Warning: OA account
I am a sissy. And there’s something about the sea and huge waves that make me think of morbid thoughts. But I survived my first helmet dive! Hooray!
When I first heard of helmet diving, I thought people were brought down into a huge controlled aquarium (think ocean park or ocean adventure) to get up close with various sea creatures. I didn’t realize that it actually entailed going down 15 feet below the open sea until our speedboat was almost to the floating barge where the helmet and oxygen tanks were stationed together with the divers. Understandably, I had cold feet. All my bravado and yes-to-adventure attitude were gone with the sea breeze.
We had to go through a brief orientation before the actual experience. We were taught a few sign language to communicate with the divers while under the sea. I tried to memorize only the important ones – ‘Up’ and ‘Not okay!’. The guide also informed us that the helmet is very heavy but it becomes lightweight under the sea. There were divers that will assist us going down into the sea bed and ensure our safety.
Even then I was still having second thoughts if I should try it. It took some convincing and some looking around (and finding kids raring to go down), before I finally yielded. Okay let’s do this!
Every step down the ladder, I was fighting hard not go scrambling back up. I was so pre-occupied with my heavy breathing that I barely noticed the pressure in my ears (similar to what we experience while on a plane ride). To ease the ear pressure, we were instructed to swallow, chew and/or pinch our nose and breathe out with the mouth closed (like divers do).
The diver who was guiding me had to peel off my hands from the ladder handle just so I would keep moving down. And finally I hit the sea bed. I was holding on to my helmet for dear life, frightened that somehow I’ll lose it and die. Haha!
And then I realized I could breathe, I can stand steadily on my feet and I can see this wonderful ray of light from where the barge is 15 feet above us. Surreal! I began to enjoy myself. We were given bread to feed the fish which were disappointingly not as colorful and varied as we expected. We were trying to reach for them but we couldn’t catch them. We were asked to pose for the camera and make some dance moves. Then 20 minutes was up and it was time to go! I was the last one to go down so my underwater experience was shorter for me than the rest of my colleagues.
Back up on the barge, I couldn’t wipe the silly smile off my face. I made it! Woohoo!
Quick tips and info:
Price – We haggled and paid only P400 per person (group of 10). We were there in May.
Takeaway – Bragging rights and a CD for the photos and video with a printed cover picture. We got the CD the day after the adventure.
Warning – Ear pressure and limited variety of fish and sea creatures