Bright eyed, bushy tailed and newly certified, I could not wait to get into the warm salty Caribbean water & dive in Mexico. My dive shop back here in Southern California had recommended a handful of good dive shops in Playa del Carmen & Tulum. Unfortunately both locations was a decent (30min+) drive from where we were staying… a tad inconvenient especially considering I was the only person in my family certified, or even interested in diving!
Um… do they KNOW what they’re missing out on?? That’s me just chillin’ with my new sea turtle buddy!
Luckily, I found out about Aquanauts, located within our little Puerto Aventuras community. I dove twice with them, on two separate boat trips. Since I had just been certified they wanted to take me on a regular reef dive to measure my buoyancy before they’d take me out on a Cenote dive. (All dive shops around there do this – can’t have you up & down crashing into stalactites! If you’ve had ~20 dives under your belt, they usually let you go ahead)
The staff & dive masters at Aquanauts are superb! I dove with Nick and Maurizio to Paradise Cove and Isla Escuela, respectively.
They really spoil you diving with them… if you’re renting equipment ($5/piece for 24 hours) they’ll set everything up for you – definitely still double check though! (Bruce Willis & all of that) The boat captains help you slide in & out of your heavy BCDs, load the air tanks, etc. And perhaps the best, they do everything they can to maximize your bottom time – my second dive was a full 64 minutes!!
our trusty little boat waiting for us when we came up from our glorious 64 min dive
Predive Final Safety Check = Bruce Willis Ruins All Films… BCD (check), weights (check), releases (check), air (check & check)… final OK. Next thing you know we’re side-hobbling down the steps into the Dive Park, and snorkeling out in chilly 61 degree water to the buoys.
But once I get there and stop kicking, I realized I’m not fulling inflated… my 26 extra pounds start dragging me down. I panic and start thrashing about. My left fin falls off my foot and sinks 2 feet before I realize I’ve even lost it. The tough post-#hellastorm winds are still in effect and the current is strong. By the time I catch my rouge fin and actually inflate myself up, it’s time to descend down and start the dive.
My mind is racing… what am I doing here?? This is nuts – humans weren’t designed to go underwater for a reason. My heart is racing and my breathing is sharp and panicked. I rely on yoga and try to focus on oujai breathing.. but through my mouth. Needless to say it, those entire 35 minutes underwater were a challenge.
That was certification dive #2 out of 4 during our weekend diving Casino Point on Catalina Island, and by far the toughest since I was mentally shaken up before we even went down. We ran through the same, though fewer, drills than during the pool session – full mask flood, regulator recovery, alternate air source, compass navigation, fin pivots, etc. The skills themselves were infinitely easier the second time around, but the conditions were definitely rough that Saturday – cold waters, choppy waves and rough winds.
I had to resist the urge to start rapping Nate Dogg every single time the scuba instructor said “regulator” during my 5 hours classroom lesson & 8 hour pool training this past weekend. So… about 137 times.
Regulators are the black Darth Vadar-mouth pieces you try not to clench onto & use to breathe underwater through your air tank. (Try not clenching for dear life onto that thing the first few times…. breathing through your mouth for 30 min underwater is SUCH a strange sensation).
at the humongous Atlanta aquarium… wishing I could go play inside the fish tank
Aquariums are my happy place, I’m obsessed with marine life, and I had flirted with the idea of scuba diving since I walked through my first shark tunnel.
The scuba certification course I’m taking is through PCH Scuba and spread across two weekends. The first weekend consisted of classroom work & equipment lessons on Saturday, and then pool training all Sunday.
So what did an entire day of scuba pool training consist of? First up: 7:30am strip down and hopping in to a (thankfully warm) pool for the survival swim test – 10 min tread & then 400 meter swim.