[singlepic id=385 w=320 h=240 float=left]“I want to go deep.  I want to go deep inside of a ship wreck, and I want to do it all on Nitrox.”  This sums up the attitude that Tobbe Lundell and Linda Wessen took upon returning to Koh Tao.

On their first visit to the island, they were initially apprehensive about diving and eased into it with a PADI Discover Scuba Dive.  Just a half day activity, the “DSD” is a great way for unsure customers to try it out before committing to the full Open Water Course.  After the DSD it was full speed ahead – they went on to complete their full PADI Open Water Course (including whale shark sightings on their 3rd dive at Sail Rock!) as well as the Advanced Open Water course, all back to back.  As their instructor for both courses, I was bummed when I found out they had to leave to keep going with their travel plans.  They were great divers and so engaged and willing to learn that it was a beyond a treat to teach them.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long for them to return.  After travelling around South East Asia for a few weeks, they decided they had to return to Koh Tao and keep diving with us at Sairee Cottage.  They started with multiple fun dives and a few Sail Rock trips, which honed their diving skills and greatly increased their confidence under water.  After a week of fun diving all the sites around the island, they came to me and asked “What’s next?”

After we discussed their options, Tobbe and Linda were set on completing the PADI Enriched Air, Deep, and Wreck Diver specialties.  After sorting out all of the logistics for multiple wreck dives in a row, deep dive sites, and upwards of 40 nitrox tanks – the plan was set. In a little under a week, Tobbe, Linda, our ever-resourceful Dive Master Lionel, and myself as the instructor were going to the limit.

We started with Nitrox theory on the first day and then the next day they warmed up with two deep dives to around 30 meters.  The following day we were headed for 40 meters.  The level of focus, confidence, and calmness they exhibited on the way to the bottom of Chumphon Pinnacle was outstanding, and they both managed the high levels of narcosis very well.  Even after visibility dropped to less than two meters, you could see they were in control.  Once back on boat, one of the first questions they asked was “How can we go deeper?”

The next step was to teach them how to safely handle diving inside of ship wrecks.  After many hours of homework and theory, combined with lots of on-land penetration line and emergency procedure practice (all in the scorching 40 degree sun!), they were ready to get in the water.  We started with observation, mapping, and assessment dives on our local HTMS Sattakut, a 48 meter long World War II warship, purposely sunk just off of Sairee beach.  After tie-off practice and emergency drills outside the Sattakut, it was time for our final penetration dive.  In similar fashion to the 40 meter dive, their concentration and confidence was outstanding.  Their long hours of practice and studying had paid off.  They both executed perfect penetrations and looked like Dive Pro’s while doing it.

Not many recreational divers ever get to see deep inside of a ship wreck or find out what is really down at 40 meters (the ultimate recreational depth limit).  Even fewer divers see all of this while breathing nitrox.  Tobbi and Linda are definitely the perfect example of people who fell in love with diving, continue to seek new diving challenges, and dive safely and confidently.  I could not have asked for two better students!

Unfortunately Tobbe and Linda are headed back home to Sweden now, but with the silver lining that they will be back in six months to complete their Divemaster course and possibly their Instructor Development Course as well.  We’re all sad to see such great divers leave, but we know they’ll be back and hopefully stick around for a while next time and keep on diving!

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