Tag Archives: mamutik island

PADI Scuba Diving & Project AWARE certificates for you!

I love doing outdoor activities. The best thing about being and living in Sabah is that there are a lot of outdoor activities that you can get yourself involved to fill your desire! I started to climb Kinabalu in 2002, and since then I have climbed the mountain several times, and would love to climb again soon. In 2008 I started to scuba dive. And guess what? I fall in love with underwater life.

When one of my Facebook friend asked me about scuba diving few weeks ago, I knew that not all of us have the correct information about scuba diving. Almost all of us think that if we don’t know how to swim, we cannot dive (it’s also a myth that I had before I do diving). It will be very dangerous for those who don’t know how to swim to take scuba diving.

Well, today I have to correct the myth: YOU DON’T HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO SWIM IF YOU WANT TO GO SCUBA DIVING. However, if you can swim, it will be a huge advantage for you. That is why professional bodies who certified divers highly recommend that you can swim to dive.

You don’t have to know how to swim to scuba dive because we actually don’t want you to float. In scuba diving, we are afraid that you cannot sink! Because if we cannot sink you, it defeats the purpose of diving. We even put on weight on you to make you sink.

To dive all over the world you need to be certified. There are a lot of professional bodies which can certify you as a scuba diver. I took PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification from Borneo Divers which costs me MYR1000 (~USD300) in 2008. The cost varies among dive operator around Kota Kinabalu depending on the ancillary services that they can provides for the divers.

Diving has become an addicting activity to me as to go to Sutera Harbour jetty took me less than 10 minutes drive from home, and another 10 minutes to Mamutik Island! How can you not love this place?

To fulfill a request from one of my good friend (and to entice you to take scuba diving), I hereby post the 4 certificates that I received from my first ever scuba diving experience until my Project Aware involvement.

The first certificate: Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) (cost RM200-RM300)*

It’s the best way to know and feel what it is like to breathe underwater. The short course is done under direct supervision of the diving instructor, which can be finished in just one day. Usually they will let you do one dive or two if you are comfortable. After the dive, this hand written certificate will be given to you. And if you think that you like diving and want to dive all over the world, then you should take the proper license: Open Water Diver.

The second certificate: Open Water Diver (OW) (cost RM1000-RM1300)*

This is the start of you entering scuba divers life. This course took us 4 days to complete. One day in the classroom reviewing some videos and course book, two days in confined water and one day in open water. Luckily for me, the confine water session was held in a swimming pool. The visibility was magnificent! ;-). The instructor will teach us the basics about scuba diving and how to breathe properly under water. They will always tell you that “NEVER HOLD YOUR BREATH!”. Open Water license will only allow you to dive not deeper than 18 meters.

The third certificate: Advance Open Water Diver (AW) (cost RM800-RM1200)*

This will be your next stage of scuba diving. Advance Open Water is for you if you are serious about diving and want to explore more underwater. One of the reason why I took AW was I want to dive Sipadan. It’s my dream dive spot. Because of the underwater nature of Sipadan, a lot of experience divers urged me to take AW because I really need it if I want to dive on the spot which Cousteau said “I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now, no more. Now, we have found again an untouched piece of art…”

With AW, you need to take at least 5 compulsory specialty dive – in which Borneo Divers was good enough to give me six – in 2 days. I took Peak Performance Buoyancy Dive, Deep Dive, Underwater Navigation, Diver Propulsion Vehicle, Night Dive and Underwater Naturalist. From those six specialty dives, I think I like Night Dive. It gives you totally different view of underwater world in the dark!

The fourth certificate: Project AWARE (cost RM100)

This certificate is just a recognition certificate in which Project AWARE Foundation gave to divers who helped them involve in their events to save  the underwater world. This is the first Project AWARE event that I joined, in which was held on the 25th September 2010 in Mamutik Island.

Basically we were assigned to collect rubbish underwater around Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (islands nearby Kota Kinabalu). This year we also add on awareness on the increasing amount of water bottles, by launching “Say No To Water Bottles” campaign. I managed to collect some rubbish around Manukan Island which was only a fraction of about 800 kilogram rubbish that we all collected that whole day!

My next target is Sipadan & Mabul Island. After that I would like to challenge myself and take the next level of PADI certification – Rescue Diver – so that I can safely dive with anybody that I want. When my son is ready, I will bring him underwater with me as a dive buddy!

*Cost varies among dive operators here in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

PADI Open Water certification course with Borneo Divers – Part II

Continued from Part I…

Then we had a one week rest (the whole week) as I could not continue our final day of open water session on the subsequent day. So it was brought forward to yesterday (Sunday, 2nd November). And praise the Lord… The weather yesterday was really, really awesome!

I could not sleep the night before as I was over excited. I end up sleeping at about 2.30 am after watching Liverpool-Totenham match, in which Liverpool lost. Hahaha. I did not finished watching it as I thought Liverpool would win after Kuyt scored after 3 minutes.

It was a bright sunny day yesterday. The sky was clear and the water was calm. Our first boat dive was held at Sulug Reef, just nearby Sulug Island. This was the time when Roslan thought us how to do back flip safely from the boat. The water was clear and the visibility was excellent. We went down to 12 meters deep, in which I could feel the pressure inside my ears. I had no problem equalizing though.

We still have to do basic skills in the water during this dive. We have to remove our mask and put it back on, with our regulator in the mouth. It was one of the basic open water skills that we need to master, so that we wouldn’t easily get panic when our dive buddies kick our mask off with their fins. The salt water temporarily hurts my eyes, but then, I get used to it.

While diving at about 10 meters, we saw one of the ugliest view underwater – damaged coral reefs by a fishing net, with the fishing net in-situ. We failed to remove the net from the corals as the net was too long and heavy and we did not bring knives to cut it loose. We have to abandon the net there as we still did not manage to entangle it after 15 minutes of trying.

The one thing that I noticed when I was underwater – I lost the sense of time & direction. I only know how deep I went and how much air I have left in the tank from the SPG (submersible pressure gauge). But unless I wear a compass and a dive computer, I would not know the time and the directions. I only know up and down, left and right. Just to give you the reasons why I need to work hard to get myself MARES Nemo Excel…

Our second boat dive was held at Pyramid Reef, a reef that is situated between Mamutik Island & Manukan Island. Emerged from the sea floor, this reef is not attached to any island around it. They call it Pyramid Reef because of the obvious reason – it has a pyramid shape.

Yes, it was another back flip from the boat and we went down to 12 meters. I saw stone fish, scorpion fish, a lot of anemone (Nemo) fish, few colorful nudibranch, a group of barracudas and numbers of soft coral damaged by sea turtles. It was like an AWARE fish identification dive. Barye, our divemaster brought down a writing plate to tell me what we saw underwater.

That 2 boat dives really makes me hungry. I ate an additional plate of rice and more crackers during lunch at Borneo Divers Dive Center, Mamutik Island. The food (chicken curry & mixed vegetable) was really delicious. It was lucky for Borneo Divers to have a good cook. I am sure I will be back for more dives and of course, food!

Our final dive for the day was a shore dive. We went down to 10 meters following an anchor. This time we learn how to navigate a compass underwater. And this was also the time that I tuned up my buoyancy skills. I felt that I could hover better as I could stay still near to the corals without bumping and crushing them to ashes…

It’s a bit sad when I know that I have to finish the course that day, leaving our HOT scuba diving trainer. Luckily I pass with flying colors. During those 4-days course, Roslan, our guru/mentor/cifu/promoter/photographer/teacher/friend/dive buddy never disappoint us. He followed us all the way from the beginning, making the course much more fun, relax and alive. If not because of him, I won’t be able be with the Nemos & barracudas at 12 meters below sea level! Oh, I have to treat him lunch at Little Italy the week after…

Anyway, to be underwater and breathing effortlessly was really an exhilarating experiences. I could not describe the feelings to you, unless you join me down there.

My next stop will be Sipadan & Mabul. I have decided to take advance open water before proceeding to Layang-Layang. In between I would love to tweak my buoyancy & underwater photography skills.

Damn… I need to consider investing in underwater photography gears next. Nikon + Ikelite + Strobe. How’s that?

Anybody wants to sponsor? Anybody?

PADI Open Water certification course with Borneo Divers – Part I

The weather was really not good during the first 3-days of the course.

On Saturday 25th October, it rained the whole day. Luckily for us, it was only the classroom session. The session was held in Borneo Divers main office in Menara Jubilee, Gaya Street. It started around 9.30am and ended at around 3.30pm.

Our MSDT (Master Scuba Diver Trainer) for the course was Merrilyn Semoring (aka May). Yeah… she’s one HOT SCUBA diver trainer. After introducing ourselves, paid the course fee and received our Open Water Diver Manual, log book & dive table, we started the session with a video. We finished all 5 chapters in the manual with all 5 videos. It really cuts the learning session short, as I don’t have to read the thick manual and dozes off just before lunch.

With the videos, May does not have to give any talks. She just need to get the computer running and answered our questions during the discussion. Honestly speaking, things that I have learned in underwater medicine was a whole lot difficult compared to this whole course knowledge.

When we finished the classroom session, the day is still wet. The rain continued till the next day.

On Sunday 26th October, we started our course with the the confine water session. Still, the weather was really not on our side when I arrived at Borneo Divers booth at Sutera Harbour. Borneo Divers boatman said the water in Mamutik was like ‘Milo’ – a local drinks which consist of cocoa and milk – a direct way of saying that the visibility underwater was bad. Our instructor, May said that we have to abort doing it in the island. Instead, she brought us to Sutera Harbour swimming pool where we learn all the open water skills.

Yay! I was really disappointed at the beginning as we could not do it the usual way in saltwater around Mamutik. But then, I changed my mind after the 2 and half hour lesson ended. The excellent visibility in the swimming pool really made our lesson smooth the whole session. If we were to go the island during that ‘gloomy’ weather, I was afraid that we would not be able to concentrate on the lesson because of the harsh wave & poor visibility. During the confine water session in the swimming pool, we were thought a lot of basic scuba diving skills that we have to learn and do. 2.5 hours in the water really made me freeze, tired and hungry. I went back home and drop dead (deep sleep) the whole night.

On Monday 27th October, a holiday for Malaysian, (Deepavali holiday) we went to Mamutik Island for our 1st open water session. It was a shore dive, means that we have to walk about 100 meters with our BCD, regulators and tank to the shore. The weather was still not good, but then, that was our only chance.

Oh, now I know how to put my fins on while in the water. My fins were the full foot type – means that it is more difficult to put it on compared to the open heel one.

The visibility was really bad. I think it’s only about 1 meters only at the surface. We went down to 10 meters, where the visibility was slightly better. The teaching session started again with more basic diving skills. May thought us how to sustain our neutral buoyancy in the water by controlling only our breath. It was really difficult at first, as I sunk on the sand on my first full exhale.

It was just a matter of controlling your low pressure inflator (LPI) to fill your BCD with just enough air to keep you neutrally buoyant – staying still in the water, not up or down – using only your inhale/exhale air. The second time I inhaled full breath, I was moving up, shooting like a rocket which my divemaster, Barye had to pull me down. I didn’t know why I could not let my body slowly descent back down then. Funny…

As the visibility was bad, Roslan did not take much photos. Yes, he followed us, from the start of the course till finished. He took a lot of videos in which quite hilarious to watch. You know it when you watched bunch of anxious divers (me and Rahman) doing a lot of funny movements in the water, trying very hard to get our buoyancy right underwater. Hahaha… I laughed myself when I saw my videos.

Anyway, we went through the day with 2 dives, in which with the second dive, I tried to tune up my buoyancy skills. I have to master ‘Hovering’; a skill that every diver should master, in which you control your buoyancy to stay still at one point in the water, without kicking or moving your arms. To tell you frankly, my buoyancy skill still sucks although I took the next 3 dives to practice. But I think it was a bit better last Sunday, 2nd November.

Continued to Part II…

PADI: Go Dive