Monday, November 3, 2014

Scuba Diving Part Deux! Open Ocean!

So, before we can do our Open Ocean Dive, we have to take a test on all 5 chapters of the thick book we were supposed to read.  Well, I had a pretty stressfully hectic week, so, no time to read thru that book again.  But the first tests we took, our whole group of 6 got to go over our answers together so it was no problem to pass.  I was kinda hoping it would be a similar set up with this test.  Luckily, it was, unluckily, it was just me and the kid and one other girl taking the test that day! Anyway, I finished the test first, I guessed some but didn't think it was too bad.  We had to pass the test with 75%, no problem to get a C right? We go over the results, everyone passed. . . except me! I got 74%! 74%!! I cannot believe this! Even the kid passed! And the instructor said to me, you only missed by 1. Are you sure you got that one wrong?  And like a dummy, I said yes! Sigh...I cannot believe I have to take the written test again! And he wouldn't let me take it again right then because it was 6:30pm and he probably wanted to go home.

Finally Open Ocean Diving! What I have been waiting for my whole life!! Even though I was not enamored of the pool dives, nobody likes those, so I was still encouraged.

We are supposed to do 4 open ocean dives to become certified divers. Me and the kid were scheduled for this weekend, 2 on Friday morning 8am, 2 on Saturday morning 8am. I am so not excited for this! This is something I really wanted to do but I am petrified I will not like it!  So we get to Mina pier and into the boat with about 15 other divers.  Only 6 of us were diving for the first time.  The others were fun divers and could dive alone once at our location.  The boat ride out was actually enjoyable.  Very choppy but I just sat in the middle and rolled with the punches. We went quite far out, about an hours ride. Then the boat stopped in the middle of nowhere mind you, and our instructor, Lucy, said let's get going! I don't know how they distinguished one piece of ocean from the next, but I guess we were there!

Beautiful view of Abu Dhabi!

I was so nervous, guys! The first thing is, I hate doing things backwards! You know all the pictures of people diving off a boat, they roll backwards into the ocean. I decided I would just have to tell Lucy that I had to just step off the boat feet first and it would just have to be OK cus I would not let a simple fear of cracking my head on whatever the heck is behind me ruin my 1st dive!

So Lucy told us the rules and how to put on all the gear. Then I asked if I could just walk off the edge rather then diving, back first off a moving boat with 10 pounds of equipment on in the middle of the Gulf. And her answer,was no. No! She could obviously see the fear on my face because she said sorry, it is impossible to walk over the side of the boat with all the equipment on, and very dangerous. She also said, don't worry,she would push me off if it came to that! Once I had the equipment on, I realized the truth of what she said.  That equipment was heavy!!

Us getting ready to dive!
I volunteered to go first so I wouldn't chicken out.  I climbed up on the side of the boat, picture a penguin waddling around a rolling ice berg. Then I sat on the edge.  One hand on my weight belt, one hand on my dive mask and regulator, then back flip off the edge! And I did it! Made it with a splash! It wasn't nearly as scary as I thought, especially sense I had the regulator in because I could still breathe as I tumbled into the water.
This is the edge of the boat!

Me & the kid!
 Ok, so since I was first, I had to wait for everyone else to jump in.  So the minute you hit the water you inflate, inflate, inflate, your bcd (buoyancy vest, remember), and move to your back. So I was bumping around on my back, unable to see, feet sticking up in the air, every wave pushing me around. Ummm, can't say I enjoyed that part.  Equipment too heavy, unable to control my direction, I felt like a cannonball shot out of the cannon.

Finally, everyone else is in the water, and we grab hold of the anchor line and make our way to the bottom of the sea! We were going 6 meters down and I could feel my ears beginning to pop so, I was blowing my nose like crazy, which let a little line of water into my mask.  Right under my nose. So then, every time I inhaled through the breather, a trickle of water was getting into my nose too. Then, for whatever reason, the trickle turned into a flood! Just like at the pool.  My goggles were about 1/2 full with salt water! I kept blinking my eyes, trying to clear my mask to no avail. Ahhh well, I just had to live with it.  (afterwards my eyes were burning something fierce!)

Since I was the first one down, Lucy, directed me to kneel at the bottom and wait for everyone else. Well, the same thing happened as happened before, I couldn't keep still.  I was trying to keep my knees bent behind me but I was just bouncing around the bottom, my feet sticking straight in the air, my butt bumping the bottom of the sea, and then my tank would hit and spin me in a different direction.  And just as I finally got it together and was sitting still on the bottom, someone would arrive and bump into me and send me careening around again!

Finally, everyone was down, and Lucy led the way. So, scuba diving! The ocean as my oyster, open for our eyes only, prepare to be amazed, blah blah blah. What did I see? Some grayish, brownish coral, about 3 tiny fish, and I scratched my knee and my hand on the coral! Coral is sharp! I don't know if you could take everything in the first time.  All I kept thinking was you're ok, you can breathe, keep blowing your nose, keep breathing, keep swimming, you're fine. Like a litany in my head. Finally, Lucy makes the hand motions for us to ascend and I scampered up to the surface like a little mouse running from a hungry cat.

Made it back into the boat, took all the gear off, everyone was complaining that visibility was horrible.  Lucy said there was a sand storm during the week and this churned up the sand in the ocean as well and that's why we couldn't see much.  I looked at the kid and said, I don't know how you feel, but I don't think I'm going on the second dive! :( very disappointed in myself but I just was not that enamored of bobbing around in the ocean with all that gear on! And once I was at the bottom, I was just like, yea, ok, now what?) 

But when it came time for the next dive, I just couldn't sit there. So I loaded myself up with all the gear again and made the backwards plunge to the bottom (very proud of myself for this I must say!). This time it was 9 meters. The kid was behind me at first but when I got to the bottom, I noticed she was not with me. This time I managed to sit at the bottom properly but I was still bobbing around like a cork in a bottle. And the waves were buffeting me right and left. I was tossed upside down as well! I just went with it and remained floating there. Just focusing on my breathing. At least there was no salt water in my mask this time!

Our second dive spot!

Lucy had given us all these instructions about what she was going to do on the dive.  Pretty much we had to do the same training as in the pool. Take our mask off, breathe through our buddies tank, etc. I was swimming right behind Lucy making sure I kept her bright pink fins in sight.  It seemed like I was not moving fast at all, but I managed to stay with her for quite a bit.  Then, when I would get distracted with my breathing or because I started to float up towards the top, I would lose her and have to swim frantically to catch up.

After what seemed a very short time, Lucy made the signal for us to surface. I was surprised because we hadn't done anything! When we got to the top, Lucy said half of our group was missing! They had gotten lost! And we had to surface to try to find everyone.  I was relieved to get back into the boat, get all the heavy gear off, and have something solid under my feet.  We had to wait quite a while for some of the guys so we swam in the ocean.  That part was great! I really like being on top of the water!

So, I did not manage to complete my training course, I still need to pass the test and do 3 more dives. I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point, but not soon!

Ciao for now!

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