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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

PADI Open Water Diver course – come join me!

I blogged about my first SCUBA diving experience last April when I did my DSD with Borneo Divers. I am now going to get myself certified with PADI – to get my Open Water Diver certificate soon.

After much planning and consideration, I manage to get Roslan to help me on getting the best bargain package (without compromising learning qualities) on the course.

As I cannot get 4 days leave straight, I planned it during weekend – including 1 public holiday, Deepavali. So, this would be the tentative dates:

Classroom session: Sunday, 19th October 2008, will be held in Borneo Divers @ Menara Jubilee, Jalan Gaya. Formally, it is an 8 hour session, maybe start in the morning and end in the late afternoon. We will be teached on basic SCUBA diving using videos and maybe some online material.

In the water session: This will take 3 days straight – from 25th to 27th of October 2008, will be held in Mamutik Island. It’s Saturday to Monday – Monday is public holiday (Deepavali), so we take the opportunity to get the most out of the holiday. The best thing about this in the water session is that all 9 teaching dives will be held in Mamutik Island itself. If you do this in Kuala Lumpur for example, the session will be held in swimming pool. How not cool is that?

As the course is still open and it’s open to everybody, I would like to invite you to join me. Until now, only 2 have confirmed with me. Just drop me an email if you want to join.

The cost? You may try to ask around. If you go alone, it may cost you more than RM1000 for PADI Open Water Diver course. SSI cost is usually lower, but there are a lot of advantage on getting PADI certification. I promise to give you the best bargain around.

When you have the world’s top dive site at your own backyard, it is almost inappropriate NOT to get a diving license!!!

Come and join me. The more, the merrier…

PADI Open Water DVD

First 3 basic equipments for your SCUBA diving lesson

I did my DSD few months back, and decided to get myself an Open Water PADI SCUBA diving license in October. After getting some input from Roslan, one of my good friend (senior at high school & the person who is responsible for me going diving), we went to Sabah Divers at Wisma Sabah to get the first 3 basic equipment for SCUBA diving – mask, snorkel and fins.

Sabah DiversOf course, I can just hire them every time I go diving, but in the long run, I will save more on the items and it will always be mine. And I can use it for snorkeling around Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, a group of beautiful islands just 15 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu with my kids on weekends.

I know that I diverted my blog post a bit with SCUBA diving, but by staying in Sabah, I could not resist NOT to write about it. I have been to the highest peak of Borneo few times, 4095.2 meters above sea level. So this time I am going down, maybe up to 40 meters below sea level. Sabah is blessed with these two assets, in which people from all around the world spends millions to get to where we are. I just don’t want to miss the opportunity, as world class diving spot is just “at my backyard!!!”.

Anyway, back to the equipments. I bought all the items from Sabah Divers dive shop. As Roslan is a regular customer with them, I got a very good discount on all the items (I love discount!!!). At the end of the shopping session, I was RM600 poorer after spending on those 3 (actually 4, including a tote bag).

You don’t have to buy these equipments to get yourself an Open Water PADI diving license. You can hire them with the dive operators, but you will be more comfortable using your own equipments.

Knowing that spending on LiquidSkin MARES will burn my pocket more, I decided to settle on lower ranked brand, TUSA. Honestly, I decided to buy these items after getting some feedback from Roslan and some homework done from the internet. I bought:

TUSA snorkels1. TUSA Snorkels SP-130 Platina Hyperdry
Check it out from Amazon: TUSA Platina II Hyperdry Easy Clear Snorkel

  • Hyperdry system with three current rectifying plates.
  • Pre-angled purge valve to eliminate gurgling of water by breathing and let air bubbles pass by the side of the face. [PAT.P.]
  • Ortho-consciously designed mouthpiece for ultimate comfort.
  • Detachable two-sectional swivel adapter to minimize the pulling feeling. [PAT.P.]
  • Three-dimensional pipe curve for the ideal angle for snorkeling.

The sensation of residual water (gurgling) while snorkeling is eliminated. This revolutionary snorkel uses a new mouthpiece, designed with the aid of ergonomic engineering.

TUSA mask2. TUSA Masks TM7500Q Splendive II
Check it out from Amazon:Tusa Splendive II Light Weight Dive Mask

  • 2-window design with wide field of vision and light weight for comfort
  • Bi-symmetrical lenses for easy installation of corrective lenses.
  • Special low volume design for snug fit and easy clearing.

The Splendive II, TM-7500Q is very light with a total weight of only 6.3 ounces. It fits close to your face providing an extra-wide field of vision and is also quick and easy to clear. Corrective lenses are available for easy installation.

Basically, the correct way of choosing a mask is by putting it on to your face, and make sure it fits nicely on your eyes and nose. Gently inhale with the mask on to make sure that it sealed your face and do some movement (like tilting) of your head or even jump with it. A good mask is a mask that will not fall down while doing some vigorous things with the mask on.

TUSA fins3. TUSA Fins FF-9 X-Pert Zoom
Check it out from Amazon:TUSA Xpert Zoom Full Foot Split Scuba Diving Fins

  • Innovative hydrofoil design and hybrid blade produce greater forward motion (lift) both on the surface and under the water.
  • Propeller-fin™ technology and super lightweight design achieve the ultimate performance with less effort.
  • Open-toe full foot pocket provides superb comfort and support.

TUSA combined Propeller-fin™ technology and the multiflex-blade-system, resulting in the newly developed X-PERT ZOOM full-foot fin. The FF-9 provides more speed and power with less effort and fatigue than traditional paddle blade full-foot fins. The FF-9 is a super thin, lightweight design, yet it generates maximum performance and comfort with minimum strain on the leg muscles when using a small bent-knee kick with a light rhythm.

Yeah, right… I got all those information from TUSA’s official website. As I have not used them yet (at this moment of writing), I could not give my personal views on those equipments.

Oh, as I am going for a SCUBA diving lesson this October (either at Pulau Mamutik, Manukan or Gaya), I would like to invite you to join me. So far, I have 2 other friends (Nazul and Rahman, my previous dive buddy) who will be joining me to get the license.

Just drop me an email if you want to join. The more, the merrier. I may be able to give you a very competitive price for the course as I know some people in this area…