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Published: March 12th 2011
Flight into Georgia
Heading into our first layover.
The day started at 6:30 in the morning. Our dive equipment was transported to the boat and we headed to breakfast. The first dive of the trip is an easy one that is mostly for everyone to get their weights right and acclimated to the water. I didn’t do so well. Actually, I didn’t “do” at all. I freaked. I’ve gained a lot of weight since we bought my wetsuit and on top of the tight fit, over the years, I’ve developed a lot of anxiety. I kept telling Alex I should just rent a wetsuit and leave mine at home, but he talked me into just trying it. I felt like I couldn’t breathe before we even hit the water. Once we did, attempting to let all of the air out of my lungs so I would sink, I felt like I was suffocating. I flailed around a bit and quickly came back up to gulp lungful of air down. I could not do it. I went back to the boat desperately needing to get the heavy equipment off me. I was really upset about the whole ordeal.
When my fellow divers surfaced one-by-one they talked about how “shitty,"
Waiting to get through customs
as one person put it, the dive was. Too much weight, not enough weight, equipment issues. Alex said he would have preferred to practice his buoyancy control under the boat before taking off to explore. It’s been close to two years since our last dive.
The second dive Alex and I decided that we may or may not join the group, but we were just going to go down together and if that was a success, we were going to refamiliarize ourselves with the whole process. I added some extra weight to my BC (buoyancy control vest), unzipped the neck of my wetsuit, and talked to Alex for a minute before we attempted to go down. Feeling much more calm and less strangled by my suit, we successfully made it down!
Once down, we discovered my dive computer wasn’t working. Go figure. I referenced his for depth and time. This wasn’t the first time I’ve dove with a dud computer. Our very first night dive my computer died. I had no idea if I was going up or down.
After lunch we dove and when we boarded again, one of our dive masters said they got word
of a “big fish” sighting and asked who wanted to check it out. Realizing he was talking about a whale shark….the entire reason we were there….we headed off to hopefully see it.
This was when we learned about all of the Utila rules. They regulate how many people can be in the water at a time with the whale sharks so we had to go in two groups. On the way, we could see a cluster of boats where the action was happening and our boat, go figure, died. This has never happened to us before and we could not believe the luck. After moving all of our equipment to get to the engine and working on it for a bit, we watched all of the boats leaving the whale shark spotting area to go back to shore. The driver finally figured out what the problem was so we could take off. By this time I was starting to feel sick from all of the waves and hoped that we would just head back.
Not a chance. What I didn’t know is that apparently our driver is one of the best whale shark spotters on the island. 7
divers lined one edge of the boat and were instructed to jump in, one at a time, only when the dive master gave them a little push on their back. The boat would be moving forward so if you jumped before it was your turn, you were likely to land on the head of the person before you. The other thing was that there was no diving…just snorkeling. This made a lot more sense when we finally found what we were looking for.
In the water there were all sorts of tuna jumping out of the water. Then we hear, “Go! Go! Go!” and single file the divers are hoping in and from the boat we can see the most amazingly beautiful whale shark. I was in group two and just crossed my fingers that even though I was feeling crappy, that we would get our turn.
The first group boarded and we took our position on the side of the boat. I don’t know how long we were on the side of the boat…it felt like 20 minutes, it could have been longer, it could have been shorter. My head was pounding, my stomach was turning, but
finally we heard the “Go! Go! Go!” and next think I knew we were feet from one of the magnificent creatures. Then just like that, it was gone.
When the first group went again, the shark had come to the surface, face up. It turned to swim away and its rear fin hit one of the girls….what I would have given to be in her fins! We were under strict orders not to touch, but if they touch you, what are you to do?
I made sure to jump in the first slot for hopping in the water for round two. Alex next to me, when we got the sign, the whale shark was swimming RIGHT AT US! It was incredible….I froze…..I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Then it turned to the left to swim away and that’s when it occurred to me……FOLLOW THAT WHALE! It was a good 20 feet long and breathtaking.
After that jump, I took to climbing on the outside of the boat to hunt for sharks myself. I helped spot one for the dive master, and while my pointing it out helped, it probably would have been more
helpful if I managed something more than, “Oh my God!” at the sign of it’s huge fits sticking out of the water when it surfaced.
I’m not sure any of our dives are going to be able to top our first dive. I don’t even remember the actual dive we had before the whale shark spotting. We all slept really well after the long day and commotion. The actual dive was 40 minutes, but we were out for over four hours.
Tot: 1.469s; Tpl: 0.024s; cc: 12; qc: 70; dbt: 0.0283s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb