A photographic essay of a diver excursion

If you are not a diver, rest assured that Thailand has some of the best and safest water conditions around. Visibility varies at times, but it is very very clear in the south of Thailand. South of Thailand offers world-renown diving experiences and live-a-boards. In the northern waters visibility is less but it is still excellent diving. With water  about 80 degrees Fahrenheit,  you will only need a very thin suit. You need to protect yourself against jelly fish and that sort of thing. Although the view from the dive boat can be disarmingly peaceful at slack tide, currents run strong at other times.

Justifiable Caution

Initially I was scared to dive. Perhaps it is prudent to exercise justifiable caution. It took ten years. I have become an instructor, at least by rank, but there is reason for caution when deep diving or wreck diving. Currents can be strong and treacherous, with no guarantee of where you will wind up. If one strays off course from the plan you could be in unanticipated situations. Currents don’t always go up, sometimes they drag you down! Yes there should always be a plan and you should always have a good idea about the waters and challenges that you may encounter.

Follow the Rules

So follow the rules and dive safe. That means diving with a buddy. In lower visibility, you keep your buddy close in case you need assistance. I just heard a story the other day about someone with a full tank of air just descending whose “0” ring burst. Although there was no problem for this particular diver, it has a potential to cause serious problems. Many divers are of the opinion that there is no problem with a full tank, a crew of divers and a destination 30 meters deep. But it is all relative. During my dive career this very site has taken multiple lives of at least three people that I know about.

Issues with Diving

There are issues with diving which one becomes familiar with: the first is never to hold your breath, as air expands when you go up! The second is decompression illness, which you handle…never surface faster than the bubbles you breath, but there are more specific rules: keeping hydrated, keeping in good condition, not being tired, staying out of stressful situations, and staying within the time limitations. Other than that there are issues related to lungs.

Oxygen is toxic at partial pressures above 1.3-1.6 or so. That means the partial pressure at the surface is .21 but when you go down another atmospheric level, the partial pressure becomes .42; got it? When you go down three atmospheres it is .63 or when you go down five atmospheric pressures, you are at 1.05; when you go down six atmospheric pressures (180 feet–which is beyond recreational diving) the partial pressure is 1.26. Partial pressure increases by the atmospheric level! At this level you might have seizures. Beyond this, it could be fatal.

Nitrogen Narcosis

Nitrogen narcosis. You’ve probably heard about this but never experienced it. After about 80 feet, one starts to get the effects of nitrogen in the blood system,  like being drunk. Thinking becomes cloudy. At 150 feet on a technical dive, I thought down was up! That’s how screwy you get! Training is how you keep it together. When I was in Puerto Galera, Philippines, doing technical training, the day of the test I was sick from anticipation. I had to go down 30 feet and swim 50 meters on one breath, then take my mask off and swim back on a line to the instructor. When I got to the instructor,  I had to swim around for 3 minutes without a mask, breathing from the instructor’s auxiliary regulator.

No problem for Segal

Actually it was no problem but as Steven Segal once said in his movie, “anticipation…is worse ….”. The actual quote is “anticipation of death is worse than death itself”, but I’m just saying! The anticipation of the test and dropping down 150 feet made me stay up all night. It gave me a sore throat in the early morning and I wanted to quit. The instructor told me bluntly, “there is no way I’m losing you now!”. HAHA! He wouldn’t let me quit! He wouldn’t accept my resignation! Next thing I knew, I was diving   backwards from a small boat; just dropping  the water with two tanks on my back and an oxygen tank for decompression attached to my chest. I went down like a rock!

 

Just kept going down and down

One just keeps going down and down and down! It was a little scary for me! I signaled the instructor Abort! Abort!  Frantically waving my arms around. Unfortunately he had  his back  towards me but he did casually  glance over at me. You see for him this was everyday stuff! For me, I was in this state of panic! He just shrugged and turned his back to me as I continued to sink like a rock!  About a minute later or so I unceremoneously hit the bottom!

No Coddling on a Technical Dive!

If you or I were new at this he would have coddled me– but this is no coddling technical diving! I did immediately calm down at the bottom. It was just the continual drop that sort of made me uncomfortable. But I can tell you, it was the most beautiful dive; dead ahead was a fan coral about 6 feet wide and 5 feet high; a few minutes later a school of angel fish (huge ones at that) swam up to me and  checkied me out–with no fear. Down about 50 meters they really don’t see many people! And it was a wonderful experience. We used a combination of 32% oxygen and the rest was nitrogen.

The experience of Narcosis

So the issue  at 150 feet was narcosis, rather than oxygen toxicity. Sure enough, I got abit confused as I mentioned. When looking at my dive watch, it said 45 meters or so. As I recall however, my experience was mental confusion. My thinking was that as I went down and the watch went to 47 meters, I was going in the right direction! I thought there was something wrong with the watch! Then I heard the instructor screaming at me! Yes you can hear through the regulator and breathing apparatus and through the water. I’m hear today to tell you that I did turn around and head up!

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