a couple years back i got my open water diving certification while i was in thailand. i was so excited to be certified, but since then i haven’t been anywhere w/ good diving so i haven’t made use of my certification at all. i’ve been hearing for a while now that dahab has some of the best diving on the whole planet, so i was totally looking forward to coming here and trying it out! i signed up for an advanced scuba course, that would include 6 dives in just 2 days! that’s a hell of a lot of diving for such a short time and by the end i was utterly exhausted, but so happy. also, caryn had given me a underwater case for my camera, so for the first time i was able to take photos of stuff i saw while diving. thisa totally added a new dimension to diving and was hella fun. unfortunately, it took me quite a while to get used to it (it’s difficult due to low light, fast moving fish, etc) so most of my photos are pretty crappy… but there are a few decent ones.
to get your advanced diving certificate, you have to do some dives that have certain qualities to them. mainly, yoou have to do one night dive, one deep dive, and yoou have to learn how to navigate underwater…
Dive 1 – refresher
because it’s been so long since my last dive, i had to do a refresher dive to test my skills and make sure i remember how to do stuff. i thought this was gonna be really boring and that all i would do was sit around underwater and show that i can unflodd my mask, and find my regulator, but it turned out to actually be a pretty fun dive. after testing my skills, we spent another half an hour just swimming around and checking out fish.
Dive 2 – underwater navigation
for this course, we had to learn how to follow a compass underwater, judge distances, and be able to get our bearings underwater. unfortunately, i’m pretty crap w/ directions, so i was a bit nervous about succeeding here. one of the tasks we had to do was swim in a square underwater by using a compass. well, 3/4 of the way through, i somehow got totally disoriented and went totally the wrong way. my square, ended up not being a square at all! but i was able to succeed the next time. for one of the other tests, our instructor took us out fairly far from where we strated, and after swimming in circles for a bit, we had to find our way back to the beginning. it was pretty hard, but we succeeded. phew!
Dive 3 – Night Dive
i’ve always wanted to do a night dive, but have always been a little nervous about it. i dont particularly like the dark, and the thought of swimming underwater in the ocean where who knows what was lurking around me in the blackness was quite unnerving. after the sun set, we set out into the dark waters w/ just flashlights to guide our way. diving at night turned out to be incredibly fun. yes, it’s eerie.. but the eerieness just adds to the excitement of diving. in the darkness, it kind of feels like you are floating through space out there and you point your flashlight at different things as fish flutter by. there are all sorts of really beautiful fanlike corals that come out only at night, and the rocky reef walls that we had been swimming next to earlier were now alive and full of brightly colored neat looking plants.
Dive 4 – Deep Dive
when you get yoour basic open water scuba license, you are only allowed to dive down to 18 meters (about 60 feet) which is pretty deep if you think about… but to get your advanced, you have to do a deep dive which takes you down to 30 meters (100 feet)!! there is this thing called nitrogen narcosis which is where tiny nitrogen bubbles somehow affect your brain, and you get slightly loopy down there. actually, it affects different people differently, and some people can go kind of crazy for a while like trying to swim w/out their air regulator or whatnot!! luckily, nothing like that happened to us. this dive was in an underwater canyon, so basically you start off on top of the canyon at about 20 meters deep, and then plunge down into the canyon another 10 meters down. it was so crazy to be down there, 100 feet down, in the middle of a canyon, pering up along the canyon walls at the blue of the ocean above. here are a couple of photos looking up through the crack of the canyon.
after swimming at the bottom of the canyon for a bit, we had to swim out through a side opening tunnel, that was pretty narrow and you could barely fit through it with all of your gear on. heh, it was like i was rock climbing down there, but inverted! as i scrambled through the tunnel, i thought about how crazy all this was compared to the diving i did for the basic class. i’ve gone from swimming around in open water at 60 feet, to scrambling through underwater holes and crevices at 100 feet down!
Dive 5 – Multilevel dive
the next dive we had to do was one where you track your progress starting from a deep level to several less deep ones. basically, the more time you spend underwater, the more likely you can harm yourself, especially at deeper depths, so there is only certain amounts of time that you can spend at each depth before yoo need to head higher. i was super excited about this dive because it would be along bells walls and then continue on to the blue hole. the blue hole is unique because it’s this gicantic hole near to the shore. the whole goes down to about 300 meters(!!!) and then continues downward into the abyss. as you swi through the hole, there is nothing but blue nothingness stretching beneath you as far as you can see and it’s quite a phenominal sight. actually, the blue hole is also famous because it is one of the dive sites that have claimed the most lives. there is a dive that you can only do if you are an extremely advanced technical diver, where you dive down this crack near the hole, and then swim out through an archway into the hole. all of a sudden, you’re completely in the blue with nothing to orient yourself to, and at that depth, people have gotten nitrogen narcosis, and instead of swimming up an out… they’ve swam downward, never to be seen again!! luckily, the dive we did was similar, but much easier and less dangerous than that one.
we started out by bells walls. just a few yards from shore, and only a few meters deep, you swim down head first off a rocky cliff, and plunge down about 100 feet, before you swim under this arch and out. this was so spectacular!! you just swim down, down, and more down for what seems like eternity! and swimming through the archway was pretty cool too. after this you are to the side of the cliff wall that yoou had been standing on, and you swim along the wall checking out the fish that swim along the wall.
this whole time, you can see nothing but blue below and to the side of you. it’s quite a crazy feeling. eventually, we ascended a bit, and eventually swam into the blue hole. unfortunately, the visibility was quite poor that day, and instead of pure endless blue below, it was a kind of cloudy blue that yoou couldnt much see through. oh well, it was still really cool!
Dive 6 – underwater photography
for the last dive of the course, we could choose what we wanted to do, and since i had an underwater camera, i decided to to the “underwater photography” course which meant i just swam around and took pictures. easy! we went to a dive site called the islands, which was this huge area with tons of coral. at one point, all the coral was toppled over and laying in shambles on the ocean floor. i guess there was this huge earthquake here about 5 years ago and lots of the coral collapsed. it’s odd, somehow i never thought of coral as something that could collapse in a quake. this dive was really cool, cause it was so easy. i didnt have to worry about using a compass, or how deep i was or anything… i just swam around, and enjoyed seeing fish and took photos of them. lots of fun! i even saw a couple of tiny eels during the dive.
finally, after the 6th dive i went back to the place we were staying completely exhausted and burnt out. it had been a long long two days, and i definitely needed a rest!
here are the photos i took while diving
and here are a couple that i liked in particular:
blue tang (nora from finding nemo)
clownfish hiding in anemone (nemo from finding nemo)