After I wrote about our experience scuba diving, I said I would write a bit about the training. It’s been a minute or two since I said I would do that, so I’m getting to it. Now that the school year is out, and even though I still have work to do, I have a little more time.
First off. If you are thinking about doing any scuba certification, from open water certified to any of the more advanced certifications that are offered, I can’t recommend Cozumel Diving Academy enough. I’m not getting paid to say this, I’m just saying that the Cozumel Diving Academy was amazing. The instructors are patient, dive masters are friendly, and they make everything a great experience…and of course being part of the second largest reef system in the world….it’s a great location too.
Learning to dive requires you to learn to control breathing, be able to clear out your mask of water, switching breathing regulators, ascending while only exhaling, being able to read a compass, among other things. It really isn’t too bad to learn to dive…I think for most people. For me it was a real challenge, because we were in about 12 to 15 feet of water and needed to kneel on the ocean floor. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Except, we were close enough to the shore that the waves kept moving me back and forth, and I guess I got motion sickness. Our two days of confined water dives were pretty rough for me because of the motion sickness.
On the first day, we surfaced from one of the training sessions, I looked at everyone said, “I don’t feel so good” and then proceed to share my lunch or breakfast with the fish and birds. It was pretty challenging. I don’t know if it was the motion or if it was the frequent changing of the regulators and me potentially swallowing a fair amount of seawater, or maybe both that caused me to be so generous with the native wildlife, but we had to cut day one short because I couldn’t keep going.
Day two…got a bit better. I was still in the sharing mood, in a couple of exercises, I looked at the instructor and said, hang on….hurled…and got back to it. We had to change tanks, and we had 6 more skills to finish up. If we didn’t finish those, we couldn’t move onto the open water dives the next day. Meaning, finish up the dives from the shore, or you don’t get to go on the boat and see the really cool stuff. So after some ‘encouragement’ from Sandy, I got up, got my tank ready and we headed back out.
One of the skills we had to learn was to surface from about 30’ of depth while only exhaling. If you inhaled, go back to the bottom and start over. It was a challenge and I only had to do it twice, but I did it. Let me tell you, when you hit the surface after only exhaling for that long, a deep long inhale is amazing. After doing this, I’m in awe of the free divers who go 200 meters with no air, other than what they got at the surface. I really don’t know how they do that.
After that we only had our open water dives left to complete. For the last two open water dives, we took a boat out to a part of the reef where the water was about 60 feet deep. The last skill we had to demonstrate was removing our mask underwater, putting it back on, and clearing the mask. Once we did that, really it was time to practice our skills with some actual dives along the reef. First though, we had to get in the water. I was really expecting that we would just step off the back of the boat and jump in the water. No. The dive master for that trip as we approached our dive site informed us that we would be rolling off the side of the boat. What?! How do I?! Just get up there, put your hand on your regulator and your mask and fall backwards. There wasn’t a lot of choice again, so I did it. Inflated my bcd some and swam over to my instructor where we got ready to submerge.
On the way down, I tried to remember, just equalize early and often and it will be ok. And it was. It was beyond ok, as I said in my post about diving, it wasn’t just ok, it was truly amazing. Like many things in life, if you want something you have to push through some difficult times to get it. Things don’t just get handed to you. I was truly expecting scuba training to be much easier for me than it was. Honestly, learning the skills wasn’t hard, it was getting through some of the environment that was challenging and difficult. Once I figured out how to clear my regulator, I was good…I just needed to not swallow so much salt water in the process.
I’m looking forward to our next diving adventure, even though I don’t know when that will happen. It might not be until next year, but I’m excited to carry around the certified open water diver card from PADI and know that I can now go scuba diving.