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October 15th 2013

15 Oct 2013 Written by 

Anatomy of an advanced course

Yesterday's blog gave a brief overview of how we run an open water course at Big Blue. Today it's the turn of the advanced course.

Big-Blue-advanced-course300x225-15-10-13If you just finished your open water course with us and signed up to do the advanced course, you'll be pleased to know that it starts at 10am, so you get a little bit of a lie in after celebrating becoming open water divers... hurrah! First off you'll meet your instructor, who'll go through the paperwork and give you the choice of dives you can do. The advanced course is five dives, and you'll need to do the deep dive and navigation dives, but then you can choose the other dives you want to do, such as a wreck dive, fish identification dive, buoyancy dive, night dive, or photography dive. Generally, weather permitting, we would recommend you choose the buoyancy, night and wreck dives to get the most out of the course. Once you've chosen, you'll be given a dive computer to be used on each dive, and a compass for the navigation dive. The instructor will show you how they both work, and then you'll spend some time walking on the beach like a zombie getting to grips with how to use different navigation techniques. If you haven't got any equipment we can get you set up with everything that you'll need, then it's lunchtime woo hoo.

 Afternoon, day one- You'll meet up again and go out on the boat at around 12:45pm to do the buoyancy and navigation dives. You already learned how to control your buoyancy on the open water course, but you'll be give lots of tips on how to fine tune it, with the whole dive being dedicated to allowing you to practice. Once you've had plenty of time to do this, the rest of the dive is spent seeing what's on the dive site. Remember, you can use what you learned on every subsequent dive you do. After an hour on the boat sunbathing, you'll head back into the water at a different dive site to do the navigation dive. You'll already have been taught how to use your compass on the beach, but underwater is a whole different kettle of fish, you have to keep track of where you're going, think about your buoyancy, think about your buddy, keep the same depth, avoid other divers, and any other obstacles you come across! We'll also show you how to use features of the dive site to help you with navigating, so called natural navigation. It's great fun and you'll probably never want to dive without a compass again!
Evening, day one- At Big Blue we run night dives every other night, but if you have to leave the next day, we can usually fit one in for you on the first day. The night dive is the closest you will come to being in space without being a billionaire able to hitch a ride on a Russian rocket. It's amazing! Not unsurprisingly, you'll need it to be dark, so we go out at around 6pm, and you'll begin the dive as it's still getting dark, just to let you get used to it before it goes completely dark. Oh yeah, and you'll be given a torch! The fish you see in the daytime tend to hide at night, and the fish that sleep in the day come out to hunt, such as barracuda. You may also see crabs, blue-spotted stingrays, and the occassional octopus. There's always a chance of seeing a sleeping turtle too! If you've seen the Leonardo Di Capprio film the Beach, you can also see the bioluminescent plankton- unforgettable- the plankton, not the film.
Day two, morning- Early start again (so soon after dives three and four of open water!?), but well worth it, this is the deep dive. Your instructor will take you down to as close to 30 metres as you're comfortable with, and teach you deeper diving and ascent procedures. Then as you shallow up, you'll use the rest of your air to fun dive around the dive site to see what amazing marine life is around. You'll end up much more confident in your own diving abilities, and with any luck be asking if anyone else saw that "massive whaleshark"! After an hour's surface interval on the boat, you'll head over to the wreck for the fifth and final dive of the course, the wreck dive. We're very lucky on Koh Tao, we have a wreck that was purposefully sunk as an artificial reef. It's an old US Navy landing craft infantry boat, bought by the Thai Navy and donated in 2011. Called the HTMS Sattakut, it sits at between 27 and 30 metres, and has a big gun at the bow (that's the front..), and a smaller gun on the stern (the rear..). A host of marine animals have made it their home, and it's an incredible experience seeing this huge rusting metal thing underwater that you're so used to seeing on the surface. A little bit of history too, Very cool.

So that's it, you'll finish at around 12pm on the second day. If no-one is in a hurry to go home the night dive may be at 6pm that night, but generally it takes a day and a half to complete. Given your card at the end of the course, you'll be certified to dive to 30 metres and certified to dive at night. You'll feel like you're starting to really get the hang of this diving malarky and be hungry for more, and more, and more. Did you know we do fun diving as well!? For any more information on the advanced course, contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How much do you know about Koh Tao? Some facts for your eyes

1. Koh Tao means Turtle Island. Not because it looks like a turtle from above, but from the shape of the land as seen from neighbouring Koh Phangan.
2. It’s pretty small- 21 square kilometres.
3. On June 18, 1899 King Chulalongkorn visited Koh Tao and left as evidence his monogram on a huge boulder at Jor Por Ror bay next to Sairee Beach.
4. Between 1933 and 1947 it was used as a political prison.
5. In 1947 Khun Uaem and his brother Khun Oh reached Koh Tao from Koh Phangan and started farming coconuts, fishing and growing vegetables.
6. In 1980 overseas travellers began visiting the Island, and thus beginning tourism on the Island. The population grew steadily from there.
7. It’s the cheapest place in the world to learn how to scuba dive.
8. It’s an important breeding ground for Hawkesbill and Green turtles.
9. Known for being a good place to learn how to dive, it also has some of the best dive sites in the world- Chumphon pinnacle and Sail rock.
10. If you come here, you’ll really be loathe to leave, probably cancel your flight and become a dive professional.. that’s what everybody else does!

 

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