A few days ago high season definitely kicked in here on Koh Tao. This means big groups of students starting courses every day and therefore loads of oppurtunities for me to assist. So a couple of days ago I started assisting a new Open Water course. This time I’ve chosen (crappy timing now that it’s so busy but whatever..) to also participate in the classroom stuff. Or participate might be an exaggeration as I’m not doing anything besides listening – it’s only for my own sake as I want to gain even more experience on what it’s like to be an instructor. Afterwards it was time to go in the pool and it was my lucky day as I got to demonstrate most of the skills. The other courses I have assisted (besides the very first one) have been three day courses which means that we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the pool the first day and then gone for the open water dives on the following two days. This course is however done over four so we didn’t have to cover nearly as much in the pool that day. The remaining skills were done yesterday on a confined sea dive.
Unfortunately the weather hasn’t understood that high season has arrived and so we’re plagued by quite windy weather accompanied by rain and too cold temperatures for a tropical paradise. Along with the windy weather comes a rough sea so we’re often thrown a bit around on the boats when we go out. The worst is however when it’s time to het out of the water and back on the boat after a dive! On all three boats we exit the water by handing up our fins while holding on to the ladder and then climb up with the rest of our gear still on. With a calm sea this is quite standard and not the least interesting to tell you about but with the waves we’ve seen lately it requires somewhat of a team effort and it can seem a bit scary. The divers in the water waiting to exit will hold on to a line hanging from the boat, pass their fins to one instructor and then be escorted from the line to the ladder by another instructor. On the boat either a DMT (not me though, I’m challenged enough just keeping myself from falling over) or an instructor will take the fins and help the divers up the ladder and onto the boat.
Another downside to the weather is that we’re forced to only use a limited number of the divesites due to the choppy sea. This has resulted in me going to dive site Japanese Gardens for nine dives in five days. Had it only been one of my favorite dive sites (or even better one of the sites that I have yet to see) then I probably wouldn’t complain but Japanese Gardens isn’t that fantastic. It’s mostly brownish coral and usually not that amazing fish life save for the juvenile harlequin sweetlips which is so cute to watch as it looks so confused (it’s on the picture below).
I have however mostly been assisting anyway so the lack of exciting dive sites hasn’t mattered that much – I’m usually quite focused on the students when I assist and therefore often come back from those dives having seen little more than other people’s fins. On the course I’m assisting at the moment there are eight students and they’re all really confident in the water so I’m quite busy counting the number of fins all the time to make sure they haven’t gone off on their own.
Despite the number of courses going on at the moment I actually managed to squezze in two fundives the other day as I had my 100th dive-aversary to celebrate. In the diving community it’s standard procedure to do your 100th dive as a naked dive so it really wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to assist a course that day. Instead I was joined by two other DMTs, Andrea and Callie, and then Katie – my buddy from the girlpower Open Water course which she had just finished two days before – for an all-girls naked fundive.
We went in the water with out bikinis on, descended and swam for a little while to make sure we were alone and then stripped down completely. The first part of the dive was nice and relaxed, we didn’t see anything spectacular but neither did we bump in to any other divers. Then just as we decided it was time to put our bikinis back on and turn around to go back to the boat groups of other divers seemed to pop out of the blue everywhere. It’s not easy to put bikinis on while wearing dive equipment an it only adds to the level of complication if you have to try to hide while doing it. Due to crappy weather we were of course at Japanese Gardens which is the flattest dive site ever so there aren’t really any good hiding spots. And when I started laughing at the whole situation my mask of course flooded making everything even more difficult and hilarious. Luckily we didn’t bump in to anybody from Buddha View so we’ve just given some strangers a great laugh!