Posts Tagged ‘fun’

Dive Cert Day 2

December 11, 2008

After collapsing from the day one certification activities highlighted in the last post, I was quite pleased to wake up… yeah, I was tempted to just put a ‘period’ right there and stop.  But, I need to add “…and still have control over most of my muscle groups.”  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I. Hurt.  I was sore in places I didn’t know could be sore.  I was shuffling around getting ready for the morning like a man 20 years older than me.  But, ultimately, I got ready for the second (and last) day.

Day 2 dives were to be done at another spring close to the first we dove at – – Devil’s Den.  Still not sure how it got its name, but it was a very interesting place.  Sort of like a big bubble with just a 15 foot hole at the top for light to get into the chamber (okay, they did have electric lights down there as well, to brighten things up some).  Entry into the dive site was through a narrow, low-ceiling cave.  Even though it was like a cave, I didn’t have that sense of claustrophobia I’d had the day prior.  And the water was beautifully clear.  Two full flights of steps to go up and down with the equipment.  But these steps were more consistently spaced, so it wasn’t quite so painful climbing them.


The first dive of the day was yet another repetition of all the emergency skills we need to survive underwater.  Yes, the water was still on the chilly side, but the fact that I was closing in certification seemed to warm me up (a much better method than the one I mentioned last post). 

I was still buddy-ed up with Mega-Marine-Man for my checkout.  I was a bit surprised…happily so…to learn that his butt was kicked by the day prior as well.  Not remotely near as much as mine was, but to hear that he was affected by the day made my aches and pains seem less.  Either because of that…or maybe he’d just drank heavily the night before…he was much more subdued and running at my speed for skills demonstrations.  Made it less stressful.

As we worked our way down into the water to the dive platform, I was amazed to see catfish swimming lazily nearby.  Big ones.  Now, I know that things appear bigger in water (hmmm…that gives me an idea for dating….), but these guys were big.  The smallest cat I saw was about a bit more than a foot long.  The biggest?  My guess it was pushing three feet long.

Working through the skills demonstrations, we had to practice something new…underwater navigation.  Having worked with compasses for my flying, I thought I was comfortable with their use.  But, in this new environment, I think my path looked like the path of a drunken snail with severe vertigo. 

A key point missed in the last post was the condition of the bottom of each spring.  The Blue Grotto had fine silt throughout most of its bottom.  We were cautioned to avoid kicking it up because it would hamper water visibility.  And, of course, every one of the students had a moment or seven where the silt was accidentally kicked up.  Water visibility was never really bad, but always not great due to the silt in the water.  However!  The majority of the bottom of the Devil’s Den was just rock.  Because of that, the visibility was wondrous.  Had there been more light, we likely could have seen all the way across the spring. 


I was getting more jazzed about how fun this scuba stuff will be.  And more so because, at the end of the first of two dives for the day, the instructor informed us that we were effectively done.  After numerous repetitions of survival skills and the added navigation skill, he was confident in our abilities.  The last dive of the day would be on our own.  What a rush of adrenalin that news was.  All the more so because I would have my first full buddy dive with Dear Friend, who had come along to get some dive time and brush up skills. 

The last dive was wonderful.  The spring had limited places where we could get in trouble.  The water was clear and not too cold.  There were things to see and do. 

Aside from sight seeing the catfish, we started learning how to be buddy divers together.  I was very pleased (and a bit relieved) to find that Dear Friend was ‘just my speed’ for where we went, how fast we swam, and how deep we dove.  We have some procedures to practice together… for example, I let myself drift about 5 feet above her at one point as we swam lazily around the spring.  Then I noticed her looking for something, turning this way and that… oops.  Yeah, she was looking for me.  There wasn’t a problem, she just wanted to make sure, as buddies are supposed to, we kept an eye on each other.  That operating in three dimensions thing will take some getting used to as we maintain contact.  But I also saw a lot of compatibility.  There are a couple ‘mini’-caves that an over curious diver could go wander off into (and we were warned about them ahead of time).  All are blocked off and have warning signs.  Dear Friend pointed out one that had a (hopefully) fake skull at its entrance.  No worries.  While both of us share a sense of adventure, it is easily tempered by a sense of survival.  I think we’re going to dive well together.

…and I’ll keep saying it…

This is DEFINITELY going to be fun. 

(and pictures are coming…)



Last Scuba Class

December 2, 2008

Finished the coursework for scuba this weekend.  Yep, those of you who certified are likely raising eyebrows at how quickly it went.  This was one of the advantages to only having only two students.  If they had the typical class size (10-15), I would not yet be done.  The instructor is required to get through a specific list of skills.  Each skill must be verbalized by the instructor, demonstrated by the instructor, then observed as each student individually shows they can actually accomplish the skill.  Do overs are often required.  Doing so twice instead of ten times is just quicker.

Classes are just the coursework, part book study (more on this in a bit) and part the water skills (sounds kinky).  To actually be certified and get your scuba card, you have to dive in ‘open water’, not the pool.  Open water has a definition I’m not clear on, but diving in a quarry counts.  And, as was so accurately pointed out by my readers, Ohio tends to be a tad chilly in December.  But, being the always-looking-out-for-a-buck astute business people they are at the dive school, excursions are offered in the winter to warmer climes to finish the actual certification.  Such an opportunity was available this coming weekend. 

Even at my decrepit tender age of mumblety-one, I continue to learn stuff about myself.  As I did with getting my commercial pilot’s license, I am confirming here—When I start a training task, I like to get it finished quickly.  Sort of antithesis to my professional ability to procrastinate, but still.  I’m not sure if that’s to hurry getting the certificate so I can use it… or to hurry to get the damn training (and attendant stress of ‘passing’) behind me.  So I asked the instructors if they could finish up the coursework in time for me to go on the certification trip… “Sure, if you’re willing to stay an extra hour…”.  Done deal. 

The book study part was first in this last day of training.  And <foreboding music swells> the FINAL EXAM.  Now, as mentioned before, I stress myself out a bit with tests.  The instructors tried to calm any fears by saying the final test would be questions directly from the books homework test questions.  This is a good thing.  Well, I say ‘good thing’, though I had trouble with some of those questions because they were obtuse… for example, “<blank> and <blank> are essential to safe diving” – – Cheese and Crackers?  Bathing Suits and Water?  Gin and Tonic?  Then, I checked with Dear Friend* who had taken the test a few years back.  She told me that she studied, but not obsessively, and got an 88%.  This worried me (being the worrier) because Dear Friend is one smart cookie**.  So, if she studied and got an 88, I felt I needed to REALLY study to match that. 

So I studied, though not as “REALLY” as I would have liked (there’s that old procrastinator again).

…and got a 94%!!  Easily resisted the urge to text Dear Friend to do the annoying text dance of victory.  Easily, because it was much more fun to do it in person (yeah, I can be a twit)!

Then, into the pool.  We had to squeeze three training sessions into the next couple hours.  Water skills were repetitively and redundantly duplicated over and over to ensure we learned them.  Problems?  A few… 

           One skill was replacing a removed weight belt.  You’re supposed to go horizontal in the water with the weight belt at your right hip, then do a roll to wrap it around yourself.  Sounds simple.  Me?  Not so simple.  First, I had trouble staying horizontal.  Not sure if there’s lead in my feet or what, but they tended to sink me to the vertical quickly.  And I had to do the skill like they wanted (task masters!), so repeated until I could stay horizontal.  Next, I had directional challenges and death rolled the wrong direction, leaving the belt on me backwards and continuing to roll like a spastic alligator in a death roll.  Had to repeat that skill quite a few times, leaving me sucking air.

          Another skill is the “buddy breathing”… simulate being out of air and have to share the regulator mouthpiece with your buddy.  With equipment nowadays, there’s a backup regulator to breathe from, so you’re not swapping it back and forth.  But, for simplicity, they teach you to share your primary with your buddy.  I had to actively resist the urge to playfully flee when my buddy reached for my mouthpiece.  Figured the instructors would look unkindly at me deserting my buddy.  Then, started thinking about the fact that I have no clue where this kid’s mouth has been, what disease he might be harboring, or what other foul stuff may go on.  Yeah, this is all about survival, but in training mode my mind wandered… not a pleasant journey.

Problems conquered, the instructors cleared me through the training and signed off my form!  Now it’s off on the certification trip (so, dear reader(s?), I will be out of touch for the weekend).  Things there, I’m sure, will go well and then I’ll be certified and ready to really SCUBA… more to come on this weekend’s adventure, but for now I’ll repeat what is becoming more of a reality for me – –

This is gonna be FUN!


*Dear Friend may deny it, but she stresses over tests as well, so I felt she’d be a good indicator of how I should approach my studying.

 **…or has many people, me included, totally  fooled on this.