Last Saturday it was dive day! Our first open water dive with our dive club in Southampton Solent sport Sub-Aqua. I’m saying we because Evelyn and I did this together 🙂
A little bit of background. We joined the club with four girls; Rachel, Molly, Evelyn and I. Rachel and Molly are in the Ocean Diver group and Ev and I joined the Sports diver group (successive). We have all been in the pool a couple of times, training basic and rescue diver skills. On Tuesdays we also have theory lessons. Everything is ticked off – theory, pool and open water dives – before you can graduate your course and receive a certificate. Aside from the main course (Ocean or Sports diver), you can do skill development training. And this Saturday planned for one of those too.
- Drysuit diving skill
- Start with the open water dives for our Sports Diver course
This was going to be a full day, so we started early. I got up at 5.30 am and we left to drive to Vobster at 6.10 am. It was a 2-hour drive over to Vobster on small up- and downhill winding roads. I got carsick for the first time ever. When we got there we had to wait at the gate to open at 8.30.
Vobster is a lake specifically assigned for diving. It is an old quarry (steengroeve) filled with fresh water and also filled with loads of attractions. Cars, crushing works, a tunnel and even an old airplane wreck. The training platforms build along the walls are also very handy for training/instruction purposes. The water was freezing, but visibility was good, and (lucky me) there were fish around!
On arrival, we created dive groups and started gathering our gear. So much gear! I knew we would be handling more gear since this is drysuit diving, but I was overwhelmed by it all anyway. We were with 15 or so people. Finding 20 pieces of gear fit for your specific body, assembling it all the right way, under time pressure (we needed to be quick, otherwise not enough daylight hours for multiple dives in winter), combined with my perfectionism…
It just was all very stressful. I could not decide for myself on most of my gear because it was mostly new. Others advise on what you need, with the best intentions of keeping you safe and happy. Terry (our club lead) had put in a lot of effort of finding out beforehand what everyone needed in terms of sizing etc. My drysuit, therefore, was the best fit! But it did not go this well for every part of my kit.
So the first dive, when we got in I turned out to be way overweight. I was literally sinking, even though I filled my BCD and drysuit full of air. I had 10 kg of weights on, way too much. But on top of that my mask came off and the strap broke. I panicked, already so stressed of the whole getting-ready-episode, and started crying, clung on the rails (which are luckily fixed along the walls of the shallowest training platform). One of my instructors Cath helped me out by taking off some weight and she got me a new mask.
The first dive was not my best one clearly. During the dive I got more used to the drysuit, the new instructors, and the lake. In the end I started enjoying it and I was also happy to see Evelyn being so good at it. The second dive I was way more relaxed, Evelyn and I were communicating a lot more and after that, I was hooked! Although it was very late after we came out from the second dive I asked Elena – our main instructor – ‘Let’s go again!?’. And she said ‘yes, but we have to hurry. Get your air tanks filled again.’
We got out from our third dive in the dark. It was after 4.30 pm already – the day went by so fast. In between each dive we have had a debrief, some warming up, eating, air filling and some waiting to release the nitrogen build-up in your body.
Underwater we saw a car, swam through an airplane, discovered a shipwreck and looked at sleeping fish. I hope to take some underwater pictures next time.
What a diary this blog post has become !
Last thing I wanted to tell is that as of Saturday we are Drysuit certified – nicely confirmed on our group Facebook page and we will receive a sticker for this on Tuesday.