This past semester, I managed to become a certified Open Water Diver through PADI! As mentioned in a previous post, there were a lot of prerequisites to achieve this. After the dives in the pool at OSC, all that was left was to test out the same skills in an open water situation. This prompted our 2 visits to HikkaTranz in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka, where we organized 4 open water dives. Thank you to the instructors and especially Anjileen for taking so many shots of us and thank you Ms. Clover for providing me with them!
The First and Second Dive (November 28, 2015)
I was a little nervous at first as after all by the time I got on the boat after the briefing because we practiced a backroll entry. I had to sit at the side of the boat and push myself off backwards into the water with all my scuba gear. After I accomplished that, I really had nothing to be afraid of. I enjoyed the first two dives which I recorded into my dive journal and even managed to complete my dive review that checked if I had remembered knowledge from the e-learning.
We practiced more skills and later on went for a dive at Hikka Cave! One of the biggest hurdles while doing the open water dives was with equalizing and equalization. Going down proved to be a difficulty when my ears ached so badly and even though I thought I equalized enough, whenever my ears ached I had become panicky. Afterwards on the second dive that day, I managed to fix this problem and equalized more often. I saw a lot of nice fish () and swimming and diving with a group was definitely an experience I won’t forget.
The Third and Last Dive for Certification! (December 5, 2015)
On these dives there were focuses on using the compass. I have terrible sense of direction but with the instructors’ guidances, it became easier. As a person who is easily discouraged, their advice actually aided me tremendously in challenging myself and practicing skills. Even when I faced difficulty performing a skill they had patience with me. Underwater without communication, using the compass was the hardest. I found myself curving around and taking a long route to get to my destination instead of swimming in a straight line. Sometimes I also swam too much and started swimming upwards, making it difficult for my buddy to catch up. Nevertheless, I kept this in mind for next time and above water, compass work was a lot easier so I knew it was just a matter of fixing my own posture while holding the compass.
Another problem that I faced was with when my tank started to run low on air, I happened to start to shoot upwards towards the surface. It was very scary because I was trying my best to control it and continue downwards but in my panic I had gone upwards quickly which also scared Anjileen. This was the last dive, and so I was not able to fix this or figure out exactly why it happened. I think next time I need to work more on buoyancy control as much as possible to prevent it, because mid-way through a dive, shooting upwards and panicking is not an ideal situation.
I ended up getting stuck with sea lice that left mosquito-like bites all around my skin at the edges where my wetsuit were, and it was an awful sensation that lasted a good week. Even though it was a bad way to celebrate my certification, I’m excited for other great things under the sea!
I finally got my certification over the break. Although I was in Malaysia, I was moving around a lot from two hometowns. I hope I can buy certain gears soon that are suitable and comfortable for me.
I hope I can go on more scuba diving adventures with the scuba divers present at OSC. Although January and February are very busy months for me at the moment, I have a lot of hopes for the spring and the summer. There is a chance I can go back to Malaysia and dive there. I want to continue to strengthen my skills in diving and my awareness of the ocean so, in the coming months, I will try my hardest to make time for it and challenge myself again. I am also super grateful for all of the instructors Anjileen, Jehan and Jurgen who helped us have a safe and also enjoyable experience in scuba diving!