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.
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.
A really convenient out-the-room-and-into-the-shop walk from my bungalow.
Which all were also convenient located facing the beach.
The dive shop has a really cool diving pool to train those Open Water students for their confined dives.
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.
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
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. -.-
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wreck diving can be really exhilarating, like hunting for treasure in an uncharted land, you never know what you will find.
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.
In short, you'll run out of oxygen and die.
Let's move on to Underwater Navigation.
Navigating your way underwater is important. Obviously by now you know that the sea if not always clear. Hence losing your way easily.
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.
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.
"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.
The rule basically was to get back to our spot where I began where Gerald was waiting patiently alone.
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.
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
But if in case you do get lost, inflate a buoy to signal for help.
Drew unrolling his buoy
Drew inflating his buoy
And we're saved!
That night, we went Night Diving.
This is the best shot I could get during the dive.
What do you think? Could you see a glimpse of me in the distance?
And this was me playing around with a jelly fish.
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.
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.
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)
If you can get close enough without hitting the object, even photos like these.
(Close up and with flash)
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)
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.
We got back, freshened up. And back to the dive shop where...
TENG TENG TENG!!!
Drew presented us with our ADVANCED OPEN WATER DIVE CERT!!!
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.
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. -.-
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
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. @#$%$