Scuba Open Water Cont.

I completed the PADI Open Water Certification through a local dive shop called Ocean Enterprises back in September.  They're the biggest dive shop in the county.  I'd highly recommend getting the certification book and reading it front to back, back to front, and chapter by chapter before walking into the classroom.  Like many things in life, if you're prepared before you walk in the door, it's easier.  

For Ocean Enterprises, you pay for the course, which includes most of the costly gear rentable gear: wetsuit, bcd, tank, weights, regulator and computer.  You need to provide your own mask, snorkel, fins, boots, gloves, and hood.  For the stuff you bring, you can buy all new, or go pretty cheap.  Particularly the snorkel =)  If its more than $2, you're overpaying.  Some other outfits around here provide everything.  They cost a bit more, but if it turns out that scuba isn't you're thing, overall you'll save some money.
Over the course of 3 weeks, we had 3-4 classroom sessions, talking about the basic language, mechanics and physics of scuba diving.  The instructor Ed had an excellent grasp of how to teach the material, and I thought gave a great balance of humor and seriousness.  Between class sessions we had pool dives to get used to breathing through a regulator, being underwater, controlling our bouyancy, and demonstrating a number of skills.  The most awesomely fun skill to practice is mask clearing.  It takes a while to get used to.  Good thing they start it in the pool.  Mask clearing can be a whole new level of suck in the ocean when the freezing ocean water first hits your eyes.  On top of that, its  stinging salty water!  After the class and pool sessions we graduated to doing some shore dives at the aptly named La Jolla Shores.  I'm quite familiar with that beach.  Its our "goto" destination when we want to surf and don't have much time.  It was odd being there with the diving crowd, and seeing the surfers head out to do their thing.  The first shore dives were only down to 20 feet or so.  After demonstrating all but a handful of necessary OW skills we finished up with a boat dive to the Los Coronados Islands aboard the Humbolt.  With most of our skills out of the way, we were able to spend a majority of the dives actually acting like divers =)    We did both Coronados dives at a site called Lobster Shack, to a depth of about 40 feet.  Here I learned from my first personal mistake.  

The night before I had been trying to get everything ready.  I knew we had an under water video camera.  But I couldn't remember how deep I could take it.  Of course, I couldn't find the manual either.  I found the camera the next morning just before I left.  Still sleepy, I looked at it.  On the side it said 15m.  Oh good I thought.  I knew that we were only going to about 40ft.  Oh boy how wrong I was.  I had some decent footage of the surface.  The camera went odd about 20 ft down.  On surfacing I found the cause.  In my haste, and tiredness, I misread the damn thing.  It wasn't 15m.  It was 1.5m.  Who the heck writes 1.5m anyway?  So.. there went a few hundred bucks.  Lesson learned... or so I thought.

Personal mistakes aside, scuba can be a dangerous endeavor.  I make it a habit to read the ScubaBoard accidents and incidents section every so often.  That way I can 1) learn from other's mistakes, and 2) keep a good level of respect for diving.  




April 2012

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