I started the advanced open water course on the 29th January. It's only a 2 day course and and if you do the course with SSI you dont have to do any homework or reading or tests, my kind of course!
There were 2 groups doing the advanced course at the same time so the first morning we all joined together. We were given an underwater compass (the same as a normal compass but filled with oil to prevent pressure from breaking it, and it's got a wrist strap too) and did a couple of exercises in navigation. It was pretty quick and not so thorough but all the same everyone had a general idea of what to do, kind of.
In the afternoon we got all our crap together and ventured out to the first dive site, Twins. We were handed a dive computer and slapped it on our wrist. We've got all this crap on our wrists by now that I'm starting to feel like Stacey. Our first dive was basically a session to really work on our buoyancy, I think it was called "Perfect Buoyancy" but mine certainly was not perfect. We did our first free descent, a descent without the use of a buoy line to guide you down. Once once at the bottom, we didn't actually spend any time on the dive site. We took a quick swim over to a sandy patch that had been filled with various man made obstacles such as hoops, over and unders and batons to weave through.
We got taught how to hover upside down (usefull when looking into crevices), how to swim over something then back underneath it facing the surface, swimming through holes, weaving and changes in depth. Once we had done the swimming though holes our instructor, Iain, picked on me to swim through a small gap. I initially questioned this instruction as the gap looked a tiny bit too small to fit through with a tank, but in my arogance I thought he had picked me becuase I was the best and most controlled on the previous task. This was not the case. I didn't fit through the gap, at least nothing more than my head. Cheers Iain.
The next dive was our navigation dive and it wasn't going to be at White Rock. I was buddied with Ole, our Norwegian friend. We descended down the buoy line as usual and then away from the coral to a sandy patch where we were asked to navigate to a certain point and back, easy enough until you throw a load of open water learners into the way as large volatile obstacles. But we managed it! We were then sent off on our for the first time ever! We had to navigate our way back to the boat. Ole and I had already discussed where we were going to go and how we were going to get around under there anyway and headed off on a baring I can't quite remember. We saw quite a few cool fish and this was the first time that I used my action cam in the water, exciting times! Eventually I got to 70 bar of air left and realised we need to look at surfacing fairly soon. We didn't really have an idea of where we were but we carried on swimming and turned around a rock, and smack bang in front of us was the buoy line, sweeeett! Iain had given us some very strict instructions we were not to break: don't go below 15 meters, don't dive for longer than 45 mins, don't come back with less than 40 bar of air left. We achieved all three whilst Julien (French matey) scraped back with 42 bar and some of the others had gone too deep. Winners.
That evening we went out again(!) for a night dive back at White Rock. The concept of this didn't really appeal to me and the reality was ok but not amazing. When you are on top of the water, that's the scariest part. All you have equipment wise that is different from the day dives is a torch that is waterproof. And it's a small one too. When you look around you can see the lights on the boats, your buddy's and a couple of other divers' lights, lights on the land and maybe some stars. When you look down, all you can see is blackness either side of a narrow beam of light that doesn't even reach the bottom. That's what I really hated. We descended in a very compact unit and followed Iain throughout the dive. Once you get down to the bottom it's just like any other dive but the fish are mainly asleep. Unfortunately no barracuda used my torch to hunt which seems to be the norm but I was lucky enough to see two stingrays down there!