Cert Dive Day 1

Mid-Florida weather – Mostly cloudy, 72 degrees Fahrenheit, with 100% humidity under the water.

The certification dives are done and I am an officially official scuba diver.  Well, okay, i’m not a card carrying scuba diver yet, but that will come.  But still wanted to share the events over a couple of posts…

The first day of open water certification dives was at a spring called the Blue Grotto about smack dab in the middle of the state.  Before the dives, I was a bit disappointed that we wouldn’t be diving the coral reefs of the Florida Keys or one of the coasts.  I was ready for adventure and sparkly colored fish!  The dive instructors said it was fresh, clear water (and, they added, actually used as a source for bottled water) with some basic brown fish and a turtle or two. 

yep it is blue

yep it is blue

Up to now, my training had been done in an enclosed building with a warm pool where our equipment could be put on right next to where we would have class…

Uhhh… utterly major slight difference here at the spring.

At the Blue Grotto, we had to gear up at some picnic tables some 30 yards/metres away from the water.  Okay, not so bad.  With my 18 pound weight belt, 30-some pound scuba tank, and 25-some pounds of various other equipment, that’d be like carrying a couple big bags of kitty litter into the house from the van.  Oo…wait… I can’t don’t carry two bags at one time.  Maybe this will be a tad more difficult.  So I told myself, “Buck up, little camper, this is an adventure you want!  You can do this.”

Off I go and… Ummm… who put the two-and-a-half flights of stairs in my way?  And the second flight are made of stone and irregularly spaced.  Ow.  This is getting more difficult.

Carefully choosing my steps to avoid falling and breaking something important (on me, heck with the equipment!), I finally made it to the dock.  Admittedly, I was sucking wind already, but this was gonna be fun (you do remember me saying that a few times before, yes?).

Into the water…DAMN, that’s cold!  I thought this was Florida, Land of Bath Water Warm Springs.  Glad I have a wet suit on, but that first dip of the head under water was a bit bracing. 

I was assigned a dive buddy I’d not met before.  He recently left the Marines and was very gung ho and fearless about the certification dives.  When it was time to descend, we were supposed to “…gently lower yourself by releasing buoyant air so that you land softly on a dive platform 15 feet down…”.  My buddy?  A second and a half and he’d already abandoned me, waiting impatiently on the platform as I struggled with that “gently” and “softly” part.  No graceful merman was i.  it was all flailing arms and legs trying to make sure I got there where…

I couldn’t stay there… I kept floating up off the platform.  Come to find out that having a wet suit (which we didn’t train in and can be quite buoyant) and, as Silverstar so eloquently pointed out, my natural avoirdupois, I didn’t have enough weight in my weight belt.  Already exhausted from climbing down stairs and flailing my way to the bottom, I resurfaced to put yet another 6 pounds of weights on.  Still not quite enough, I nonetheless declared victory.

This dive (and the two following) were massive repetitions of the basic scuba survival skills – – clearing your mask of water, retrieving lost breathing regulators, stealing your buddies regulator, turning off the instructors air, and the like.  But the one skill they neglected to train us for… when each dive was done, we had to re-climb those two-and-a-half flights of stairs with all our gear.  Bastards!  I’m still waiting for the weightless joy of diving with colorful fish, but find myself schlepping 75 pounds of gear up the steps…

But, did it again two more times… 

Things learned on the dives?

           If you get cold, pee can warm you up quite nicely in the wet suit.  I didn’t do it at first, thinking it gross, but when the instructors started recommending it…

          The pool is no substitute for diving in a real site.  There is a stress of being in an unknown and potentially dangerous (if mistreated) new location.

          Although I never thought I was claustrophobic, this dive revealed a bit of that to me.  Part of the spring is a cave-like environment.  I found that as soon as I lost sight of the sky and could only see darkness above me, I freaked a bit.  Yeah, I was able to make myself calm, but it surprised me nonetheless.

from the edge of the cave

from the edge of the cave

          I need a buddy who goes the same speed as me.  I don’t want to hold anyone back… nor feel held back.  When my raging lunatic Marine buddy went charging off a couple times, it was a lonely feeling.

And the biggest thing learned?  Three cert dives hauling scuba gear up and down stairs is exhausting.  Got back to the motel around 6 pm (1800) and, beer and chips in hand, became comatose until declaring victory and falling asleep less than 3 hours later.  And slept like a rock for the next 9 hours, waking only in time to get ready for the next day’s cert dives which will be the next post (and, yeah, more pictures later)…

Still?  Yeah… great fun!  But – – –

I’d sort of recommend not drinking any water bottled in Florida for a few weeks…

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11 Responses to “Cert Dive Day 1”

  1. nursemyra Says:

    oh man… that sounds like hell to me…..

  2. silverstar98121 Says:

    I’m with Nurse Myra on this one. I would probably need to dive in a hot spring to be comfortable. And another good reason not to drink bottled water. EWWWW! Do the bottle water folks know what you do?

  3. Parenthesis Says:

    There are much easier ways to get exercise and release tension that this you know …. 😈

  4. kyknoord Says:

    I guess congratulations are in order. For putting all your readers off bottled water. Oh, and for the scuba thing, too.

  5. daisyfae Says:

    when i was in training, i was told there are two kinds of divers: those who pee in their wetsuits, and those who lie about peeing in their wetsuits. CONGRATS! It’s pretty damn cool – 2/3 of the earth is covered in water. you are now licensed to get there (without a submarine!)

  6. thegnukid Says:

    nursemyra – but oddly satisfying nonetheless, when the day was done. i KNEW i’d accomplished something that day.

    silverstar – i was never really cold… just a bit chilly. and i do believe the bottled water people know and are taking the right precautions. hey, those fish don’t get out of the water to go pee either.

    parenthesis – you are so correct and i definitely will be looking for those opportunities as well. but now, certified, i can look for scuba chicks for that!

    kyknoord – i consider myself a humanitarian. just thinking of others and all.

    daisyfae – ha! see everyone else? it wasn’t just me peeing alone in the suit. and my tail is still wagging over certifying. i am an excited pup looking forward to starting to explore that 2/3rds fo the eart.

  7. Stephanie of Stopbouncing Says:

    Parts most enjoyed: crossed out things that we all think but do not say.

    snark.

    Here’s to hoping the rest of your diving adventures are as exciting.

  8. Kym Says:

    I wondered how you were acting so nonchalant about the weight factor. By the time I got to the water, I was ready to quit. Now, you know what I was talking about!

    BTW, the last line caught me by surprise and I almost spit my cookie onto the keyboard. Pretty darn funny.

  9. UncleKeith Says:

    Oh, you are supposed to pee in your wet suit and not on it. No wonder I just got strange looks and never got warmed up.

  10. Dolce Says:

    Jealous jealous jealous.

    *pout*

  11. thegnukid Says:

    stephanie – yeah, we all think it… and i’m counting on good times diving

    kym – nonchalant? nope…i am still in pain. my lower back is plotting revenge. and, ew, cookies in the keyboard? not good… 😉

    uncle keith – the devil is in the details. but i’m guessing any true divers were giving strange looks because they thought what you were doing was required…

    dolce – join me join me join me *smile*

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