Dives 8 and 9
Today marked the beginning of Nick and my journey to become advanced divers. We got to the dive shop a little before 9 am with Curtis and Kristen, who were going to do a two tank local dive.
Our instructor, Sylvan, met us at the dive shop shortly after nine. He told us due to some large swells that we would be joining the diving group going out in the big boat instead of going in his little boat. I think he might have thrown around the term “choppy” a couple of times. We rejoined C & K, as well as some other divers, in the big boat and we were on our way. Now, there are big waves, and then there are big waves, but these were big friggin’ waves. I’m talking waves that were bigger than the boat itself. For the first few waves I thought for sure it would just come right over the top of us and wash us all out.
We got to the first dive site where we would be doing our deep dive. Because of the swells Sylvan told us to enter the water by a backward roll and to descend immediately to calmer waters. I must say I really appreciate the guys who get everything all hooked up and strap it to me, all the while holding me securely into the boat.
First time entering the water backwards and… it worked out well. I descended to find Nick and we waited for Sylvan to come find us. We descended quickly. The ocean water is so clear that I was surprised to look at my depth gauge and see that we were at 80 feet. It doesn’t seem any different than 20, other than the lack of color. Once we got to 100 feet we played tic-tac-toe on a waterproof slate in order to test if we were suffering from any nitrogen narcosis. Nick beat me the first time, but I shut him out for a draw the second. The drawing of the “O” felt a bit sluggish, but I think it was from just being underwater and not necessarily any sort of narcosis kicking in. After 8 minutes at 100′ we ascended to 60′ to lengthen our dive. We just swam around and looked at the reef and all the fishes. During our 15′ safety stop I started feeling a little dizzy. I guess it was from the surface waves, although I didn’t feel like I was moving around any. when we got to the surface the motion sickness started kicking in for Nick and I. Once on the boat the waves were miserable. I kept my eyes on the horizon while Nick laid down. After 10 minutes or so the other group surfaced and we headed to shore for a surface interval.
We stopped at a different dive shop closer to town. Nick and I filled out our dive logs and Sylvan showed us how to use the wheel to find our ending pressure group, since technically our dive was a multilevel dive. After an hour we boarded the boat and were back off. This time our dive site was only a 3 minute ride and the waves weren’t as bad, but still big. We also had a couple more people along. One guy was taking his 3rd checkout dive with Sylvan at the same time we were doing our drift dive.
We descended after the first group again and the four of us met up at about 30 feet. Sylvan tested the new guy on his required skills and after that we were off. Having the other guy along was pretty entertaining as he didn’t quite have his buoyancy under control, and at one point he got too close to Sylvan and they kept getting all entwined together. It was irritating at the same time, because now I had two people who kept bumping into me, so I tried to keep a safe distance behind the two of them.
The dive wasn’t much of a drift dive as the surge was pretty strong, so it wasn’t as relaxing as I thought it would be. We kept criss crossing with the other diving group. Kristen should have taken the advanced class with us since we were basically doing the same dive. Apparently she didn’t want to give PADI any more of her money ;). It was a lot more of the same stuff as the first dive except the visibility wasn’t as good. It was still fun though. Toward the end of the dive we met up with the other group again. Felipe was their guide again, and he had brought some fish food with. On the ocean floor there was a pile of nurse sharks eating it from his BC which he removed and let lay on the bottom. It was kind of eerie at first, seeing all these sharks eating and a BC with no diver inside. Sylvan motioned for me to come down, I emptied my BC and knelt on the ocean floor. He grabbed a shark and pulled it near us, then motioned for me to touch it. It felt so neat. It really was rough like sand paper. And dense, not squishy like the rays. Then Felipe grabbed a shark and started man handling it. He flipped it upside down and I got to rub it’s tender under belly, which was silky smooth. I didn’t have my camera with, but Curtis got some good pics and video. We had to cut out before the other group, as we were nearing our time limit due to the residual nitrogen from our first dive. When we did our safety stop Sylvan had us hold onto a buoy rope. It made me a bit less dizzy than the first dives stop, but it took awhile to get adjusted to the way the rope whipped us around when the waves would come. Fortunately the other group wasn’t very far behind us so we didn’t have to spend any unnecessarily long time on the boat waiting.
Once we got back to the dive shop Sylvan gave us our “homework” assignment and told us to read the chapters on AWARE Fish Identification and Multilevel Diving. Tomorrow we’ll be back at the dive shop at 9 am for those two dives and the navigation dive!!