Saturday, August 28, 2010

Scuba Dooba Do!

I did it!  I went scuba diving for the first time today.
Last night I watched a two-hour instructional scuba video and today we met at the beach.
After a short informational chat with the dive instructor, we suited up, put our tanks on, and walked into the ocean.
We dove at Black Sand Beach in Makena.

Black Sand Beach

 We waded out into the shallow sand so that we could put our fins on and rinse the toothpaste out our masks (it keeps the mask from fogging up).  Once fully adjusted, we floated away from the shore on our backs, so as to save the air for when we needed it.  With my weight belt holding 16 pounds of lead, I began sinking quickly until the instructor showed me how to put air into my BC, keeping me aloft.  I was fairly surprised that he hadn't shown me this on the land.
With the regulator in my mouth, I practiced breathing in long, slow breaths.  The air had no taste to it and I was able to maintain a good normal rhythm with no problem. My mask was snug and not leaky and my fins felt fine.  I was ready to go.

Since the water was warm, I did not need a wetsuit, so I just wore my rash guard and board shorts.

I put my face in the water and practiced breathing through my regulator.  It felt like snorkeling since I was at the surface, and I am used to being able to breath through my snorkel.  The weirdness began when I went below the surface and I could still breath.  My brain was surprised and I had to convince it to be calm and go with the flow.  As I let some air out of my BC (buoyancy compensator), I began to slowly sink towards the bottom.  I looked around and saw Makena going down, leaving a trail of bubbles in her wake.  We followed the instructor around as we got used to the breathing and as I got so close to the bottom I scraped my foot on a coral, scratching it. I figured out that there was an equilibrium (called neutral buoyancy) which allowed you to stay where you wanted, without floating or sinking.  Soon after, I began cruising along the bottom, checking out the reef and generally feeling like Aquaman.

Not me... but you get the idea

We swam around along the bottom, through the reef, taking it all in.  I saw plenty of fish, such as Boxfish, Triggerfish, Manini, Goatfish, Needlefish and Parrotfish.  The reef was bustling with marine life and Makena pointed out a large Moray Eel which we all took a good look at.  It's head was the size of my hand and it's teeth were sharp and plentiful.

Spotted Moray Eel

An eel is my nemesis (only because it is my name spelled backwards).

As we went deeper, past the reef, we entered an area of sparse, grassy sand.  There were few fish here and there, but not much exciting to see.  I equalized my ears and found a new level of comfort, cruising along with the group.  I looked up at the surface, then down at my depth gauge, noticing we were at our deepest yet, at 36 feet.  I panned around at the infinite blueness surrounding us, and even though visibility was very good, I found that you could only see so far. Large shapes, like other divers begin to blur at 30 feet or so.
There were a few times when I looked behind me, thinking and hoping that I would not see this:

I never saw this

The sounds of the breathing and the bubbling was louder than I thought it would be, but when we entered a reef zone with lots of fish, you could plainly here the crunching of the coral by the Parrotfish.  I thought about diving during whale season and hearing the whales squealing away, since I have always been able to while snorkeling.  It must be even louder and clearer so deep.

As we were swimming along, a turtle coasted by in front of us and pretty much everyone in our group pointed at it at the same time.  It seemed a new perspective to me, as I have seen many turtles from the surface.  The way it just glided effortlessly, all but ignoring us, seemed elegant and standoffish.  It was a fairly big Green Sea turtle, around 300 pounds, I'd guess.  It looked a lot like this (but bigger):

Am I not turtlely enough for the turtle club?

At one point, I wished I had a compass, since I had lost my sense of direction and I could not even guess which way was the way back to the shore.  The only way I could think of was to go to the surface and take a look (which was obviously out of the question).  I chose to simply follow the group, trusting that the instructor knew his way.

He did.  Almost an hour had passed (I think) when things began to look familiar, and I knew we were getting closer to shore.  I looked over at Makena, gave her a shaka, and was surprised to see that she looked a lot like a scuba diving cat (since she is small).


As we got out of the water, my weight belt felt heavier, and I tried to stand in the loose sand, balancing the tank on my back.  I trudged up the beach with a shit-eating grin on my face, proud of my accomplishment and looking forward to the next dive (which will be tomorrow).
I'm hoping to see a Whale Shark, sunken treasure and a scuba diving wombat.
If I do, there will be pictures.

I should probably get an underwater camera.

1 comment:

Cul-de-sac-ed said...

Wow...sounds like you have a kick ass day! I'm proud of you for not freaking out or embarrassing yourself. Seems like a pretty complicated process.

I want to see some pictures of critters, especially underwater wombats!

LOL @ Chet

WTF is a rash guard?

Eels spelled backwards is Slee. May I call you Slee?