I AM NOW A DIVER
My recent trip to the Philippines highlighted a rather sizeable gap in my skills for travelling the world. I was not a certified diver. I could snorkel the reefs looking at some truly amazing coral and tropical fish, but there were parts of this amazing place that would remain out of sight.
At least, until today.
Today I am giving myself a high five. Today I passed the PADI Open Water Diver course. I finished the final three ocean dives and had an amazing time with Abyss Scuba Diving in Sydney. I am now officially a diver and can rent my own gear and go jump off a boat somewhere to have a paddle around. At least down to 18 metres. I get the feeling that will be enough for a while, until I want to join all the Advanced Open Water kids down at the 30 metre mark.
On a global scale of personal achievements, this doesn’t rank all that high. Considering the number of people I know who are divers, it isn’t exactly groundbreaking. However for me personally, it was a pretty great feeling getting to test myself and learn to control a small, but noticeable desire to contemplate exactly how much water was above me. Also, I only thought about being eaten by a giant shark about three times over the entire weekend.
The team at Abyss Scuba Diving were awesome. I booked in for an eLearning course and two days of diving. I could do all the theory in my own time i.e. the last minute, providing I completed the final test before I turned up on the day of the dives. Day one had two pool dives where we learned our sweet skills, then an ocean dive where we started testing them. Today, day two, there were three ocean dives; again testing the skills we learned in the pool and making sure we had a firm understanding of them all.
Our instructor Brett was really patient and went through everything to make us feel comfortable. It helped there were only two students there; myself and a backpacker who was on her final days in Sydney before heading home to an English summer, which I’m not convinced it actually a real thing. It was the same temperature in Bath today that it was in Sydney and I was freezing.
I did manage to scare the shit out of a larger group who were also doing their dive training. I lay my BCD and bottle down and blew an o-ring. Basically the entire contents of the bottle started dumping out of the stage one in a cloud of freezing air. Nice to see exactly the kind of thing that could happen underwater…though it is apparently quite rare. And that is why you should always dive with a buddy close by.
While it was fairly cold, we did manage to see some cool fish, a few cuttlefish and had a play with a small octopus. It definitely wasn’t a blue ringed octopus. Definitely want to be able to identify those. There are a lot of other species I want to see now, like leafy sea dragons and maybe some grey nurse sharks.
So now I have this new world open to me and another aspect of travel I can start taking advantage of. I will need to start listing all the places I want to see underwater now. It is exciting. I will start with a few more dives around Sydney, then head up towards the Great Barrier Reef, I think. No doubt there are a thousand other places that will immediately spring to mind. Already friends have sent me ideas. Palau, the Solomon Islands, Mexico, Roatan, Indonesia. So many places I will need to see.
I’d better get started.