We meet at the dive shop at 10am. My group consists of a Spanish couple who speak very little English (Nuria and Ismail), a half Irish/half Zambian who lives in London (Helena), a newly qualified Dive Master who becomes my dive buddy and also Londoner until he came to Komodo (Stuart) and an Indonesian Dive Master with 8 years’ experience of diving the sites (Fabi). I am worried and anxious and scared, knowing that I often have difficulties on my first dive, equalising or controlling my buoyancy. It always takes a while to get used to breathing calmly under water, using the regulator, as well. I have six dives under my belt, Helena 55, the Spanish couple around 100 each and Fabi 2500. Just to put it into perspective.
The first dive goes quite well though, I swim too much and overexert as is common with beginners – and also have to fight to keep neutral buoyancy because I have too many weight around my waist (5kg) so I overcompensate by putting too much air in my BCD. I don’t want to crash into the beautiful coral. It is like lowering yourself down into a giant aquarium, and we see lots of cool fish. We later pour over books of reef fish and nudibranches to identify them all.
On the second dive site there is a gentle to medium current, known in this region, and instead of being scared I actually find it quite enjoyable – you do nothing, just drift along the reef wall. All of a sudden my dive buddy does one of his many hand signs and points to the right – and there is a beautiful big turtle swimming around, munching away at the corals. He doesn’t mind us and we hover around him for a while. My buoyancy now is perfect (with 4 kg weights). This is what it’s supposed to feel like, controlling my vertical movement in the water through my breathing alone. My arms stay folded and I only do minor leg movement to steer.
In the evening we do a night dive, and I have a problem with my BCD.I have let air in and it won’t come out, so I keep floating upwards. It would be rather comical, had I not been alone in a black sea in Indonesia. The only way I can stay down, and stay close to my dive buddy who I can identify only from his torch light, is to kick and swim downwards. I do for this around 20-25 minutes. After three dives and this last experience, I am so tired I barely make it through dinner. I am remembering now that they call scuba diving a sport - for a very good reason.