PADI Open Water Certification Course! Saturday was spent in the classroom watching the PADI movies and taking written multiple choice tests (got one question wrong on the final exam) and today was spent in the pool doing confined space dives. Next weekend we will venture into the Pacific Ocean for five dives to earn my open water certification!
Diving in the pool was a lot of fun today, the gear was heavy out of the water but once in the water i didnt notice it at all. We were in a 13 foot deep salt water pool so we floated pretty easily- i might have even needed more weights (they gave me an extra 30 pounds to carry in my buoyancy control device (BCD) and on a belt around my waist to compensate for the 7mm thick farmer john wetsuit that I was wearing (14mm effectively on the core of my body).
There was no big ceremony and they didnt make a big deal out of the first breath under water as i have seen others wax poetic as it being a life changing experience. I thought it was pretty cool- the air was jsut there and i could breathe normally. At first the bubbles coming out of the mouth piece were pretty annoying as they encumbered my vision, but after a couple minutes i adapted and wanted to get going.
We did a bunch of drills to get started, first on our knees just barely under the water in the shallow end of the pool, then later on the bottom of the deep end. Drills included clearing water from your mask, finding your mouthpiece if you drop it, taking off your mask & putting it back on and clearing the water, simulating running out of air and getting air from your buddies spare mouth piece (called a regulator), and similar actions in case of emergency under water. For fun we even followed each other around the bottom of the pool and through hula-hoops suspended at different depths.
We weren't allowed to bring a camera into the water so i don't have any pictures, but i am excited to dive with my GoPro video camera in the future since it is rated as waterproof to 100m. The instructor said in the last class some people brought cameras and forgot to pay attention to their dive buddies or the instructor so they are banned during training.
I am looking forward to diving in Africa! Its supposed to have some pristine areas with all kinds of fish and animals to check out. There are three dive centers listed for Dakar and one rents all the needed gear for 45Euro per day so i should be able to dive at least once a month. As well as when i am touring the rest of the continent I can take a break after surfing in the morning and dive in the afternoon. Not sure i want to be lugging a boardbag and scuba gear on the plane and through customs for each country i will be visting in Africa.