Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Mermaid Transformation complete! I am a certified Little Mermaid!

Dive day 3 and the day Amanda arrived:

Awoke at 6am, had breakfast in the room then at 6.30am went to meet John at the restaurant. We got my kit from the kit area and then just sat and he got me psyched-up for today, as I was feeling a little nervous again. We then met our Videographer for the day, J.R from South Africa (at Big Blue, your final 2 dives on the Open Water  courses are filmed, edited and put together with a soundtrack to purchase  to remember your diving experience). He then started filming us as we got our kits and walked towards the longtail boat, then on the boat when we unsuccessfully and then eventually successfully tried to get a Mexican wave started, and basically carried on filming all day!

Once on the dive boat, we were given the boat briefing again and then John pulled me aside for a briefing on the days dives. Today we’d be diving at Twins, 12 metres, and White Rock, at our maximum depth of 18 metres, which is the dive we’d be doing our mask skills on, all in front of the camera!

Our first dive was at around 8 in the morning, at Twins, and me and John went ahead of the other group as he wanted to get me confident again and wanted to just take me on a fun dive. We did a few buoyancy tests on the ocean floor (trying to float without moving arms or legs – near impossible, so you had to get your weight just perfect), and using your breath to move up and down while your feet and legs are splayed out on the sea-bed. He also got me to do the mask task again, just to check I was ready. Then we literally just dived and checked out some fish! Because we went down and came up before everyone else, J.R wasn’t able to get any footage of us on this dive, but he’d make sure he’d get loads on the next dive. John taught me a little about navigation on this dive. Twins are two rock/coral formations with a sand-bed in the middle, by following the rocks round with your left shoulder, crossing in the middle and following round with your right shoulder (making a figure of eight) you would find yourself back at the line, where the boat would be.  We saw some really cool things, like stingray, angel fish, other big fishes, and even Nemo and his father!! I absolutely loved it yet again, I couldn’t believe it was our last dive next! I was definitely going to come back and do the advanced after Amanda came.

Back up on deck we switched air tanks and then went for a debriefing, while we moved over to White Rock for our 18 metre and final dive – sob! On this dive, we’d descend and then do our mask task on the ocean floor, the two buoyancy tasks, then we’d just get to dive again, all the while J.R would be filming us. John drilled into me NOT to keep using my arms – I was getting better but it still felt weird!

Upon kitting up for the 2nd dive, I checked my air and was shocked to discover I only had half a tank left – leaky tank!! So John quickly changed it over for me to a non-duff tank. We then got our masks and fins on and shuffled to the back of the boat, where Nick showed us how to do a ‘James Bond’ roll! Put one hand over your head, tuck your head under, jump, flip and roll...except I went first and totally face-planted it!! Of course J.R got all this on camera! Everyone else either dove or perfected it, and then John and Alice (who was assisting with Nick’s team) did a double-roll – showoffs!!

It was then time to free-descend with everyone, this dive we’d be sticking with Nick’s group so we’d all be on camera. Once at the bottom we started our tasks – first the full removal and replace of the mask, I started first so I could get it over and done with. John sat back and let Nick be there to help. I cleared it after the 3rd attempt and Nick gave a simple squeeze of the arm to let me know I’d done it, then we went mental!! High-fiving, fists in the air, ‘awesome’ signing (I did a thumbs up which is bad as that means, take me to the top now, in diving), but no-one cared at that point as I DID IT!!

John came over to join in and then Nick moved onto his team one-by-one. Then it was the buoyancy skills, which looked hilarious on the film, as we were all basically just flapping all over the place like birds learning to fly – bumping into each other, hitting the ocean floor, flapping wildly or trying to balance ourselves out whilst floating. J.R sped this all up and added an awesome soundtrack to it on the film which added to the hilarity!

We were then just free to dive with our buddies! John was my buddy obviously so we stuck together, J.R practically following us around to get some good footage. At one point John did a ‘Seal-roll’ which I then tried to follow but basically just looked like an idiot on camera! Lol

We also did some sea-dancing, John scared J.R and a stingray by using his ‘Duck-whistle’ and creeping up on J.R (the whistle got on everyone’s nerves apart from mine), which made J.R jump and the stingray run for cover. He also got some good footage of us swimming through the ocean and of me and John on our ascent/3 min safety stop. And then it was all over!! I was so sad, but also SO CHUFFED that I’d made it through!! I was now officially a qualified SSI Open Water Diver!

We came back up onto the boat where J.R got some final footage and we had our final team briefings and congratulations, then we made our way back to shore, washed our kit and handed it back in, as we’d no longer be needing it – sob!

John and I then met in the restaurant for lunch and he gave me my Dive log book, where we logged my first 4 dives. Then J.R re-grouped us for the opening shots, which he decided would involve us being dragged across the sand, and then he’d reverse it on film to make it look like we were coming towards the camera, rather than away, it was actually quite cool but we all got sand-burn! Then it was a rap. We were to meet tonight at 6pm for our video screening so I said goodbye to John until then, then went to shower, pack, check-out and pay for my course before heading to the port to meet Amanda and Bailey.

It turns out though that they were coming in on a later boat than I anticipated, so I got the free shuttle from the port to Koh Tao Resort where we’d be staying a little early and checked into the room before they came. When they came Amanda gave me some things mum had sent from home, so I’d have them for Australia and we went to the beachside infinity pool for some afternoon relaxation. I then went to get ready and headed back to Big Blue for my video screening, where Amanda and Bailey would join me later after they’d eaten and changed.

So I met with the team, John, Nick and J.R where we watched our video – it was pretty awesome!  I bought John and J.R a drink to say thank you and then me and Conan, one of the guys on Nick’s team, bought the video. It was expensive at 2200 baht (almost £50) but it was something I could keep to remember and look back on to see my progress. I then went down to the dive shop to sign on for the advanced on the 30th June and me and Conan had food at the restaurant, which is when Amanda and Bailey arrived. FYI, Big Blue BBQ’s are AMAZING! We then all just had drinks and chatted for a while, until someone came over and made me jump – BECCA!! She had just come over from Full Moon and was a friend I shared a house with when I worked in Bath. She came and sat with us and had signed on to do her open water over the next few days and also to hopefully do her Advanced with me – yay! So we all just drank Chang and Singha, Amanda and Bailey shared a Banana Split, I ate and we all chatted until around 11pm. We then all went to the famous amazing pancake man for Nutella pancakes and then it was time for me, Amanda and Bailey to head back to our resort so we said goodbye to Becca and Conan (I’d be seeing them on and off over the next few days and when I’m back for my advanced probably) and went to go haggle for a taxi – which was unsuccessful so we just coughed up the cash – and hit the sack!!


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