Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would actually become scuba certified — it was just something I put on my bucket list as one of those things that I wish I could do. But ever since we booked our holiday to Oz, which includes 8 days in Cairns, that dream quickly started to become a reality. My hubby decided on a whim to book a scuba course for us, since it’s ‘the thing to do in Cairns’.
Here’s a quick recap of Day 1-3 (check back for Day 4-5 in a subsequent post), also known as the confined water dive portion of the course. This will hopefully give new divers an idea of what to expect and also serve as a reminder to myself of what I have learned — which is a lot!
Day 1: Before we could begin the course, we had to first pass a swim test: 12 laps across the pool and tread water for 10 minutes. 10 minutes felt like 10 hours. My usually buoyant body decided to do everything within its power to make me work to stay afloat. The 12 laps which we were meant to swim nonstop turned into 12 laps with many stops for me. I thought the whole point of scuba was to not exert yourself too much!
After ‘passing’ the swim tests, we were ready to begin breathing underwater with our regulators. This can get very tiring after a while because you never feel like you have enough air. The BCDs (Buoyancy Control Devices) complete with weights and scuba tanks weighed a ton on the surface but magically floated and became one with us in water.
We also learned how to recover our regulators and flush out water either with our mouths or by using the purge button. After learning how to share air and clear our masks underwater we swam to the deep end, practised equalising and sat at the bottom of the pool playing with rockets. My bloody goggles kept fogging up and mislead me to think things were just really murky at the bottom of the pool (I later learned that’s not true).
Day 2: We completed more knowledge reviews and quizzes. We also got into the bottoms of our 7mm wetsuits (they were referred to as farmer john wetsuits –ufufu), which we would be using in Monterey Bay, CA, where we would complete our open water dives. The skills were a lot more difficult on day 2.
One skill involved removing our masks completely underwater and breathing through our regulators for one full minute. It felt like an eternity. When it was time to put my mask back on I had so much trouble that I got water up my nose and I started to cough. Instead of coughing into my regulator I panicked and yanked the regulator out of my mouth and shot straight up the pool.
I know I should never take the regulator out of my mouth when I’m underwater, because that could result in death. My instructor was nice enough not to scold me. But it was pretty traumatic and I nearly cried the second day! That said, I calmed myself and went back under and successfully completed the day. My biggest fear, other than dying, is letting my hubby down. So you can see I was under a lot of pressure.
Day 3: We spent the morning on our final written exams. In the afternoon we got into our full wetsuits and also calculated the proper weights for our open water dive. I also choked the next day after failing to do a proper backward entry into the deep end (scraped the back of my poor chubby thighs) but got used to coughing into the regulator. Well done me!
We also practised various diving techniques. Here is where my newly acquired underwater swimming skill came in handy, but if only I could dive to the bottom of the pool in one fell swoop. Some of the dives took several tries and I felt my naturally buoyant self working against me again.
Finally, we went over several emergency ascents, including the CESA (Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent) where you hold a continuous breath as you swim to the surface and let out a cross between an ‘ahh/hmm’ sound through your regulator. One of the important things to remember in scuba is to never stop breathing. All in all, the third and final day of the confined water dives was a success.