I cannot believe my Mexican Adventure #NOREGRETS Fulfillment Day Trip is less than 5 days away. I feel like all I’ve been doing in the last 6 weeks was prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With that being said, part of the preparations required me to become PADI certified…A.K.A becoming an Open Water Diver.
The reasoning I was selected as the winner was because of my twitter post that basically said I’m terrified of the ocean and I’d face that fear. There is really no way around become PADI certified and not go into the ocean.
I took my course(s) from a local dive shop called Seattle Scuba School located off of Lake Union, north of downtown. They break their course down into three separate parts- a home program, a pool class, and the open water class(es). The home program consists of reading a PADI Open Water Diver manual and taking 5 quizzes regarding various aspects of diving; the science and underwater world (buoyancy, visibility, currents, etc), the gear (BCD, regulator, weight belt, etc), the buddy system and communication, dive planning and problem management, health and breathing, and the dive table/dive computer/compass. Sounds intense, huh? It is. There’s no sugar coating this one. This book is about 260 pages and I read every last page, with highlighting (I geeked out). I’m going to be honest here. While reading certain parts of this book, I almost started crying and practically gave myself a panic attack/anxiety attack because of the information I was reading. I’m terrified of the ocean, so reading about things that could go wrong wasn’t the most comforting aspect of this journey. I had NO IDEA diving was so technical and so much science and math went into scuba diving and this was the easy part of the program.
Up next was the pool course. This nighttime course was an introductory lesson about the gear, safety features and entering/exiting the water. This course took place both on land and in the pool. For the first hour or so, we stood in the dive center handling the tanks, the BCD (vest), the regulatory (breathing mouthpiece) and the weight belts. I think we put together and took apart the actual scuba gear 5, if not more, times during this section. Once in the water, we were taught how to breath underwater, how to fix our gear underwater, how to safely descend and surface safely, how to use your buddy, and how to safely exit and enter the water. It was a very new experience sitting at the bottom of the pool breathing and if you’ve never scuba dived than it’s hard to explain. I am a pretty quick learning so I felt comfortable after this class. Well, I thought I was.
The time came this past weekend for me to take the open water dive portion of this course. I WAS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED, FREAKED OUT AND A BIG BALL OF SCARED both the days leading up to the dives and on my way to and from the dives (yes I was still scared after diving). One of challenges of this portion (besides fear) was the fact that these dives took place in the Puget Sound with a water temperature averaging about 44 degrees Fahrenheit and it didn’t matter that we had full wetsuits (hoods, booties and gloves). This course was broken down similar to the pool portion- started at the dive center and tried on all the gear to make sure the wetsuits were the proper fitting and checked the scuba unit before heading down to the dive location.
The actual dive location was called Seacreast Beach Park Cove #1, which according to my dive instructor, is well known throughout the diving community.At this point in the day was good and dandy and stayed that way until the first descend. Brace yourself. I GOT LOST. Yup, my worst nightmare came true. I hardly moved 5 feet and I lost the entire 7 other people in my course. Can you believe it. I’m having a full blown panic attack including screaming and crying, at the bottom of this cove only 15-20 feet under and 15-20 feet off the shore. The visibility was horrendous, and since we were learning to control our buoyancy, my classmates and I kept stirring up the ocean bottom.
Thankfully, I was able to pull myself together and I ended up sticking it out for the remainder of the day, which included 2 dives and freezing finger and toes. I actually started getting the hang of things and began to open up to the experience. I even went back the next day to finish out the additional 2 dives to become fully certified as an Open Water Diver.
The main focus of these open water dives, is to put you in more real life situations and to provide more functional training and learning. There is a huge differences between an enclosed pool vs open water and I’m glad I went back for day 2 of the open water dives. I know Mexico is going to be 1000x better than my class and not just because the water will be clear and warm, but because of the adventure itself.
How many people get to say they got to dive ALONE with Celine Cousteau and her husband? I mean seriously this is a real-life Mapless Adventures. Stay tuned for more!
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