Open Water Diver

Aimi has been training these last few days with a chinese girl called Luna. Shes very enthusiastic and enjoys waving when saying hello or good bye, its very cute. Her English is incredibly good, only the occasional word pronounced wrong but really, she’s fluent. I know native born Englishmen who have a hard time using the language.

We had a nice long chat with her about her travels. Luna is the only child of her parents, travelling with her. She said that for a long time there was a law in China that you were only allowed one child, which we knew. What we didn’t know is that if you accidentally got pregnant again, they would forcibly abort your child. Until recently. The law has changed and now the chinese government is incentivising people to have 3 children. This U turn has created a bit of political resentment from people who were subject to a forced abortion. 

Interestingly when we enquired about her feelings on the chinese government, she was of a balanced view. She recognised that things like Facebook, Google, Whatsapp, particular films, actors and other freedoms were censored. But she also said that the government is very powerful and so China is very safe and easy to live in. There are lots of jobs and people are quite wealthy. There is probably a range of poor to wealthy like anywhere else but it seemed like she considered her family as ones who had benefited from the government’s policies. 

For example, she said that there are a lot of sports promoted in China. If she wants to go skiing or snowboarding, it’s free. Also, children are learning English from the age of 3. It’s seen as a status symbol. Some kids grow up knowing English, better than their own dialect of Chinese. This is both incredible and a little sad that the most ingrained level of culture is literally being sacrificed for geo-political and economic growth.

Aimi has already been to China and loved it and its definitely somewhere I’d like to go. There are so many incredible places and landscapes, not to mention cities that are VAST. Luna said she would love to show us around, so it looks like we have a guide when we go along!

Today was the last dive of Aimi and Lunas training for the Open Water certification. To make it a little more interesting Rick took us out to the USAT Liberty Wreck. To start with, there were a couple of skills the girls had to do, just after we submerged. They needed to perfect their buoyancy control and then take off, put back on, and clear their masks of water. I just hung out in mid water, hovering like an enlightened buddha with my legs crossed.

The dive was so much more clear today than the previous time I was here. We had at least 20m visibility, which was great, although less than Rick said was normal. It was also super busy again. Now I could see further, there was always another group in view. On a couple of occasions we actually bumped into people as it’s not always obvious what’s around you. In normal dry-land-life you don’t expect to have someone approach you from above, that’s actually behind your back, because you’re laying on your front.

With more visibility, and the super experienced Rick as our guide, he led us to a couple spots where you could swim through doorways and under huge compartments. It was something a bit different to all the coral and fish watching I had done up to this point. I love the fishes and coral, but seeing this huge metallic beast in pieces and covered in growth was pretty special. It was easier to work out what was what with the extra visibility today. The large shapes made much more sense.

The next dive was in pursuit of the Wreck Diving course I had been taking. So far it was just theory and reading. The two dives on the USAT Liberty were good sighting dives but this next one was much more like what I wanted to do. This wreck is called Boga, its 36m long and was deliberately sunk in 2012 to create an artificial reef. To get there, we had to take a short ride down the coast in the back of a truck, with all the gear. Then it was a swim out from the shore, down to 18m to reach the wreck, much deeper than Liberty.

Because it was deliberately sunk, it was prepared as a reef and dive site beforehand. All the loose things like doors, hatches, wiring and glass were removed. This makes it much more safe to explore as a diver. But some items had been put onboard to find. When we followed Rick into the upper deck, there was a statue tied up to one of the columns. This was eerie as it looked distinctly like a person watching us from the end of the ship. There were also old diving cylinders, pots and vases, and even the remains of a decayed VW car. There is no way you could tell it was a VW, I had to look it up. But you could see the transmission, wheels and roughly where the seats were, once upon a dry-land-life.

It was really good fun exploring this wreck, and the visibility was great too. Rick got a photo of us up at the ship’s wheel and then it was time to head back to shore. This proved more difficult than getting to the wreck because there was a relatively strong current going against us. We had to tuck in and streamline ourselves and just focus on breathing smoothly and kicking efficiently to make steady progress. 

After a submerged workout we were back on dry land. Aimi was then presented with her Open Water Diver card so she is now officially a diver! This should make dive trips in future easier and a bit cheaper.