My Open Water Experience

This post is basically about me getting my open water license on The Great Barrier reef in Cairns, Queensland Australia. I'll try to be as detailed as I can about the course, the dive and the experience.

This is a guest blog post by Luke Grima.

I’ll start with why I wanted to do diving. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try but only properly in the last four years. I have a friend who had been diving for a number of years before (PADI license) and I was always in awe of his pictures and thought, yeah I’d love to do that. The first chance came about in Greece three years ago, it wasn’t a ‘proper’ course though – cost €90 and you learn what you had to in the day and you had a guided dive (aka the instructor holding your back and taking you). Since then I wanted to get myself certified properly with a recognized school.

Now I live in England so I didn’t want to start my training here in our lovely cold English Channel, sod that for a laugh! It just so happen that within the last two years I was saving up for my big trip to Sydney (a place I’ve been often and love) and decided to do my course in Australia. So, what destination? Well I’ll tell you, Cairns Queensland to learn on The Great Barrier Reef! Yep, what a place to get certified, in the most famous reef in the world.

So lets start with the course. I was booked on a 2 day 1 Night Certified Dive LiveAboard at ‘Cairns Dive Centre’ as well as two days theory and pool prior the boat. CDC operates with SSI (scuba Schools International). Our group was ever so small; well three to be exact and only two of us would be going on the boat that week. We spent the first two days in the classroom learning the basics, rules, history, gear etc … As well as that we doing our pool work learning mask removal, buoyancy, BC removal, hands signs and so forth. Now we had two days to learn all the theory and ready for an exam at the end, which we had to pass above 80%, otherwise it would be diving in the bathtub rather than the reef!

Pool and classroom exercises all day AND homework for the evening.

I did of course pass and so did my dive buddy. Next day was anchor up and set sail to our LivebAoard boat the ‘Kangaroo Explorer’.

This was our boat for the next two days (picture credit to another diver on the boat). She was a nice ship and catered well for the age of it. Three floors and strict rules of NO wet gear inside the boat, if you got caught it was a spoonful of Vegemite! Now I was very lucky in my four days in Cairns, as I didn’t have a single drop of rain whilst I was there which is rare for that area – this made the dives even better and clearer.

First day consisted of one quick snorkel and two dives at about 10 meters. The water was a warm 30 degrees, clear and calm waters. We saw soft coral, triggerfish, giant clams, stingray, moray eel, flute fish, trumpet fish and spaghetti worms. All in all it was a great first day and a tiring one. I passed on the night dive though as I was so knackered but looking back I wish I had done though.

Instead a few of us had a relaxing evening on the top sun deck. There were various nationalities on board and we all got one really well and shared stories etc … (I’m the one with the blue & white top). We didn’t stay up too late because we had to be up extremely early for the second day of dives.

As you can tell by the schedule it was pretty intense and early. I don’t think I could have comprehended a 6am dive! But the water was still 27 degrees! 27 at 6am! And that was the best dive, we saw white tip reef sharks, green turtles, clown fish, coral and barracudas.

By our second to last dive in the late morning we were ready to be certified on the reef bed. Doing our skills that we had been doing for four days straight and then that was it! Certification, and it felt so good. Finally a certified open water diver! Huzzah!

My last dive was a relaxing one. Just me and my instructor as I had passed it was more take in the sights of another reef location and take lots of pictures. I really enjoyed my time diving The Great Barrier reef and getting my license out there. Cairns Dive Centre was great and would recommend them no doubt, very experienced people. I fully intend to keep diving though only in warm waters, I can’t handle our British seas!

By Luke Grima.