I have wanted to learn to SCUBA since I can remember. As a child I was a bit of a water baby, always in the pool or swimming at the beach. We used to spend one school holidays a year at Coral Bay where the beaches are white, the water is warm and you can snorkel Ningaloo Reef right off the shore. It's paradise.
So the idea of being able to stay underwater for an extended period of time is right up my alley. My father-in-law used to have a hooker, which is a gas compressor that floats on the water, attached to two regulators. You could only go as deep as the tube but that was a lot of fun as well.
Then finally my husband and I decided we'd learn to SCUBA and today was day 1 of our four day course. We spent the morning in theory and going over safety points and in the afternoon we got kitted out and went into the water.
Can I first say, those tanks are HEAVY! I was expecting it, but when you have to walk across the road, through the park and across the sand to the water, it gets heavier by the step. I was relieved to get into the water.
Today was all about safety things: learning how to clear the regulator if it comes out of your mouth and how to find it, if it falls away were all fairly simple. Then we had to learn to clear the mask if it fills with water. That was a little trickier because water got up my nose when I tilted my head back and I had to remember to breathe through my mouth not my nose. Anyway, I got the mask clear and was then told I had to take my mask completely off, leave it off for a minute before putting it back on again. That was far harder. I chose to keep my eyes closed this time because the salt water had stung them in the previous exercise and I found holding my nose while the mask was off worked well. This meant air bubbles couldn't go up my nose (from the regulator) and I wasn't tempted to breathe through it, therefore breathing in the water.
We also learnt the signals for 'out of air' and how to use your buddy's spare regulator. Our instructor also turned the air off in our tank so we could feel what it was like to run out of air, but she quickly turned it back on when we signaled 'out of air'!
All in all there were a few confronting moments because I kept imagining what it would be like if some of these things happened when you were ten metres down instead of just under the surface. They're not really scenarios I've ever imagined, and while the risks are low if you know what you're doing, the underwater environment is less forgiving.
Tomorrow we'll do more of the same exercises but in deeper water and then I think we get to go on our first underwater trail dive. That should be fun.
Wish me luck!