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PADI Advanced Open Water Diving Course

Posted by on November 22, 2011

A little while back I mentioned that I would be undertaking the PADI Advanced Diving course in October. As with most plans, they rarely if ever go according to plan (so to speak) and due to unforeseen events and other plans, the diving was put on hold. Although it’s a month late, I got my advanced licence on Friday. Every dive I participate in results in a wonderful experience which I hope all of you have tried at some time or other. This post will be focusing on the various modules I completed in order to obtain my advanced license. For those of you who are yet to acquire it, hopefully this will give you an idea of what lies ahead. There are a few pictures slotted in at the bottom of this post but please do visit my Facebook Page and check out the entire photo album there.

Dive 1 – Drift

A "friendly" Lionfish

The ‘Drift’ dive was my first challenge of the course (I use the word ‘challenge’ with a tinge or sarcasm – you will see why a little further on). As the name suggests, you basically drift with the current attempting to use as little energy as possible. The less you exert yourself, the slower your breathing and the less oxygen you use resulting in much longer dives. Mother nature works on her own schedule as we all know and this can lead to rather funny and/or inconvenient occurrences. Hilariously (and this is where the challenge came in), on the day of the drift dive there was absolutely zero current. Under water, my instructor asked me to point out the direction of the current by observing the movement of coral and particles within the water. After a brief inspection of said particles, there was no other option than to just shrug my shoulders and giggle (yes, you can giggle under water).

Although the aim of the dive was not accomplished on this day (the current was so strong during the Navigation dive that that ended up including the drift material.

Some highlights include:

  • Lionfish
  • Moray eel
  • Stingray

Dive 2 – Naturalist

The Naturalist dive followed on from the drift dive. Two dives of approximately 45 minutes are done at one time with a one hour rest period between them. The aim of this section was to identify various fish, plants and other organisms which lurk beneath the surface. Thankfully, Mombasa hosts a large array of said organisms which makes this section particularly easy. Still one of my favourite creatures you will find sitting on coral are Nudibranchs. I also discovered a type of plant which appears brown in colour but when disturbed (by a gental poke of the finger), it colour shifts into white. I do not have a name for it so if you know of what I speak, please do leave its name in a comment below. Thanks :)

Some highlights include:

  • Turtles
  • Crayfish
  • Octopus

Dive 3 – Deep

Jeromy the Turtle

Deep dives are generally shorter than you shallower dives as you use more air at higher pressures. We didn’t venture down all that deep, however; at 27m below sea level, the effects are still clearly visible. What is interesting to notice is that colours change underwater. It all has to do with physics but basically, the shorter the wavelength, the sooner is fades away. Depending on the depth, red can appear as green, purple or black (which makes me question why the needle is black and background depicting 50 bar of air is red on your tank pressure gauge).

Another test was to perform a task on the surface (which was writing down my full name backwards while being timed) then doing the same thing deep down. Honestly I would have preferred a physical challenge as I used to use my name backwards as a nickname (all be it a useless one) when I was younger and therefore recalling it was no challenge. Didn’t experience any nitrogen narcosis (this time) but it was a good dive nonetheless.

Some highlights include:

  • Lionfish
  • Turtle
  • Pipe fish (1m long)

Dive 4 – Navigation

This section of the course focuses, as I’m sure you can tell, underwater navigation. It teaches you how to use instruments such as a compass as well as visible cues in order to keep direction and know where you are. The most challenging part of this dive was trying to fight against the current. It was incredibly strong and between turns, I had to let out any air in my BCD and dig into the ocean floor to prevent myself from being washed away! Highlight of the dive (fish wise) was disturbing a blue spotted ray from its sandy camouflage on the ocean floor. Speaking of the ocean floor, it is fantastic in itself to just sit on the ocean floor and watch the underwater world go about its daily activities. For those who dive to constantly explore, take a moments break and just lie down on the sea bed and relax. Was not much to see here as we were developing our skills over a bare sandy patch.

Dive 5 – Wreck

My favourite of all the dives. After a short trip following a beacon on the GPS, the boat stopped above the Dania Wreck. This was also my deepest dive with a maximum depth of 30.3m. What a fantastic sight. The vessel is approximately 90m long and was placed on the sea floor purposefully in order to create an artificial reef type thing. Its teeming with fish of various species and covered in seaweed and other plant life. Its apparently only 9 years old but it has already suffered greatly from disintegration so not a lot of the internal structure is available to explore (not that you are allowed to anyway. Such activities require a specialization course.). The visibility was great at about 20m and it was an overall fantastic experience.

Some highlights include:

  • Blue spotted stingray
  • Turtle missing a flipper
  • Lionfish

My Dive School of Choice

I have done all my Diving with the Baracuda Diving Team in Mombasa based at the Serverin Sea Lodge. I have becomes good friends with the owner, Steve, and must recommend them for any diving plans you may wish to make. The staff are friendly, the equipment in good working condition and the experiences second to none. For more information, visit their website (which I am currently in the process of upgrading) or check out their Facebook page.

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