Thursday, July 17, 2014

Reef Experience

It never crossed my mind.  I had thought that there was a chance I wouldn’t enjoy scuba diving, but that didn’t seem likely.  Not being able to scuba dive wasn’t even on my radar.

I got up and caught my bus to the marina, we boarded the boat – couldn’t even find a place to sit or put my stuff.  I filled out my paperwork, telling them I wanted to try the Introductory Dive, and turned it in to the crew.   As we were leaving the marina they had everyone head downstairs for the safety briefing, crew introduction, etc..  Once we were nearer the reef they had those of us doing the Introductory Dive gather for some, well, introduction to diving.  They first sorted everyone into groups, with about 4 people per group and 20 groups total.  Then the instructor started explaining all the equipment, how it would work and the 3 rules of scuba diving (breathe, stay near your instructor, and, well, I can’t remember the third one).  From his explanation I got the feeling that the breathing part would be the hardest – it’s not very natural to only breath through your mouth.  Other than breathing through your mouth you had to be able to equalize your ears – get them to “pop” like when you’re flying and the pressure builds up during takeoff or landing.  Got through all the instructions, didn’t seem like it should be a big deal.  I was group number 8, so I put on my wetsuit and snorkel gear and headed into the water to snorkel while waiting for my group to be called.  I don’t remember snorkeling being so difficult, but I definitely had to really work at breathing because I kept getting water in my snorkel – still not sure why that was.  The reef was beautiful though and I was able to see tons of fish and plenty of beautiful coral too.

I got back to the boat for my turn and headed to the platform.  They strapped me into my BC (scuba vest) with the tank and regulator and all that jazz and sat waiting for the instructor to resurface.  They had us plop into the water (plop is truly the right verb, getting into the water in scuba gear is not graceful) and try breathing.  After the struggle with my snorkel and having to work so hard at breathing, using the regulator was a breeze (I’m not sure if that counts as a pun or not…).  We crawled down the ladder until we were totally submersed and then had to demonstrate the 2 necessary skills to continue.  We had to be able to clear water from our mask and water from our regulator (in case it fell out and we had to put it back in).  Those two skills were also quite easy.  Then he had us try to equalize our ears.  I don’t usually have too much trouble with this while flying, but when flying I’m not also concentrating on keeping water out of my mask and also trying to remember to breathe.  He didn’t really give much advice during his talk on how to make this happen, tricks of the trade or something.  I thought I’d got it done, but as soon as we started descending further down they started hurting.  I couldn’t get them to “pop” right away and didn’t feel like I was allowed to hang around trying to get it to happen.  So I went back up and they pulled me out.  Just like that it was over.  I should have probably been more assertive and asked if I could keep trying to get them to pop, but there were so many other groups still to go, that I didn’t feel like I really had that option.  So, although it pains me to say, scuba diving was a big, fat, failure.  I might try again at some point, and maybe even while I’m here in Cairns, but this time I’d probably pick a boat with less people so I could have a bit more time.
We had some lunch and headed to another spot on the reef.  This was supposed to be a good spot to see turtles, but I never saw any and I don’t think anyone else on the boat did either.  I saw a Maori wrasse (at least I think that’s what it was called) – it was a huge fish and they’re supposed to be rather friendly.  The fish are so brightly colored, as is the coral, but although my camera works underwater, the photos mostly turned out in shades of blue.  I’ll have to see if I can edit them with a red filter and try to get more color to come out.  Anyway, when I got back last night I emailed Peter and told him that maybe being a Dive Master Intern just wasn’t in the cards for me.  I really would like to work on a boat though, I love being on the water, so maybe I’ll just keep emailing dive companies to see if they need kitchen crew or something.  I guess the scuba diving was just such a letdown because I’d felt like the Dive Master was my back-up plan; waiting in the background, so if I didn’t find a job I could always do that.  Now I’m back to the drawing board and hoping something comes through soon.

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