The Diving Day

22 Aug

So, in my optimistic mind the night before scuba diving, I thought I would feel inclined towards writing a blog post the evening afterwards. Wrong. I ended up getting frustrated with my internet connection trying to watch a YouTube clip and decided to go to bed at 8:45pm because I was so tired.

So diving. If you read my Scuba Steve post, you would have known that I was pretty much in two minds about going diving again. When K and I woke up in the morning we were feeling pretty unenthusiastic. It wasn’t a super early morning – but we were already tired and feeling nervous. I’d woken up about four times during the night from anxiety about it all. But we told ourselves we wouldn’t regret it so we trudged down the stairs and to the car and headed off with no breakfast due to nerves, but armed with some motion sickness tablets.

We arrived in good time and I spotted my friend M in the car park who showed us the way to the boat and that’s where we dumped our stuff and filled in some paperwork before the boat headed off. We had a briefing session as we took off, which vaguely allayed some of my fears. One of the instructors took pity on my friends and me and said that he’d take us on the easier dives.

I didn’t take any photos of the day, sorry, largely because diving isn’t exactly a glamorous activity. You tend to look like a disgusting sea creature by the end of the day and let’s just say that wetsuits aren’t exactly the most flattering fashion item ever. Mine is also extremely hard to get on and as I was struggling into the top half of it a second time with the aid of a gentleman he asked, “is this suit a little bit small for you?” to which I answered loudly, “Perhaps!”. I also forgot to bring my camera.

Back to the story.

Well, while all the Advanced Open Water divers went on a first dive, my mates and I sat around for a bit and discussed how nervous we were. Then the instructor guy told us to put on our gear and get ready to get into the water. I’d been going through waves (pardon the pun) of nervousness, and this prompted yet another anxious moment. I struggled into my suit, ridding myself of my anxiety about getting dressed in front of multiple people (in Cairns some weird French guy watched K and me don our stinger suits – creepy).

When I was in all my gear and about to step into the water, I realised I could not find my reg (the thing you breathe through – kind of important) and asked around if anyone could see it. Turns out that it was completely tucked into all the rest of the gear so I had someone unstrap a few things here and there, untangle me and then strap me up again. You quickly learn in scuba diving not to be prudish about people touching you all the time because it happens to everyone and they’re just trying to help. After that was all sorted I jumped into the water and managed to get my mask filled with water and also choked because it got into my mouth. Then someone kept calling out saying that my BCD wasn’t strapped up properly. Some more help with getting dressed and we were ready to descend.

I was buddied with M so we went down together gradually because we both tend to have trouble equalising our ears. Success! It went almost completely without a hitch and my mask also didn’t flood continuously like on the training course. We set off and it soon became apparent that I was following the wrong fins. They were pretty damn similar to the ones I was supposed to be following, but luckily the proper leader caught up with us and told us to stop before he showed us around some more. The water was beautiful. We saw a few moon wrasses and a trumpet fish. I think M tried to point out a shark, but I’m notoriously bad at seeing them and I don’t think it was really big. After a while my ears started to hurt and I tried to force equalisation, but that just resulted in my ears making this squealing noise anytime the air was released. Turns out that’s not a good thing…

We ascended eventually and, upon breaking the surface, I realised that M was feeling sick as she was already retching. I helped tug her back to the boat and took off her fins for her and she got back on. Then it was my turn to fiddle around with my own fins before emerging from the water. Here I found out that my dive computer wasn’t working, so I had to pretend my dive was exactly like M’s. Fun times. K had had troubles with her ears that dive and had developed an earache too, so decided that was it for diving for her that day. M also didn’t feel too inclined towards the second dive.

Luckily, K had a friend who’d come along too, so we buddied up for the second time. Here I struggled into my suit with the help of the gentlemen who not so subtly suggested I was too big for my suit. I didn’t take this to heart. I was already aware of the fact that perhaps the arms were a bit small and I hadn’t stretched them out yet. But I digress.

Descending this time was ok at first. My ears were doing that squealy thing as I got deeper, but it wasn’t painful yet. This time I was getting frustrated because I thought the visibility was really poor. That was until I decided to let a little water leak into my mask and then magically I could see really well! My mask was just a tad foggy. This time I got to see a turtle just lazing around getting cleaned by its friend-fishes. Apparently there was also a shark but I failed to notice this one as well. I got to hold onto the shell of some sort of crayfish thing, which also got stuck to my somewhat sticky gloves. This was all really cool until my ears started to hurt a LOT. I mean, if I went any deeper, I’m sure my ears would have exploded. So I floated upwards a bit and signalled to the leader guy that my ears weren’t ok and ended up hovering above everyone else willing my ears to pop so I could enjoy myself.

Eventually the dive finished and I was getting fairly low on air again. I ascended and got off the boat again to find out that my computer had failed once more. Not good. I also was the one that had to raise my hand when the leader asked, “who didn’t do their safety stop?”. I raised my hand tentatively and asked, “was that me?”. Yes, yes it was.

I’d decided that I’d gone partially deaf at this stage so therefore the third dive wasn’t a favourable option. We had lunch (M didn’t) and talked about our dives and how it seems that everyone you meet on a diving trip is genial and down to earth. No one is so arrogant about their gear or how many dives they’ve done. They’re super friendly, help you get into your gear, offer great advice and also help out with the inexperienced people, like me, in such a way that doesn’t make them feel bad. One guy who’d been on the third dive showed my mates and me some photos of the turtles and fish he’d seen. He and his dive buddy told us that they didn’t go very deep and we should have gone diving with them as they would have looked after us. It was extremely nice to hear.

Well, the rest of the afternoon was pretty lazy. We sat around and chatted and eventually docked. As we got off we thanked everyone for the day and trudged back to the car to drive home. I even didn’t cringe when one guy called me Sweetie – that’s something!

I’m feeling a bit better about diving now. I’m sure that when K and I try it in Thailand I will still feel that awful anxiety, but the exhilaration afterwards will be completely worth it.


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