You wants to SCUBA?

Feb 20, 2011 10 Comments by

My last big hurrah in Australia, the ever fabulous scuba dive. Having never learned, since uh duh I live in Denver, I decided to learn while in OZ. What better place than the most famous reef in the world? It was touch and go for awhile what with Category 5 Cyclone Yasi (yes it’s the same as a hurricane) bearing down on the coast. However Townsville was mostly spared. Anyways, after checking with the dive shop to make sure they were still taking students, I hoped on a plane and headed out of Perth.

The course I settled on was a 5 day Open Water certification with 3 days spent on a boat. Arriving on Friday, I stopped by the shop to pick up my manual and homework for the first class. Homework! I kinda forgot how to do homework actually, it was quite sad. Three chapters and 3 tests later I was ready for the first day.

Monday & Tuesday:
Class is held in the rooftop pool of the dive shop. We learn crazy amounts of stuff.

How to breathe through your regulator (tre importante)
How to clear your mask of water
How to sink and float
Hand signals
Etc, etc. I lose track

Having class held underwater is an experience in itself. All classes should be done like that. Students pay way more attention when they could drown. Just saying, an important motivation tool.

Tuesday Night:
We head out to the boat, the Sea Esta, our home away from home for the next three days. After being shown to my cabin room, we all head up to the dive deck to give our equipment one last try. Gotta make sure everything fits since we’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere if it doesn’t. Nothing says hi friend!, like stripping down to your underwear and trying on wetsuits in the first 5 minutes of meeting them.  We all hang out upstairs for a few hours and then it’s off to bed while the boat heads out to the first reef. An important note: when your room is next to the engine, it’s loud. Like really freakin loud. Sleeping the first night is slightly difficult. Also getting used to the rocking boat is tricky too.

Wednesday:
First day of open water diving. We basically repeat all of the lessons we learned before but now in open water instead of the pool. Makes a MASSIVE difference. Currents, visibility, sheer nerves play a huge part in getting all of the skills down. Another problem presents itself on the way down the first time, my mask will not stop filling with water. It’s ridiculous! I’m reaching panic stage and swim up to my instructor to figure out what to do. He suggests switching masks underwater which is the lesson I hate the very most out of everything. For some reason, everytime I have to take the mask off underwater I can’t help but breathe through my nose. Everytime! Which means of course you end up choking on sea water. Choking while continuing to breathe out of your regulator is crazy hard. I mean it’s doable, but I would not recommend it. Happily I manage to switch masks and we continue on our merry way. We saw tons of fish and even a few white tipped reef sharks. Scary to see a shark in open water but these were harmless or so the instructor told us. But this was Nick, he totally could have been lying.

Side note: Turns out my mask ha d small tear in the lining which caused it not to seal to my face properly. Now know to check for that bad boy first!

Playing follow the leader!

Thursday:
Only needed one more dive this morning to make ourselves full-fledged open water divers! Look ma, I gradumacated!

Our graduated class!

After that we were free to dive on our own in our buddy pairs. But to be honest, we all were freaked out about how to find our way back to the boat once we’d been under for 30 minutes. Swimming on the surface is uber tough and none of us wanted to come up a mile from the boat. So we ended up still staying with our instructor, just not doing any courses. Much more fun. That night we even got the chance to attempt a night dive. Which is of course a standard dive, just done at night in case you couldn’t figure that out. You get torches for the night dive. (Torches=Flashlights. I don’t understand why the call them torches. It’s not a live flame.) It’s an entirely different experience since you can only see a within your tiny bit of light. And I am WAY too scared of the dark for that shit. I was terrified there was  a shark swimming right next to me and I could just never move the light fast enough to catch him. Note to self: If you hate scary movies do not swim at night. Bad plan.

Nick, our fearless leader

Look Em, a starfish!

Friday:

Final dive day and it’s spent on the S.S. Yongola wreck. The Yongola was a passenger and shipping vessel thank sank 100 years ago during a cyclone, but wasn’t found until the 1940’s. This allowed the site to remain untouched and become an amazing historical find with the entire boat relatively intact. It’s named one of the Top 10 wreck dives in the world. It was a pretty cool sight but the visibility in the water that day was only a few feet. So getting a good view of the boat was hard and made it slightly disappointing to be honest. Since the water was so cloudy from all the recent rain you couldn’t see into the ship and that took away from some of the fun. But we did see a manta ray, the first our dive instructor had ever seen. That was sweet!

A post-trip wrap up:
I think I would need a couple more dives to get comfortable with this diving thing. With my lungs, it’s harder to breathe than most and it tends to make me panic slightly underwater. And they should really invent something that just pulls a wetsuit on for you, those things are a PAIN to get into! Jeez! We’re in the age of the jetsons, surely they can make that happen right? Anyways, the boat trip was a blast and am now happy to be back on solid land. Except for the sea legs, any idea on when that’s going to stop? Anybody?

Destinations

About the author

One die-hard Mac Geek set on traveling the globe.

10 Responses to “You wants to SCUBA?”

  1. Mom says:

    so proud of my girl!! so very proud!!

  2. Jom Miller says:

    Sea legs should only last a day or two. Scuba diviing is WONDERFUL!
    I’m proud of you!

  3. Jim Miller says:

    Oops can spell my own name

  4. Emily says:

    JEALOUS!!!!!!!! I am glad you didn’t choke to death on the seawater. that would have been mucho bad. Can’t wait to hear more details when we chat later!!

  5. Drew says:

    If you rob a bank and I am not a driver, I will be horribly offended.

  6. Natalie says:

    Dude diving at night would be super scary! I got chills just thinking about all the things that could sneak up on you …

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