First Dive

On Friday I went open water diving to 12 meters for the first time.  The dive site we went to was simply called ‘cave.’  After gearing up, and rolling back first off the boat, Jane & I swam over to the anchor line, and deflated our Buoyancy Control Devices (BCD), which dropped us into the ocean.  Hanging on to the anchor line, inches below the surface, I looked upon an expansive green ocean, with no floor in sight, and thought, “I’ve got to be crazy to go down there.” I paused for a bit, until I eventually surfaced with Jane.

“How deep is it again?” I asked.

“12 meters,” she answered.

Personally I have very little practical understanding of how far 12 meters or 12 yards is.

“Uhh…” I answered as the sea splashed across my face.  “And how far can I see?”

“Maybe 6-8 meters.” she answered.

After some more expansive words of encouragement my rational, or maybe irrational brain kicked in and we descended again.  Just as pressure builds in your ears and sinus when you fly in a plane (a reverse squeeze, to use diving terminology), pressure builds as you dive (a squeeze).  Learning how to properly equalize the pressure in my ears the first time was a little different then the course had lead me to believe–they suggested that you squeeze your nose and blow. I found it easier to swallow.

At the bottom I could not see the top, but there was a surprising amount of light.  Although I saw some fish on that dive, most of my attention was spent trying to keep from drifting too far up or down. Or to the side.  The videos I watched in my youth of Jaque Cousteau made diving seem so easy, yet the balance was not coming quickly.

The most beautiful fish I saw was probably the most common: a tiny bright blue fish with a yellow tail.

After we surfaced, I asked Jane, “How long were we down there? 20 minutes?”

“44 minutes,” she answered.  “Time flies when you are having fun I guess.”

When doing multiple dives, you are supposed to do the deeper dive first, so our second dive went to 8 meters.  This time you could see the bottom of the ocean from the boat.  I think the water had better visibility too.  We practiced some diving skills at a sandy patch on the bottom, like clearing a flooded mask.  After we swam around.  My control was a little better this time, and I definitely saw more tropical fish, though I hardly know the names of any of them.

After all this I can see why astronauts train by diving.  The feeling of weightlessness is fairly unique, and difficult to reproduce on the surface.  I have to imagine ones first space walk would be equally as terrifying if not more terrifying then a first dive.  Underwater, if something goes wrong you can generally rely on your buddy for air as you surface.  In space there is no such luxury.

It’s a little odd to think that being surrounded by more matter (water) is similar to being surrounded by less (a vacuum).

For the last couple of days I have been walking along the beach after my diving lessons, and I have been rapidly figuring out that the part of the beach that my dad, sister, and I frequented last trip is only one part oft he beach.  It’s the part of the beach that is mostly occupied by locals, snorkel divers, scuba diving stations, and older gents (mostly my dad’s friends).  The beach is fairly short on that end, and right off the coast you can wade in to a bunch of coral that shelters the beach from the waves with tropical fish swiming around.

Further to the south, after a bend in the beach that is coral right up to the sand, there is a narrow stretch of beach that disapears during high tide, with no coral off the shore.  Judging by the number of people on surf boards (as well as the size of the waves) this is some killer surfing.  I learned from a surfer that there is competitions in both december and February.  I think during those months, high tide is during the day, where as now the high tide tends to be during the evening during the sunset.  Even though i’m here between the competitions, there are still generally 20-30 surfers out enjoying the waves.

After that stretch there is a more expansive beach, with ton’s of lounge chairs scattered about, being tended by people who ran restraunts at the back of the beach.

I had been to some of these restraunts the last time I was here, but I had no idea where they were locationally.  There is one place, Mambe’s, which I particularly like.

January 22, 2010 • Tags: , • Posted in: Vacation

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