October 10, 2006 — Tuk Tuk Reagan

The dive boat pulled away from the beach at 8 this morning. Wat, our dive master took a long drag from his Marlboro Red “See many shars,” he smiled, extending his hand from his forehead, like the dorsal fin of a fish.

We rigged our gear. SCUBA tanks hissed as we tested our regulators. The old diesel engine pushed us though the waves and rain. An hour away from the island of Ko Tao, Wat found the buoy above Chumpun Pinnacle. I studied a map of the coral formations below the blue. Wat pointed to the north end of the map, “Shars”, he repeated. I zipped my wetsuit, anticipating a jump into the water.

Fins flopped to the edge of the boat, then jumped into the waves. I floated on the surface, adjusting my mask, and took a long sip from my regulator. Wat tapped my shoulder, and nodded. We released the air for our BCDs, and sank slowly down. Our bubbles rose above us like a spice for the surface.

I swam slowly, controlling my breath behind the kicking fins and bright yellow wetsuit of Wat, my Dive Master. He led me through coral spires of vivid red. Under water, everything is new. Wat pointed. I saw the smile of his eyes trough his mask, and followed his finger to the life below. Fish swam in schools like striped sun drops. A sting ray stirred the dust with purple spots.

Wat’s body twisted with a start. I scanned the blue across the sandy bottom, 120 feet below the surface. Through the dim rays of light the sea darted, and circled with very precise movements. Two others joined my view. Their speed and strength were effortless. My heart beat through my chest, as I focused on my breathing and the air in my tank.

We are only visitors here, I thought. They own the sea. Wat’s hand extended between his eyes and above his mask. “Shark” I thought.

Subscribe and get notified to hear about future adventures.