Advanced Open Water

Well, today was to be my last dive for a while as I’m flying on Thursday and don’t want my ears to explode. Not the best of starts when the bus forgot to pick me up, so the hostel had to ring them to remind them. Still, I made it to the boat in plenty of time. Today we were on Osprey V for the first time; usually we use SuperCat. Osprey’s a bit bigger, and has better cooking facilities which meant I was really looking forward to lunch! One unlucky passenger wouldn’t have had such an appetite… Rule 1 when puking on a boat: Do it outside, and preferably into a paper bag. Rule 2: Do it on the leeward side (i.e. not the side the wind’s blowing from) and as far toward the stern as possible. That way if you miss the bag, it all goes into the sea. And not back over yourself and wooshing 5 metres down the deck all over the small Irish girl reading a book who thinks she’s just been drenched by a freak wave.

I had another three dives today. Two would be assessed and one “fun”. Our first was a multi-level dive where we calculate our exact dive plan from depth to depth, using The Wheel. This is a device which helps you to calculate acceptable diving periods much more efficiently than the usual tables. The dive itself was a simple one, just dropping to 24m and waiting while the 1st day/Adventure course students did the little numbers test to appreciate the problems of nitrogen narcossis at depth. The more worrying thing was Nigel – the local trigger fish. He literally followed us from the surface right the way down and then swam right up to all of us in turn, then circled us quite threateningly.

Thankfully, it’s not the mating season otherwise we could have been getting some nasty nips. Trigger fish are very territorial and in 3 weeks or so he will bite anyone swimming where we were. They can bite right through a wetsuit. Scott, our instructor, and Simon, my buddy, both have fins with small chunks missing because of similar sudden attacks.

Our next dive was a fun one. I buddied with Simon and another chap who was finishing his Advanced course several months after doing the first half. We had a great journey around a reef lagoon until I realised I’d lost them. Oops. Fortunately, this is covered in the manual. Look around your immediate area for at most one minute, then surface at the usual rate. And there they were, having followed the same procedure. Easy as, then we dropped bak down again to complete the swim back to the boat.

Lunch was pretty good. Steak and sausages were available along with umpteen pasta and rice dished. I just had a huge sausage sandwich dripping in ketchup. Lovely. As was standard practice, we moved to another reef position just after lunch for our third dive.

As we started to tie the ship up (well, the crew did – not us) there was some hoo-hah. We’d got the rear ropes tied but not the front ones. Apparently the crewmember trying to snare them “lost it” when an Asian guy on the balcony above regurgitated his breakfast all over the back of the crewman’s head. Whoops.

Then onto dive three. My final one. Navigation. Armed with a compass, I had to buddy up with Simon and navigate a 30m square, returning to within 6m of my starting point. I only went and got nearer 6cm. Simon also passed on his turn, as did the other lad we were with. 100% pass rate and money well spent. And another piece of plastic in the mail to my folks’ that they’ll have to forward to me when it arrives! Me temporary card is only valid for 3 months.

I celebrated in style. Tomato soup for dinner. Yum.

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