LEE A. WOOD
At one time, to be a scuba diver it required; a certain expertise in swimming, relatively decent physical conditioning of the student and, a lot of money.
Much to the chagrin of companies such as: NAUI, PADI, etc. who have strived for years to make SCUBA diving a safe sport, the entrance requirements for a beginner are, now, much less stringent.
I will concede that the sport is not as dangerous as it once was. Mainly because of modern communications, beginners are more aware of the hazards in and out of the water At least I haven't heard, lately of anyone trying to swim with make shift weight belts, that don't have a quick release, or mini air tanks converted from fire extinguishers or other such containers.
During the days of my youth such happenings, though not a daily occurrence, were not unheard of.
One time I found a large pressure cylinder that I thought would make a good SCUBA tank. As tanks were, and are, expensive I thought I would empty this one, change the valve and, viola, save some money.
When I hit the release valve, the tank flew backwards, out of my grasp, ripping the skin from one hand. It landed on its side, between my legs and proceeded to disgorge its contents, a white fire extinguishing powder, in an upwards direction.
By the time I was able to move away I looked like frosty the snowman.
Over the years the general populace has become more aware of diving, its benefits, and its enjoyment.
Travel has become more common and large resorts have become more available. Though you may not achieve a NAUI, OR PADI, certification you can receive a ticket, with only a few hours training, that will allow you to rent equipment from the resort you are staying at.
The Chinese, with their ability to mass produce, have carried training one step further. Assembly line SCUBA, at an affordable price.
CITY OF SANYA
The beach is just over the hill on the South East corner of the city.
If you are not into swimming you can sit on the sand or in the shade
and enjoy a cooling breeze.
Stretching to the South West of Sanya is the Lu Huitou Peninsula. To the West of the peninsula is Sanya Bay and to the East is Yulin Bay.
Nearly, the entire peninsula is surrounded by coral reefs which come under the Hainan Sanya Natural Coral Reef Nature Reserve.
The reserve encompasses two other coral reef areas: Yalong Bay, a few miles East of Sanya; and, directly West of Sanya, Xi Mao and Dong Mao Islands, in Sanya Bay.
The reserve, whish is responsible for the protection of the only coral reefs within the P. R. (Peoples Republic of) China, has achieved gratifying results in: coral ecosystem recovery; public awareness; environment education; research; and eco-travel activities, of the reefs.
These pictures were taken, mid December, `03. The temperature was, approximately 26 Celsius.
GRAB A HAMMOCK, HAVE A REST.
[RMB Yuan in Dec. `03, about 6.25 Yuan to $1.00 ( Canadian)]
Once you have made your selection, it is time to pay the piper and choose your wet suit.
I didn't check, I just assumed they wouldn't have one in my size.
Then ins and outs of using a snorkel and a mask.
Hand signals, for those who will be using SCUBA.
The water is sectioned off. One area is for open swimming and snorkelers who brought there own equipment. There is no charge for this area.
Close to shore, the swimmers and the waves have the sandy bottom so stirred up, I left my mask and snorkel in my bag.
I didn't stay in the water for very long as it was a little too chilly for me. As well it was getting late in the afternoon and the breeze was getting cool.
Time to get wet.
SECOND STAGING AREA,
(Or, I saw a fish, this big.)
There are two staging areas on this end of the beach.
From here the divers are sent, in pairs, to the wharf where they will board a boat, once it is empty.
These pictures were taken late in the afternoon and the groups were not as large as they were earlier in the day.
In the distance a second wharf with staging areas behind it.
Throughout the day there is a steady stream of boats; leaving from, and arriving at, the wharves.
It is hard to see in these photos but the entire area is cordoned off with floats and ropes
The boats have very narrow corridors to reach the wharf from the drop off points.
The empty air tanks are taken back for refills, several hundred a day.
The island of Hainan is approximately the same latitude (20 Degrees North) as Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) and reminds me of the beaches of Mexico.
The water, the South China Sea, was a little chillier than what I had found in Mexico, but it was the middle of December.
The entire experience, from paying at the gate, to removing your wetsuit, takes about one hour.
You won't end up with a certificate that will be recognized around the world but you will learn whether or not you care for the beauties, and freedom, of life underwater.
We took a five day tour from Shanghai but Sanya is an international airport and you can get there from all most anywhere.
From my experience I would say, `don't go without a guide' as I never met anyone who could speak, or understand, English. However upon researching the internet I have found several tour companies that are based in English speaking countries. Maybe there are hotels and restaurants where you can get by with a language other than Chinese.
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