Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How it all started?

Diving has became my passion since I took my first plunge and I never get enough of it. I used to write about my trip and share my photos but the site got shut down :-(  now I will re-write them in no particular order. Just whichever I feel more interesting to talk about. 

How it all started?
It goes way back to the 70ies, when I was still a kid, my dad was a diver. He was a member of British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) Kuantan. I remember he always return home from his dive trip with bags of lobsters, shells, corals and fishes. My mom will be cooking up some delicious fresh seafood dinner. Days after he will be drying the shells and corals under the sun, they always smell horrible. He collected a few cupboard full of shells and corals. I know what he did was not good for the environment, but during that time there weren't much awareness about it and he gave me a chance to see what he saw underwater. He stopped diving after sometime, I guess it was expensive to organise the logistic since there weren't any dive center back then, he has his own tanks and weights and he was using an orange horse collar BCD. Back then his aqualung regulator didn't have a pressure gauge, so he doesn't know how much air he has in his tank, they have some kind of a safety valve that will give them some air to return to surface when they run low or out of air, just like a spare tank in car. The safety measure was not as good as now. After he stopped, my brother Anthony took over, he was doing mostly spearfishing and lobster hunting. :-) They both inspired me!

One time, my dad brought my mom and me on a dive trip, at that time, there wasn't  any dive center or resort in Tioman, just forest and some local fishing village. They loaded tent, food, cooking utensil, compressor and tanks into a big fishing boat. I remembered it took forever and the sea was choppy, it was a family trip with other divers' family, everyone was throwing out from the edge of the boat. My mom told me I was the only one still smiling and active on the boat.  I guess I was lucky to be born with high tolerance to seasickness. :-)

The Dive Academy
In 1997, I finally took my first plunge. Me and 3 other friends sign up for Open Water course in Tioman at Tioman Reef Divers ( Our Instructor was Rahman. We were certified after 4 days. :-) We felt good blowing bubbles underwater! At that time, we were not allow to do a night dive with Open Water license. The only memory I had was the night snorkeling he brought us (not included in the course), it was fun but freaky! In the pitch black sea, imagination run wild. 

In the same year, I pass Advanced Open Water course at Perhentian with Yee Cheng. We picked Night dive, Search and Recovery and Multi Level dive as our options on top of Deep and Navigation. We almost failed our Search and Recovery, I still remember we couldn't locate the lost item and surfaced 3 times to get our coordinate right. Haha! On the same trip we met another group of divers from KL who were going for their diving course too, Zainal, Rosli and Ramzi. We became good friends since then, we almost planned every dive trip together over the next 2 years, we dove Perhentian 3 to 4 times a year and Tioman sometime. I took my Rescue diver course and MFA in 1998 with Nazri. It was tough but I learnt a lot. I remembered the final in-water rescue scenario, search and recover and dragged the victim back to the shore during which I need to give CPR, one one thousand.... two one thousand… I almost run out of breath. Phew! I pass! Never ever again!

End 2000, I got myself certified as a Divemaster. Between 2001 and 2004 I was helping up as a DM at DiveRiau, Batam. It was the worst in diving condition that brought the best out of me, I would say. :-) We get visibility between 3 to 5m, crazy current and only muck diving. I built my confidence in navigation skill, diving skill and spotting skill. I was lucky to have someone who guided me. One thing I learnt never to do after diving in Riau/Batam is to complain about shit visibility. :-p

The Story of  The Camera
Year 2000, I saved enough money to get my first underwater camera. A second hand Nikonos V and 2 Sea & Sea strobes with a 35mm lens and a sets of macro tube. I started making pictures underwater but I learnt the hard way. Shooting analog was hard when you don't know what is aperture, shutter speed and ISO. It was a steep learning curve, I wasted many rolls of films and many flooding on that camera. I almost gave up, I thought it wasn't meant for me. Finally I got the old camera body replaced as advised by the Nikon technician and that solved the flooding problem.

Nikonos V with macro tube
In 2003 I replaced the 2 strobes to a Subtronic Alpha Pro, I bought another Nikonos V, a Nikon SB105 strobe and a 15mm wide angle lens. Now I had a wide angle setup and a macro setup. At some point I even dove with 2 cameras, that was when my buddy or a DM was nice enough to help me carry it. I still remember I made my 1st Whale shark shot in Aur and first manta shot at 7 Skies with this setup. :-)

I converted to digital in 2008 when I made my big investment to buy a Nexus D300 housing for Nikon D300, a port for Nikon 105mm VR Macro lens and a Fisheye Port for Nikon 10.5mm. Keeching!! 7K gone! It has made a big improvement in my photography skill, I could made instance rectification and shoot more than 36 shots in a single dive. :-D

Me with Nexus D300 housing
In 2011, before I left for my RTW trip, I bought an Olympus ZX-1 and an Olympus housing. It was much lighter and convenient to carry in a backpack. The rest were packed up in storage. Now that I am back from the RTW trip, I think it is time to take them out again.

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