Published: March 30th 2012March 30th 2012
Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd we continued doing the diving specialties course. We had to do enriched air diving, deep diving and wreck diving. For all dives, there were Carl, Niamh, Ryan and I. Wednesday morning we went to Camp Cove to embark on a boat that took us out for both dives. The first one we did was a deep dive with nitrox (enriched air) to about 30 meters in a spot called Dee Why Wide. We went down the anchorline of the boat to about 30 meters and did some exercises there; see how much color perception is affected at depth and see how pressure affects objects. After that we went back to the anchor and started ascending. We had to do an 8 minute safety stop at 5 meters. This just means you stay at that depth, hovering and releasing the accumulated nitrogen from your body. At that depth we also deployed our safety marker buoys (SMB), which are released from under the surface, to mark one's position (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surface_marker_buoy
). Also, at that depth, we had another interesting exercise - whenever Carl pointed to one of us, we had to simulate being out of air and panicking, reach out
to another diver and frantically ask for air, take the regulator out of the other person's mouth, etc. This is for self-control and to see how you would react in a real situation. You have to try and calm the other diver down and share air from your tank using an alternative regulator. Ryan and I had an additional factor: we were diving with one sling tank each. A sling tank is an additional tank which is strapped to the side of the BCD and it's used in case of emergency (BCD = Buoyancy Control Device, or "the vest" to which the tank is attached). I hadn't dived with one of these tanks before and they’re not very comfortable. In all, considering all those inputs, it was an excellent dive as far as a learning experience and the site was really nice too. For the second dive, we went to another site in which there are remains of a wreck called "Centurion": http://www.bluebeyond.com.au/centurion-wreck.html
. There we did some reel practice (when you go inside a wreck or a cave, reels are used to tie to objects along the way, so in case anything happens inside a wreck or in a cave
and there's no visibility, you can find your way back). Using a reel needs special techniques and considerations, which is what we practiced (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distance_line
). This site was very nice as well and not many people dive it in Sydney. We didn't go inside the wreck; we just practiced outside of it.
On Thursday, we also did two dives, but this time with regular air, not nitrox. We did however, carry sling tanks as well. That day, the sea conditions weren’t very good, so we didn’t venture much out; we mainly stayed near Sydney Harbour. We did the first dive in a place called Chowder Bay. The visibility wasn’t good at all. We went down an anchor of a buoy to about 30 meters and from there we tied a reel and started moving away from the anchor. After having advanced for a while following the reel line, we stopped and did some simple math exercises. This is to prove how much slower you think while being in deep water, due to an effect called “nitrogen narcosis”. After the math problems, we followed the line back to the anchor, untied it and then slowly began to move along the bottom
to a depth of around 6 meters. There, we did a similar exercise as the one we had done the previous day; simultaneous divers going out of air and panicking. It must’ve looked hectic from outside, but I think we all responded well. It’s especially hard to try and share air with someone who’s panicking, calming them down and at the same time unclicking the sling tank from your BCD and clicking it to the other diver’s gear.
For the other dive, we got back in the boat and went to an area called “The Spit” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spit,_New_South_Wales
), in the northern coast of Sydney. This area is spectacular, with really beautiful houses and yachts, boats and marinas everywhere. We headed to a wreck called the “Itata”, which is sunken ship with its bow above the water. The visibility there is really bad and the wreck is full of silt which makes it impossible to see once you swim past it and remove it. Here, we had to practice how to go inside a wreck using the reel and tying it correctly so it’s possible to follow the line back. It works with one diver using the reel and
tying it and the other following the reel by tact, closely behind the other diver and both using flashlights (the divers may be two meters apart and not be able to see each other, definitely not for claustrophobics). It was a very interesting experience, very challenging and I really enjoyed it. That was it for the specialties instructor course.
That evening after going home, I studied the last chapters of diving theory I wanted to see before the next day, because I had the Instructor Exam next day.
Friday was the big day; the Instructor Exam (IE). I still needed a valid medical checkup before taking the exam, so I went to a clinic to have a dive medical examination. It all took about an hour and it went very smooth. After that, I went to the dive shop, because we all had to do some paperwork prior to the exam. In the meantime I had something to eat and at 3pm all of us headed to the RSL Club (Returned Servicemen League Club) in Dee Why: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dee_Why,_New_South_Wales
, where the exam was going to take place. We had an hour of introduction with the outline for
the next days and what was expected of us. We were 18 candidates from 4 different dive centers (we were 6 from Abyss Scuba Diving). On Friday we had the theory exams on physics, skills and environment, equipment, physiology, Recreational Dive Planner (an instrument that helps you plan dives) and PADI standards and procedures. At the same time, they gave us a sheet of paper each, for the presentations and specific skills we had to prepare to teach for Saturday and Sunday. We finished at around 9pm and we all did well on the exams. After that we went back to the dive shop to get specific materials for the presentations, tanks and diving gear for the next day. Then we went home, had to prepare the knowledge development presentations (this is a presentation that follows a specific format and shows you exactly how to teach PADI courses) and finally went to sleep at around 2am.
Saturday morning we had to be back at the RSL Club at 8am, so we woke up at around 6 to get there (Dee Why is a long way from where I’ve been staying in Grays Point). We got there and
at around 8:15 we started doing our presentations, which went quite well and we all passed with good scores. We were done about an hour and a half later and then we had to be at the Olympic pool of the Warringah Aquatic Center (also in Dee Why) at 1:45pm, so we had plenty of time to prepare. We went to a sector of the RSL Club to relax for a while, prepare our presentations for the swimming pool sessions and got organized for the next day as well. Later we had something for lunch and at 1:15pm we were already at the pool, getting ready for the next session which is called “confined waters”. This session is about skills that have to be taught in swimming pools or in places that have swimming pool-like conditions. I had to teach how to clear a partially flooded mask (one of the easiest exercises). We also had to demonstrate how to do 5 random skills in the pool (they were the same for everyone). We all did well, even though a few of us had to repeat some of the skills. After the pool session we were ready for Sunday, the final
day of the Exam and the hardest one of all three. Saturday evening we had plenty of time to prepare the presentations for the next day, chill out and get a good night sleep.
Sunday morning, we had the “open waters” presentations at Shelly Beach http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelly_Beach,_New_South_Wales
, right next to Manly Beach. This is a small closed beach which offers very good conditions for teaching scuba diver students. That day, we had to demonstrate a rescue exercise (how to rescue an unconscious diver on the surface) and besides that, each of us had to teach two skills. I had to teach “efficient fin kicking” and “hovering”. I did very well in one and fairly well on the other and passed without much difficulty. It all took about two hours and at the end, we all passed except for one of us, which was very frustrating for all, but this means that the person who failed only has to retake this session on the next IE in about a month. After that we had a short closing ceremony, got our awards and then we went back to the dive shop, washed our diving gear and then went to a
pub nearby to have a few beers. From that pub, we went to the St. George Motor Boat Club to have a few more drinks and get something to eat. We were joined by a few people that were doing courses at the dive shop and a few of the instructors. We went home at about 9pm (very early), but we were all really tired after the weekend. At the club, I ended up talking with Adrian Argeseanu, a Romanian who did the IDC as well. It’s amazing the life stories of people you meet and his was no exception, having grown in a communist country, leaving it to go to the US, Australia, back to Romania and live through the revolution, etc. He’s got a boat he charters to take people scuba diving in Sydney and I already signed up to dive the HMAS Adelaide and dive in Magic Point with Grey Nurse Sharks. After the Club we went home and got a good sleep.
Monday, I had the day off, so I went to an area called Miranda, to ask in a police station if I could get a copy of the report with the
things that were stolen the previous weekend, so I could take it to the RTA (Roads and Maritime Services) to get a driver’s license. They told me that all I needed was the police report number, which I had. I then went to the RTA and they told me that I need to certify with the Chilean consulate that I had a driver’s license and have it translated it of course. So to summarize, I need that piece of paper, take it to an official translator, have it certified at the consulate and then take it to the RTA and see if they give me permission to take the exams in order to get a driver’s license as an exemption. And I have a few weeks in order to do all of that considering I’m going to be diving as well, so we’ll see how it goes. Experience shows that everything works out one way or another. The rest of the day I didn’t do much and just relaxed.
On Tuesday, there weren’t any dives, so I left the house at about 10am and went by train to Kings Cross. I walked from there to Circular Quay,
taking my time and from there I took a Ferry to Taronga, where the Zoo is. I don’t really like Zoos, so I didn’t go to it; instead I walked from there to Bradleys Head, then to Middle Head and ended up in Balmoral Beach. It took me about 3 hours to do all that. This walk goes along the northern coast of Sydney Harbour, through the Sydney Harbour National Park, which is really nice. It passes through small Bays with very nice houses and marinas, there's lots of birds, big lizards and a lot of spiders. In Middle Head there’s an old fortification as well, which looks towards the entrance of Sydney Harbour (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Head_Fortifications
). Like I said, I ended up in Balmoral Beach and then I took a bus to North Sydney. I got off the bus and walked all the way to Milsons Point and across Harbour Bridge, because I wanted to take some photos there. I got to Circular Quay and then took a train to Artarmon, to go to the Kovacic’s house, because my credit cards and the certificate from Chile that says that I’ve had a driver’s license since 2000, had arrived there. At the
house, there were only Isa and Bruno and I spent about 30 minutes there catching up with Isa about my latest activities. She gave me an old phone they have, so now I’m finally connected again. I was invited for dinner at their house on Thursday. I then took a train to get back to Gymea and since the train ride is rather long, took the time to update this post.
On Wednesday I went diving to Kurnell (“The Leap” and “The Steps”) with Bret (staff at the dive shop), Craig, Lydia and Boris (german entrepreneur). We did 3 dives there and the visibility was spectacular; about 15 meters. The three dives were excellent and really enjoyed them. I saw a couple of Sea Dragons swimming near the seaweed.
Thursday, I went to do another 3 dives, but this time to Oak Park. This time, I did the 3 dives with Craig. The visibility was OK. Oak Park is a Beach located in Cronulla (http://www.abyss.com.au/scuba/pc/Oak-Park-p4273.htm#details
). One enters the water right beside a salt water swimming pool and goes through a narrow sand channel to avoid the rocks. After that, it’s a 50 meter surface
swim more or less, to start descending to about 6 meters and following a reef. The reef intersects another reef that’s perpendicular to it. Following the second reef leads to a small cave which is also near a sunken urinal. During the three dives we saw a lot of blue gropers and a few Wobeggong sharks as well. All dives were about an hour long and by the end I was very tired. After getting back to the shop and washing the diving gear I took a train to go the Kovacic’s house and got there at around 7:30pm. I had asked them if I could stay and sleep there that night, so I wouldn’t have to go back to Grays Point (it takes me about 2 hours). Anyway, after arriving there, I had a shower and then we waited while dinner was being cooked to have some homemade pisco sour (pisco from a new batch that Felipe had done the last weekend). For dinner we had bouef bourguignon (Isa’s speciality it seems) with red wine. Apple strudel and coffee to end the meal. It was excellent, plus the conversation very pleasant, as usual. By 11pm I was fast asleep.
Friday morning I headed to the dive center at around 7:30, got there by 9 and went to get something for breakfast. At the place I went to, I ran into Boris, the German guy who’s been diving the last couple of days here. His job is in entertainment, mainly taking shows (musicals, etc.) to Germany, so he travels seeing the shows and contacting the people responsible for organizing them. In the meantime he has plenty of time to go scuba diving. Anyway, that day we went to Kurnell as well and did 2 dives from “The Leap”. There were about 15 people diving. My group was Ryan, Lydia, Jonny (an English guy who’s doing courses at Abyss), Craig and Boris. For the two dives, we went from The Leap to The Steps. There was a good current going in that direction, so it wasn’t very tiring and you could sort of glide from the two points easily, just letting the current drag you. After the dives, went back to the shop and then home to finally finish this post and upload the photos.
There are more photos below