Sunday, October 14, 2012

scuba diving certification - done!

In the end, getting my scuba diving certification became about just getting it done. I had to reschedule my checkout dive weekend once because I was sick, and by the time the next weekend rolled around it was a bit chilly, which made me cranky. I miss summer!

Luckily the temperature at Dive Alabama (about an hour and a half away from the house) was a good 10 degrees warmer than in Huntsville (plus the sun was out!), and the water temperature never falls as fast as the air temp, so at times it was actually warmer to be in the water than out!

Dive Alabama is a massive quarry filled with sunken cars, boats, and heavy machinery (there's even a cement mixer in there!), and is the major dive training facility in the area. Up until this point I'd done all of my course work in a swimming pool (or, more specifically, on the bottom of said swimming pool), and my first experience with open water diving was right off of this platform. The entry area is obscured by the shrubbery, but there's a large opening in the dock with a pair of platforms underneath, each at a slightly greater depth that the one above.

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Darren was diving with my instructor and I (I ended up being the only student in this round of his classes- two others were signed up but never came to any of the sessions), so there wasn't much opportunity to take photos. We assembled our gear at the top of the same hill that I shot the photo above from, them strapped it all on and walked it down to the platform. I wasn't keen on leaving the Nikon on the platform while we were all 50 feet underwater, so these shots are really all I have of the weekend.

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How do you like that awesome post-dive hair? :) I was changing tanks and prepping for my second dive of the day when Darren took this one.

My last night of training in the pool had been simply terrible- it was my first time in a 7mm wetsuit, and I could not for the life of me stay on the bottom of the pool. Buoyancy control was an absolute nightmare. I was worried that I'd have the same problem on the checkout dives, but an extra 2 pounds in my weight belt and some adjustment of it's positioning fixed the issue completely. Whew!

My certification is to 60 feet, though we only briefly touched that depth during one of my training dives. There was a fairly significant thermocline at 40 feet, and below it the water was very, very chilly. It felt like I was swimming into a hot tub when I crossed that barrier on the way back up- it's amazing how much the temperature can change in just a few inches!

I doubt I'll do a ton of diving now that I've finished training, but it's something that I've wanted to do for a while now so I can dive for at least a day or two whenever we travel. And, as May says, I'm now one step closer to being a super spy. I think that base jumping with wingsuits should be next on that list. :)