Neither of us slept very well. Not sure what Jayne’s excuse was but I had episodes of ‘Dexter’ running around in my head, with scenes of me as the protagonist. Not very relaxing or necessary for getting a good nights sleep! Also, I did that frustrating ridiculous time counting of ‘if I go to sleep now, I’ll get 5 hours sleep; if I go to sleep now, I’ll get 4 hours sleep’. The last time I checked the phone it was 2.24am so when the alarm went off at 5.30, it was practically punched back on to snooze mode!
Groggily, we got up and dressed. Started making our way through the deserted streets of the main port, a ghost town that is a million miles away from the hustle and bustle that will magically appear with the arrival of the first boat of the day. Got about half way to the dive centre when Jayne realised she had left her dive computer at the hut. She ran back to get it whilst I meandered through the concrete back alleys to get to the dive shop. Jayne mentioned in yesterday’s blog that we chose this dive centre as it was one that wasn’t going to make me do a scuba review as I couldn’t prove the date of my last dive (apparently, date stamped photos don’t count!). Having forgotten to bring my c-card with me yesterday, I was surprised that no one asked to see it today – in fact, it was never mentioned and they treated me like an instructor (which I’m not!). Jayne arrived and we were given gear. Not entirely sure why the kidney dump valves had been cut off all the BCD’s but when it was obvious that the second valve (out of three) wasn’t working, I requested a new BCD. The dive master looked a little bit shocked that I requested a new jacket but went off to get me a new one. Kit in our bags, we were all piled into a truck with a group of open water students and made our way back to the port where our accommodation is… Typical!
On the boat, we put together our gear, only to find out that my inflator hose was broken. So, I’m now on my third BCD of the day and it’s not even 8am – probably should have seen this as a sign to come. Jayne swapped her regs as there was a sizeable cut in the protective tubing and we sorted out our weights as the boat rocked heavily from side to side. So much in fact that at least two people were chucking up over the sides. Just what you want when you are about to jump in the water – a vomit mine field. The guy diving with us seemed cockishly confident, naming all the places he had ever been diving and it turns out that our lovely Californian guide has been a dive master for only 5 days at this point so was incredibly nervous about diving with Jayne and I. A quick dive briefing and we were stride entering from the back of the boat that was still pretending it was an extra in ‘The Perfect Storm’.
Our Israeli friend jumped in the water with no mask on and no reg in his mouth. Descending down, I did worry about the dive site we had come to. The description of pinnacles and loads of marine life were non existent as we swam over white sand with the occasional clump of sea weed. Clearly, we had descended in the wrong place and it took us about 5 minutes to find ‘the White Rocks’. A great dive site for beginners as it clearly had lots to see at not very deep depths. In fact, I think our maximum depth for that dive was 17.8m. A very bizarre dive profile as our guide kept taking us up and down over the reefs rather than around (I’m going to blame the fact that my ears now hurt on this rather than the fact I probably shouldn’t have been diving in the first place…). Loads of nudibranch and a couple of clown fish families were interspersed with Christmas tree fans and blue spotted sting rays. We even found a juvenile moray eel that was proving how aggressive he was by trying to eat my underwater camera. Newbie DM didn’t bother checking our air consumption until 26 minutes into the dive (FYI, when I did my DM training, I checked people’s air every 2 minutes – like an OCD freak!!).A nice 45 minutes dive, just a small amble around with some nice coral and fish. It was fun. Getting back on the boat, however, was not! Holding on to the ladder as the boat swung up and down was the most intense upper arm work out I’ve ever done, made even harder by the ladder snapping as I dragged myself out of the water. Fortunately, the rope was holding the two pieces of metal together but no one seemed overly worried about it when I reported it. Swapping our tanks over, Israeli guy decided he didn’t want to do a second dive, stating that he was too tired (aka too hungover – his one dive buddy didn’t even wake up to join us today).
Found out during our dive briefing that our second dive of the morning was the wreck with a maximum depth of 30m. For those of you who don’t know about diving, in simple terms, the rule is always do your deepest dive first. So we definitely didn’t understand why, after a surface interval of 30 minutes, we were being told to suit up again. In fact, we refused. Told our DM that it was too soon and we wouldn’t be able to spend much time at the wreck, she agreed but I’m not sure she completely understood. Turns out, she is doing her open water to PADI pro here on Koh Tao, has only been diving since September, has only ever dived with this dive centre and has learnt some seriously bad habits!! Convinced her to extend our surface interval to an hour, the crew members didn’t look particularly happy as the open waters got in and we waited.
The second dive was short, predictably, at 26 minutes. The wreck wasn’t very interesting and the constant beeping from Jayne and the DM’s dive computers warning them about the imminent danger of going into deco was a bit off putting. In fact, Jayne had to show our guide her computer to say that we had to start ascending. I have a nasty feeling that she would have let us stay down there as long as our air allowed… I have an even worse feeling that she has done that in the past.Back at the surface, she seemed a bit too giggly about the deco thing and didn’t seem to take the whole thing seriously so we decided no more diving with them! The dodgy equipment, the lack of checking my c-card, the poor dive planning and the disregard for considering the computer deco function was just a bit too much. Felt bad because our DM is clearly enthusiastic about what she does but it scares me that soon she will be an instructor. Or maybe I’m just pissed off that I never got to complete my pro diving qualifications because of my crappy ears. Back at the dive shop, we tried to pull our guide to one side to have a quiet word but she was whisked away before we had a chance – maybe the more experience instructors knew what we were going to say. Paying for our dives, we headed back to the main port to grab some lunch before heading back to our hut for a shower. Used coconut oil on our hair to make it soft after the sea salt abuse, so watched an episode of ‘Dexter’ as it soaked in. A lazy afternoon of reading, playing games, watching films and snoozing filled our time before we headed out for dinner. Found a little cafe next to the beach that played a film if your ordered food. As the only diners, we enjoyed Masaman curry and fried rice with fruit smoothies whilst we watched ‘The Draft’. Surprisingly more enjoyable that I was expecting, the film passed away the evening until bed.
Saturday 22nd October 2016