Sunday, 3 February 2013

Learning to Dive

Finally it had arrived the first day of my dive course. In my previous life I was a worrier and control freak. I’m not as bad as I was but it’s part of my personality therefore before I went on the course I did read through most of the book and yes I even highlighted sections and answered the questions at the end of the chapters. I actually wouldn’t have thought of it but I stopped by the Pro-Dive shop to see what I should take with me and they gave me the manual so, well, y’know. They gave me a book, obviously I was going to read it! Part of this was the be a good student mentality that got me my degrees but mostly it was the desire to know that when I was x meters under the sea relying on my scuba gear I was as prepared as possible in the unlikely event that anything went wrong. Personally I don’t think this is a bad thing, I think it shows a healthy desire to keep breathing both below and above sea level. Cairns wasn’t a hot and humid as Broome which I suspect is due to the fact the rain arrived the day after I did. This meant that it was easier to concentrate and ‘study’ and that when I had reached the point of information overload it was nice enough to walk down to the shops and window shop. Between the window shopping and the chatting to other hostel guests it took me two days but when I got on my bus on the morning of first day of the course the I felt ready to get in the pool.

Of course most people hadn’t been given the book and collected theirs as we registered on the first morning. We then all trooped upstairs to watch a video highlighting the important parts of the first section of the book. Though reading the manual before hand was definitely a nerdy thing to do I am glad I did it. I absorb information best through the written word and though the video was a nice reminded I don’t think I would have learnt as much from it alone, and I do love to learn. After our first quiz where I did get one wrong because I always do it was time for a tea break and free biscuits. So that was the diet out the window yet again. I really am going to have to think about cancelling my weight watchers membership if I’m not going to stick to it. Anyway, tea break over and it was back in to the classroom for video number two and three and the accompanying quizzes. Then it was time for lunch and our dive medicals which I of course passed with flying colours, despite sharing a room with a sick person. Go my immune system. Then we were in the pool. Now I had done a taster scuba lesson in a pool at a Centre Parks before going to the USA back in 2010. After that course I was extremely hyped up. I had been breathing under water, it was soooooooo cool, it was amazing and I didn’t care if I was only in a pool. Yeah, the second time in a pool, not so amazing. We had a fitness test to see if we could swim a set distance without stopping and tread water for 10 minutes then it was lots of kneeling at the bottom of the pool and learning what to do when things go wrong. Yes it was interesting but towards the end I was cold and I did find the later tasks harder to manage as the cold made it difficult to do multiple things at once. I was therefore glad to get out of the pool at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong it was a great experience to be breathing under water again but the wonder of the first time was missing.

Day two of our lessons and we mixed things up. We started in the pool and tried various masks and fins then did some more tasks. This time I didn’t get as cold though I did have problems with my mask leaking slightly which was a little annoying. Once we were done in the pool we headed down to the esplanade for lunch then a trip to the dive shop where I purchased my own snorkel and mask. Apparently I have a narrow face and so need one of the smallest masks, they joy of this is that smaller means cheaper, woo! I was good and resisted the fins. They had some pretty red ones which I really wanted but I eventually convinced myself that there was no way they would fit in my luggage. Money spent and it was time to return to the class room for our last two videos lessons and final exam. Then we were done on land and ready for our three day boat trip and open water dives. I just had one more important purchase to make. No I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars on some fins I had to buy a beach towel. Sadly the one I bought in Sydney when I first arrived back in 2011 was no more and I couldn’t go on a boat without one. Elmo has been replaced with a very typically Aussie tourist towel and I have to say, I love it.

Back at the hostel it was BBQ night and I ended up trying to pack and wait for my camera and the BBQ all at once. I had to wait for a camera because as amazing as my DSLR is it does not work underwater and I wanted to record my first dive trip not to mention, oh yeah, photograph the Great Barrier Reef. Typically the camera arrived as the BBQ was ready and my luggage wasn’t. Since I was really hungry I decided that I would eat before finishing my packing. We were told to take one small bag on to the boat and that we could leave our luggage at the shop but my hostel was also happy to hang on to it. This meant that I had to be packed and ready by 8pm, or so I thought. Actually since they had a fire show after the BBQ I had until 10pm which was just as well because I had to go back twice to put things in and take things out of my main luggage. Even with my main backpack packed to bursting I still had two bags and two cameras. At this point I was really glad I hadn’t bought those fins. Packing finally complete, camera batteries charged and I was good to go. All I needed to do was get a decent night’s sleep, easier said than done but somehow I eventually managed it.
Cairns CBD
The Lagoon

My Hostel
Dive Shop

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