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My Open Water Diving Experience

19th March 2015

Last month SOSF Island School Seychelles paid for our soon to be Project Assistant Fred Hypolite, and volunteer weekend assistant Irma Dubois, to do their PADI Open Water Diver course. Irma has completed a few try dives last year but for Fred, it was a whole new experience. Here he describes the adventures and challenges facing new divers and his excitement about being underwater.

“Who will say that diving will be such fun, and a great experience that you discover once you have learnt it. Diving is a bit of a challenge, I won’t say difficult because once you got the glimpse of the technique you are good to go. Every diver’s first course will be open water so was mine, it’s like the crawling part of a baby when starting to walk. My dive course started on a Sunday 22nd February at the Blue Sea Dive Centre in Beau Vallon.

MARCH abi - Fred GVI course

Fred and Irma with their dive instructor Tamara.

I was very scared because many people talk about the bad side of diving, they usually say that if you don’t decompress you will get decompression sickness, but you can’t pin-point something if you haven’t known it well. At the same time I was excited because it was my first time to venture under the sea at depth, though sharks and barracuda were trilling in my head, that wouldn’t stop me diving.

I met Manu a French mademoiselle who was one of my instructor’s, along with Tamara, who would help me complete the course, I had 3 days to fulfil it. Manu told me to kit up, I was given a short wetsuit, fins, mask, a BCD which I didn’t know its actual name and a 4kg weight belt. Before I kitted up, she demonstrated how to put the BCD on the tank, the useful technique to use, explanation on the regulator and gauge, the way to show figures on the gauges show, which I was so confused about all this information at once! She also showed how to purge the regulator. After all the explanations it was finally time to go to the water, she took a DSMB with her for safety. Before I was told to descend Manu told me that I needed to remove all the air in my BCD, this was because it’s easier to go down and the main reason for me not to stay floating above. Underwater we were going to do different exercises that is compulsory to all dive courses and it comprised of mask removal, fill your mask with water and remove it, remove the regulator from my mouth and put it back in and so forth.

MARCH abi - Fred openwater GVI course

A healthy coral reef like this one in Seychelles is what new divers want to see

Once under water it was quite strange, Manu demonstrated all the drills and then I to repeat them… the tricky one was mask removal and water removal from the mask… man that was a headache! The rest was easy… the last thing she told me to do was to put my BCD while I was in the water, I was like a capsized turtle but I could manage to do it! After all the drills we came out from the water and Tamara came to lend us the Open Water Manual for us to be able to do our knowledge reviews and at the same time to study.

On my second day I had two dives, the sites were L’Ilot and Light House; I set up my kit and boarded the boat. Upon arriving at the first site I was told to jump into the water with fins on, while my kit was already in the water, after struggling to kit up I put on my weight belt and was ready to dive. We descended and at the same time equalized. I was going to repeat the exercises from the previous session then just have a fun dive. I saw different types of fish such as butterflyfish, groupers, parrotfish and a ray. Tamara also demonstrated how to kick underwater, your body posture to keep you buoyant and how to have control.

At Light House it was a little deep so it was like a deep dive, again it was fun with lots to view and appreciate how the sea has unexplainable creatures and art. Upon returning to the dive centre Tamara corrected my knowledge reviews and I was on the right track. She did a recap of the day and things that I should avoid doing while diving and told me that on the last day I was going to learn how to use a compass while diving, enjoy some dive time and do the exam to pass the Open Water.

MARCH abi - my openwater diving experience

Fred and Irma completing their final exam for their PADI Open Water Diver course
Abi March/SOSF-ISS

The final day came, we went to Twin Barges, a dive site where there’s a ship wreck located at Bel Ombre. Again, it was quite deep and for this dive we used the anchor line for our descent. Half way through the dive we swam to a lower part of the ocean for me to be able to do the compass exercise… with success I did it! The wreck was so cool as there was a lot to discover there. As we headed back to shore I knew I had an exam waiting for me. It was quite a challenge but I made it through with success and determination.

Diving is so fun; people should learn how to dive to discover what the ocean has to offer in all aspects and in all its splendour. I would take this opportunity to thank the Save Our Seas Foundation for this opportunity especially Abi, the Blue Sea Divers, Tamara and Ricky for their ongoing support and most above all God.”

Well done to Fred and Irma for becoming qualified Open Water Divers! They are both currently putting their new diving skills to good practice by completing a one month scholarship with GVI Seychelles at Cap Ternay on Mahé. Look out for the next blog where we’ll be sharing their experiences!