Diving into the Night

Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
Trip End Oct 08, 2008

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Night dive - we'd been eager to do this since we learned to dive, and we were finally book-trained to do it.  The training basically consists of this: do everything you learned to dive, but do it all in the dark.  You also need some special equipment, namely, a light. 

This dive wasn't too challenging to arrange, but we did run into short hangups when we said we wanted to do adventure dives and put them toward our Advanced Open Water Diver certification.  Apparently people don't expect this unless you're at a dive Mecca (i.e. Ko Phi Phi or Utila or the like).  Everyone's favorite thing to say is, "It's more expensive to do the dives individually."  They just don't understand.  If you're going to dive places anyway, it's much cheaper.  So if you'd like to go advanced and are on a trip like this and want to dive a lot of places, you can a) pay three hundred dollars upfront for your license and training and then pay for all your other fun dives, which are anything from 30-50 dollars per dive (except Vietnam); or b) you can pay an extra charge to make the fun dives you already planned on into adventure dives, in which case your $30 dive may become a $60 dive (that was the most expensive we ever heard) but you don't have to buy the $50 book and at the end of your five dives you just pay the $35 licensing fee that PADI requires.  Really, the better option is B, if you're going to dive anyway.  This is not to knock the course - courses are good and comfortable and compact and you don't have to worry about confusing your instructors or extra fees.  Anyway, just so you know.

Our dive adventure began with a homework review with Nicolas, our French dive instructor.  Travis was slightly appalled that we had to pay twice the price of a dive to have him go over a sheet of paper with us, but that was just they way it was on Trawagnan.  And we wanted that license.  Then we hauled ourselves after our gear onto a tiny boat and shot over to Gili Meno and its sunken pier.  Thus, our first night dive would also be our first wreck dive, but the wreck wasn't quite as interesting as a boat.  We did a smallboat entry - you know, the kind they always do in the movies, where you roll off the back of the boat.  It was fun for me, but Travis did not enjoy.  Actually, for him the dive was not too nice, and it all started with the entry. 

We descended into the pitch black with nothing but our lights' narrow beams to guide us.  Serious adrenaline rush there.  At the bottom we had to do a navigation exercise, so Nicolas sent us off in opposite directions, covering his light, and we had to find our way back to him.  As I completed my tenth kick I drew my light up off the seafloor.  Out of the darkness a giant object loomed less than two meters from me.  I'd run into the pier, but alone and in the dark this was another frightening rush.  I turned around and made my way back to Nicolas, who uncovered his light for me at my eighth kick, so my navigation wasn't perfect, but then Travis got to find his way back by our lights, which I didn't have, so I guess I can be forgiven a little. 

Commencing the actual dive, we glided through the water and around the pier before making our way further to some coral boulders.  For Travis and me the dive was extremely challenging, especially because of the currents.  We both felt that the dive was epitomized by a moment when our instructor made for a little hole in one of the boulders and just stopped, while Travis and I had to spin ourselves in circles in an attempt to avoid the rock.  It was a reminder that we're actually rather inexperienced, even though we feel quite experienced with all the diving we've been doing.  Maybe our next adventure dive will be Peak Performance Buoyancy. 

Although I couldn't see jack in my mask (still have no idea why, since the water magnifies so I usually have no problem seeing underwater), I managed to find a lionfish.  I completely missed the hermit crab and boxer shrimp that Travis and Nicolas found.  The real highlight was when we covered our lamps and waved our arms about to disturb little plankton or whatever that bioluminesce.  It wasn't as strong as we'd hoped for, but it was way cool and something you can only see at night.  It was a good time, even if it was an unexpected challenge. 

Back on shore we took off all our gear and I took one look at Travis and gasped, "What happened to your face?"  Mask squeeze!  In addition to the entry and some trouble equalizing his ears and not being able to stop on a dime, his mask hadn't been equalized, and the pressure of the air made his eyes horribly puffy and way funny.  After I got over my concern that it was something worse I couldn't stop laughing.  He looked way goofy.  Now, while I laughed, and it wasn't a terribly threatening problem, mask squeeze is definitely something to avoid.  Trav's eyes were bruised for three days and a couple blood vessels popped, making parts of his eyes bloody red.  But don't worry, he's fine.  Like I said - uncomfortable, not threatening. 

Oh what a dive.  There's really nothing on earth like being a diver!

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