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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Monday, March 09, 2009

Scuba Part 1 - 7/3/2009 - 8/3/2009

What is the least energetic way to make yourself really really tired? Scuba seems a likely candidate. As part of the protracted adventure swap that forms part of my relationship with Brian, I took the first half of the PADI Open Water Diver course in Edinburgh. The second half (i.e., the actual open water part) won’t happen until we are in a much warmer country.

Saturday morning had me awake and at Haymarket for a 9am start. There were 12 of us in total. We would be split into separate groups for the afternoon pool sessions, but for the morning, we were all in it together. Simon and Rachel were our fearless instructors for the coursework portion of the day.

The PADI book is split into 5 chapters, covering various topics such as buoyancy, scuba equipment, health and safety issues, hand signals that I've forgotten already and PADI marketing. I had to watch a video, too, which I only just managed to finish on time for the class to start.

Chapters 1-3 and pool dives 1-3 were on tap for Saturday, leaving less material and less diving on Sunday.

Our class was split into several groups for the pool sessions. My group was comprised of all the people running away from the UK to do their open water dives. In total, there were four of us: a father-son pair, a woman doing a refresher after not diving for over 10 years and me. Our instructors were Jan and Simon.

I don't remember how the three dives were split up, but I do remember covering a lot of simple but useful skills as well as getting some practice pottering around the pool underwater. My buddy and I did reasonably well with buoyancy control. Scuba is not very energetic and as predicted, I got cold in the pool. I don't think I'm cut out for UK diving, but that didn't stop people from trying to convince me otherwise between dives.

The last skill that we did involved mask and snorkel and brought back memories of my father's ill-fated attempt to introduce my brother and me to scuba. I was 9 or 10 at the time. The course was taught by military guys. It didn't go well. I had to swim underwater for some distance, clear my snorkel and keep swimming. On the third try, I got it after Jan explained how to not breathe. I finally slithered out of the pool, exhausted. I didn't get home until well after 7pm and I slept through most of whatever Brian wanted to watch on TV that night.

Day 2 had some of the more technical course material, mostly involving the use of the recreational diving table. We spent the morning with that and took our all important final examination. I missed a few questions on that, mostly involving hand signals that I still don't remember all that well. I remember the important ones like ascend, descend, I'm ok, I'm not ok. The rest are going to require more practice.

Pool dives on day 2 were more complicated. We started with gear assembly/disassembly x 5 and then proceeded to the in-water skills. The skills in the pool dives were more complex than the previous day, but there were fewer to cover in each dive. We got some official time to play with buoyancy control, which was harder than it was the previous day. My pixie hover looked more like a dead insect hover by the end. Laughing while trying to hover didn't help with buoyancy control.

We finished much earlier on day 2 and I was not nearly as shattered as after day 1. We slithered out of the pool sometime around 5pm and did the final gear disassembly. My wetsuit was a bit warmer than just thermals from the day before, but I was still a little bit cold. I got a lot cold once out of the water and was happy to get into dry clothes.

Once dry, I caught up with Brian outside and said my thank yous to the instructors and dive masters who looked after me in the pool. Not nearly as exhausted as after day 1, I still slept well that night.

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