Learning how to dive was my new years resolution. After postponing for a month, then getting the first day wrong, I managed to start the PADI Open Water Dive Course. It was 1.5 hours north of Auckland, based at Goat Island Marine Reserve with plenty of fish in the sea. While learning, I saw eagle rays, giant snappers, crayfish and other fish which will remain nameless until I learn their names.
I worried about what would happen if water got into the mouthpiece while underwater. Would it be like snorkelling where you had to blow water out and sometimes inhaled water instead. I learned that it’s all surprisingly easy. It’s a clever design where the water can exit at the bottom and the pressure of the air means there’s no room for water to get in the way.
I’d worried about not being able to equalise. This is not being able to adjust the pressure in your ears to the same pressure under the water. If you don’t equalise, your ears start to really hurt and it can cause ear damage. But it’s just like what you do when flying to ‘pop’ your ears. Again, it was surprisingly easy to do.
I’m not particularly sporty and I kept thinking I should have been fitter before starting. But I managed with my measly muscles. I did learn that I have no arm strength at all, after lifting the air cylinders. Getting out of the water at one stage, I had to crawl out because of the waves, and found I couldn’t actually stand with the weight belt on – definitely not my glamorous moment.
There was an online part I did before the practical course. Very American, but easy to learn.
The practical part involved assembling the gear then moving to Matherson’s Bay. We had a swimming test – apparently someone in the past had to be rescued at this part. Then we put on the gear and waddled into the surf.
In the water, we were shown what we were going to learn to do, then we practiced underwater. The practical part was broken down into easy steps and we kept doing it until we succeeded.
The course was over 3 days and the last 2 were at Goat Island getting use to the whole process and seeing lots of fish!
I loved kneeling on the bottom and looking up to see the top of the water and all the beautiful light movement. To watch fish slowly swim past and being able to just stay there and breath.
I have a whole new world to explore
Would you learn to dive? Want are your concerns? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Photo Credit: goatislanddive.co.nz