaster up front, the other guy, my original buddy, my new buddy, me, then another divemaster behind. I was swimming halfway where I noticed a black object floating towards me. I trained my vision on it and I thought that thing looked like a fin, and then I realised it was indeed a fin. I quickly grabbed it and I found that my new buddy had dropped her fin. I held her while she put the fin back on and we carried on with the dive.

We went into an even narrower space and it was literally a jam. My original buddy, my new buddy and I were in a line and we were just in body contact with each other. My original buddy got out of the space and was pushed against the corals on the right by the current. She freed herself and my new buddy went along just fine. When it was my turn, I got caught in the current and hit the corals on the right as well. Again, used my hands to propel me out and felt some serious pain as my hands scraped the corals. Got out free, and we were waiting around the regroup and I kind of saw somebody signal low air. I checked my air and I was at 100 bar. So I was like “Who’s already low on air that quickly?” I didn’t know who it was, as my mask was fogged like a cloud and we carried on for a bit where I started feeling that something was amiss, it just didn’t feel right.

We swam up with my new buddy in the lead, my original buddy then me. We came to some ropes and we stopped. I was watching my new buddy hold on to the rope and swimming a bit but not making progress and I thought she was too weak to swim against the current and I thought she should just use her hands to pull but no, she just stayed there…So we stopped and was waiting there for a while. My original buddy was looking around like searching for something in a worried manner I’d say. So I was watching her just to keep watch. She signalled something to my new buddy, then signalled to me to ask where’s her buddy. I looked around and yes, her buddy’s missing. I could only signal back I don’t know. I was like holy shit, was there an accident? Did he get stuck in the wreck? Where’s he? What happened to him? We eventually moved on but I couldn’t take my mind off the other guy. Did a safety stop and when we surfaced, it was thankfully near the boat and I saw the other guy sitting at the dive deck and it was just relief.

Got on board and my buddy immediately said that my nose was bleeding and quite frantically told me to clean it up. I tried wiping my nose and the rate I was bleeding was indeed quite high. I just wiped as much as I could while shedding my gear and quickly went to the toilet to clean up. I spent quite a while in there just gently blowing the blood out, peeing and the works. Or was this nosebleed in dive 2 where I was cleaning up and puking at the same time? I have no clue…

Got out, and the boat was literally quiet like nobody’s around. Went to the upper deck and found my original buddy on the sundeck with the other guy. Joined them to talk and after a while we heard people jumping in to the water and we were wondering if we were forgotten. The other guy went down to look for the instructors, came up and said they were sleeping. So we’re like half clueless sitting at the sundeck wondering if we’re forgotten for our night dive or is the OW people on another dive. We just continued talking and then the news came, gear up for night dive.

Advanced Open Water Part 02

According to my pictures’ EXIF data, I should have slept around 0020 which was 2320 Indonesia time. I woke up a few times through my sleep but always managed to fall back asleep. I woke up about 5 to 6 hours later and couldn’t fall back asleep, and by this time, the crew has already started the boat to drive out. So I thought I’ll just sit on the sun deck to catch the sunrise.

Dawn Sky
Dawn Sky

Do pardon the blue image as it is firstly dark, the boat was moving, and this is a phone camera. That’s not the direction of the sun though, this picture was something around North West. East was on my right.

Dawn Sky East
Dawn Sky East

The sun was hidden behind cloud cover all the time, so no chance for any sunrise but it was enjoyable. I was also very intrigued by that speck of dark cloud, just that one tiny piece among large white ones. I was later joined by a dude who was also from Singapore but much younger than I haha. Breakfast was soon prepared. I ate three slices of bread, putting chocolate spread, peanut butter, and for my last slice I went nuts and put kaya then a piece of cheese on it which was quite enjoyable as the sweetness from the kaya and saltiness from the cheese took their turns presenting themselves in my mouth. I initially didn’t want to go for the third slice, but I thought I’ll eat for the energy for the first dive. The other guy in my group joined me next and soon he said he was seasick. That girl soon also came and had the bread and suggested for him to lie down to which he said he felt better sitting up. The remaining lady, friend of the other guy joined up also feeling sick.

So among the 4 of us, 2 were seasick and 2 were fine. First dive came up and oh boy…While we were gearing up, the guy had some equipment issues he needed to sort out so he slipped out from the tank and went off. Seconds later the whole tank fell off and hit the deck spewing air. I had no idea what I was looking at though, was the first stage still on or did the valve break, I have no idea. The crew quickly shut the gas off. So all was back to normal and I was already in my BCD with my fins remaining. The deck was wet and I was thinking should I put my fins on. I wasn’t fully seated and was leaning my butt against the rack of tanks with my feet out in front at about 30 degree angle. But I thought I was stable enough, I raised my right leg to put my fin on and 2 seconds later, my left foot gave way and slipped forward, I my body followed along, the BCD with the tank followed too.

I hit the floor on my butt and was still alive. The divemaster asked if I was alright and if I hit my head. I shook my head that I didn’t hit my head. Seconds later, the pain came and yes, the back of my head did get hit. I just rubbed the area to alleviate the pain, it wasn’t bad, but enough to be annoying. So I just reassured the divemaster that I was okay to carry on. This time I made sure I was sitting on the bench to gear up. I also decided to try 2 weights instead of 4 that I ended my OW with. Got in the water and tried descending and found myself stuck at 1 meter depth. My buddy, who was that girl was far gone under along with that guy. The divemaster came and gave me 2 more weights and I descended to the bottom.

It was at this point I learned that buddy has been changed to the other lady. Disappointing? Perhaps, cos this lady was a friend of the guy so it would have been a natural pairing. But it made sense also since we both had problems descending. So we were paired up and while swimming around I soon discovered that I had a problem with buoyancy at the bottom. I tried to deflate my BCD and found that there was quite a fair bit of air released. Weird…but maybe I didn’t fully deflate earlier. Swam a bit and I started floating for no reason and I tried to deflate my BCD and a fair bit of air got released. That’s when I knew, my BCD was self-inflating, and every 20 seconds or so I had to upright myself to dump the air. Compounded by the problem that I didn’t learn the locations of the other dump valves. It might have been easier if I had been able to use the other dump valves instead of my shoulder one.

Joined up with the rest and we soon did a safety stop and surfaced. I shared my BCD problem and was told it’ll be checked out and changed. The boat was a distance away and we started swimming for it. I’m not good at surface swimming and was rather tired out. Got out of the boat and immediately felt sick. My new buddy saw me and immediately handed me a piece of watermelon, I was contemplating rejecting it as I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach it. But still I took it. Took a bite and confirmed, I wasn’t able to swallow. But I slowly forced it down. Minutes later, saltish saliva formed in my mouth and that’s my cue to go to the toilet. The moment I closed the door it was already at the gates coming out. I threw the watermelon up along with whatever water I drank and felt good. Went up to have breakfast and reported my seasickness to my group mates. It was there I learned that my original buddy was also sick and she threw up the bread she ate the moment she surfaced.

Breakfast 2 was served and I didn’t eat anything but just drank water to keep myself hydrated. There’s no way I’m gonna be able to eat anything and keep it down. Of the 4 of us, the only one who ate anything was my original buddy. I don’t really remember what happened but I was left alone with my original buddy and soon she tapped me on the shoulder. I looked over and she signaled that she was going to puke. I quickly moved out of the way to let her out and I just sat up there alone. From here on I don’t remember what happened. I don’t know whether the group came back up to the dining deck or did I sit up alone until I felt sick again and went to puke or what. Or did I disappear somewhere then later went to the upper deck to lie down with my original buddy and 2 other person? No idea…must be the seasickness interfering with my memory.

I was just surprised that I was even seasick…I never had problems with the sea and I only got motion sick once after I did some insane shit while playing a game on my computer. I was totally caught off guard by this.

Advanced Open Water Part 01

I got back last night from my PADI AOW Course. It was a live aboard with GS-Diving in Singapore. I was intending to take my AOW in Indonesia when I visit them for mountain climbing just like how I did in Sabah. However, Mount Rinjani is closed until the start of 2020 thereabouts. I tried arranging to climb Mount Bromo and Ijen and dive after and the logistics was nightmarish to arrange. So I decided to do my AOW in Singapore instead. Hunted a bit and found that GS-Diving gave the best rates with a unique experience of live aboard.

I registered my interest, did a bank transfer of 599 SGD, sent some information over and I was set to wait for the date to come. 2 weeks later I went to buy my own mask and snorkel which I wrote about in my last post. A few days prior to the commencement, another email was sent to me with information on meeting point and contact information and a little more information on equipment and tips.

Came 7 December, I was all of a sudden loaded with impromptu work about 30 minutes before I was bound to leave. I cleared it as quick as I can and left about 7 – 15 minutes late. I decided to go home first so I can clean myself up a bit and just double check that I’ve got everything and that’s when I realised I forgot to bring my USB cable to charge my phone with. I packed it in and left. I really doubted that it will take me 45 minutes to travel from my place to the ferry terminal, but seriously that was how long it took. Partway through the bus journey I saw this girl board the bus and I don’t know why I had a feeling we were headed the same way. Arrived at the ferry terminal and we both alighted, I walked on ahead as my move speed is generally faster than most.

Couldn’t find the person I was supposed to look for, called and was told he’ll be there 30 minutes later, at the time of meeting. So I thought to walk around and see what can I get to settle my tummy but nothing there looked good. After walking for about 15 minutes I spotted that same girl waiting and looking at her, I had an even stronger feeling that we’re there for the same thing. The 15 minutes there was freezing as the air-conditioning was so cold, I was sitting behind her just looking around and waiting for time to pass. 15 minutes later, she went to meet someone and returned with ferry tickets but I stayed put trying to spot someone with a yellow t-shirt with the company’s name. But in the end it was black..I approached, handed my declaration forms and got my ticket. The dude then approached the girl and asked about her passport, and name on the ticket as the last and first name has been switched around. From there, we both knew we were gonna be doing the AOW together.

I only struck up a conversation with her while we were walking to board the ferry to Indonesia as I felt weird trying to talk to her while from behind. Once out of the ferry terminal at Batam, we boarded a bus to be transferred to the pier in a 10 minute ride. Then it was just a 5 minutes walk on to the boat and that’s where I’ll be living for the next 2 days.

We gathered in the saloon and that’s where we spent the next hour or so just talking and slowly breaking the ice, dinner next came which I believe was eggs and hotdogs. I can’t recall much as I intended to, but eventually did not log anything for this travel dive trip. A little after dinner, we were assigned to our rooms and another group of people doing skills at a swimming pool nearby for their OW joined us. The rest of the AOW people were assigned twin sharing, but I was given quad and then it was said to me “You’ll be sleeping with the captain”. That statement somehow amused that girl. Yes, it’s funny but I didn’t react much as I was wondering what was she thinking, like 2 guys sleeping on the same bed or 2 guys having sex? I just laughed a little so it didn’t seem like I was brushing her off or being offended.

I was then brought to my bed by one of the instructors and found that I was given the bad bed. Right under the air-conditioning, the cold bed. I tried lying on it and no way was I sleeping there. The bed was also too short for me, I had to push the pillow on to the frame behind before I could properly fit. But I had intents to sleep on the deck so it doesn’t really matter. I placed my bag there to just “book” that bed in case I want to go back there or something. I joined the folks back out at the saloon to talk for the rest of the night and there went up on to the deck to sleep. One of the crew prepared some pillow and blankets and I didn’t know if it’s supposed to be free for all or reserved. I took the pillow and used the blanket given to me and later on some more crew members joined in and I knew that the pillow was theirs. I tried returning it but was told to use it anyway. Not a very restful night but was alright, kept waking up with a sore back, but I managed to get a few good hours of rest.

First night
First night

Dive Equipment

I recently bought my own scuba equipment. Specifically a diving mask and snorkel as the recommended route to start with ownership of equipment. I spent weeks researching what type of prescription mask should I get since I clearly know that I don’t want to be dealing with contact lenses. I read up on the different types of prescription lens and also found out the popular brands of diving equipment.

I then managed to find a day where I can plan a trip to the dive store. I went to church and incidentally ran into someone who I knew and joined her group for lunch. They wanted to get desserts after lunch but I thought it’s time for me to head to the dive store.

Upon reaching, I just told the attendant that I wanted to get a dive mask. She asked if I wanted to get a prescription mask. That was a good read since I was wearing glasses, and she asked if it’ll be my first mask, so I said yes. Thereafter she took out some different masks citing that selection for prescription masks are smaller. Immediately I noticed that the brand isn’t Mares or Cressi, and is Tusa which I haven’t heard. But I thought I’ll give it a try anyway.

She next asked if I know how to fit a mask, so I said sort of since I’m a badass and have done tons of research beforehand. Tried a total of 4 masks. 3 sealed nicely and 1 had an obvious leak. So it was contending between the 3 masks that fitted well and I eventually found one that I liked in terms of comfort. I took the mask off to inspect it and noticed that the mask was actually a single skirt as opposed to double which is very much recommended. But I thought screw it, it’s my first mask and this seals good anyway. Next was choosing of colour. Research tells me to try both black and clear skirts. So I tried a clear skirt since I was given a black skirted mask to try initially. Looked good, tried the black skirt again and the difference was stark. I very much preferred the colours that the black skirt gave.

Next up was to try prescription lenses. Simple -4 for me. I actually think that my current work has worsened my vision but I don’t really care, I wanna stick with -4…so my vision isn’t perfectly clear which is also in part due to my fatigue. I thought -4 was good enough, the blur vision probably also arising from the astigmatism in my left eye. Once I’m okay, the stock lenses were immediately replaced by the prescription ones. I later found out that my mask is the Tusa Ceos M212.

I was prepared to finalise my purchase right there and then until she asked if I wanted to get a snorkel. Then only did I realise that masks and snorkels should come together. I wanted to reject and to buy online but thought that those are items where fit is important. So I chose to buy from the store though I know it’ll be more expensive. It was at this point I got concerned about expenditure since I haven’t seen price tags anywhere. So it was then revealed that my mask plus prescription lens will be about 190 bucks. I thought that was alright and proceeded to choose a snorkel. I forgot what made me go from the cheapest of snorkels to a slightly more expensive one but I made my choice. She asked what kind of snorkel did I want, so I said semi-dry and she said it’s considered dry and proceeded to hand me a dry snorkel so I went in my mind “Huh? That’s not how the industry defines it.” So I said I don’t want a dry snorkel and she proceeded to hand me an actual semi-dry.

Next was to colour match the snorkel to my mask. Black skirt with blue frame. I was hoping for white or yellow but nope, there was only like black, blue, light blue, and pink. So I took the blue as I didn’t want myself to disappear in the waters. The snorkel came with white, yellow, clear, and pink. None of the colours matched so I took a clear snorkel. Proceeded to make payment and after some discounts my final bill was 234.5 SGD. Quite a nice number eh?

I also have an upcoming trip in about 2 weeks for my PADI Advanced Diver Certification that I’m really excited for. I don’t think I have ever been more excited for an upcoming trip than this!!