Friday, August 31, 2012

Scuba Diving 101: A Newbie Diver's Guide to Staying Alive Underwater

Friday, August 31, 2012
Tanks are ready!

Jeff and I, together with our newly engaged friends Lora and Jump, went to an impromptu trip to Davao last weekend. Jeff was sent there for work and he suggested that I go there to spend the second long weekend of August with him. Few weeks back, Lora and I were talking about our plans to go to Baguio, so when our plan changed, I immediately told her. Lora told me that she might need to file something to Kidapawan which is a few hours from Davao. I told her to come with us and she agreed. Jeff flew to Davao two days before us. Lora was there Friday morning, and Jump and I arrived Friday evening. 

The next day, I told Jeff we should go to the beach right away so we can roam around the city Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. I called up Lora and they agreed. So I called Precious Garden Samal and off we go to Samal Island. I will have a different post about the resort and the trip.

The next day, we were able to join a scheduled island hopping. We were charged Php700.00 for the boat ride, lunch and snorkelling gears.  JP, the owner of Samal Watersports Center, picked us up from the resort with his white CRV. Yes, his personal car. He suggested that we take our things to the boat and they will drop us off Davao later in the afternoon. He drove us to the port where their boat is docked. We later learned that PJ is Belgian with a Filipina wife. We also met some of his friends. The boat left the port around 7:30AM. Stopover was at the back of the Yacht Club where we picked up the tanks that they will use for scuba diving and the dive master, Clo. Lora was telling me that it is one of her dreams when PJ suddenly came to us, asking if we want to dive. Is he like a fairy godmother or something? We all said yes right away! We only paid an additional fee of Php400.00 for the tank.

So there’s an entire story. But there’s more. Upon ‘diving’, I’ve learned a few things that one should and should not do.

1. Don’t panic. I think this one is applicable to anything that we do for the first time. I know it’s nerve wracking, but what will panic do to you? In my case, I am not really a water lover. I am not a good swimmer but who cares? Dive master will be there with me when I dive so maybe I won't die. Still, I panicked. Haha! Just enjoy the experience. You can always bail out after a few minutes if you really can't do it. I was just underwater for five minutes and then I'm good.

2. Listen to the introductions. Clo, our dive master, discussed a few things with us. We learned about hand signals and parts of the gear. It is very important that you listen to those who are professional in diving because this is not as easy as walking your dog. Actually, walking your dog is hard if it's as big as you. 

Photo of a diver communicating
The most famous is this which means OK.
Photo credit:

Clo preparing the tank.

3. Wear the proper diving attire. I brought my rash guard with me and that's what I planned to wear. Later on, Kim gave us shoes and diving suits. So we decided to wear them for the full diving experience. I wore mine and I felt like a real ninja! Well, it looks like a ninja suit too. Or a Power Ranger suit. Haha! Jump, on the other hand, said he won't wear the suit because Lora had problems with it on her first dive. She kept on floating because the suit is relatively new. I also notice that on me but I didn't care. I just need one chance of wearing my Power Ranger suit. We later learned that Jump had some bruise from the hard corals. JP said that it might get infected so he needs to clean it up right away. So there kids, the ninja suit is not just for fashion but also for safety. ;)


4. Do not assault your dive master underwater. Fine, I am guilty. When Clo pulled me underwater, I panicked. My ears hurt, water was leaking inside my mask and my mouth can't grip the uber sized mouth piece. Plus the fact that there was a guy a few inches away from me who is not my husband and trying to drown me. Lols. Just kidding. It was me and my claustrophobia. I felt like I'm gonna die right there. I can't breathe properly because the mouth piece was so big, and that's the only way I can live a little longer. He pressed the inflate button and I was on the surface. This happened about five times because I got used to the air and the ear hurting part. I was able to stay five minutes in the water, and around seven or eight feet deep. 

Death by scuba diving. Clo now dragging me to the middle of the sea where he will drown me. JK!

5. Learn how to equalize. Ear equalization, in layman's term, is just pinching your nose and blowing it a little until you hear a 'poof' sound in your ear. You have to do it when underwater so your ear won't hurt so much. Like what I said on the previous number, my ear did hurt a lot. It was like someone stuck a straw inside my ear while blowing water and air. That was the my first problem. The second was my nose is so small that I can't pinch it. Everytime I try to pinch it, the nose cover part of the mask moves and let's the water in and drowns me a little. I later told this to Kim and she joked that they should get Filipino sized masks for people like me. Be reminded that you should never try to ignore the pain in your ears. If it hurts, equalize. If the equalizing doesn't work, tell your dive master. If all else fails, go to the surface and stop diving. The day after we got back to Manila, Lora told me that her ears bled and the doctor told her that she can't dive ever again. She tried to ignore the pain and forced herself to stay in the water because it was so beautiful down there. :(

Dive master masking me. 

6. Breathe properly. One should only breathe using the mouth piece. It is connected to the tank which has nitrogen and oxygen, same as the air we breathe here on land. This is kind of my problem. I keep forgetting that I should inhale and exhale in my mouth. What I do is I'll inhale the air from the tank, and then exhale in my mouth and my nose. Clo kept on noticing that bubble are also coming out of my mask. So my mask gets clouded and we had to go up again. After I finished diving, I felt that there's something wrong with my bite because the mouth piece was so big it won't even fit in my mouth. O_o

7. Dive an hour after eating. If you wanna puke endlessly while in the water, you can ignore this. When I was a kid, I jump to the pool just after eating and the rest was history. Let your food sink first before you dive. 

8. Enjoy the dive. This again, applies to everything that you do. Be it diving or hiking or eating something exotic, try to enjoy it. I just did it for the experience and I may not do it again. At least, I can say that I did it once in my life. You may or may not want to try scuba diving but one thing I can tell you, it was so beautiful down there that even if you hated your first dive, you would still want to try it again. Besides, you will learn to equalize your ear in the long run. 

L to R: Jean Rose (owner of Seal Shack were we dived), me, Belgian dude, Jeff, Kim (PJ's wife), PJ (owner of Samal Watersports Center) and Rico (musician and owner of a bar in Samal). The guy sitting infront of us is Clo, our dive master.

I highly recommend Samal Watersports Center because they are very friendly and their rates are very reasonable. They only charged us Php 700.00 for the boat ride, island hopping, lunch and snorkeling gears, and Php400.00 for the diving tank. You can contact them at 09189575346 or They do island hopping and diving every Sunday. Tell them to take you to Seal Shack! They also have accommodations but I am not quite sure about the rates because we stayed in a different resort. 


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
◄© 2012. All text and photos are property of nom-mage. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jeff and Joy Tagle and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Design by Pocket