Sunday, November 05, 2006

Scubaddiction (Part Trois)

Dive number one - deep dive! Thus far, we'd been as deep as sixty feet, which is pretty deep, but today we would be going for triple digits. The "deep end" of the dive park drops down to nearly 100 feet. It would be colder and darker, with higher pressure, than we'd been before, and with depth comes the possibility of nitrogen narcosis. This last thing isn't nearly as bad as it sounds, but it can make you goofy and careless. We all had to be on our toes not to do anything dumb because we thought we were invincible. ;)

There was a long surface swim out to the site, which was way at the back corner of the dive park. We dropped down as a group, slowly descending further and further, until we settled on our knees at the bottom, 95 feet underwater. Shay brought down a racquetball to show us what the pressure can do at that depth (the thing was completely crushed) and had us do math problems to test our level of impairment (underwater sobriety test, basically). We could hear a whistling that was most likely sonar from a boat, and the kelp leaves were huge at that depth - no surprise since they like the cold. We hit a thermocline (sharp change in temperature) at about 48 feet, but while it felt like a five or ten degree difference, it was really only two degrees colder at the bottom than at the surface. Crazy!

You go through the air in your tank significantly faster the deeper you go, so we only stayed at the bottom for 13 minutes before taking a slow tour back up to the steps. It was an incredible feeling, knowing that we'd leared another hurdle toward becoming advanced open water divers. Ninety-five feet! How sweet is that?

Dive two began with underwater navigation, which involved making our way around a square. It's significantly trickier to follow a compass heading underwater, as you're being pushed around by currents, than on land. However, we managed the task and were then sent away in our buddy pairs to dive on our own, unsupervised. Technically, we could have done that already, since we'd been certified the previous day, but it was still a little scary to be going off without an instructor. For about 45 seconds. And then it was awesome. :)

We swam around, using all the skills we'd learned over the past week. I kept getting water in my mask and had to clear it repeatedly. Good thing I'd practiced it so much! We went down to about 45 feet and then swam back up along the rocks, pointing out neat things to each other and enjoying the feeling of exploring together. When we'd run our air down to nearly the specified level, we ended the dive and made our way back to the surface. And that was that. We were officially hooked.

Dive three took us back down below 80 feet again. We got cameras and made our way to the corner of the park, where we descended to the wreck of the Sujac with another buddy team and a pair of divemasters. A real shipwreck! It was huge and old and neat. As with our previous deep dive, we couldn't stay at the bottom very long, so we took some pictures and made our way to shallower waters. One of the divemasters had brought a bag of peas down with him, and when he cut it open, a feeding frenzy ensued. Fish were swarming everywhere around him. Who knew fish liked peas so much?

Too soon, it was time to go back to the surface. We packed up our gear, hailed some taxi vans, and went to dinner. All in all, a super excellent weekend! And now I can't wait to go diving in Mexico. :)


Tom's dad said...

Just how cold was it on the bottom?

susan said...

64 or 62F, depending on whose dive computer you believe.

Tom said...

But, recall, water conducts away heat at 20x the rate of air.

susan said...

True 'nuff.