Last Dives: Completing Our Diving Certification: Staghorn Reef, Koh Phuket, Thailand
We have made it part of our daily routine
to actively introduce ourselves to our fellow travelers and today is no exception. On the Dive Tuk Tuk we meet Pete and his two kids Manda, 16 and Theo, 14. Pete and his wife (who isn’t here) are in the US Army and are stationed in Korea, and the two kids live in Korea as well. We talk about how much they are enjoying the experience of life outside the US. We soon pick up more people and realize that the boat will be fuller today than yesterday.
The boat procedure routine is familiar to us this morning, and we set off into the hazy sunshine. About 15 minutes into our trip out, the skies turn dark and stormy, and we expect rain at any moment. The three advanced students (that’s Vani from Richmond Hill and us) are first in the water this morning, working with Azad, our instructor, to complete the course. We have a total of 3 dives to complete today, and the first one is the deep dive. We must plummet to 30 meters and complete some basic math equations. We must also observe the differences that depth makes on our gauges, colours and environment. Most importantly we are watching for incidences of Nitrogen Narcosis, the heady, almost drunken feeling of too much nitrogen in your bloodstream which can cause a diver to lose their sense of direction and focus but generally this just makes them look and act stupid. Unfortunately, none of us reaches Nitrogen Nirvana. Too bad! After our work is done, we continue the dive and spot baby blue spot stingrays on the bottom of the ocean floor.
Working our Navigation Skills
Our surface interval is only 50 minutes as we prep for the next dive. This dive will be short – the navigation skills dive. We must perform four tasks on the bottom including navigating with a compass and estimating distance by counting fin kicks. There is quite a strong current, and all of our exercises are slightly of course, but we manage to get through them successfully. Near the “base station” where 2 of us wait while the 3rd completes his skills, Azad spots an octopus. We all swim over to it, and it watches us watching it. Azad is taking many photos, but the octopus is content to wait. At one point, Azad must have gone a little too close for the octopus’ comfort – it changes colours – magic to see! Finally, it heads into its cave to escape the relentless attention of the paparazzi. We head up with half tanks of air (a first time for us), have lunch and wait for our 3rd and last dive of the day.
Our last dive is a multilevel dive which means we start at 19 meters and work our way up to 12 meters. This is a free dive, and we spot lionfish, stonefish, flute fish and a big jelly fish at the end of the dive. A very easy-going, relaxing finish to our advanced course. We’re home by 4, and we sleep soundly until 7:30.
We met two guys from Australia staying at our hotel, Tony from Melbourne and Graeme from Sydney, and about eight we head out for drinks and dinner with them to celebrate the successful completion of our Dive Course. After a couple of beers, we head to a street restaurant and have a truly delicious meal.
Padi Dive Certified!