The day I thought I was going to die. Really.

Labuanbajo Travel Blog

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Look at all those fish!

What started out in the marine rich waters of Komodo National Park as a dive more stunning than I ever could have imagined, quickly turned into the most frightening experience of my life.

I'm breathing in water.

Air and water. Twenty-five meters under the ocean's calm exterior and I'm rasping in tiny droplets of salt water with every breath I take from my regulator.

Don't panic.

Easy to say, harder to do.

I have no idea why this is happening. My AOW course didn't prepare me for this. Is my regulator malfunctioning? Am I doing something wrong? I made sure to check- this is new equipment, this shouldn't be happening.

Firmly tugging at my divemaster's yellow fin I get his attention and he turns around.

A-ok :)
I signal please, point to his secondary breathing device and grab it, swapping it with mine, clearing it, and taking a tentative breath.

Still there's water coming in. Now I start to panic. 'I'm going to drown,'

I frantically think to myself. I look up, but if I go up now, that quickly, there's a good chance I'll get decompression sickness, drag my divemaster into the same terrible situation. Inhale, exhale. The water's still finding its way to my lungs and I'm terrified.

I point to the regulator in his mouth and motion to swap, which he does.

Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

No water this time.

Shaken and no longer trusting the regulator, I want to go up, and I signal as much.

Bumphead Parrot-fish-so cool!
My divemaster looks at my air guage, puzzled at first as I still have nearly 130 bar. Calming down as I take in several more water-free breaths, I give him back his regulator in exchange for his octopus, convinced that there must be something wrong with mine. He signals OK? And I give him the ok sign. Holding onto the top of his tank, we continue along for another thirty minutes, though I'm weary of the same experience happening again the entire time, and am not able to fully appreciate the beauty around me.

Once we were safely at the surface, our guide apologized. 'Sorry for scaring you with the currents there,' he says, which has me explaining that it wasn't the currents; I was expecting those-it was my regulator and all the water that was coming in. When we are back on the boat with all of our equipment off, he motions for me to come back over to mine, explaining just what went wrong down there.

Apparently there are two types of regulators-the more common one that has a curved apparatus that lets air out when you exhale, and one that is simply straight (as mine was), which, when positioned at a certain angle to a current, can let water in. He even opened it up for me to demonstrate exactly how it can happen.

I had quickly fallen in love with diving and this experience scared me half to death; even could have lead to death if I'd freaked out more and hadn't had a very competent guide with me at the time. If there had only been even a short paragraph in my AOW course book explaining the differences between these two types of regulators and what to do if yours does indeed start letting water in, I would have been able to calmly and safely fix the problem. While having the situation explained to me afterwards helped alleviate some of my newfound anxiety, it will still take me several more dives to fully trust a regulator again and feel completely at ease under water as I did before.

Having gone through this, knowing that many other divers, especially the newer ones, don't understand the mechanics of a regulator and what to do if a similar situation occurs, I would like to strongly encourage PADI to add this small bit of education to the course. (For the sake of safety, and the love of diving)-Thanks.

livelovelaugh87 says:
That's a great idea. I'm glad I'm safe too and actually am leaving on a dive holiday in 3 weeks :)
Posted on: Jun 30, 2011
bernard69 says:
fortunately u are safe!
great info that must be shared,may be post a review on regulators?
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011
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Look at all those fish!
Look at all those fish!
A-ok :)
A-ok :)
Bumphead Parrot-fish-so cool!
Bumphead Parrot-fish-so cool!
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Typical scene here-waiting for my…
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