It doesn’t take much to unite a group of divers but there’s one thing that will make them firm friends for life and that is sharing the memory of a dive with the worlds biggest fish!
Hallelujah # 7 December 2014 we had a contrast of diver experience on the boat Bas on his first dive experience and Olga on her …… lost count how many times to the Similans!
This is a great thing about diving in this area; there really is something for every one! The nature of the Hallelujah’s schedule allows for an Open Water Course to be conducted, the shallow reefs and easier conditions of the first day’s dives in the Similans are perfect for an individual’s first experience blowing bubbles!! As the trip continues we head to the deeper more exposed islands and dives sites in the North. By the time we reach dives sites such as Koh Tachai and Richelieu the routine of briefing, kitting up, buddy checks is second nature to the new diver!
Having new divers on the boat is great as it allows the world-weary, experienced divers to once again relive the experience of those first fin kicks under water. Bas was beaming after his first dive and his instructor Nicco was full of pride for his new diver. As each dive goes by Bas is learning more about the marine life and is able to name a good number of marine creatures found in this area. He was lucky enough to spend a good portion of his 4th Open Water dive cruising around with a hawks bill turtle.
The next stage up in experience level is the group of Advanced Open Water students on the boat, Tomas, Steven and Christine. These guys have a few dives each but want to take their diving knowledge and ability to the next level. They have done deep dives, nitrox dives, night dives and a couple other specialties and have now increased their confidence in the water as well as seeing some pretty spectacular fish!
One of the most educational dives this group of divers did was the “waves, tides and currents” portion of this course. Dani, their instructor, gave a thorough briefing about how to plan a dive by looking at tide tables and current checks. We jumped in the water at Elephant Head Rock and the current was a lot stronger than predicted and going in the completely opposite direction! The lesson learnt was maybe that the sea is an unpredictable beast and we as divers must always be on our toes ready to change the plan according to the conditions that we find under water!
Alexa has signed up to two trips in a row to get her diving fix! She works in Khao Lak in a tour company and is also (slowly) completing her dive master training. As with most individuals who work in or around the dive industry holidays also revolve around diving. There should be health warnings that SCUBA IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE!!
Then at the top end of our divers in terms of experience are Adrian and the star of the show Olga. Olga first dived in the Similans in 1990 and has been coming back almost every year since. She has seen the diving and the area change considerably since her first trip out on a fishing boat they paid to bring them to the islands. She continues to do 2 or 3 trips each season and also is able to find new and exciting things to keep her passion for diving fresh!!
There is definitely one experience that unites new and experienced divers alike and brings about feelings of awe to every one. That experience is diving with whale sharks. That experience we were all lucky enough to share on this trip.
We got word from the captain on the approach to Richelieu Rock that there had been a whale shark sighted in the morning by another boat. As dive guides this leaves us in a quandary, do we tell the guests on the boat and risk disappointment or do we keep quiet and risk people’s extreme reactions!! We decided to keep quiet and see what happened when we went under water. As we jumped in the water Dani very calmly told us there was a whale shark directly below us….and there started our dive!! The 3-4m whale shark gave us all an amazing show swimming between all the groups letting our bubbles tickle his stomach. All divers came up from the dive in high spirits after a truly mind blowing experience. From Bas who was doing his 9th ever dive or Adrian who just logged his 87th seeing a whale shark for the first time is something you will never forget. After a delicious lunch we prepared for the second dive at Richelieu with not the same expectations as we already felt we had been very lucky with our first dive. However lady luck again smiled on us all as we did a second dive with not one but two individual whale sharks!! Needless to say we all feel that our Christmases have come early with two truly breath taking dives.
From the newest to the most experienced divers the feeling of swimming next to the oceans biggest fish is guaranteed to bring a grin large enough to risk losing the regulator! We all finish the trip feeling bonded as a group having shared this amazing experience.