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“Dear Diary” Scuba with The Dive Shop. Week 2

November 14, 2009

Scuba

“Dear Diary”  Scuba with The Dive Shop.  Week 2
How freaking cool is Scuba Diving?!  I think it is normal to stare at a massive body of water and speculate on what is under that life giving liquid. The amazing power and majesty of the open water is a whole new universe.  If you have ever been to the ocean or even just gazed at pictures of it, you’ve noticed it tends to inspire wonder in each of us for the mysteries that reside just below the surface. To that underwater world that covers most of the planet, we as humans are restricted from due to these blasted lungs of ours.
What is so freaking cool about scuba diving is that it gives us humans the ability to travel underwater just like merpeople.  I don’t know what Arial’s problem was with living under the sea in the movie The Little Mermaid.  That crab Sebastian had me convinced with his delightful song accompanied by the Underwater Symphony Orchestra: “What do they got?  A lot of sand. We got a whole crustacean band! Each little clam here knows how to jam here, under the sea!” This toe-tappin’ song as well as many other things has always fueled a passion inside me for underwater exploration.
With the fire burning desire inside of me to only be quenched by the submersion into a hundred feet of water, I turned to the best means of certification for Scuba diving I could find along the Wasatch.  My research led me to THE DIVE SHOP located in Bountiful, Utah. 429 West 500 South.  We took the basic and introductory class Open Water Diving.  Here’s how we fared.

Mike.  Week 2.

Entering this week of scuba training was different from the first week in that I was way excited to try out this whole bizarre concept of breathing underwater again.  Not that I was not all pumped on learning scuba in the first place, it was just that the idea of “school” on a Saturday for six hours did not seem like my first choice for a day off.  Yet because week 1 was an entertaining time, I was really looking forward to class.

This week we all met briefly at The Dive Shop. We were given the responsibility to get together all our own scuba gear and make sure it was in perfect working order before heading over to the pool again.  We got with our dive buddies at pool side, geared up, and were instructed to do a long stride into the deep end of the pool to enter the water.  A process that is quite simple other than walking to the pool side with that heavy gear and fins. Once I took the big step into the deep end it was just heavenly to finally enter the water for the relief of all that weight being carried on your shoulders.  You would think because of the all the weight you’d sink like a rock.  Think again. The great vest or BCD (Buoyancy Compensator Device) you inflate before entering, they work like an inflatable lifejacket that allows you to sink or float with the filling or releasing of air, like a controlled scentless fart.

Once we all had done our long stride into the water we were instructed to make our decent to the bottom for some review of the previous week. Bob swam up to each of us and gave instruction in sign language to do these exercises.  One of the members in the group had some small issues with the idea of feeling claustrophobic and really uncomfortable underwater. When it was her turn to clear the mask (get some water into her goggles then clear the water out by lifting the bottom side of the goggles and exhaling through the nose) she kind of flipped-out and tried to sprint-swim to the surface, which would normally be very dangerous in deep open-water.  So as instructed in class, Bob simply did not let her jettison to the surface. He pulled her back to the bottom, looked her in the eye, softly held her respirator in her mouth, and calmed her down until she was fine.  It really was impressive action even just in a pool. I could tell our instructor was a seasoned veteran.  Having the experience to react the way he did helped this young lady get passed the fear that had been holding her back.

Some of the other dive exercises we did were things like emergency ascents. Pretending you are out of air ‘n’ such, either getting a hold of your buddy’s alternate air source.  All these were fairly easy yet surely valuable things to have experience with because if you ran out of air 60 feet under, you would freak out!  And that’s the purpose of the exercise; get prepared just in case.  It was all cool.

Another exercise was attempting to control our buoyancy using the inflator hose on our BCD vest.  The goal was to get to neutral buoyancy which is a good floating level-not going up, not going down.  Sounds simple but this was tough. Bob showed off doing underwater break dance moves while all of us floated up and down out of control, trying to get some consistency, swimming around and having a good time watching the swimming class above us.  Those swimmers were gasping for air above the surface like suckers. Before I knew it our dive time was up and it was time to exit the pool, take off the gear, and head back to The Dive Shop. Little Mermaid

Back at the shop we meet in the classroom to go over some more essential principles of diving, hearing jokes and stories along the way from Bob. The main learning objective to this class session seemed to be learning about the dive table which was composed by the U.S. Navy. The dive table is a simple mathematical table for diving. You can calculate how long you can stay under at certain depths or how long you must stay at the surface before another decent.  Just some essentials for safe diving.  But it all went well and I was one vital step closer to joining Arial, Sebastian, and all her underwater friends.  We dispersed to meet again the next week for the big first day of our open water dive.

Noel.  Week 2.Pool_dive

Back to the deep end!  Better grab the gear from The Dive Shop first.  Bob didn’t hold our hands this time.  Grab the weight belt, mask, fins, BCD, regulator setup (air hoses and gauges), and don’t forget the air cylinder.  After you grab all these essentials, you have to test them out before you head to the water.  What if you grabbed an empty air cylinder?  Day ruined.

Over at the pool we suited up.  Ugh this stuff is heavy.  I felt like The Man with the Iron Backpack.  All right, inflate your BCD vest, hold your mask and regulator onto your face, and take that big step into the deep…end that is.

This buoyancy is definitely tricky.  I know how to descend into the water-let all the air out of the BCD.  And I know how to ascend to the surface-push the inflate button on the BCD.  But when it comes to control, I don’t have it.  I tried to go down slowly and found myself bobbing at the surface.  Once I got down, I wanted to up a foot or two and found myself at the surface again.  “Get back down here!”  I was learning to read Bob’s hand signals.

Now that we were all at the bottom, it was time to test our skills again.  Flood the mask then purge it by lifting the bottom side off the face and blowing out the nose.  Next throw away your regulator air hose, slowly exhale, and grab that and put it back.  An additional skill test was the out-of-air drill.  First time we were to use our scuba buddy’s extra air hose regulator then, arm-in-arm, ascend to the surface.  The second out-of-air exercise we did was a solo emergency ascent.  Remember what the #1 scuba rule is?  Never Hold Your Breath!  This time pretend you’re out of air, jet to the surface, and breathe out the entire time (keep your regulator in just in case).  Once at the surface, manually inflate your vest so you can relax.

This week amazed me again.  I felt so comfortable in the water.  Just over a week earlier I’d been really worried about spending time under water.   I was able to breathe easily, comfortably.  I was able to calmly do all the underwater exercises.  And when Bob showed us some underwater break-dance moves I dug that and followed along while singing ‘Everybody was kung fu fighting!  Their moves were fast as lightning!’  Who’d of thought I’d go from being the kid who preferred to sit in the shallow end to the dude doing head spins in the deep end?!

Getting out with all the weight is a task.  Thank goodness for scuba buddies.  Back at the Dive Shop we got some more instruction, stories, and facts to help us along on future diving excursions.  It seems that everything works a bit differently under water.  For instance, Boyle’s Law states: As (water) pressure increases, volume decreases.  What that means is the deeper you descend under water the less air you’ll have in your cylinder .  Increased depth=Decreased oxygen.  That’s a good thing to remember for future underwater adventures.  And in the meantime, I’ve got to plan for the real deal; underwater tests at Blue Lake.  Wendover, here I come!

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