Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dive! Dive! Dive!

So I went on the 3 dives around Ko Tao. Sail Rock, Chumphon Pinnacle, and Southwest Pinnacle.

My dive buddy was an English girl named Lara. She has been traveling for quite a long time already doing the working holiday thing that many UK people seem to enjoy doing. She has been living in Japan for a year teaching English if I remember correctly. Very cool girl and sweet as well. She was also getting her Advanced Open Water certification so it worked out well that we were paired up together. She needed to do 1 more dive than I did so she did a single dive the day before as well.

There were a LOT of fish in the Thailand waters. To be honest I was very surprised at the conditions. The visibility was better that the Great Barrier Reef as well on that day. I'd estimate 20 meters or so in most places except near the bottom where the sand kicks up and around. I wouldn't say the variety was better than the GBR but definitely the number of fish in the diving area was fantastic. They were everywhere you looked, like an overcrowded fishtank.

The corals were nice but left something to be desired. I could see some damage where people had hit it accidentally and there certainly wasn't as much in volume. These dive sites are just small landmarks in the sea and not huge reefs, and so they have a far higher potential for damage/ruin from divers.

Sail Rock was a big rock formation that juts out of the water that has a ton of fish around it. I did my navigation dive here in the morning, so while I did see quite a lot of fish, most of the time I was trying to follow what my instructor was telling me in with her hand signals than to look around at the wildlife. I had to learn to use an underwater compass and find my way around on this dive (as did Lara). We did drop to 29m just to prove that we could deep dive. That was no problem.

I noticed on this day I had an easier time equalizing my ears than I did in Australia. I think my body is getting used to diving conditions.

At Chumpon Pinnacle, I had a fun dive while Lara was doing one of her required dives. We went down to 28m here to look for whale sharks but didn't end up seeing any. Another group of divers saw a couple though so they were there, we just had bad luck.

As you go down deeper in the ocean, visibility and color goes down, so it's not as easy to spot things. The water in Thailand right now is 30 deg celsius and so to see sharks you need to dive below the warm water. (Most if not all sharks live in cold water) At about 20m deep I noticed the water temp drop about 10 deg suddenly. Sounds cold but it actually felt kind of nice because it gets pretty warm swimming around in a wetsuit with 30 deg water (that's like 85 F).

For my 3rd dive at Southwest, I completed my naturalist dive. I had to identify living organisms on a plastic card with my instructor while swimming with her. That was fun. It felt like 2nd grade all over again. I saw a moray eel on this dive. It was awesome.

Although I was in Thailand, I made sure to pick a diving company that had a western staff so that it would be safer. I was told to do this by my instructors when I was in Australia. All of our instructors knew English well and most were westerners.

The gear that I used had no issues but the boat was rough. It was probably 20 meters long or so but man it rocked like a cradle, even when moored while we were diving. I tried putting in my contacts while the boat wasn't moving (without a mirror) and got nauseas. I ended up walking over to the bathroom and gagging like I was going to puke but didn't. Considering I never get sick anymore it was pretty severe for me. Once I jumped in the water I felt better though. After that dive I took one of the motion sickness pills just in case. Someone really needs to buy that boat a bigger keel or a stabilizer or something for the love of god or buddha or somebody of equal importance.

I bought the dive package from a place in Haad Rin called Backpackers Information and Lotus Diving. It's run by a UK person named Bambi. A big white guy with tattoos, certainly fits the name and was very nice and seemed honest enough to trust. That's also the place where we bought our boat/bus tickets back to Bangkok as well.

So I'm now advanced open water, so that means once I get enough dives I can do my rescue diver cert. That's the one I want pretty badly. I feel more comfortable diving knowing about that kind of stuff. And I've always loved the feeling of helping people so that's good too. My next dives on this trip will probably be in Egypt in the Red Sea, so it will be in about 3 months time.


Blogger Ben said...

that sounds like a kick-ass dive trip Jim. Hey you can submit your entry to Survivior (the tv show).

September 2, 2008 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

Haha survivor. I don't think they do any diving though.

September 3, 2008 at 12:42 AM  

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