Scuba Steve is Born

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Yee haw! Well, after a 6-week course comprising of classroom, pool, and open water training, Jody and I now have our PADI open water dive certifications. Yup, we can now go pretty much anywhere in the world where there is scuba diving and do some diving either on our own, or with other people. We can rent gear, get tank refills, join charters, etc. etc. Yippee! We’re hoping to put that to the test when we go visit Andrea, Patrick and Helena over in the Magic Kingdom over the holidays. Guess that means I’m part of the Scuba Squad now. Overall, I’d have to say that if you’ve ever thought about getting your scuba certification, there’s really no reason not to. The price is pretty reasonable (well, if you don’t count the fact that you’ll need to spend money on gear and every time you dive!), and the course not all that difficult. If you’d like to see some pictures from our open water dives, head on over to the folder I put up on flickr. After that, read on for a little more about the weekend fun.

We had our reservations about waiting till the end of the season to finally do our scuba course, but all worked out exceptionally well. As anyone who was around can attest to, we had an absolutely brilliant long Thanksgiving weekend on our end. Temperatures were around 20 degrees Celsius most of the weekend, and the sun was in full splendor. That at least meant that the temperature upon exiting the waters were pretty reasonable. Water temperatures were understandably cool, but when you’re swaddled with a 2-piece 7mm neoprene westsuit, even 59 deg F water seems completely reasonable. The gloves, booties, and hood didn’t hurt either! That being said, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to wait much later, unless I had the proper training to use a dry suit (which is what the instructors were mostly using.

Naturally, you’re probably wondering where exactly we did these dives. Well the answer to that one is pretty simple. Prescott, on the might St. Lawrence river, not terribly far from Brock-Vegas. I’m sure there are better places to do your training dives, but this one is amogst the closest to Ottawa, and it does at least offer you the chance to experience a number of different challenges as a new diver. Namely, a moderate current in spots. Variable visibility based on the bottom composition, which is mainly silt. It offers a couple entry points, such as the ‘giant step’ off the wharf. Plus, there is a bona-fide wreck dive in about 42 feet of water. Nothing big, just a wooden sailboat sunk years ago for divers to enjoy. The sea life is nothing amazing, but we did catch a glimpse of a giant carp, as well as a couple pike in the water as we explored a bit.

Another funny part about the open water weekend was that our numbers kept diminishing throughout the weekend, which was ultimately a good thing for the wrap-up. At the start, there were 13 signed up, with 2 backing out before Saturday, leaving 11, which was a good thing, since Instructors are only supposed to have 6 students. By the end of day one, we were down to 8 people. Then, soon after the first dive of day 2 started, we were finally down to 6 of us! Not sure what happened with everyone else. I know one fellow just panicked as soon as he went underwater in the river (which is odd, since his pool dives went well). Another guy wasn’t feeling well on day 2, but apart from that, I’m not clear what happened to the rest. However, as I mentioned, this was a good thing, as it meant that for the last dive, there was 2 instructors, 1 assistant instructor, and 6 students, meaning we got through the skill very quick, and got to spend more time just exploring.

I’ll say this much. I’m definitely hooked on Scuba, and will definitely be progressing my dive abilities over the next year I hope. At a minimum, I’ll be going for my Advanced open water diver, as I’d like to try out night diving, navigation diving, deep diving, etc, which are all part of the course. I think all I really need to do is convince Kev that he should do it too, so that I’ll have a buddy with me 😉 Whaddya say Kev, can you do it? Jody might be happy sticking to the open water diver for now, and isn’t sure she wants to do the 100+ foot dives that I’m curious about. Of course, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, as I haven’t done anything yet with my new PADI certification, but I’ve got plans, and everyone knows how I get with hobbies ;-). Why just today, I was checking out BCDs, regulators, and wetsuits, not to mention dive computers and compasses. However, markets will definitely have to start trending upwards again before I get carried away with purchases.

So, as far as the dives themselves you wonder? Well, there’s not really that much to say about them. All we did was basically repeat all the skills that we learned in the pool, but in an open water environment, where you have a few more distractions and possible complications, such as bulky gear in our case, and currents, and deeper water. However, they seemed pretty trivial at this point, and I had no problem getting through them all. Bring it on I say. We mad 4 dives in the two days. The longest parts were actually the briefings before and after dives. We also got to finally start filling in our log books, which is cool. We also learned and practiced one new skill, which was navigation both on the surface of the water, as well as underwater. As you might imagine, I really liked that, as navigation is sort of second nature to me as a result of my adventure racing experience. However, in the woods, you don’t have to worry about current drift. So imagine you take a bearing and head straight on the line. However, you are being moved sideways without knowing it. Hence why I’d like to learn more about underwater navigation, and learn how they cope with drift.

I suppose that’s really all I need to write about for you at this point. I’m itching to do some more research on dive sites and gear at the moment, and writing this blog post is taking up all my prime computer time while Jody is napping 😉 See y’all in the murky waters…..

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