You know the ocean is filled with salt water and it just tastes…well, salty. No matter how often you visit the ocean, you’ll just always forget how truly salty the water is.
As I taste and cough up the bitter ocean water, I looked before me and saw the boat in front of me. Here I was, floating in water with my scuba gear. The good news is that 1. I’m not dead yet and 2. the oxygen tank weighs next to nothing now. The bad news is that the instructor told us to swim to her as she goes over the rules again.
I floated with the ocean current to the instructor with MOzzie, Mordini and some old guy that was part of our group. Listening intently as I try to calm my nerves, I felt semi confident when she explained to us what we need to do.
Life Saving Tip #1: Depressurize
Since we’re going to be diving into the deep ocean, we need to depressurize ever 4 feet lest our lungs and veins explode. As gruesome as that sounds, all that we had to do was to put our thumb & index finger over our nose and blow into it.
Easy enough. I think I can handle this one. CHECK!
Life Saving Tip #2: Clear Your Mask from Water
The last thing I wanted was to have salt water burning my eyes, so I thought I’d be clever and make my mask extra tight. Well, after realizing that my brain was not getting any oxygen, I had to switch to the original plan.
To clear your mask of water, all you need to do is tilt your head back, press your fingers against the top of the mask and exhale through your nose.
Now the last thing I wanted to do was to break the airtight seal on my mask, I felt that I was up to this challenge. Tilt, press & exhale. CHECK!
Life Saving Tip #3: Reset Your Oxygen Mask
If you ever lose your oxygen mask underwater (God forbid), all you need to do is grab it back, put the mask face down and bring it back it into your mouth. Once it is back in your mouth, speak the word “TWO!” (substitutions are allowed) to remove any salt water.
I had NO intention of losing my mask. It will be grasped tightly with my mouth and everything will be ok. But worse case senarios, I think I can handle this. CHECK!
Life Saving Tip #4:Swimming
Swimming is a very important skill for scuba diving. This is why I will always be right next to MOzzie, Mordini & the instructor. CHECK!
Now that the instructor went through all the rules, I was feeling calm, excited and relaxed. I think I could scuba dive, or at least make it look like I can. I was all ready until the instructor told us that we had to submerge just under the stern of the boat to demonstrate to her that we could do all these things before she could bring us down. Ladies and Gentlemen, please prepare to panic now!
Masks on, I slowly submerged below the surface of the water, joined by 3 other first time scuba drivers. The water was clear and blue and we (or just myself) holding tight to the bars at the stern as we looked at the instructor. She went through each step with us and then we had to demonstrate to her that we could do each one: depressurize, clearing face mask and resetting the oxygen mask. Thankfully, she didn’t ask us to swim because it would have been all over then. Instead, she signaled an OK and then released extra air from our wetsuits. Then we all linked up arms with each other, with the instructor in the middle, as we began to descend into the great depths.
OMG! I’M SCUBA DIVING! WooHoo!
::insert realization that I’m actually scuba diving::
OMG! WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?
Seeing how we naturally breathe without thinking, you would think breathing would come naturally underwater. The problem is that I’m use to breathing through my nose and not my mouth. I realized that breathing through the nose won’t work because 1. you get no air and 2. your face mask gets really tight on you. Now that I have to breathe to my mouth, I have to constantly think of what I’m doing. Additionally, I’m not use to having my mouth open while holding a large tube with my mouth. (That’s what she said.) Breathe in…breathe out…
As we descended about 8 feet, we were about to depressurize for the 2nd time when next thing I realized, our instructor let go of us. Oh my! Looks like the old guy was having issues. While she was helping him, I held on tight to Mordini; that is until he pushed me away so he could see around him. HELP!
Not a moment too soon, I felt my whole body rising to the surface. Apparently, the old guy was bailing out. That’s fine by me. 3 guys to one girl; the chances are better for me now. Thehehe, you know…if something goes wrong, better chances that I will survive…oh come on people!
Take 2! As we descend again, I once again had the harsh realization that I can’t breathe through my nose. Except this time, I some how managed to swallow some water. By this point, we were about 12 feet under water and here I was, drinking sea water and panicking! OMG! I’M GOING TO DROWN! By the way, the instructor left me alone because either Mordini or MOswald was having issues. So I was floating alone and and they were about 10 feet away from me; not even in an arm’s reach.
If there is such a thing as cold sweat under water in a wetsuit, I sure had it. I was freaking out. The instructor’s back was to me and MOzzie & Mordini was blowing bubbles at the girl. After 2 full swallows of water, I managed to suck whatever air that was left in my face mask to get some oxygen flowing in my again. My oxygen mask was happily dancing around me as I gathered some composure and grabbed it. And just how I learned it, I reset my oxygen mask and DEAR GOD BEAUTIFUL AIR IS FLOWING THROUGH MY LUNGS AGAIN!
Speaking of air, next thing I realized, I was back on the surface. The instructor asked if I was okay; I just gave her the look of death. She then turned to MOzzie to further assist him. I had the bitter salt water taste in my mouth that I couldn’t get rid of but hey, I’m alive (for now).
Take 3! We descended again and this time, we actually made it! We were about 40 feet under water as we glimpsed at the beautiful corals of the Great Barrier Reef. WOW! The instructor swam to the very bottom and grabbed a sea slug for us to pet. (Honestly, it looked like a black cucumber.) Touching it was awesome but really weird because it was slimy, smooth, firm but also a little soft & squishy.
She then signaled us to follow her lower. As she swam ahead, I saw Mordini pass me and then MOzzie. I was kinda going in circles…well more like my whole body was rotating like the hands on a clock. So much for faking how to swim and being graceful. Don’t go guys! Help!