Learning to Scuba Dive: Getting My Open Water PADI
I’m in Caye Caulker, Belize, and tomorrow will be day 3 of getting my Open Water PADI certificate. It’s been a lot tougher than I thought actually. I think it’s because I’ve had to concentrate for more than 20 minutes on something, which has been a killer. Working out the charts for how long you can be underwater pretty much fried my brain. I had to go and have a lie down today after the lesson.
But anyway, I passed the test, thankfully! It was a bit of a last minute decision to go and do it. It was raining and there was literally nothing else to do so I thought I might as well go and watch some scuba diving videos and see what it was all about. I’d shopped around beforehand and found that Frenchie’s Diving was the cheapest, a whole £100 cheaper than the next place down actually. That may have worried me normally, but another friend trained with them a few weeks ago and said they were great.
After two days I’m definitely not disappointed. My tutor is really kind and explains everything to me simply (yes, I need that) and the whole atmosphere there is really cool, no pressure. I turned up today having not done the proper reading I was meant to yesterday – just because, I don’t know, I got distracted by Caye Caulker. It’s a beautiful place y’know.
So yeah, this morning he was cool with it and said I could take as long as I wanted.
Finally I made my way through the text book and had the test. I managed to get 40/50, which is apparently a pass. I was too scared to ask what the pass grade was, 40 probably.
After going through my wrong answers we got started on the equipment set up. I was pretty nervous about doing this. Mess it up and there’s no air for me!
I had to go through the procedure five times to show I knew how to set it up, use it, check it, take it down, and clean it. It was a pretty good drill actually, as I feel confident with it now and know how it’s all connected together.
And then it was time to get in the water. I’ve scuba dived four times before – in Cairns, Cancun, Ibiza and Sharm el Sheikh – the last time in Sharm was awful. This was thanks to the disgusting boy that I’d been ‘buddied up’ with. He was scared and ill and kept snotting and hocking up greenery everywhere. Eugh, even when I think about it now it makes me feel sick. Every time we went under he’d get scared and flap about and push himself to the surface again. In the end he gave up and I was so grossed out by him – I was heaving with my regulator in – that I gave up too. I really need to stop thinking about that. He’s ruined scuba diving for me for the last two years, I think it’s time to move on.
So I jumped in and we went through a few drills.
• How it feels when you run out of air.
• Using your buddy diver’s spare regulator.
• Taking your mask off and on again.
• Being underwater for a minute without a mask.
• Using the freeflow air if your regulator defaults.
And that was it for the day!
Tomorrow I’ll be going out to do two dives but it sounds like they’re pretty close to the shore and are more practice dives rather than actually seeing anything cool. Then two more dives the day after that and I’ll be qualified. Once I have that PADI license I’ll be qualified to see the other 75% of the world that’s just water. So many possibilities!