Having arrived on Koh Tao in February 2015, I have spent almost a year – the majority of it submerged – being pleasantly surprised at the endless opportunities there are within the scuba diving world.
It was always my intention to become a PADI instructor when I left my old world behind so I took the step to move to Koh Tao and extend my training from being a Rescue diver and join the PADI Pro’s community.
Intensive Incredible Fun
The Divemaster training programme at Crystal Dive was intensive but incredible fun and highly rewarding. It was during my seven weeks Divemaster training – I took my time as I kind of enjoyed the social aspect a bit too much – that I decided to sign up for my PADI Deep Diver Specialty course.
I didn’t really know too much about what was involved, but when I heard that I would be able to extend by limits, and be certified to dive to 40 metres I was more than a little curious so I signed up!
Let’s Get Narked!
Tina, one of the Divemaster program coordinators taught the course. There was three of us and Tina made it great fun. The highlight was experiencing the effects of nitrogen narcosis once we descended I past 35 metres. I ended up giggling, uncontrollably whilst sitting on the sand at the bottom of Sail Rock, slowly stroking Tina seeking reassurance! She still embarrasses me now telling the story to anyone that will listen!
Live It – Dive It!
Whilst working as a Divemaster for a number of months I quickly worked out the endless opportunities there are for learning and bettering myself as a scuba diver. The PADI Specialties program really interested me and I became a Master Scuba Diver by getting five specialties under my weight belt.
When the time came for me to do my Instructor course and didn’t even need to consider whether to do my MSDT. I had to choose 5 specialty courses that I would be certified to teach to my students and the Deep Dive spec was high on my list of choices!! The course to teach the students was great fun. My PADI Course Director gave me all the tools and knowledge I need to instruct the course safely and with confidence.
I was given the opportunity to teach my first Deep Spec course recently and jumped at the chance. My student was a good friend Jasmine who was leaving the island and was heading to another country where deep diving was popular so the specialty made sense and was well worth the money!
The video and academic side of the teaching was fun as she didn’t initially realise the concept of what the dives entailed. There is more to diving to 40 metres that you think! We had our own dedicated deep diving boat for the afternoon so could discuss the theory and how we were to put it in to practice.
Feeling The Pressure
The first dive involved introducing pressure related objects and how they are affected at depth. I asked Jasmine to examine three objects on the boat. We would then compare them at 30 metres. When I pulled out the objects again at depth I could see how surprised she was by the wide eyes in her mask.
The pressure at 30 metres is 4 times that on the surface so the water bottle filled with air was crunched up into a small hard bundle of plastic. I also took a packet of chips down with me. The packet was much smaller at 30 metres and when we returned to the surface and opened them – the chips were crushed into smaller bits!
Off The Rock & Out Deep
The following morning was my favourite dives. The next dive was out ‘deep’ and I was determined to get down deep, right on 40 metres at the amazing Chumphon Pinnacle. The visibility was pretty good as we headed out, swimming off in to the blue. I was constantly checking my dive computer, ensuring I didn’t drop below the maximum limit for recreational divers.
I asked Jasmine if she was OK and in response I got the hand signal telling me that she was ‘narked’. I had to pretend that I wasn’t. Who would want an instructor that was also feeling the effects of nitrogen narcosis! That said, I had this incredible feeling of euphoria but I had my sensible head on this time!
There was a cool little stingray sitting in the sand watching what was to be quite an amusing set of tests to evidence the effects of depth on your ability to make decisions and problem solve. What was quite a simple mathematics equation on the boat turned out to be pretty complicated at 40 metres taking twice as long.
Then the test to write her email backwards! After one minute of Jasmine staring blankly at what she was trying to write I gave up as time was running short.
At 40 metres you only have a 7 minute No Decompression Limit so we had to ascend to a shallower depth and Jasmine’s ability to complete these tasks was taking too long! We laughed a lot back on the boat when I showed her how just how badly she had done. She told me that she wasn’t narked. I’m not sure what’s worse!
On the final dive I demonstrated to Jasmine the importance of planning and navigating a deep dive site and ensuring you and your dive buddy plan the dive within the limits of the training you have and other important factors such as your no stop limits.
Jasmine loved the course and I loved teaching her. She was a great student and really enthusiastic to learn more. That helped me because whilst deep diving is fun, I stressed the importance of understanding the consequences of not following the safe standards that PADI ensure are adhered to.
Recreational diving has an excellent safety record but things occasionally go wrong and it’s important to understand that breathing in a world that we were not designed to breath in requires stringent safety measures to keep us all safe doing what we love.
So now my first scuba diving blog is done, it’s time for me to get back into the classroom to pass on my passion of diving to some more eager students!
Keep on learning and getting deeper into diving.
Author: Matt Benham (PADI MSDT #360284)