Friday, July 06, 2018

[Activities] PADI Open Water Dive Course

You can't imagine the number of times I rewrite this post (now, while listening to Jacob Lee on Spotify).

Here we go again trying to restart how I wanna write about my Open Water Dive course experience (typing without looking what am typing and let all the juices flow).

I know a lot of people who wanted to explore the underwater world but doesn't know how and where to start.  Thankfully, I have friends who thought about me when they have something interesting to do.  

My first underwater experience was with Borneo Divers, I took the Discovering Scuba, which takes about a day with 2 dives, did it at Mamutik, that was brief, but was definitely a fun experience, though, I wished I had gone more than 10m at that time (didn't know how to equalize and what's up with my buoyancy?), and this was 3 years ago.

Moving forward to 2018, I finally decided to take the Open Water Dive course with my two (2) other friends.  Again, am blessed with people who helped me arrange.  I guess I wasn't thinking straight, I had 10 days to prepare (right after my Maliau Basin trip, I hope I couldn't finish that post soonish, "sabar kamurang").  I mean, what is there to prepare right?  Just do it! YOLO!

Now for an estimation, this course would normally cost above RM1k.  There are a lot of dive centre to choose from.  I did mine with Down Below Marine and Wildlife Adventures (located at KK Times Square, near 7Eleven).   You are required to fill the medical statement form (standard procedures).  Also made my payment at that time.

Down Below, one of the dive centre with the latest syllabus from PADI.  A different log book from what I have seen my friend carry.  The recreational dive planner (RDP and OWD manual)

I was suggested to study and do the quiz at the end of each section (there is 5 in the manual).  I finished up till section 3.  Roughly.  Wow, why you all so studious?   

The first section is mostly an introduction of the gears and some basic knowledge with some exercises for each subsection and ends with a quiz (to check with the instructor during classes).  Some memory refresher for who guys who did discovering scuba before.  Easy to understand.
Within the 10 days, I was calm, I wouldn't lie that, nearing the actual date of course start, I start to feel a little anxious, not trusting myself.

So, before I proceed to the details of this course, here are some pointers:-

Before doing this course, you would probably wanna get your swimming and floating in check, at least some basics.  Just my personal opinion and it would be easier.  

Things to bring:

Sunscreen, rashguard/quickdry shirt (you can just use your running shirt with short/boardshort), towel, extra clothes for after dive, drinking water (though it is also available at the island), some of your favorite snacks (just in case, I was craving for sweets after my confined open water on Day 1, yeap) and wear slippers (you cray if you wear wedges, it's not a photoshoot!).  

Did I miss anything out?

What's included in this package?
Lunch at the island, return boat ride from Pacific Sutera to Base Camp Gaya Island, unlimited cold drinking water, hot drinks (coffee, tea).

How long does this course take?

Including the classes, exam, confined water dives and fun dives, roughly 3-4 days.

Some Dos and Don'ts:

  1. Enjoy the process and have fun!  
  2. Keep calm and dive.
  3. Remember to breathe.
  1. Do not do any strenuous exercises before your dive.  Diving is a tiring "sport", get enough rest.  I did my speedwork a day before, gosh I almost died (dramatic).  My friend warned me about getting enough rest, but I thought my workout was easy hahah my bad.  I was so zombified on Day 2 (if you seen my IG feed).  
  2. Don't hold your breath!  I know, I do this sometimes, even when am working out or running.  Am weird that way.
Day 1 (16th June 2018)


Met at the jetty by 8:30am.  Boat leaves by 9am.

Photo by Mag.  Me and my peeps at Pacific Sutera waiting area near jetty.

Getting to Gaya Island Base Camp from Pacific Sutera jetty would take about 30 minutes or so.

Our instructor, Clarence.  Had our first briefing at Down Below Base Camp.  Going through the manual and videos.

Got our gears, BCD, SPG, mask, fin and weight.  Check for size and fit.

Assemble and check our equipment (yes you get to do it yourself, normally the dive center will do it for you for dives).

Here's a breakdown to what we did on Day 1.
  • Confined Water dive 1, 2 (further breakdown of CWD 1 and 2 in the manual).
  • 300 meter swim (with snorkel and fin, without is 200m) - struggle was so real.
  • Equipment preparation and care.
  • Disconnect low pressure inflator hose.
  • Emergency weigh drop.
  • Quiz/Exam (Sec 1 and 2).
  • Open water dive 1: Sea walking 6.8m, 21 mins.
Buddy sharing air. 
My first thought about Confined Open Water is doing it in a pool.  NOPE!  So thrilling.

Photo by Mag.  Checking equipment
The most unanticipated skill to do for me, mask removal and replacement, no mask breathing.  I had to close my eyes entire time for these coz I had contact lenses on.  😂😂😂

I don't even wanna talk about how nervous I was every time it's my turn to do the skills hahaha.  I'm such a clown, I don't even know why am like that. 

Being nervous is normal but try to remain calm.  Just breathe (says the one that couldn't calm on occasions). 

The best time is when you get to eat and not worry about gaining weight.  

I think am most nervous when it rains the night before.  Didn't get to do my skin diving on Day 1.

Also, I have yet to experience being seasick and vomiting before and after dives.  Syukurlah nak.

Back to the Pacific Sutera jetty at 5pm.

Day 2 (17 June 2018)

On Sunday, our 2nd session includes:-
  • Confined water dive 3, 4, 5
  • Loose cylinder band
  • Weight systen removal and placement (surface)
  • Quiz/Exam (Sec 3,4,5)
I think my body sabotages me on Day 2, I wasn't as excited, was having the hardest time to remain calm, my breathing was all over the place.  Thankfully I manage to complete my Confined Open Water skills.

Had lunch and still was feeling sick in my tummy but I pushed through and was feeling better when I was underwater.  Thanks to both my dive buddies and instructor for the motivation.  I think the tiredness was taking a toll on my body (check out my instafeed, a video of me looking zombified).  

Also, I had gone through an exam question to what's the first thing you would do if you get your dive watch.  If you answered "turn the watch on", you are wrong!  The first thing is to read the manual.  I would never do this.  I don't read manuals or any manual.  I bet am not the only one.  Don't you lie! lol.

Dive buddy, Nasier turned into "makcik" after 2nd day  Facepalm.

After 2 days of being underwater, I had this floaty feeling on land.  I wasn't feeling drowsy/vertigo or anything like that, just having waves in my head.  And that's normal.

Day 3 (23 June 2018)

I bought new mask and snorkel yay!  The not so fun part is figuring it to fit my face.  I keep breathing through my nose and struggled.

Apply toothpaste on the mask and leave it overnight so your mask won't fog underwater.  Do it few times.

The Recreational Dive Planner (RDP) is a decompression table in which no stop time underwater is calculated.  It is used to record and monitor pressure depths and residual nitrogen levels.  Now, you don't really need this if you have a dive watch.  

Calculating multiple dives can be a weebit confusing.  But yeah, you will need to cover this too.  But fret not, it's not as hard as it looks. 

A breakdown to the things we did on Day 3.  
  • Giant Stride - this took me more than a minute to actually do it lolSecond time was better, slightly more faster, coz it didn't take me a minute.
  • Open water dive 2: Sea walking 8.4m for 54mins
  • Cramp removal - do it on yourself and your buddies Funny when your instructor act like a damsel in distress.
  • Snorkel/Regulator exchange.
  • Inflatable signal tube/DSMb deployment - mind you, my instructor made me repeat till I get it right.  I manage to inflate the signal tube on my third (3rd) try.
  • Remove /replace scuba (surface) - the first time I did this, I was so fixed on how I should quickly put it back on, second time more calm. 
  • Remove /replace weights (surface) - putting back on facing down.
A breakdown of OWD 2.  Skills underwater.

Lunch!  We have curry?

Done, Day 3, going home!

Day 4 (24 June 2018)

Regulator/snorkel exchange, doing it few times underwater till the instructor gave the okay signal.
  • Skin diving - I've practice this in the kid's pool few times.  Needs more practice.
  • Backroll. - I didn't have time to prepare and just do it.
  • Giant stride.
  • Open water dive 3: Sea walking 10.5m for 49 mins
  • Open water dive 4: Pyramid reef 15m for 36 mins - I need to breathe more calmly and deeply, so much air consumption.
  • Surface swim with compass.
  • Tired dive tow (2 types) - pulling the tired diver from behind by holding the tank or having tired diver's leg on your shoulder as you swim
  • CESA
  • UW compass navigation
  • All dive flexible skills (without demo)

I did the skills so many times that I don't think I will ever forget any lol. 

Lunch.  I gotta say the pack lunch my instructor brought from home is way more delicious.  Ada ikan basung bah and maigawd tu lada so sedap!

Pyramid reef was so beautiful.  I wish I have better flow underwater.  My legs were so used to running that I occasionally swim with my legs bent.  Why bah?  Gonna need to do more leisure dives to feel more comfortable.  Practice makes perfect.

Photo by Mira.  Gosh! look at my legs!
Every time my instructor tell me to go near the corals, I try not to be so near, so scared I might crash into it.   

These photos taken by my instructor with GoPro Hero 6.

We made it!  Finally completed our course.  Why bah am so short this?

Thank you Mag for arranging and documenting our trips/course.  My dive buddies, Nasier and Wiwin, you guys are the best and my instructor, Clarence for taking good care of us, cool dood walaupun kuat menguluk!!!  Not forgetting all the fun people we get to meet at Base Camp Gaya Island.

It has been a fun and enjoyable experience taking my PADI Open Water Dive course under Down Below Marine and Wildlife Adventure.

Feel free to ask any questions and thank you for reading :) trying to keep this as short as possible, there's a bunch of other skills that I didn't mention here but you'll get the picture.


  1. nah... jadi diver sudah Maslight ... hope u enjoyed ur diving :))
    lama sudah saya ndak diving, hari tu ambil juga open water course ni 2010,
    tu pun time kerja dgn Bina Puri kebetulan ada CM yang jadi instructor ...
    how are you ?

    1. Hehehe, explore the world, selagi mampu, the underwater world is so beautiful. Wahh, lama sudah tu 2010, the underwater world misses you :)

  2. Amazing post thanks for sharing!
    Padi Freediver

  3. Great information thanks for sharing such a valuable information