Monday, August 19, 2019

Fish Bait

Three minutes. One hundred and eighty seconds. A fragment of time that nobody usually pays attention to. When you are bobbing between five to six metres underwater and hanging onto a rope for leverage it could never seem longer. During a dive, especially a deeper dive such as 30 metres (98.5 feet) a diver's body absorbs nitrogen gas. The nitrogen gas compresses due to water pressure following Boyle's Law, and slowly saturates his body tissues. To decompress this nitrogen you make a very slow ascent (unless you are being chased by something hungry). It is also recommend to make a safety stop at 15 feet/ 5 meters for 3-5 minutes. So eight of us hung and bobbed at five to six metres in murky water with visibility of about 8 feet. Three minutes. One hundred and eighty seconds. Vulnerable lunch for any marauding creatures but "safety first!"   duunnn dunnn... duuuunnnn duun... duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn dunnnn.

Decompression - Picture take from Google Images
I kept putting the weights on my weight belt backwards. I would set it, looking at it like a confused cat then string the weights onto the belt. Sue to the rescue. I was going to practice my buoyancy on my first dive. Trust me, it is harder than it looks. As with mastering any skill it is all about practice. I needed to pass various skills testing on buoyancy as Part 1 of my Advanced Open Water Certification. Tests included hovering both horizontal and vertical. Doing a somersault, and softly touching a tag coming from a vertical position. I crashed and burned on that one the first few times but manged it in the end.

Next up was an adventure dive to a wreck dive to 30 metres or about 100 feet. This was my deep- water dive test. It is an eerie sight to see a wreck slowly emerge in the murky water as you approach from above. We could not go in the wreck as I was not qualified, thankfully. It was creepy enough to swim around it. There were 12 of us on this dive but everyone had a buddy and they ventured as they wanted. This test was to find the down line after our descent and diving around the wreck. Navigation is based on your underwater compass (which I will have to purchase). You can also use landmarks such as parts of the wreck, rocks, coral and even sunlight if you are in a shallow dive. This time the shot rope/down line was about 25 feet off the bow of the ship. Yes, it was exactly like the picture below. Not all dives are in crystal clear water where fishes dance and frolic.

Murky Wreck Dive - Picture take from Google Images
As we explored, Sue pointed out various aspect of the ship that we had talked about before the dive. This was to give me a bearing. Then, she gave me the signal to find the shot rope. I knew that we had to go to the back of the ship and up the other side. It was about a 100 foot vessel. Regardless of the fact that I knew where to go I was still nervous. In fact more that once I had to be signaled to "calm down", "slow down." . Here I am, 100 feet below the surface, swimming in water that has about 3 metres of murky visibility, navigation solo to a guide rope beside the skeleton of an old cargo ship. Calm down? You calm the FU** down!

Shot Rope - Picture take from Google Images
I successfully navigated to the shot rope and we hovered as we waited for a few of the divers. Our computers were telling we could only stay for 26 minutes at this depth, It was time to head up, slowly. Checking our computers as we rose, looking for the magic 5 to 6 metres where we would stop, begin our decompression and look around the murky depths for three minutes. In the end there we we all were, hanging onto the same rope within a few metres of each other. A smorgasbord for the taking.

Compass Navigation - Picture take from Google Images
The next day, my final two dives the next day included practicing compass and landmark navigation. This was fun, challenging and harder than you think because you need your new buoyancy skills to stop you from crashing and burning into rocks and other assorted bottom of the ocean obstacles. The next dive was a calming drift dive where we floated along a reef and let the currents take us along. The goal of this dive is to show you how fast you can lose your buddy if you kick a few times while you are going with the current. Relax and stay together at all times.

Buoyancy Practice - Picture take from Google Images
All in all the Advanced Open Water was challenging but with the skills I had to practice and all that I learned on my previous five dives almost became second nature. Focus on what you are learning and remember what you are taught. I passed the written portion of the the test and that was that. I completed 9 dives and I was now Advanced Certified!

I have no explanation as to why it took me so long to get into the water and get SCUBA certified. As with too things for all of us, "someday" reared its ugly head. Someday is a very dangerous word and one to handled with care.

Time and the tide won't wait.

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