Saturday, September 11, 2010

Diving - Part III

To cut a long story short then, I did manage to complete the course and receive my Open Water Diver certification and it probably didn’t go as badly as I expected it to given the unnecessary palpitations of Day I. Diving, once you’re comfortable with what you’re doing, is an incredible thing. It’s like a 3-D version of The Blue Planet, the coral is quite stunning with schools of iridescent fish swimming around, above and below you. Our one ‘interesting’ encounter came with the trigger fish, owner of an almighty set of teeth (apparently they chew through coral for breakfast) and fiercely territorial to boot - he made a sashay in my direction but somehow I contorted my body to avoid his lunge.
So much did I enjoy my diving experience that I decided to go ahead and complete an advanced course over 2 days. This basically involves specifying particular types of dives you’d like to specialise in - my choices were; Fish ID (if I was being bitten, I wanted to know what was biting me at the very least), Deep diving (to a depth of 30m), Underwater Navigation (that said, even now having completed this aspect, if asked to navigate by myself underwater I’m more likely to end up in the frozen food section of my local Tesco than leading us successfully back to the boat from which we dived in), Buoyancy (something I can’t practice enough) and best of all Night Diving, which as the name suggests is a dive once the sun has set. This affords you the opportunity to see fish you wouldn’t normally see during the day - in our case getting a close up of barracuda on the prowl made it all worthwhile. Jumping in as the sun sets and descending as it disappears is quite another thrill entirely. Staying close to your dive leader is essential and throughout the half hour dive, you never quite lose that feeling of ‘There’s something behind you!’ and, of course, there is.
Have I been bitten by the diving bug? Unquestionably, yes. Am I a good diver? Undeniably, no. But everything comes with practice. In 5 days I completed 11 dives under varying conditions - visibility, light, current - and now that I’ve started, it’s something that I’ll return to during the coming year in order to practice some of the skills I’ve patently failed to master just yet. As an experience though, incredible.

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