Have you seen the underwater footage of divers, maybe filming sea life, and wondered what it might be like or how it would feel, to breather underwater? Well, I have, and I did. But of course it took some study and practice, drills as they were referred to. I remember the first day in the pool, we are gathered around along the wall of the pool and asked to swim across the length of the pool, were told to hold our breath underwater as long as we can. Our instructor is sizing up our strengths, and weaknesses. Did I mention that I have a fear of water and do not like to get my face wet? Then, why am I here you may ask? I am here, in the Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus class, most commonly known as Scuba diving, precisely to help conquer this fear and uncomfortableness.
The first day of training is mostly to help us become familiar with being wet and cold, mostly. We are introduced to the equipment we will be using. In the classroom portion, we are given a manual of terms and concepts to study. These are mostly physics and dive tables, how to measure the depth versus the length of our dive. All of this information is of a highly technical nature and intimidating; terms such as nitrogen narcosis, otherwise known as Martini’s Law, air embolism, regulator, pressure gauge, and buoyancy compensator (BC) vest to name a few. The deeper the dive, the shorter the dive. We are taught how to never rise faster than our bubbles. We are told about the effects of nitrogen at deep depths of diving. We learn how to clear water out of our mask while underwater. Not an easy task. The vest and weight belts are used to keep the weight at neutral so when in the water, we neither float or sink.
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... on the sides of the wall. Prickly, purple, and sharp anemones on the sandy bottom shelf, awaiting the ill-placed knee.
There is no single word to describe the feeling when finding yourself crawling out of the choppy wave-tossed, and steep, surf line on your hands and knees with over twenty pounds of equipment on your back. Having to be pulled along the gritty sand, out to the flatter beach for easier exit and to safety. As we catch our breaths for a moment, we all lay in a row lazily on the sand as beached seals in the warm afternoon sun as it finally shows itself, parting the morning fog. Onward we go, up the steps, we find our trucks and cars. Piece by piece we strip ourselves of the equipment, tug down our salty-sodden suits to our waists as our skin tingles with the cool coastal breeze. Ah . . . invigorating! It is a good beginning to a amazing, spectacular, day.
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