The Unicorn is a 50m deep wreck located 30 minutes north of Koh Tao.
I dove here right after finishing my technical diving course to 50 meters. Andrea, Roshan and I were buddies and we were diving in a group together with our instructor, Julien who was diving with Chandini. It was to be our first fun dive to 50 meters. After a strenuous and not so smooth setting up of the buoy, we jumped into the water and noticed that the current here was strong! It took all our power to kick against it with four tanks on in a sidemount configuration. We kicked and kicked until we got to the buoy and then had to keep kicking to stay in the same spot waiting for the rest of the team to reach us. When we were finally assembled and had completed our safety checks on the surface we descended fast, kicking hard along the line, trying to escape the current.
The water was murky with a visibility of around three meters. When we got to the bottom we saw nothing. We had not hit the right spot – now it was up to us to find the wreck. Julien tied his reel to the mooring line and started doing a circular search pattern. I could just about keep up with him. I could not see the rest of the team and slowed down to see if everyone was ok. A vague light came towards me and I saw a dark shape kicking away. Another light was behind. I teamed up with Andrea as I soon as I saw the wreck. A dark ominous shape covered in nets. We approached together carefully and followed the group who started circling the wreck. The visibility had reduced to one to two meters and we quickly lost everyone. Alone at 50 meters we checked our parameters and decided we had a little more time to look for them. We went to where we thought we had seen them last, swimming over nets covered in more nets but saw nothing. Andrea signalled that we had to go up. I was wondering if we should not extend our bottom time by three minutes to look for the rest as we had planned in our contingency plans but she looked determined.
We started our ascent and quickly lost sight of the wreck. We could not swim against the current during our deco stops so we hoped the captain would see our SMB (Surface Marker Buoy) when we got to our last deco stop. At the first deco stop below 30 meters Andrea slowly started going up and automatically, in perfect trim, dumped air from her wing. A minute later the same happened and then again. I watched her each time and approved of her way to solve the issue. This kept happening for a few more stops as we watched the plankton go by. When we reached our deco stop at 21 meters the same happened again and it finally clicked for both of us. Simultaneously I told her to unhook her LPI (low-pressure inflator) and she looked at me and unhooked it. We both laughed. We had been so narked. Fifty meters apparently does make a difference. After a few more stops we finally surface and see the rest of the team getting back on the boat. Everyone was safe and excited about the new adventure.
The Author: Kira is a PADI MSDT, Full Cave Diver and holds an M.Sc in Marine conservation and Biodiversity.