SCUBA DIVING TRIP TO TIOMAN by Angelica, Grade 7
The Scuba Diving trip was exciting and got all our hearts thumping with excitement. We got to see a whole new world, under the waves, the heart of the ocean, which we had to venture to see. You will not believe what is hidden from our reach. Every time you go down there, it feels like a dream, every time you hit the water, you feel like you’re floating in air. Nothing disrupts your peace underwater, just the constant bubbles that rise to the surface, and fishes swimming past your ears. You get to see marine life outside the zoo, wild and free, and you get to swim alongside them, and feel the joy that they’re feeling and feel what it feels like to be a marine animal. You get to experience the feeling of freedom and go beyond your limits, going to interesting places to dive, learning all kinds of cool techniques to dive better and in free time we get to do a lot of fun and spontaneous things! It was exciting and exhilarating to dive with my friends and see the places I wasn’t able to discover alone in Tioman.
This weekend was tiring. I was teaching 5 PADI Junior Open Water and 2 PADI Open Water student divers from an International School. The diving and the non stop “Gary” questions all day long wore me out. Thankfully one of the teachers was on board to help out, Teacher Juett who is also a PADI Instructor.
When I did the last trip with this school, some of the kids were late and we left without them. They had to catch a ferry to Batam, Indonesia to catch up with the dive boat. The Thursday before this trip I told them all, if they are late we will leave them behind and there is no way to catch up. We were not heading to Indonesia this time, but to Malaysia.
I arrived at 5.30pm to find all my students were already there, along with Paul, who is never early until he started his new job with Google. He was in casual clothes (and that was his office attire). The meeting time was 6pm at Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) and everyone was early with their passports!
So for the first time ever, everyone was at TMFT on or before 6pm, so I called the MV Seaborne’s Captain to come along side only to find out that the boat was running late due to a queue at the fuel depot. Man? Anyway we left at 6.45pm and headed straight to Renggis Island, off Tioman, Malaysia for our first dive.
The seas were just perfect all weekend with little, to no swell at all and I even managed to get a bed due to a late cancellation. I slept so well on Friday night, it was awesome. I woke at 6am when we took the mooring line at Renggis and the engines were switched off.
I sent the 6 leisure divers off with Pierre, my French PADI Dive Master Trainee (DMT) for their first dive. Pierre was looking after two girls from the same International School, Natasha and Krystal. Joining him were regulars Paul and Charles. Fiona and Cormac joined one of my trips for the first time after meeting them at ADEX (Asia Dive Expo held at Marina Bay Sands over 19-21 April 2013). All four are very experienced divers and ended up diving in buddy pairs leaving Pierre to look after the two girls.
The black tips have been seen every weekend at Renggis and they were there again Saturday morning along with a turtle. My students were struggling with their buoyancy and a few of them surfaced a couple of times. I was too busy looking after them to look around to see any sharks. Paul on his JJ Re-breather, managed to see the sharks.
The leisure divers dived Tiger Reef whilst the students sat the dive out due to the depth. I took this time to brief them again about buoyancy and other dive tips. I found myself having to repeat this all weekend. But I am happy to say they finally got their S#$T together on the 5th and final dive of the weekend. On dives 1-4, someone went to the surface for no reason, I told them after the 4th dive that no one would pass the course if anyone went to the surface on the 5th dive. Sure enough no one did and the dive lasted 45 minutes too.
After Renggis we dived Labas and then the wooden wreck off the Marine Park Jetty. This wreck is aptly named Marine Park Wreck.
At Labas, I could not take the kids through the swim throughs due to their crappy buoyancy, so we just swam around the rocks. I did my best to get the students to understand how to dive. It was hard work.
The MV Seaborne then dropped us at the Marine Park Wreck and the leisure divers at the Sipadan Wreck.
Firstly, I did Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascents (commonly known as “CESA’S”) with the kids, using the mooring line as the point of reference. Then once the Captain pointed to where the Marine Park Wreck was from the mooring line, I descended down the mooring line, tied my line to the rope and swam out in the direction AhGun (the Captain) had pointed. Sure enough, 50 metres later, I found the Marine Park Wreck and tied off. I have never dived this wreck before. Somewhat surprising given how many times I have been to Tioman! Swimming back to the mooring line, using my line as a reference, I collected the kids and PADI Instructor Juett and we went exploring into the “deep” blue. Well not really deep, a maximum depth of 12 metres for us.
The Marine Park Wreck is a small wooden wreck that is mostly broken up, but the skeleton of the wreck looks really nice with the light shining through the timber. It looked somewhat like the ribs from a chest cavity. It was 12 metres at the top. I could not take my camera due to having to look after students (sorry, no photos). Instructor Juett and the kids loved the wreck and are excited about diving it again, later during the dive season.
We sat back and watched the night divers enjoy their dive as we waited for the world famous Seaborne BBQ to start. I was so tired looking after the kids, I was in bed at 9pm, which was a first for me.
After the BBQ we headed to dive Dolly Parton or Pamela Anderson (name depends on your age) and Jack Rock. The viz was not as good as the previous trip at Easter time, but they are still awesome dive sites. This was the first time that Pierre (GS-Diving’s DMT) had dived Dolly Parton and he was very impressed.
At Dolly Parton we saw sea snakes, free swimming morays and thousands of small fish. A school of trevally passed by really close and the one golden trevally was just beautiful. The kids again had issues with staying underwater and crowded each other. So I had serious words with them after the dive. I had previously promised they could take their underwater cameras with them on the 5th dive only, but I quickly revoked that and told them that they were not ready to take cameras.
Jack Rock was amazing again. So many fish and colourful coral to look at. The kids did well and everyone managed to dive horizontally and stay underwater for the whole dive. They even gave themselves some space during the dive and I believe that there were not so many underwater collisions. I think my threats worked!
The leisure divers reported more sea snakes, bamboo sharks and loads of nudi’s. After Jack Rock we headed back to Singapore in calm seas. We had the current behind as all day and managed 11 knots, which got us home nice and early around 6pm.
It was another great weekend diving with great company. Thankfully I got rid of the kids and could rest Sunday night (please don’t tell them I wrote this, but I was exhausted). Although I felt like a nagging Dad, but I hope they enjoyed themselves underwater as much as I did.
As well as looking after your gear (or that, which is rented), diving etiquette dictates a certain level of behaviour, once you have finished your dive. As Drill Sergeant Gary says, “Hang up wet-suits! Clip masks to buoyancy control devices (BCD’s)! Fins inside BCD’s and fasten the front! Turn tanks off, purge regulators and remove first stages from tanks! Store weight belts on the floor, I don’t want broken toes if one falls off the bench!
PS – Luckily by the fifth dive, most were able to look after their diving gear properly. The next challenge will be to get them to wash their gear after the last dive of the weekend (without too much pestering).
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