Arrived at Base hostel on Magnetic Island at 8am on Saturday. Luckily we were able to check straight into our room and have breakfast and freshen up before our diving course started at 9am. In the morning we watched videos on suba diving and had questions to answer. Our instructor OJ gave us the answers to save time and then we went into the pool to learn the first set of skills. Setting up the equipment is pretty difficult and there is a lot to remember and a lot of checks to do. All the equipment weighs so much when it is on. We have weights belts and the big tank of oxygen on our backs is so heavy! So I was pretty relieved to get into the water and have it all become weightless. We practice breathing under water by just sticking our faces under at the edge of the pool and then he called us all into the middle to go down to the bottom of the pool. I just wouldn't sink and I had to have extra weights to keep me down!! The first few skills involve taking out your regulator (the thing you put in your mouth to breathe from!) and letting water into you mask and taking your mask off. The idea of doing these things under water totally freaked me out and I basically refused to do it. I kept coming back up to the surface and got really freaked out. OJ gave me time to calm down, and he was really patient with me, he taught the other 2 in the group, Anwen and Connie, the skills and I stayed at the side of the pool practicing breathing under water. One of the female instructors came to be there whislt I was going under water and I held her hand to go down to the bottom of the pool. I got really worked up so had to go back and take baby steps but eventually felt a bit more confident and moved away from the edge. OJ then took me for a swin around the bottom of the pool and this helped me relax a bit mroe too. I then went through the skills by myself with OJ and managed to do them all. It still freak me out taking the regulator out under water and letting water into my mask but I did it so that they could be done with and I could get back up to the surface!! It was really difficult as I had a constant battle going on in my head where part of me really just wanted to give up and quit but the other half was determined to complete the course!! It felt like it would be so much easier to quit and not have to go under water again but I'd spent a lot of money for the course and gone through a lot of stress to get my medical done so I wouldn't give up! It got really cold towards the end so I was glad to get out of the pool and warm up! The weight of the equipment hit me again though when I got out of the pool. There is also a lot to do with the equipment after you take it off as you have to do it in the proper order and wash everything down afterwards.
We had homework tonight to do the questions for chapters 3-5 in the dive book. This didn't actually take me very long and me and Anwen then went to buy some food. The hostel gave us some vouchers so I had a free meal tonight as I was too tired to cook. Had a veggie lasagne which was really nice and headed back to the room to read up on stuff for our theory exam tomorrow. I re-read the question section for chapter 1 and must have gotten part way through two when I fell asleep. I woke up about 10.30 truly exhausted so gave up on reading tonight and went to sleep. The dorm is weird the room is triangular shaped and feels like I'm sleeping in an attic.
Had a little time this morning to read over what I'd missed last night and then we watched the video for sections 3 and 4 and OJ talked about section 5 about marine life and we went through the questions. We then studied the dive tables, and learnt how to calculate our residual nitrogen so we can know how long to leave it between dives or how many dives we can do in one day. Part of our theory was to learn about what can do wrong when scuba diving. If you ascend too quickly you can get decompression sickness and end up with nitrogen bubbles in your blood which can cause all sorts of problems. Also if you hold your breath whilst ascending you can get an overexpansion injury, where your lungs will burst!! You will get bubbles of oxygen in different places in your body which cause a range of problems including paralysis, brain damage, obvious breathing problems and potentially a collapsed lung. It can even be fatal! So another reason why I was pretty scared as if something does go wrong under the water you can't just suddenly ascend for these reasons. We did some practice questions on calculating diving groups and residual nitrogen and then did our theory exams. The exam was multiple choice and pretty straight forward. On my first attempt I only got 2 out of the 50 questions wrong. I got given my paper back then to try correct these two mistakes, I corrected one of them but still got the other one wrong as I mixed up 30m with 30 feet. But I still got a test score of 98% so pretty damn happy!! :D
After lunch we went back in the pool to re-do the first set of skills and then go on to the second set. I was again pretty uncomfortable underwater and I kept getting water in my nose through my mask which made things work. I kept resurfacing as I thought it was leaking, and I got a bit of a telling off because you can't do this when you're in deeper waters so its a bad habbit to get in to and OJ tells me he can solve any problem under water so I have to stay down. After fixing my mask I went back under and I was a lot better. We went through the first set of skills again, and then learnt the new ones, which involved retrieving a lost regulator, weight and BC (the jacket we wear to keep afloat) removal and air sharing if you or your buddy is out of air, and I managed not to drown Anwen, and how to correctly move an unconscious body and remove cramp in the water. So by the end of today we had learnt all the skills and passed our theory exams!! :)
Next was to do all these skills in the ocean! I was really nervous Monday morning, so went down early to talk to OJ and hope he would calm me a bit! I felt sick with nerves and adrenaline but he did manage to help ease it a bit, and by the time we'd all set up our equipment and gone down to the sea I was feeling a lot better. We had a second instructor as well today, a guy called Ben who is more highly qualified again, and he was my diving buddy, as we have to be paired up and we descended together. We all went for a swim around first and then settled at the bottom to go through the first 7 skills. These went fine, I still don't like removing my regulator or mask under water but the trick is to do it quickly! Anwen had a little trouble retrieving her regulator and Ben had to give her his back-up air supply twice before she found it on the 3rd attempt! This worried me a little bit so I was glad to see she was OK. We then re-surfaced and did the weight belt and BC removal on the surface. We had to stay on the surface for 10 minutes, this is to do with nitrogen removal. We then descended again to do the weights and BC removal at the bottom of the sea, but this time when we were descending I had a problem with my ears and they wouldn't equalize. I kept trying to pop them but they wouldn't or they would and then come back again and it got pretty painful so I had to resurface to sort them out. Once they were OK again we descended and had a swim around, I finally started to relax and enjoy the swim and saw some nice fish when we had to ascend and I was running pretty low on air, so we had to cut the skills session short so I didn't run out and we'll finish tomorrow.
I felt very happy with myself by the end of this dive! I feel like I have overcome my fears a bit and feeling more confident underwater. I was then actually looking forward to diving again the next day :) We jumped in the pool after removing,cleaning and putting away all our equipment and then sun bathed all afternoon pool side. It was really nice to finally have some time to chill out.
Had our final dive on tuesday, felt better about it today. Had a different instructor Nick today, and OJ was my diving buddy. Completed the second set of skills under water without any problems and then completed our dive logs. There were certain rules which we had to obey during the course such as never leave your weight belt open and never put your mask on your forehead. If you broke any of these rules you got a "duck duck" we all got at least one, mine was for putting my mask on my forehead after completing the dive yesterday - I came out of the water all happy I succeeded and then OJ goes "and now you have a duck duck!" Grrrr! So we all had to do those in orde to get our dive cards, which involve waddling and quacking all he way round the outside of the pool in front of everyway who was sunbathing. We had to stay really low to the ground and it really hurt my legs so I cheated a bit and so OJ pushed me in th pool at the end of it!!! Swine!!
We then went on a fun dive as certified divers. We went to the fish feeding station and left bread for the fish in a box to go soggy. We then went for an underwater tour and swam through an underwater hoop and saw a small wreck site. There was an old beer bottle left there which we passed around and pretended to drink from. My visibility on this dive was really poor though, my mask kept fogging up and it really spoilt things. I did a few mask clears but I don't really like letting waer into my mask and it would just fog up again straigh away anyway! I lost site of OJ a few times and didn't like that, made me panic a bit! So I was glad to finish the dive. At the end of the dive we went back to the fish feeding session and each had some soggy bread to feed the fish. Saw some cool yellow and blue fish and some black and white striped fish. Still haven't seen a turtle though :(
Had a few drinks tonight and played beer bingo to celebrate completing our course and becoming certified SCUBA divers!!!! Wooooo!!!! :D
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