Roughly halfway, anyway! Tomorrow I go out on the boat to do my skills test in the actual ocean instead of a pool– then comes the written test. I’m both excited (about the dive) and nervous (about the test and the dive).
I’m pretty confident in the water, I’m a good swimmer, and it’s rare that I have a situation in the water that makes me afraid. But scuba training has forced me to confront terrifying situations and frankly, I’m a little rattled by it.
The biggest challenge was what they call a mask clear– you fill your mask with water or take it off, and you have to get the water out of it by breathing out through your nose, filling the mask with air and letting the displaced water out the bottom. I had no idea this was even possible! And I about drowned myself doing it the first few times, trying to breathe in through my flooded mask. But it was a lot easier when I realized I just needed to keep breathing through the regulator in my mouth, take my time and sort it out.
The other terrifying skill was what they call an “underwater drill”. You remove your gear, swim to your buddy and do a couple breaths of buddy breathing, then swim back to your gear, grab your regulator (saying “AIR THANK YOU JERBUS”) and put everything back on. This one was hard for obvious reasons but especially because you can’t settle yourself when you get a buddy breath– your buddy needs that air too so you give it back after a couple breaths.
That was probably my most important takeaway from it: as long as you’re breathing, you’re good. Got your reg and air is flowing? Settle yourself and take your time. At the surface? Put your snorkel in and work it all out. I have never in my life been so thankful for the ability to breathe freely.
The other people in my class were 5 teenage boys from the area (the dad of 4 of them was our 2nd instructor) and they took to it so quickly! It was amazing to see them. I was lots slower. (But I must say that I’m much better with the dive tables. I got through thermo with tables, I can do that stuff in my sleep.)
Tonight: I find dinner somewhere and retreat back to my room to read and study for the exam tomorrow, and get some rest so I’m ready to catch the boat at 0800 tomorrow.
And critically: rehydrate, because I spent 4 hours in 95°F weather in a 88°F pool in a 2mm wetsuit. I probably lost 10 pounds of sweat out there. At least it kept the sun off some of my sunburnt parts.