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Now a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver!

I can't exactly remember when my fascination towards diving began and how it did. It was probably because of watching a Bond or Mission Impossible movie in which the protagonist went scuba diving to save humanity but I am not sure.
Last year, in October, during our trip to Bali, Indonesia, I got certified as a PADI Open Water Diver. My first dive was in a swimming pool and was followed by multiple dives in the Indian Ocean. They were amazing! My passion for diving grew multi-fold after completing my certification course and a couple of months later, I did a recreational dive in a place called Murudeshwar, a temple town in Karnataka, India.
About a month ago, I got certified as an PADI Advanced Open Water (AOW) Diver in the Andaman Island of Havelock.

The AOW course was much harder than the previous one but had bare minimum theory lessons and focussed more on the practical aspects of advancing one's skills in diving. It did not comprise a written test unlike in the Open Water Certification.
The AOW course has two compulsory units (Deep Dive and Underwater Navigation) and you have to opt for three other courses. I opted to do a Night Dive, Peak Performance Bouyancy and a Wreck Dive which were all pretty interesting.
The highlight of the AOW course is that I am now allowed to dive upto 30m as opposed to 18m before.

Deep Dive

The Deep Dive was unarguably the most interesting and intense dive in which we (my instructor and the other two students) dived until 28.3m where we were hit by drastically cooler water unlike at lesser depths where the water was warm, just like when you wade into water from the shore. The underwater life at this depth is also different and we managed to spot a black banded sea-krait (an extremely poisonous snake) swimming furiously upwards to catch its breath. As expected, air consumption was much faster at this depth due to the increased pressure. The Deep Dive was an excellent experience that I throughly enjoyed.

Underwater Navigation

This unit is the other one that is compulsory for this particular certification. We were taught how to use our compass to position oursleves underwater as well as go back towards our boat. The Navigation course also included measuring distance under water based on a concept known as 'kick cycles'. Besides measuring distance and understanding how to navigate, the course also taught new divers like myself how to observe underwater life to guess which side the shore/ boat may be.

Night Dive

The Night Dive was another part of the certification that I loved but was slightly scary for reasons that I shall tell you about shortly. The sun sets extremely early as the Andamans are in the same time zone as mainland India but is far Eastwards. Due to this, we entered the water at 5:45 P.M when it was already dark. We used torchlights underwater to see the marine life fast asleep. The overhanging darkness and the spooky eeriness was itself a tad bit frightening but was accompanied by an octopus sighting that scared all of us, especially our instructor who was closest to it when it started chasing us. The sighting of decorator crabs, cuttlefish and electic clams made the experiences great, but not something that I'd do again because of the limited visibility of only what your torch shines on. I would prefer to dive during the day.

Peak Performance Bouyancy

This unit was rather uneventful as it only included perfecting bouyancy underwater. It is rather hard at first, but once you master it, it makes you extremely efficient. We dived at a site called Jeepers Creeper's where there is a Jeep underwater. We spotted Clownfish (watch the video below; you can spot two clownfish if you watch keenly) and black fin barracuda, among others.


Wreck Dive

The Wreck Dive was one that was interesting but not as I had anticipated it to be. We saw a boat that had sunk about 8-10 years back. It was in complete tatters but was very nice to see. Besides seeing fish, we spotted an Exide Battery, Fire Extinguisher and Pipes!


The overall dive experience was a lot of fun. I completed all my dives in just two days! It did get tiring on the day when I did three dives in a day  but the excitement fuelled me through.
I learnt to dive with DiveIndia, Havelock, a PADI 5 Star Center. They have a great team of instructors and also provide accomodation. Although I did not stay there, the place had a great vibe and also has dogs. My deepest condolences go out to one of the dogs who passed away a week ago.
Although I did not do an underwater photography course, I carried my GoPro with me on most dives and managed to capture some amazing moments.
The video below shows some fish coming closer and closer to the camera, not one bit intimidated by the two divers it was between.

In the close future, I hope to continue diving and also do a bit of community service underwater by cleaning the ocean. Besides that, I wish to further ehance my skills. My immediate desire is to learn diving using Nitrox.

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