Sunday, May 13, 2012

Scuba Fail

My scuba gear near Astrid's head.
People from all over the world come to Koh Tao to learn to scuba dive. I came to Koh Tao to be back in Thailand, to chillax, to hang out with my friend Astrid, and to eat Thai food/drink mango shakes and juices like there is no tomorrow. Astrid is a scuba diving instructor with Big Bubble (I highly recommend them should you choose to come here and experience scuba diving!), and so I decided I should learn to scuba dive and enrolled in the open water certification course with Astrid as my instructor and Katti, Florian, Dustin, and Luigi as my team. Day 1 I watched the 2.5 hour video and did my homework. Day 2 from 9am - 12pm we had a lesson on scuba-ing with Astrid, and after lunch got on the boat to Mango Bay to start learning our skills underwater. That's where it all happened...

Don't try to learn scuba diving if you feel like you should rather than you want to.
      a. My whole family is PADI certified and I was never interested in doing it.
      b. I think snorkeling is really boring.
      c. I love mountains, I love lakes, I love the sea, I love grass, I love trees, I love watching animals etc, etc, but I have never loved or cared for underwater fish.

Mango Bay
And so we put all our gear on and jumped into the water holding our masks and regulators. We swam to shallow water to learn the skills, but the visibility was horrendous - you saw nothing until the other person was literally on you.

1. I thought the skills trainings would be in "confined" water as in a pool (as the video suggested). I think I got a little scared there.
2. Your first experience of being able to breathe underwater is surreal. It's always weird the first day, but when the visibility is so bad and people are surrounding you...maybe you feel a little claustrophobic. Maybe I did. I've never felt claustrophobic before.


Astrid led us into deeper water where the visibility was bad. We all gave her the ok and started to go under. I don't know how it happened but as I held my BCD in the air and deflated, as I started to sink and go under water, my heart felt trapped, like it would explode. I was not nearly 1 foot underwater at this point. I got scared, ya'll, and it was difficult and upsetting to admit. The bubbles from my exhales were loud in my ears. I was overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I inflated immediately and went up.

3. It must have been the fear that made the bubbles so loud?
4. I was expecting scuba diving to be a quiet activity like snorkeling.

Astrid came up after a minute and asked if I was ok. She suggested I stay up and rest, and she came up in between every skill and asked if I was ready. No, no, no. I would put my head underwater and watch them and breathe, but anytime I tried to deflate and sink, the brain-heart connection freaked out.
Eventually, the whole group came up and Astrid convinced me to try the skills just with her underwater as she held my hand. It was better. Astrid looks so peaceful and happy underwater so it's difficult to freak out.
Skill 1 - massaging a cramp - successfully completed.
Skill 2 - taking the regulator out of your mouth and then putting it back in and clearing it - successfully completed, even though initially I swallowed a lot of water and we inflated and went up for air.
Skill 3 - taking the regulator out of your mouth and putting your arm around to find it again to put it back in your mouth and clear it of water - surprisingly, successfully completed.
Skill 4 - taking the regulator out of your mouth and pushing the tank up to help you find the regulator, then putting your arm around to find it again to put it back in your mouth and clear it of water.



She showed me again.

Hmmm....Unsuccessful. I couldn't trust myself to do it.

5. Trusting yourself is important in scuba dive. I could not.

Astrid did a "rubbing of her tears" motion underwater, I was ashamed, we went up, I swam to the boat, they all continued. I've never not finished something. Maybe I've half-assed many things (papers, I'm talking to you) but to not finish? What a strange feeling. But you know, all the signs pointed in that direction. Scuba diving isn't for me.

Florian, Luigi, Dustin, Katti - My group and my new friends. Flo and Katti are now open water certified =) Luigi and Dustin are scuba divers =)

Raquel and Luismi - my new friends from Madrid, also now open water diving certified!

As my scuba divin' dad said in his email, "Scuba...a...who cares, maybe next time, maybe never, at least u tryed."

I'm glad I watched the video and started the course however, because I can still talk to everyone on this island about diving and we can communicate with all the signals and everything. Plus, I went on the boat again the following day and was extremely useful by taking photos of everyone in their gear and in the water. Good times!

Now on to how I learned to LOVE snorkeling...


  1. I tried to learn scuba diving in Honduras a few years back and it was an epic fail! I was terrified to getting into the water, when I did, after minutes of looking at the ocean and trying to convince myself that I did love the ocean and this had been my idea, I got in, but swallowed too much water, which resulted in me getting super sick after a few minutes in the water. I had to come up, threw up endlessly and then the boat got stuck and we had to wait an hour for the coast guards to come pull us back to shore. I laid on the floor of the boat, dry heaving. It was not the best moment of my life. But like your dad said, at least your tried. :)

    1. Aw, Sara, that sounds really bad! But yes, trying is the most important part!

  2. Aww - at least you tried!! That's what counts. I've always wanted to learn how, but never thought that it could be that anxiety-producing. Good mental preparation for when I go, so thank you!