An early start saw me arriving at the school just before 6 to help out with the tanks and various other bits and pieces for today’s trips.
The place was really buzzing with people dashing here and there making sure everything was ready and prepared.
37 air tanks for Penida and 7 nitrox? check
25 air tanks and 5 nitrox tanks for Tulamben? check
Tanks for Sanur? check
Tanks for the pool sessions? check
O2 all sorted out for the various destinations? Yep
A lot to get sorted, but with everyone there mucking in it soon got done.
Next, my gear :
BCD, reg, wetsuit, boots, SMB, slates etc all collected from my area in the storage space, packed, labelled, put out with the tanks and ready to go, over to the drivers to load the trucks with everything.
Roll call next, all present and correct and then off to the breadman down the lane for some early morning pastry treats.
As we eat I chat with my fellow students about today’s upcoming guiding workshop at Nusa Penida, an island just off the SE coast of Bali.
Our instructor Henley has outlined what he’s expecting. Good navigation, good dive profile, making sure the guests are good and happy (and safe, air and deco checks!) and above all entertained by us finding and showing interesting fish and creatures in the deep.
Around 7am and the first of the guests (paying customers) start to arrive and we spread out and chat with them. This is a part I really love, meeting new people and finding out a little about what they are doing. There’s a real mix this morning both in terms of nationality, Japanese, Belgium, English and American, and also in terms of what they will be doing today.
We have a bunch of super excited open water students starting today, along with a few folks off to Tulumben to the wreck and a few people joining us on the boat to Penida.
Talking of which we’re off! We load ourselves into the transport for the local beach and Martin (DM trainee) give everyone a quick briefing about the bus journey and what to expect.
Once we get to the beach we hop aboard a small boat which takes us out to Bali Ocean 2, the sea going dive boat which will take us out to the island.
The journey is about 40 minutes during which Henley takes us through more information about today’s diving along with a few buoyancy tips. Awesome stuff.
After a quick gear check it’s up to the roof of the boat to soak up a bit of sun and watch the coastline pass by. This really is the life.
Today we had three dives, Manta Point, Ped, and SD.
Manta point really did live up to its name. I was guiding this one, which started off with presenting a dive briefing for my fellow divers. Entry procedures into the water, route, hand signals, depth, dive time, procedures if separated and assigning buddy teams to mention a few things.
We all enter with a back roll off the boat and gather in a group in the water, a quick check to make sure everyone is happy and then we descend.
I just love the transition from the surface to under the waves. The light changes, the sounds change and a sort of peace descends over me. I look around and everyone is descending with no problems. All’s good.
This dive is essentially a swim around the bay to a manta cleaning station. Once we’re all down and happy we set off, with me in the lead. We’re only swimming for about 2 minutes before there’s a real buzz in the group. People are all trying to catch each other’s attention and point out that right in front of us are three manta rays majestically circling. They are so graceful as they fly under water right in front of us. It’s a really special moment, made even better by the fact a forth manta joins the other three in their circling journey.
I look around at all the other divers and see that everyone is stationary in the water, transfixed by the spectacle.
I think the manta were as curious about us as we were about them because they seemed to become a little bolder with each circuit, getting closer and closer each time they passed until they were almost close enough to reach out and touch.
And then, as if they were talking to each other, they make a last circuit and then disappear into the blue.
I focus, we’re ten minutes into the dive, time for an air check with everyone and then lead off to the cleaning station, making sure that everyone is following.
Even more manta at the cleaning station, what a dive!
After about 35 minutes into the dive we should be (if my navigation has held true) back to roughly where we started. We’re at about 7m deep so we deploy our surface marker buoys and start our three minute safety stop at around the 5m mark.
Another special moment, hanging in the blue surrounded by divers, anticipating the stories we’ll share once back on the boat.
My navigation was good (phew!) and we surface pretty much where we started and all climb back onto the boat.
Guiding at this stage of my training is always a bit of a thrill. There’s so much to think about but so far, with a lot of support from the instructors, I’m learning and it’s all going well.
Talking of which there’s always a debrief at the end of every dive and I get some really constructive feedback. Navigation was good, entertainment was good (I really didn’t have to do much, the manta handed it to me on a plate!), dive profile could have been a little better Henley gave me a few more tips about buoyancy and position in the water. All told I was really happy with how it all went and can’t wait for my next guide to apply all I’ve learnt.
Surface interval time, between each dive we need to take time to let the nitrogen in our systems dissolve safely away. We spend the time serving coffee for the guests, chatting with them and each other, briefing for the next dive and enjoying the sunshine as the boat travels to the next site, Ped.
This one is a drift dive, with Martin (a fellow student) taking the role of guide this time. We had good current and drift along as a group ‘flying’ over the underwater landscape. The sea is teeming with life and Martin points out a black tip reef shark out in the blue, nice one!
The last dive is another drift at a place called SD. Daniel take the lead for this one. Not so much current this time, more a gentle swim following his lead.
And then he spots the jewel in the Bali diving crown. Out in the blue there’s a Mola Mola coming up from the deep. It’s huge! Such an amazing creature to see.
What an incredible day’s diving.
Later when we’re back at the school we wash our kit, discuss the day and make dinner plans.
Sanur has loads of great places to eat, tonight we decide on Massimo’s for Italian. Pizza and a couple of Bintang’s. Delicious and refreshing!
Bring on tomorrow!
Written by Chris Wood – Blue Season Bali Dive Master Trainee