Laurie Young Photography

Learning to dive

06 January, 2020

This post is part of series. Don't forget to check out the second part, My first (underwater) camera.

In February 2018 I learned to dive in Thailand. The idea of diving scared me, but I had to do something, and this was something! Little did I know how much I would come to love it.

Koh Tao

I had to take a break from work. It had been stressful. Stressful in the same way that driving a car along the edge of a cliff was stressful. It had been that way for months, and while the car hadn't gone over the cliff it hadn't got any further from the edge either. I was getting burned out and I needed to do something.

So I took some time off. Colleagues were able to cover for me, something I'm eternally grateful for, and went travelling. I went around the world. I can say the world isn't flat from first-hand experience.

The idea of learning to Scuba Dive had been planted in my mind a few years previously. I'd done a Discover Scuba Dive with some colleagues as part of a work trip. Ever since then I'd been meaning to try again. This seemed like the perfect time. So, based on the recommendation of Haje, I booked the PADI open water course with Master Divers and set off!

Descending

The whole idea scared me. What if I got eaten by a shark? Or couldn't breathe? Or if the (tropical) water was too cold? I was still super stressed, and that was making me anxious.

I did the theory part of the open water course at Master Divers. The other students were all doing e-learning so I was alone in the classroom with Jason, the Course Director. I've never found theory hard, and Jason was a great teacher, so that bit was easy.

Then came the first day of contact with water. I turned up to do the last 1/2 day of classroom work I felt ill. I didn't think I could go out on a boat, let alone try this diving thing. Jason sat with me and we talked for a bit, he reassured me there was no pressure I could do my dives another day. I realised I was dehydrated among other things. It was after all my first time in a tropical climate. Or at least the first time since I was 6 months old, but that's another story.

Getting Help

I went back to my room in the guesthouse, drank a load of water, and slept for a few hours. I awoke a new man. I felt so much better, and I was still in time to go out and do the first confined water dives.

I wish I could say that after that everything was easy, but that would be a lie! Jumping into the water was as scary as hell, though I soon got used to that. I had no awareness of how much air was in my lungs and it took me forever to learn how to fully breathe out. That made resting on the sand at the bottom of the bay difficult, and I kept floating off when I was meant to be learning how to clear my mask. But with practice and a lot of patience from both Jason and Kiri, I finally got the hang of breathing out.

Equalise!

By the end of the open water course, I was hooked. I went straight on to do the Advanced Course. This time there were no other students on the course, so I had one to one diving with another instructor Kevin.

Kevin was a marine biologist and his super passionate about underwater life. After every dive, we went through every single species of fish we saw, and I ran out of space on every page of my log.

I knew then that I would eventually want to start taking a camera underwater...

Find out how things worked out with My first (undewater) camera.

(I have no photos from those dives because there was a strict, and very sensible, rule preventing students from taking cameras on dives. I've used stock photos for this post.)