The diving continues apace on Koh Tao! To think I get to do this every day for the next 3 months, I wonder if Ill ever get bored of it? for now who cares. So this mornings first dive was with an instructor and 2 Advanced open water students. After ordering and eating my customary bacon and cheese bagel breakfast we head out to the boat. Were diving a local wreck of an ex military ship that was deliberately sunk about a year ago. Our Aim is to get the students down to 30 meters and show them colour changes at depth (this can be demonstrated with any colourful item and a torch). The dive is pretty smooth with some of the greatest visibility I've yet seen here. Given that the wreck sits on a sandy bottom at 28.8 meters I can actually already see it from the surface. Sadly being such a newly sunk ship choral has not really had a chance to get going here, choral only grows around 2 - 5 MM per year so you can imagine just how long it takes to create a full healthy reef (reason alone that all divers should respect the reef and maintain proper buoyancy). Its a short dive how ever, at that depth air consumption is pretty fast - 4 atmospheres of pressure mean you effectively use your air 4 times as fast and with 2 recently certified novice divers in the group its no surprise that they use there tanks up quickly.
Our second dive of the day is at bouyancy world a sort of underwater adventure playground with obstacles and such like, I actually had great fun using some of the apparatus to test just how accurate I could be, bonus points for swimming through and under stuff without hitting the sides eh? The rest of the dive was a fun dive at the site Twins and we saw what was possibly the greatest Hawksbill turtle I've yet encountered. She was so relaxed she was not at all disturbed as I hovered less than half a meter from her pretty face and just enjoyed watching this amazing marine creature go about eating dinner, again how ever our novice divers used there air quite quickly - its not at all a criticism this is perfectly normal for new guys and I remember well the issues I had with my air consumption only a short time ago - this time how ever our instructor allowed me and a fellow Dive master trainee off the leash and let us continue our dive. Unable to locate the turtle again we did encounter a very aggressive trigger fish but safely managed to navigate it without incident. Some 15 minutes later we had both hit 60 bar and decided to make our safety stop while swimming back to our boat. We did a great job of actually finding the correct boat as well and surfaced like seasoned pros just a few meters off the boarding ladder. Back at the dive shop I'm briefed that tomorrow ill be back on the fun dive group with 2 AOW water divers, should be a great day.
That evening I retired to my room in order to start reading the rescue diver manual - even though Im already treated as a trainee dive master in actual fact I must complete rescue diver course first. Ill be starting it on monday and I'm looking forward to the challenge but in typical PADI fashion the manual reads like an idiots guide and It sends me to sleep, Im woken by a call from my buddy asking me if I'm going to hit a bar this evening but I decline and decide to get an early night, Im obviously still tired from my 4 days of partying and etc in BKK and on arrival at the island. Doesn't help that Im waking up at the latest at 6.30 Am everyday. I'm sure ill settle into life here over the next week or so.
Following day I'm up, off to 7 for a coffee and into Koppee (incidentally Koppee is thai for coffee) for my usual order of bagel. I set up my gear bag at the shop and await delivery of my bagel. Im getting to meet more the people who are working on the marine conservation and mornings are spent in a sort of communal chat / breakfast / coffee / smoke a cigarette affair in the dive shop. As usual we leave for the boat at around 10 and make our way to dive site number 1. Shark island is an advanced dive site (max depth is about 25 meters). The weather today is not great, its cloudy windy and the sea is quite choppy. I notice a few of the customers on the boat looking a bit sea sick but nothing too heavy. After gearing up we jump and we are to make our descent on the bouy line due to a little current. Unusally for me I being to have problems equalising (for anyone not familiar with diving terminology equalising is the practice of pinching your nose and blowing gently to add air to the spaces in your ears, failure to do so adequaltey during a descent can result in some fairly serious injuries as the air space compresses under pressure. Its possible to permanently damage your ears). I slow my descent and continue to try and equalise but this fails. I gently ascend a few meters and re attempt to equalise but as I slowly descend again a little its obvious I'm going to have a problem here. I made severe attempts to resolve the issue using a variety of techniques and at various depths but all to no avail. Conscious the rest of the group were already ready to dive I signed to the dive master to continue and I aborted my dive and returned to the boat. As soon as I boarded I felt my ear pop and what ever obstruction had been preventing me from comfortably equalising felt cleared but I still felt a little "tightness" so Im happy to have aborted my dive. Safety first always!
Our second dive was a pretty standard dive, I had no problems with my ears on this dive and all went as planned. Ive yet to have a major trigger fish incident but I'm assured i can expect one soon and indeed Titan trigger fish are a common site on Koh Tao. My major stress at the moment is going to be the swim tests for my dive master certification. I know Im smoking 40 a day right now and Im sure I'm going to puff out trying to swim 800 odd meters. I want to train for it but diving twice a day is pretty tiring work. Im planning to get myself into better shape over the month or so I spend on the marine conservation course. Since Ill only be diving once a day on this course I'm confident Ill have more energy to run or swim regulary. Really I suppose I simply have to develop a routine and stick with it. Im looking forward to all the challenges and I'm even feeling a little nervous about how I'm going to deal with actually leading dives by myself. I presume thats normal anxiety when it comes to being responsible for other peoples well being when you haven't done it before. Anyway its a long road before then and I'm sure my training will give me the knowledge and confidence I need to succeed.....