Last August, my bestie and I planned to meet up in Croatia, splash around in the ocean for a few days, before meeting up with her fella & friend in Slovenia. This seemed like a great chance for me to complete my PADI Advanced Open Water course, which opens up another world (18-40 meters deep) of diving.
I chose Dive Center KRK, and we rolled up in our giant green campervan the night before to make sure we were all set for the course and for Lisa to be my dive buddy on the training dives. At the dive centre, before we headed out, we were introduced to my instructor, Helmi. He has completed over 10,000 dives, and has spent over 3 years of his life under water! Amazing! We cruised out to the first dive site Mair Wand, where I completed a ‘peak buoyancy dive’ which essentially involved a lot of going up and going down try to gain additional control and to finesse your positioning and trim in the water. Basically, the goal is to become effortlessly graceful, which is how I live my life (lolz). Even though the sun was hot that day (33°C), as soon as you descend, the water is ”fresh,” dropping to 14-15° at 25 meters down, necessitating a 7.5mm thick wetsuit and hood. Basically, putting them on at the surface was a total and utter sweat-fest, until we learned the hack of wriggling into the wetsuits whilst floating in the water. The next dive on my AOW course was the one that I was most nervous for – navigation. While I delude myself into thinking I have a “natural” sense of direction, I also struggle enough with daily life that I know that my orienteering skills may not be optimal. After a brief refresher on orienteering, I SUCCESSFULLY navigated us to the wreck (Paula Wreck dive site) and even back to the boat. So pro. The next dive was a night dive. This dive site is accessible through a small cave, which opens up to a small stoney beach (which is likely why it is called “Secret Beach”). While night dives don’t tend to be my favourite, we did get to see an octopus and tons of sleepy fish. The most magical moment of the night dive was when I looked up towards the surface to see hundreds of sleeping silver fish, which looked like a surrealist version of starry night.
The next day, we dove Blue Point Cave. It was a wonderfully chilled dive, and I felt relaxed and meditative throughout, savouring the colourful corals and families of fan fish. Lisa, ever the fan of delicious delicious oxygen, decided to complete the Nitrox course, so here she is doing the learning.The final and most dramatic dive of my AOW course was the deep dive at Lighthouse Plounik. One of the demos our instructor had planned was to let his reg freeflow at depth so we could see how quickly the air depletes. When we were at 32 meters, Alex started the demo, but unfortunately, the combination of the cold water and the cooling effect of the compressed air as it flows out of the tank meant that once he finished the demo, his reg was open, continuing to freeflow oxygen. Lisa and I quickly noticed that things had gone awry, and she casually handed him her second reg while I swam up to help him turn off the tank, pause, and turn it back on. Fortunately, this solved the issue, and we ended the dive soon after. This incident did give us bragging rights for the rest of the trip for how we are gawd damn HEROS, just swimming around SAVING LIVES. NBD.
Later, in the trip, we popped by Viking Diving Centre in Hvar for a fun dive, which definitely wins points for having a picturesque dive centre!We cruised out to Stambedar with our dive master, and had a fantastic dive!This was one of the first times I dove with the GoPro, so even got some footage of us being best buddies underwater! (#SorryNotSorry for the on-the-nose choice of music for this video)
While a few others ended their dive as they ran low on air, Lisa and I were permitted to continue exploring for a bit near the boat. However, after a few minutes, our dive master came over and signalled dramatically that we needed to end the dive RIGHT NOW! When we surfaced, we saw that a huge thunderstorm was blowing in, and we rushed into the boat and back to shore. From the relative safety of the dive centre, we watched sheets and forks of lightning dramatically split the sky. While we had hoped to head out on the water that afternoon to explore some nearby islands (you can rent boats inexpensively in Hvar), the turn in the weather made it a perfect afternoon for a team nap before eating all the delicious sea food.