So there I was, my first day after arriving in Nusa Lembongan, sweating, thirsty and in need of an ice cold coconut to rehydrate the never ending perspiration that comes with living in Indonesia, i was ready to start what can only be described as a life altering course.
I had been her for 5 weeks prior to this, travelling, surfing and the inevitable dose of party thrown in the mix. Deciding to do my Rescue course, and further than that, my DMT with Two fish in Lembongan was a decision I had been weighing up for almost two months and now it was to become my reality.
My first experience with diving was in fridged atlantic waters, in a 7mm wetsuit, gloves, booties, hood and all. With a decade old, dusty, beat up BCD and set of regulators i was instructed “This is the inflator, this is the Defator, this is what you breath from – Lets go!”. A cowboy introduction from an uncle of mine opening my eyes to underwater breathing off irelands west coast more than 10 years ago. Needless to say, it was uncomfortable, dangerous, and lip numbingly cold! A definite no, no.
After sipping breaths in the crystal clear, bathtub warm, coral rich waters around Asia and then eventually in Lembongan as i searched for places to do my Rescue course, i knew it had to be here. The abundance of micro and megafauna in the area is undoubtedly world class and about as far you can get away from the mirky, ice-cream head ache inducing, seaweed covered waters of home.
While on the island I had a few fun dives with a few other companies, but after speaking to Bryce (the manager at Two Fish), i automatically felt welcomed, put at ease and knew right away that i could spend a prolonged period of time listening and learning from the 6 ft 4 inch, awkwardly good looking Kiwi. He answered every question with clear concise answers drawing on his decade plus vault of information. On top of that the island just seemed like home to me. There is Very few places that i have been that have a “homely Vibe” to them, but Lembongan is Definitely one of them, and with that Trinity of diving quality, chemistry and ease, I signed myself up.
As I arrived my first day to embark on the rescue part of my course i was introduced to the man that was to become my Instructor for the Rescue part and the mentor for rest of my DMT. What i can only describe as a dark haired, english, not AS good looking version of Ryan Gosling introduced himself as Rowan. A personality that complimented Bryce so well and i knew straight away that we would become the three best friends that anyone has ever had. EVER. Any anxiety, second thoughts, doubts, cold feet or whatever you want to call it dissipated immediately dissipated into the piercing blue eyes of the transplanted Brit.
We begun the Rescue course with Theory and pool work, and a little refresh on CPR and first aid but already being a trained lifeguard I was already confident in those areas. It wasn’t until we hit the water with our local Lombok DM Sohari that the real fun started. While admiring the stunning underwater topography and the abundance of life in the islands surrounding ecosystems i found my self having to restrap loosened tanks, fight off “panicked” divers, recover unconscious divers, deal with nitrogen narcosis, downright stupidity and any and all possible scenarios that life underwater may throw at one on any given trip into the Blue. My personal favourite memory from the trip was while completing the final assessment of recovering an unconscious diver to the surface, administering rescue breaths, ditching gear and getting onto the boat to administer CPR. We surfaced in 8 foot choppy waters with a thunderstorm and rain that felt like bullets. With the visibility reduced to about 3 metres there was no way the boat was able to see my SMB. None the less the rescue had to go on. Administering rescue breaths every 5 seconds i started to prepare myself for what could be a long wait. after 3 or 4 minutes the glorious, fibre glassed hull, twin engined behemoth that is FREEDOM showed its face. I began to remove the victims gear in preparation for an assisted lift onto the boat by the deck hands. As i neared the boat and slipped Rowan from his BCD i asked the boat hands for 2 weight belts, buckled to help lift him from the water. with slippy hands and a slippy deck, 8 foot swells and thunderous wind a weight belt freed itself from the hand of the deck hands and crashed onto the right temple of my beautiful instructor. A situation that for all training purposes, became a real life First aid rescue situation. with blood pouring from his head we managed to get the dazed (but actually unconscious) Rowan onto the boat where i administered CPR and then practiced my first aid skills by cleaning up an injury caused by blunt metal. You will all be pleased to hear that he has made a full recovery and neither his good looks or his arrogance has been harmed in the process. We did however fine the deck hand 2 beers a piece.
Exciting, Educational, Extreme. And with that i passed.
As the days passed and my PADI specialties began i really got an insight into just how many different varieties of life there are below the surface. From the smalls nudibranchs, to giant Oceanic Manta’s. From miniature shrimp to Whale sharks. From cleaner wrasse to the biggest moray eel I’ve ever seen. Schools of giant travelly’s and Tuna. It has it all here, and its not just in fish form. The abundance of different species of coral means that every possible permutation of fish life lives side by side in this aquatic wonderland.
I started my Divemaster internship two weeks ago now, and so far i have had my head in the books learning all i can possibly learn about our underwater world, what the physiology of diving is about. Fin techniques, people management and the overall day to day running of a dive shop. I’ve been shadowing guides on every dive possible tuning my eye to the delights mother ocean has laid out before us. leaving no coral inspected, no overhang ignored and no cave missed. As well as learning all i can in and out of the water, theres an absolutely amazing conservation centre on the island that have Tri-Weekly talks about the Weird and Wonderful life of our oceans. Its an organization called the Marine Megafauna Foundation which is primarily dealing in studying our local manta ray population here in Lembongan and around Nusa Penida. Not only that though, it deals with the ocean as the symbiotic ecosystem that it is, learning, discovering and sharing about everything from the microscopic phytoplankton to the largest creatures the oceans have to offer.
Personally coming from the life of a chef i never really thought about, even though i was aware, of the consequences that the ocean suffers. We as human beings have an inherent disposition to think that everything we use and consume is indefinite. That the waste we produce just magically disappears. That the cod liver oil and omega 6 tablets we take daily to help our skin or our hair just come in a bottle. Not many people really think about where these things come from. Herbal medicine, even things that dont work are also a large player in the destruction of our salty world. Its only really in the last few months that i have made a really conscious effort to try and help, to change for the better. And living here has opened my eyes even more so to the indiscriminate destruction of our own oceans. Organising beach cleans, dinner fund raisers, spreading the world against disposable plastics and single use items that we don’t necessarily need is all going to be a part of who i am from now on. Conservation of our oceans is KEY to our survival as a race.
And with that, its time for some theory!
BEACH CLEAN THIS SAT 20Th at 3PM – SWING BY TWO FISH!!!!