posted on Aug, 11 2018 @ 01:26 AM
It was a long drive. We'd driven from outside Kuala Lumpur that day, the four of us. We were supposed to meet the boat in Terengganu, but we
didn't know what it looked like or who they were. It was just supposedly a "nice boat". Our dive gear weighed hundreds of pounds, what with
tanks, cameras, weights, BCD's, regulators, wet suits and so much more. There was no place to park. We found a place to park the rover over behind
some fishing building, and lugged our gear to the seemingly only dock. We waited. The sun went down and we were still waiting.
Soon a small car pulled up and asked if we were looking for "the dive boat". We said yes, and they told us the boat was waiting one town over to
the south in Marang. WTF? (the water was too shallow apparently). No worries, they said, they'd send a launch and come get us. So about 20
minutes later an Avon raft shows up. It's about a 16' raft, and we practically sink it with all our gear, but Avon's are tough...so we venture
out, with a guy we don't know and who has no idea what we're saying.
We shoot across the inlet to the south and make it to this boat. It's pretty nice, but I wouldn't call it a luxury yacht, more like a utilitarian
dive boat. We unload our gear. The compressors are running all through the night filling tanks. We get bunks below decks, stow our gear and we're
headed out...across the Gulf of Thailand and into the South China Sea.
That hit me...the "South China Sea"!! I'd never been so far away from home. Near shore as we left the water was flat, but as we got further out
we got into the swells and bigger water. There was nothing else but the lights on the boat and the black of the water...a million miles away from
anything I knew. Out here, we were on our own. We would dive that night.
Our first dive was a night dive, and a deep one, 120' feet. It was an orientation dive for what was to come. I'd been to 90' feet before, but
never 120' and never at night. It was a trip! Big sharks, big fish, crazy big fish (like tuna swimming by at 40mph). The sharks paid us no mind.
Saw cuttlefish in midwater turning colors, barracuda, squid and octopus...lots of shrimp. Visibility was crazy good. Almost scary.
They dropped a line down to the bottom at 139" feet. I felt my very first symptoms of Nitrogen Narcosis at around 128 feet. It was so calm, so
relaxed; not a care in the world. I looked at my computer and it was time to GO!!! I didn't want to leave (it's real). I had to grab my buddy and
jerk him to get him to go too. It was mesmerizing.
Spent the next 30 minutes going to the surface. Soon enough we were up top, on the surface, in the moonlight. The boat was off in the distance not
too far. It was strange swimming across that water that night, under the moonlight, with the depths below, knowing we'd just been there. Somehow
there was no fear. As we sat on the dive platform of the boat taking off our fins and tanks it was almost unreal. The South China Sea!!
About an hour later we were back underway. I remember looking over the side and just marveling at the black water going by the boat. Below us at
that point was 12,000 feet of water. I was hooked. (just shaking my head even today).
Years later I would get into professional diving and go much deeper, but I will always remember the marvel of those moments, out on the South China
Sea that night.
What a wonderful and wondrous time, when you're so far out of your element it's not even comprehensible.
Always remember to take that little risk, it's what life is all about!