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“Dear Diary…” Scuba With the Dive Shop. Open Water Test. Day 1.

December 19, 2009
The Dive Shop

Open Water Test.  Day 1.

All my dreams of being able to descend below swimming pool depths and become more like Arial-or better yet, King Triton-by putting my fins, wet suit, and breathing device on has finally come.  It was the day to do our open water test.  We were all given the option by The Dive Shop to either go to Crater Lake in Heber, Utah or to Blue Lake in the glamorous city of Wendover. Each would require four dives in two days.  We chose Blue Lake. This is day 1 of testing.

Mike:

Upon arrival in the fabulous town of Wendover we all met up at a pre-determined spot to follow our dive master and Co-owner of The Dive Shop John.  John is equally as skilled and certified as Bob and just as amusing.  From there we followed John on about a 25 minutes drive out in the middle of nowhere.  I looked around this desert commonly seen in cowboys and Indians movies only to be surprised by an oasis (kind of)-Blue Lake.  After our arrival at Blue Lake we laid out a tarp, greeted the group, and began to stuff ourselves in to our own wetsuits and helping our dive buddy do the same.

Before stuffing myself into a suit on the long boardwalk

Completely suited up in all the gear and carrying our fins, we began an agonizing 150 yard walk down a boardwalk to the lake.  Now keep in mind, this is November so the idea of swimming in a lake sounds as fun as getting kicked in the stomach by some kind of powerful kicking guy. Luckily we were all so dang tired of carrying all the dive equipment on our backs we just barreled into the shallow end of the lake for the weightless relief.  And what a relief!  Not only the weight-or the lack thereof-but the water was about 77 degrees.  With a wetsuit on, that’s not half bad.  And for those looking to test during the winter, no need to be scared, the lake remains about 77 degrees all through the frigid winter thanks to some kind of warm spring flowing into it.

So John did a running cannon ball in with his dry suit on, splashing us all.  With a quick equipment check we followed John out to the buoy he had anchored to a platform in the lake built specifically for scuba tests.

At the buoy John sent me down the rope first.  Clearing my ears, I dropped down until I made contact with the platform-about 20 feet down.  I moved to the edge, some fish scattered as I grabbed for them, and waited for the rest the divers. Oh boy! I sure was excited to be hanging out with the fishes for a while, just looking around giving underwater high fives to my buddies as they came down, and trying to grab for fish.  Just being excited!  Any fears we had seemed not to be a factor as we sat in the murky water.

stuffed into our wetsuits, looks like the floods are coming

Then John descended and began giving all of us the standard essential tests we did on Day 1 at the pool; flooding and clearing the mask, taking out the regulator and putting it back in, and doing a controlled out of air accent back to the surface with John coming up with each of us one at a time to grade our skills.  Then at the surface, manually inflating our BCD (buoancy compensation device), John said “great job.  Stay here.” And he went back down to get the others, one by one. After everyone was up, we all descened again to do an accent with our buddy.  And that was it.  The diving open water test day 1 was over, simple, fun, and, as always, exhausting. It was pretty simple with all the right instructions we had been taught in the pool. No big deal.  Just one man in our group did not pass.  He quit because he could not clear his ears and/or did not want to try.  So then, another, even more agonizing, walk back to the tarp where we unloaded our gear and got dressed. From there we headed back to the hotel that offered a nice discount for divers with the The Dive Shop.  We met later at Pizza Hut for the Dive Shop tradition of eating and having some laughs with the dive group. Great day for diving.

Noel:

Off to that majestically depressing city of Wendover.  No offense Wendover but I’ve been quoted as saying, “I hate Wendover like William Wallace hated the British.”  Hence, I was surprised when we were heading East back to Salt Lake City; I had a nice weekend.  Here’s how it went down:

The Journey

We met up with John (Dive Shop co-owner and instructor) and the rest of the gang in Wendover then went straight to business.  To the lake!  A few miles outside Wendover and along a dirt road sits a small lake which has a warm spring feeding it.  The water temperature is around 80 degrees year round.  Well we’d picked up all our gear from the Dive Shop that morning so now that we’re here at the lake…er close to it I guess.  To tell you the truth, we’re just parked in the dirt and I’m just trusting John when he says the lake is 100 yards thata way.

Suit up!  Yup, just as heavy as last week.  Following a pathway led our heavy laden selves to Blue Lake.  Very pretty actually.  I timidly got in the warmer than expected water.  Truthfully, despite getting fairly comfortable under water at the pool, it was still something novel and intimidating going down in a lake.  But John set up the buoy with the rope tied to the underwater platform and down we go.

I descended slowly, making sure my ears were cleared.  Breathing underwater.  Comfortable.  Safe.  Hey fish!  My sign language was good enough thatI could point out some cool looking fish down there.  Bob prepared us well.  John had us run through the same skills we learned back in the pool; clear the mask, throw away your regulator (air piece) and bring it back, and an out of air ascent using your buddy’s extra regulator as your air source.  Check, check, and check.  We also got a bit of time to take a little tour of the underside of Blue Lake.  Not much to look at but I personally think this free-time is critical to getting comfortable and acclimated to the underwater environment.  Day 1 at the lake was a success!  I didn’t want to get out even though there was a promise of pizza a little later on.  I left Blue Lake with a smile.  I was excited to come back the next day for more.  But in the meantime, that pizza sounds tasty!

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