Learning to Dive - Sara's Entry
Today was the big day - Matt, Tiffany and I began working on our checkout dives to get our open water certification. We had all completed the confined water training back home in December, so all that is left is to review some skills and do four open water dives with an instructor.
We got to Sam's Tours a little early and found that the three of us would be with Joedyn, who trained Tim. Katie and Tim went with a separate group. We went back to Pinchers Cove, where we had snorkeled yesterday. We spent about the first hour reviewing some basic skills - partial mask clearing, flooded mask clearing, regulator retrieval, buddy breathing, etc. Matt had some major issues with his mask - it kept fogging up and wouldn't stay clear - so he traded masks with Joedyn. After we did the skill review, we got to do a "fun dive". Joedyn took us out into the channel onto the reef, down to a depth of 40 feet. We were actually scuba diving! The reefs there aren't that great, but it was still really cool for us. We didn't have a ton of air left, so it was only about a 25 minute trip down there. We returned to the boat and went back to Sam's for rest and our surface interval (required to minimize the residual nitrogen in our systems).
After lunch, we went back to Pinchers. Joedyn wanted to take us to a sunken Japanese sea plane, but the water was a little too rough today. He gave us heavier tanks this time, because Matt and Tiff were underweighted despite wearing 14 and 16 pounds respectively. We only did two drills this time: surface compass navigation and underwater compass navigation. Then we headed back out to the reef for 45 minutes. This time we saw a few more fish and some Japanese sake bottles that were at the bottom of the ocean. Matt apparently has really big lungs and uses his air much faster than the rest of us.
When we got back to Sam's we had about a 2-hour wait before Tim and Katie came back. Once they arrived, the decision was made to buy our own fish and cook it for dinner. We went to the Happy Fish Market and picked out some Red Snapper - we're talking about whole fish here, heads and all. The workers there scaled the fish for us but didn't filet it. Then we stopped at the grocery store to get some seasonings and other supplies.
There were three problems with the fish: a) none of us know how to filet fish, b) Tim doesn't have any sharp knives, and c) no one really knew a good way to prepare it. I started trying to filet but couldn't cut through all the skin around the fins. Tim took over and didn't have any more success. He finally borrowed a knife from his coworker who lives upstairs and was able to do a good job with the rest, but it still took a good hour plus. Then I volunteered to sauté them. This again took forever because Tim only has one sauté pan. After another hour, the fish was finally ready and it was worth the wait - it really tasted good!
I got to see a turtle! Tim and I went with a group of 8 total people and our first dive was turtle cove. I thought this must be a good location to see turtles! We descended through a hole that was maybe 7 feet wide and 25 feet long and then went through this little opening in the reef and then we were along the face of the reef. Almost as soon as we started moving along the reef, a beautiful sea turtle went swimming on by. He wasn't that close but we could definitely see him well!
The highlight of the second dive was that we saw probably over a dozen sharks. Some of them were really big but the fish didn't even seem to be worried so obviously they weren't very hungry... The closest one was about 6 feet below us and Tim was pointing off in the distance at another one and I'm like, ahhh, there's one right here!! Apparently we didn't look tasty and they largely ignored us!
It was amazing how many fish there were everywhere! They don't seem to care which way is up and go in the complicated patterns that kinda look like a freeway system in a really big city with cars and bridges all over! They usually swim perpendicular to the nearest piece of coral so it was fun to try to follow them because I can go any direction I want too!
Tiff's side note:
Here's a little something for the Moms... Today's dive is "Big Drop Off" where we will be diving along a wall with an abyss below us. It's supposedly good for shark viewing. :D