Saturday, 20 September 2014

Live and Let Dive!

Arash and Matt join me back on the boat
 I imagined diving to be like flying. Gliding through the water in a state of weightlessness, exploring the hidden depth of a different world and finding creatures that you couldn't have imagined sharing the same planet as you.

For some this is exactly what it is like.

My Iranian friend, Arash, had joined me for this experience and I was a little nervous for him as he had been expressing some concerns all morning. He seemed genuinely nervous and I reassured him, telling him it was going to be easy once we got in the water. He said he would copy what I did. I giggled and suggested that if I looked like I was drowning then he should do his own thing.

Arash with big smiles after his dive
I stepped forward off the boat and plunged in to the deep blue sea holding on tight to my mask and regulator exactly as instructed. The air I had just pumped in to my jacket ensured I surfaced again quickly. That is when I first felt the panic rising.
 Suddenly I was aware of one of the instructors in front of me. "Are you OK?" He asked with a slightly concerned look on his face. I nodded and tried to control my breathing and look sane. "Ok. Turn on to your back and swim toward Matt over there".

Matt was waiting for me by the rope at the front of the boat "Let go of your regulator. You're on the surface" he pointed out as I tried to swim towards him.

The Big Blue team
Finally I grabbed the rope and waited for the others to arrive. As they did so the panic came again as I felt myself being crowded and the rope got lower in the water. I couldn't reach it anymore. It didn't matter of course as it was not the rope holding me up. That's not how it felt to me. I sucked on the respirator like it was gas and air and I was in labour!

Matt pulled me away from the crowd and I grabbed hold of him like my life depended on it. He tried to get me breathing calmly and assured me I was not going to sink. It took him several minutes to get me to let go with just one hand. Once my breathing calmed a little I tried putting my head in the water and breathing normally. I couldn't do it. The panic came again and again.

Rhonda gets strapped down on the boat
"Do you want to get back on the boat?" Matt asked kindly.
I couldn't call it. I couldn't bring myself to say yes and so Matt did it for me.

Instantly I relaxed. My breathing became normal again and I laughed at myself for being so stupid.

That was my diving experience to date! I'm up for trying one more time just to be sure if the opportunity arrises again during the trip.  Perhaps in a swimming pool next time though!

A massive thank you to the wonderful team at Big Blue Diving Resort for giving me the opportunity to learn a little more about myself and for taking the mic all afternoon (I could not have coped with sympathy). Sadly I didn't have time to stay and do more work with them.

Arash had a wonderful time having taken the wise decision NOT to follow suit!

Pak Bara
My time on Koh Tao was over all too quickly and before I knew it I was back on the night boat and waving goodbye to my friends having had a wonderful time and a break from moving around.

On arriving at Surat the next morning, I wondered South until I hit a small fishing village called Pak Bara with a bungalow on the beach and nothing around but fishermen and a family of small cats for company. Perfect hideout to prepare!

Time to get this show back on the road.


  1. Ride on. Good effort.

  2. Give it another go some time. It's great!

  3. Perfectly normal response Steph, being able to breath underwater is strange at first. Try again, I had the same experience, and resolved it with a patient, empathetic female instructor. It's amazing when you crack it! x

  4. Buy a cheap snorkle and mask from a supermarket and practice in the bath! It takes a while for your brain to accept you can breath and not drown. Personally it took me a whole week of trying every day to be able to breath normally when underwater, but was so worth it in the end, totally relaxed now and enjoying the 'flying' feeling. Pete

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