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“Dear Diary…” Scuba with The Dive Shop. Open Water Test Day 4.

January 21, 2010

The final day of open water testing had arrived and I was approaching the accomplishment of being a licensed Open Water Diver.  This is a fantastic achievement for me!  Far more important than that wretched formal education I got.  After finishing day 3 of the open water dive testing just the day before I was primed for excitement to finish the testing today, day 4, so we’d be released by the instructor for our free-dive exploration of murky Blue Lake.

So on with it! We all agreed the night before at our Pizza Hut pow wow to meet at Blue Lake at 8:00 a.m. as to get it all finished early that morning before the other dive groups arrived.  That turned out to be a great idea indeed.  So we met up, went through the process of getting suited up,

Oh the great Blue Lake of Scuba.

and walked the dreaded wooden plank the distance to the sweet, sweet relief of the weightlessness of the water.  Once we all gathered in, the instructor, John Boynton, did his cannon ball entry into the lake with us. We all swam out to the dive-buoy to begin the dive and test for the day.  We all took our turn descending down the rope, 20 feet, to the underwater platform to play with the fishes and wait patiently for our noble instructor to join us to test our skills.  First he came to us one by one and asked us to do an “out of air emergency accent” where you each simulate as if you are out of air and, in a controlled, safe manner, ascend to the surface with the instructor.  Once the surface is breached you manually fill the BCD (Buoyancy Compensation Device) for easy flotation. John gives you the thumbs up and says “wait here” then descends back down to each of the others. Simple test. And sure would be important to know in an emergency.

The next dive test is to try out the snorkel gear and simply do some snorkeling around the lake. Of course this does not require an actual dive; simple surface stuff.  The challenging  part of this test was we had to learn to use the compass to navigate back to a given point. After that was finished, we had accomplished that part of that days testing.  Next up, FREE DIVE!!!

The free dive, oh boy, was the part I’d been waiting for.  So exciting! John sent us all out to explore the lake with our dive buddy’s. My dive buddy and I began our dive. I checked my dive computer. It read: 10 feet then 20 feet, 25, 30, 40, and finally 48 feet! I hit the silty and murky bottom.  Since the visibility of the lake is quite poor, I found just the idea of being much deeper then I had ever been under water very amusing. Eat your heart out Arial. You can have the legs. Fins are just fine for me.  So we swam around awhile but it was so murky I ended up holding hands with my buddy so I wouldn’t lose her.  Luckily she is my wife so it wasn’t awkward. Eventually we ran into a missile that had been welded into a shark-looking thing. That was pretty cool.  But time was about up and air was getting low so we ended our first ever free-dive after safely returning to the surface.

Back at the cars, we gathered together as a group to have John sign off our accomplishments and hit the road as open water dive champions. I jumped for joy and passed the written test a few days later. Now I am officially a certified, licensed Open Water Diver. I had agreat time doing it.

Special thanks to Bob and John with The Dive Shop.  I really enjoyed it and hope to continue diving around

John our noble Dive Master

Oh boy

the world.

Noel:

Bright and early and back in the water.  Good thing it’s warm-the water that is.  The wetsuit and excitement helps too.  Today’s the last day of testing in the water.  “Well what have we got John?”  Back to the underwater platform to hang out and observe some fish.  Then back to business; John gives the Out-of-air signal.  When thishappens and you’re buddy-less we’ve been instructed to sprint to the surface.  Everyday concerns go out the window when you don’t have air to breath.  Ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?  Yeah, breathing is on the bottom, most essential.  But out here in the middle of Blue Lake, 20 feet down, we’re just testing.  So I kept my regulator (breathing device hooked to the oxygen tank) in my mouth as  I bolted to the surface, kicking my legs like my life depended on it.  I was exhaling the entire ascent because the first rule of scuba is:  Never hold your breath!  After getting to the surface my job wasn’t done.  I had to manually inflate my vest so I could relax and float there.  Check and check.  Mission accomplished.

After the out-of-air-emergency ascent we’d completed all the necessary requirements.  It’s still early and we’ve got plenty of air.  So let’s dive!  John let us roam around the bottom of that murky lake.  As far as diving goes, I’m fairly sure Blue Lake is not on the top 10 list for best dive spots in the country.  Heck, it’s probably not on the top 1,000.  Visibility is almost nada, it’s fairly small, and not very deep.  Yet it was thrilling being down there.  20, 30, 40, nearly 50 feet under water.  I was breathing fine and I had cleared my ears so there wasn’t pressure.  The biggest problem was keeping track of my dive buddy and eventually running a little low on oxygen.  I didn’t want to go back up.

Honestly, I didn’t really want to take a diving certification class.  I’ve explained my fear of open water.  I was pressured into taking this class and reluctantly signed up.  But quickly, on that first day in the water, my fear evaporated.  My instructor, Bob, had confidence in me.  Why didn’t I have confidence in myself.  I stared my fear in the face and my fear retreated.  Either scuba-diving is far easier than I expected or I’m far better in the water than I imagined.  I kind of  suspect it’s both.  Either way, I’m incredible happy I took this class and got certified.  I’m now a certified Open Water Scuba Diver.  Yahoo!  Thanks Dive Shop.

Celebration jump for joy at the near by salt flats.

.

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