When it comes to Scuba Diving, I started giving it some thoughts when watching underwater videos on a more regular basis in recent years. I was simply increasingly attracted by the natural beauty of coral reef and marine life in general.
Also, I grew up watching TV documentaries featuring the marine adventures of the late French Naval Officer Jacques Cousteau, who explored the world's ocean and left quite a legacy behind.
Somehow, I knew I wanted my first experience to be in my homeland, in the protected reserve named after Cousteau. In 2013, I remember feeling disappointed at myself for not visiting this particular reserve. I spent a lil over it a month pouting about that in my head!
Therefore, when I went to my homeland last year, I made it my mission to go scuba diving. At Last!!!
SCUBA DIVING: INTRODUCTORY DIVE
Scuba diving is a mode of underwater diving in which the scuba diver uses a Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) which is completely independent of surface supply, to breathe underwater
So here I was on a sunny day, ideal for the beach, in a city in Guadeloupe, called Bouillante. I am now signing up with a scuba diving school who organizes tours for beginners like me, or people wanting to become certified divers (at various levels).
After some standard paper work to ensure that I don’t have any medical conditions preventing me from going scuba diving, I was now getting my gear: a wetsuit, a pair of fins, a mask, my tank strapped to the Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) life jacket and a Regulator.
The tank is rather heavy, but I can manage to walk to the jetty to board the school's boat.
The boat is now sailing towards the spot where we would be diving, 10-15 minutes away from the shore. The staff goes on to introducing themselves and explaining how we’ll go about doing the dive. Since nobody can speak underwater per say, we learn a couple hand signals, which are vital when scuba diving. For instance, the signal I am making in this post's underwater shot simply means "I'm ok"!
Basically, the staff needs to ensure that we know how to communicate underwater for obvious safety reasons.
By now, I know which hand signals to use if all is well with me, if I don’t feel good, if I want to resurface, etc.
We are then told that each customer would be allocated an trained diver throughout the 20-minute dive.
The teacher proceeds to cover:
- the basics about breathing underwater with the regulator's mouthpiece.
- the increase of pressure that one experiences when getting deeper into the ocean. Indeed, as you get deeper and deeper, your ears will hurt and you can fix that in 2 seconds: by gently pinching your nose while blowing air up through your throat (as if you were blowing a balloon). And that’s it. This technique is called “Equalizing” and would become a normal reflex you will have while diving.
- how to clear our mask, if ever water was to get into it during the dive. Imagine that you are 20 meters down and water get trapped into your mask: it would be such a waste of time, to resurface just to get rid of that water, no? That too, is super easy & quick to do.
Instructors would monitor the customer's well-being, equipment and buoyancy throughout the dive. One instructor per customer. How Cool!
Okay Folks, off to the Fun part…!
JUMPING INTO THE OCEAN
AROUND THE BOAT
Fins, Regulator, Tank, Mask are all on!! Time to get off the boat, in the middle of the ocean! The boat has now anchored in the Cousteau Reserve. How Exciting!!
The staff now asked that customers spend 30 minutes practicing how to clear their mask and to breathe with the regulator's mouth piece, while snorkeling nearby the boat.
The many fishes are amazingly cute and colorful, as I had expected!! Water is crystal clear!! I’m feeling blessed to be surrounded by them in this amazing environment!
WAY BELOW THE BOAT
Times up!! I am now in the company of my dedicated instructor for the diving part of the experience!! After all, that's what this is all about, right! Yyaay!
It’s Go Time!! Off we go….. dddooowwwwnnn!!
We gently descend into the depth of this well known diving site. I easily developed the reflex of equalizing, when required, so we descend without problem.
We are now 10 meters down, and can now focus on seeing as much marine life as possible around us and the coral reefs.
What a sight! Just mind blowing!! So many colorful species, so much life in there in a variety of shapes and size!
Oh ..... wait! Problem! Oops, I need to resurface ASAP!
I can’t quite remember what caused me to LAUGH, but it resulted in me having to ask my instructor to resurface…I know we had a good laugh about it all once we resurfaced but I simply can't recall what that was all about…#bummer
Ok, I’m so over it…. I finished laughing! Let's go back in! lol!
Soooo, back down at 10 meters...The rest of my diving session was pure bliss. A quiet and colorful dive! I’m in awe!! I finally did it!
THE FUN IS OVER
Like most good things, the 30-minute dive came to an end. I am now overwhelmed with joy.
The school hands me a "Discovery Scuba Diving" Certificate, which would become handy, should i want to part take to another diving experience which doesn't require divers to be certified.
However, I am also looking forward to refueling (it is after all Lunch time!) The ocean has a way to make me feel hungry, probably like someone who didn't eat for days! lol!!
This day couldn’t have been any better, it was just perfect. Perfect weather, ocean, marine life, staff! What more could I ask for!! Brilliant experience!
SCUBA DIVING: INTRODUCTORY CLASS
Three months ago, I’ve decided to attend an Introductory class since I was finding myself often reminiscing about my first scuba experience. It felt like I had an urge of doing some scuba diving.
It was a great idea because during that class I learnt so much:
- knowing the names and functions of each piece of diving equipment
- putting the equipment together for a dive
- checking that the regulator is working properly and that the tank has enough air.
- cleaning the equipment after the dive and dismantling it, before storing it away.
So here I was, with my classmates and instructor getting ready to get in the water. Time to practice breathing with the regulator and clearing the mask in the shallow waters, as the boat had anchored by an isle.
Time to dive! At last!
Here I was, at first swimming not too far from the surface with my instructor his assistant and my classmates. Minutes later we are descending with my to 10, then 20 meters ….Yaaayyyy! But wait! Oops, my classmates and the instructor's assistant are no longer around. Bummer, they had all resurfaced! The instructor and I cut the fun short!
I was now swimming alone a few meters below my classmates looking at them snorkeling at the surface! They are looking down at me looking all comfy down there and I am looking back at them, while doing the moon walk! Ahahah, that was quite funny and we had a good laugh about it when class was over, especiallysince I was the only female student that day.
Fun class overall. Unfortunately, I was the only student who had any experience with scuba diving prior to that class. My comfort level "down there" therefore was different than my classmates'.
Nevertheless, I am glad I took part in that introductory class. I guess that what I am left to do is to become a certified diver, so I can have some more fun during future holidays!!
To be continued…!
A FEW TIPS
- It is best, for your own safety, to pick a reputable scuba diving school. Do your research! The school must go through the standard paper work which would include, personal contact info and emergency contact; a medical form to ensure you don’t have any medical history or conditions making it dangerous for you to practice such activity. For instance, a reputable school would not allow you to dive if you’re pregnant . Also, do expect to sign a disclaimer.
- If you’re going scuba diving during a holiday abroad, do ensure that this activity is covered by your travel insurance. It is not always included. However, you can pay extra to do so.
- If you’re claustrophobic, it’s best for you to stay away from such activity.
- Ensure the weather forecast is suitable for such practice.
- Scuba Diving is not usually a cheap activity. Therefore, it is best to practice it in crystal clear waters. I won't recommend that you settle for anything else. After all, what makes a dive such a mind-blowing activity is clear Visibility. What’s the point diving and not being able to admire the marine life?!
GO FOR IT, BE SAFE & ENJOY!