AOW certified!

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

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Monday, May 26, 2008

Advanced Open Water Diver licensing was something that we'd been looking forward to for a long time.  Like, since we got our Open Water Diver license.  After we left Ko Phi Phi we ran into a couple hangups and had no idea if we would be able to finish our certification.  Namely, Adventure Dives are more expensive than Fun Dives and those aren't terribly cheap, and we didn't really want to do a boring Nav Dive in the Red Sea.  And if we didn't get it now, would we ever?  As we wandered up and down the street in Padangbai it didn't look promising.  Mostly because people in the dive shops didn't understand us and were therefore spouting nonsense. 

Then we got to Q Dive, a new operation with Fun Dives more expensive than the other places, but as we continued to talk (there was an adorable puppy to break the ice), the instructor and owner figured out what we wanted and offered us the opportunity to complete our last two Adventure Dives and mail in our certification for way, way cheap.  First off, they didn't charge extra for Adventure Dives.  Travis ignored them at first because he thought for sure they didn't understand us and were just pulling numbers out of the air.  So I went back and talked to the owner and he said, no, it was really the price he offered with no hidden fees.  I walked back and told Travis and we decided we'd be stupid not to take the opportunity, even though it was a bit more than we'd planned on spending in the first place.  But considering what we were getting it was a deal. 

The van left rather late, as dives go.  Usually they'll have you out of bed to catch your van around 6 in the morning, but we could have a leisurely breakfast and mosey over to the dive shop at 8:30.  Then we drove for about an hour up to Tulamben, where we did all our reviews and lessons for the Nav Dive.  Navigation Dive is like that one class that you have to take for your major but no one wants to.  We spent half our air just doing exercises and didn't get to see much of the wall that we'd anticipated diving.  Now Travis and I can both swim in a square on a compass heading, among other things.  At one point I was navigating a straight line and wasn't buoyant enough, so when I stopped to change my compass heading I sank right down to the floor (about three meters) and the instructor hurried over to pick me up.  His name was Darta, and he was very teachery, but also fun, so we all had a good time.  He really liked big fish.  As Travis was navigating a line, he spotted a huge barracuda.  We swam right over it a couple times. 
The remainder of the dive we explored the wall, which was very beautiful and full of pretty fish and corals and some odd clams that I haven't seen before or since.  Maybe not even clams, maybe scallops.  They were the size of a dinner plate.  We saw another barracuda and some other pretties and then were low on air so we had to make our way back to the shore.  Halfway back Travis got too buoyant and wound up upside down trying to deflate his BCD, which is impossible, so I tried to help him upright, which lifted me up, so we both ended up surfacing without a safety stop, which was probably okay cause we didn't do it quickly and were relatively shallow at the time.  Still, it's another reminder to stay conscious of your limitations and your gear.  We didn't go back down cause I was pretty much out of air.  Darta managed to swim all over the place on just 50 bar, which is unbelieveable.  Nav Dive completed and fun fish scoped out. 

Before our next dive we ate lunch.  If you're in a boat generally your surface interval is completed by travelling between dive sites, but with the shore dives we were doing and the tiny distance to travel (Tulamben is not much of a town - pretty much just for divers), lunch is the perfect way to take up a surface interval.  For those of you who are not divers, you must have a surface interval of at least a specific length after diving so you don't get oxygen toxicity or the Bends.  After lunch we did our homework review and since there are no underwater exercises on a Wreck Adventure Dive we shuffled into the water and saw what there was to see. 

The Liberty Wreck is supposedly the most dived site in Bali, and I believe it.  There were at least 20 of us in the water roaming around.  Liberty was an Amercian steamship torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942, but the ship made it ashore before sinking.  She sat on the beach for 20 years until Gunung Agung exploded in 1963.  The lava flow pushed the ship into the water, and she's been there ever since.  Because she was pushed, Liberty's quite shallow, so snorkellers can go exploring around the aft section of the ship, which is only 2.5-3 meters under water.  The bow is between 7-9 deep, and the water's quite clear, so it's possible for snorkellers to roam the whole length of the ship and see fun things. 

We roamed around the ship, saw a big, fat grouper pop out from inside the depths of the ship while we were floating.  There was a garden of garden eels and a blue-spotted stingray on one side of the ship.  The guns were all overgrown with corals.  Big angelfish roamed about in brilliant hues, and we ended up chasing a two foot pufferfish into a dark space so we couldn't see it anymore.  Also another big barracuda and a confused grouper - it couldn't decide whether to have a red face or a white one, so each side was one color.  The eel garden was certainly one of the weirdest things I ever saw.  It could have been grass but it was too fat and widely spaced.  And it sort of looked like Medusa's head got buried in the sand.  It was way cool.  I can see why people like to dive wrecks. 

We ended the dive (as you must when you run out of air) and made our way back to Padangbai, where we relaxed and awaited yet another departure for yet another destination in the morning. 

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