TEC Instructors Hiro and Sandy are tekkies in Blue Label Diving Indonesia and are based in Bunaken, Indonesia. They are a technical diving duo and provide technical dive training and dives on sidemount, twinsets and rebreathers. They began technical diving in 2009 on rebreathers and open circuit, and then made the switch to teaching tec in 2012.
They love TEC so much that they actually got married at depth of 130 meters. Not only that, they actually exchanged vows, rings and a kiss at 130 meters underwater in a cave in Thailand and set a Guinness World Record for the deepest wedding!
This was the hardest and most challenging wedding ceremony a couple could expect to plan. They put in more than six hard months of training with Tec Instructor Trainer Ben Reymenants of Blue Label Diving, completing TDI’s newly released Full Cave CCR course as well as TDI’s Advanced Mixed Gas CCR course. This gave Hiro and Sandy the skill set and frame of mind for going 130 meters vertically and about 100 meters horizontally into one of Thailand’s caves.
With all the preparations and Tec courses and diving behind Hiro and Sandy, the wedding day finally arrived (September 30, 2013). So just how did this wedding couple pull off such an incredible wedding despite all the pressure?
First, they had the support of their diver team. Ben was Hiro and Sandy’s ordained minister (Church of the Latter-Day Dude), taking very seriously the role of mentoring Hiro and Sandy on their journey into married life. TDI CCR Cave Level 3 Instructor Pekka Hartikainen also joined the team as Hiro’s best man and witness. Then Charles Hosner, a TDI Full Cave CCR diver, closed the party and offered his services videoing and also acted as the second witness (his unofficial title is the Flower Girl). The wedding party of five was ready for descent.
At 130 meters the ceremony began with Ben welcoming the couple and their witnesses in a high-pitched, cartoon-like voice. Diving a gas mixture that contained helium, it was no wonder that the priest sounded like one of the Chipmunks. However, when it was Sandy’s turn to recite her vows to Hiro no one could keep from laughing. Her voice was the most comical thing to break the silence of the cave.
One of the most difficult parts of the whole dive was the ring exchange. At 130 meters in Song Hong Cave there were only a few outcropping rocks covered in a good few inches of silt. One nervous handshake or a slip of the fingers and the real wedding rings would be lost for eternity. Therefore, the platinum wedding rings were knotted into a safety spool clipped onto Pekka for safe transportation down to 130 meters. Once there, Pekka passed the end of the line off to Hiro, unwinding Sandy’s ring tied into it. The ring slid over her finger as she recited her vows to Hiro. She then pulled the line further out from the spool until Hiro’s ring appeared, placed it on his finger, and finally Pekka cut the line free from both rings.
The most exciting part at the bottom phase was the kiss. Every wedding ceremony requires the groom to kiss the bride, so there could be no exception even though Hiro and Sandy were 130 meters underwater in a cave breathing off closed circuit rebreathers. After reciting vows and exchanging rings, Ben directed Hiro to kiss the bride. Loops were closed and thrown upwards and the couple turned heads so their lips could meet. Although it was not the most elegant looking kiss, it surely was breathtaking.
For the dive, the team took eight minutes to descend to the “alter” lying on the side of the cave at 130 meters. The ceremony ended up taking just over 7 minutes and the team was able to leave the bottom at 15 minutes. Off-gassing began at 108 meters and the first decompression stop happened at 99 meters. The total time to surface came in at just under 190 minutes with about 300 OTUs and a whopping 92% CNS. The plan for the wedding dive could not have been executed better.
On the way up, the team of five found their support divers, Arndt Schmidt and Moto Orita, waiting at 60 meters armed with cameras and carrying additional gas for the team.
By nine meters the couple entered into a habitat, equipped with its own scrubber and pumped full of pure oxygen, and for the first time since saying “I do” could speak normally to each other. The rest of the dive team popped in one by one to offer congratulations to the newlyweds with a few champagne toasts.
Finally, after 190 minutes underwater, Hiroyuki and Sandra broke the surface of Song Hong Lake as Mr. and Mrs. Yoshida and were greeted by cheers of family, friends and even the local Thai community. They climbed the banks of the lake as they were rained upon with rice. Hand in hand and smiling, not only because they accomplished such a dive, but knowing they entered into a new phase of their life together.
Nowadays, the newlyweds are running TDI dive courses on Bunaken out in North Sulawesi with Blue Label Diving. Their new dive challenge for 2014 has them searching for the Indonesian Coelacanth around the depths of 80 meters and deeper.