Taking My Advanced Open Water License in Tioman

It was time to take another step up my diving expeditions.


After my rather sufficient dive experiences in the past year or so, I decided that it was time to ditch my Open Water behind and opt for Advanced Open Water, where one can learn more skillful dives such like night dive, wreck dive and most importantly, deep sea diving.

fish and coral

I remembered clearly that my only regret when I went for my Sipadan trip last year, almost immediately after I achieve my Open Water License, was that I didn't manage to follow the rest of the Advanced divers (Open Water Divers only allowed to dive up to 18 meters, whereas Advanced c) as they went deeper and longer into the sea and spotted a group of 20 turtles.

Back to Tioman.

Next to Tioman House is B&J Diving Centre.

B&J diving centre

A really convenient out-the-room-and-into-the-shop walk from my bungalow.

Which all were also convenient located facing the beach.

tioman beach

The dive shop has a really cool diving pool to train those Open Water students for their confined dives.

B&J dive pool

Thank god those days were over for me. And thank god my confined dive was done in actual sea water than a pool. *tra~la~la~la* *gloat*

My instructor was a care-free dude from America named Drew Dronsfield.

me and drew before first dive

He's lenient for an instructor. Everything was a-okay. Which was awesome, because that's what divers should be! Not too stuck up or too strict! After all, what best way to learn than to learn to dive through experience, better than teachings right? :D

shadow look

me in wetsuit

I got suited into a wetsuit which was a bit too wide for me, but it never really mattered much, as long as it serves its purpose of keeping me warm, afloat or sink whenever necessary.

It does make me look fat in it though. -.-

wobbling into water

Because it was difficult for me to walk into the sea from shore with my heavy BCD and tank on, my helpful instructor Drew dragged the BCD into the water for me while I throttle behind slowly (I'm dainty S_S).

drew fixing me up

After avoiding what was like thousands of sea urchins (there were A LOT of sea urchins in Tioman), I knelt down in the water and slid into my BCD conveniently. I stood up to secure myself onto my equipment and again fat afloat on the water to fit my fins on.

short fins

I've always preferred shorter fins rather than those adult sized fins, easier to maneuver around water and takes less muscle power. It's best for weak people like me. S_S

So if you (females especially) ever find it too tiring finning during dive sessions, try to request for a short fins, it helps a lot.

me in tioman sea
sorry about the corrupted photo, I don't seem to be able to restore it

Also, be careful not to choose a goggle that might be too tight. Or you'll end up having a goggle print on your face. Like me.

goggle mark

Now the thing about Advanced Dive Course, it's that it's much easier than Open Water Course.

In fact, it's so easy that it'll be wonder if you fail.

If you do, you shouldn't even be allowed to dive at all (it'll be too dangerous). Nah I'm just being harsh. Hah.

In AOW, you have to pick and complete a minimum of five specialty courses in order to attain the AOW cert (some places might require you to have a fix number of log dives as prerequisites, however this is not necessary in most places).

Two of which are mandatory - Deep Sea Diving and Underwater Navigation, while the other three are free electives.

Obviously, I opted for Buoyancy Control (a must skill for underwater photography), Night Diving and Wreck Diving.

I know, they're all the funnest courses! :D

First, let's go on my favourite course: Wreck Diving.

ship wreck 4

Wreck diving can be really exhilarating, like hunting for treasure in an uncharted land, you never know what you will find.

ship wreck 2

Wrecks are usually sunken ships that has been in the sea bed for a period of time whereby it becomes the habitat of corals, thus an artificial reef, which plays a vital role in the ocean. Some wrecks have stories of their own, or a tragic history waiting to be told or discovered.

ship wreck 3

corals on wreckship wreck/>

In short, you'll run out of oxygen and die.

me and v pose
La la~

Let's move on to Underwater Navigation.

nicole doing navigation

Navigating your way underwater is important. Obviously by now you know that the sea if not always clear. Hence losing your way easily.

gerald frog style

In fact, the day we went for our navigation course, the visibility was so bad, it was impossible to look distance further than 5 meters ahead of us.

low visibility

It's bad for photography too, because all you'll be able to capture are either bluish fog underwater or lots and lots of plankton.

low visibility gerald

"All the better to train for navigation", my instructor beamed.

Sigh, such was his optimism.

So with him leading me behind, I started swimming forward with the dive compass he provided. We did a straight line and a square march.

me doing navigation

The rule basically was to get back to our spot where I began where Gerald was waiting patiently alone.

gerald waiting
Hehehe, imagine I swam away leaving him behind in that cloggy sea water.

Honestly, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know where I was going in fact, or if I'm heading the right way on the way back. But Drew told me to follow the compass instead of my sense of direction and I'll be fine.

I was panicking when I couldn't find Gerald (due to low visibility on my way back), I thought I was going to fail!!

But thank god, I was only going off course for a meter or so. Hehe. (I didn't know I arrived till Drew tapped me on my back signaling that I've done a good job, wtf)

Then it was Gerald's turn.

gerald doing navigation

I'm surprised Drew didn't fail him on that course.

He was completely RUBBISH in navigating! Buahaha

Drew had to re-direct him quite several times on the way out and back! I bet he would have been completely lost if he were to go alone.

"Gerald, you SUCK! But it's okay, you're still my best friend." :p

nicolekiss underwater in tioman

But if in case you do get lost, inflate a buoy to signal for help.

intructor releasing buoyancy
Drew unrolling his buoy

drew setting up buoyancy
Drew inflating his buoy

floating device
Buoy afloat!

floating on water

And we're saved!

That night, we went Night Diving.

This is the best shot I could get during the dive.

black screen

What do you think? Could you see a glimpse of me in the distance?

And this was me playing around with a jelly fish.

black screen
yea, that's what you get when you dive in the dark.

End of Night Diving. But here's a description of my first night diving experience.

Now the best part: Deep Sea Diving and Buoyancy Control.

string corals

We carried these two courses in the same dive because they're operational together.

We happily brought our camera into the water because learning photography underwater IS THE BEST way to master Buoyancy Control.

intructor and coral fan

The key is to let your lungs do the controlling so that you can maneuver up and down the water as to get close your object without creating a sand cloud (when you paddle, you tend to disturb the sand on the sea bed which is bad for a clear shot), nor to disturb the said object.

So you could take photos like these.
(Following photos are without flash because I wasn't close enough to the objects, and I didn't have a proper flash)

fans of coral


fish spitting stones

big fish

two types of coral

big coral

big coral close up

coral tioman

If you can get close enough without hitting the object, even photos like these.
(Close up and with flash)

coral in tioman

sea urchin in clamp

Finally, it's the end of our course(s)!

Mind I remind you, I completed all these courses with a fever, a backache, and a severe kidney infection. Though I thought it was food poisoning initially. And ended up in hospital bed for more than a week.

Seriously, I don't know how I did it!

Wait, I know. With lots of panadol, lots of perseverance, and the thought of not wanting to spend another thousand ringgit to take the course again. (Yes I'm cheap, I know that already)

me looking weird next to drew
See how painful I looked after the dives, actually it was a candid shot la, but I was reallly in pain.

I think having a pool is the best idea a dive shop can have. Nothing beats a good dip in fresh water to wash away all the salt water remains on our body.

me and gerald in pool

Lazy Best way to wash our wetsuits too.

We got back, freshened up. And back to the dive shop where...


Drew presented us with our ADVANCED OPEN WATER DIVE CERT!!!

my and my new cert and drew

gerald and drew

B&J and Drew, you guys are the best!

Now we just have to wait for our actual dive cards to arrive. :D

It was raining heavily when we left Tioman.

rainy weather at the jetty
Tioman jetty

Drew and the staff of B&J was kind enough to wrap me up in a garbage plastic bag to protect me from the rain. -.-

me in plastic bag

protecting myself from rain

Don't even say a word.

And so, we left Tioman, feeling a bit heavy-hearted, a lot more sickly (for me) and damn achieved! :D

leaving tioman behind

Till then, Tioman!

ps//Later on, Gerald's car headlights broke down on the way back from Mersing to Melaka. Leaving us stranded in complete darkness for hours. @#$%$


15 kissed Nicole

  1. an experience well illustrated

  2. how 'bout the cats?!!! Just left them without saying goodbye?

  3. That's informative & enlightening on AOW...

  4. lovely picture nic, thanks for sharing!

  5. I never failed to attract a stare or pinch on my cheeks whenever I accidentally used the word "goggles". I've always had instructors and divemasters who are very anal about the other terms commonly used for fins and masks, like flippers and goggles.

  6. Fantastic! Love ur pictures, descriptions, everything

    If only i could eliminate jealousy...

    Your post dug up a lot of emotions in me, i feel so sad. About a year ago, i inquired about diving and now, i've made no progress, one year... and still nothing

  7. Some opinions:
    The blog is getting more and more graphic intensive, and it always takes ages to load the full page. While it might not be a big issue to people having generous broadband, its really a pain to visitors like me suffering from slow broadband in certain countries. It would be better if you can put fewer posts per page, e.g. 1-3 entry per page.

  8. congratulations on obtaining the cert. very pro diver now..

    i think it would be pretty scary to get lost underwater or dive in the dark, i would completely freak out if i'm there..

  9. nicole, u still look lovely even wrap in garbage bag :)

  10. Congrats Litte Mermaid, for getting yr well earned cert. More ocean-deep picts pls.

  11. well done Nicole! I should get onto my refresher course : (

  12. Nice outfit - suits you haha

  13. When you next come to Tioman, come to Salang and take my underwater photography course: http://tioman-scuba.com/digital-photography-diver-distinctive/ From Grahame the Scuba Guru!