29
Dec
2014
0

Learning SCUBA Diving: The Inside Story

Ever since I was a kid, I have spent innumerable hours watching the Discovery Channel. The deep sea series has always been my favourite – watching the whale shark glide effortlessly, marvelling at schools of fish creating a wall that seemed impassable, getting the ‘Awwwww, so cute’ feeling while numerous clown fish played hide and seek… and many more. These were inspiration enough for me to take the effort to enter the deep sea world suo moto… and coax Ankur to join as well! We did our Open Water SCUBA Diving Certification with Scuba Junction at Koh Tao, Thailand.

While the pictures of the underwater world show you colours that you have never seen on land, getting the Open Water SCUBA Certification take some effort that not many people highlight. For most people, the joy of diving overcomes the hassles of getting the SCUBA certification. I am part of this joyous clan. However, Ankur sailed in a different boat. Ankur isn’t a water baby and back then, swimming was a skill that he had recently acquired. Swimming in the blue sea where his feet did not touch the bottom was really not his idea of enjoyment!

Ankur... jumping off the boat!

Ankur… jumping off the boat!

So, here is a post for those who want to do an Open Water SCUBA certification but do not belong to the ‘water baby’ clan. Even though I do belong to the clan, there are some confessions that I have to make. Here I go… Spilling some beans…

Certification time is not vacation time

I am being serious! Three out of the four days that one spends doing the Open Water SCUBA Certification are in ‘training’, not vacationing. There is a lot to study and a lot to practice. If you have been leading a particularly sedentary lifestyle, an achy back and equally achy arms and legs on day one will let you know that you have been lazy. Let not the first day of exhaustion deter you from proceeding. A few extra hours of sleep will do the trick and swing you back in action!

Sairee Beach at Koh Tao

Sairee Beach at Koh Tao

Certification time is school time

There are assignments and there is reading material. And oh, early next day, there is a quiz. Did I miss the lectures that one has to sit through? While the lectures are interactive and the sessions have pictures of colouful fish, there were times when we could not keep your eyes open. We battled our yawns and stayed awake as the lecture content would help us determine our underwater actions, which could make the difference between life and death!

Off to school!

Off to school!

Certification time is no time to drink spirits

Powdery sands, tall coconut trees and blue sea waters call for a tall glass with an umbrella. Trade the cocktail for a mocktail and keep yourself hydrated. Diving with a hangover or under the influence of alcohol is a strict NO NO! In all your senses, there will be times when you will feel disoriented underwater and alcohol will not add to any comfort. Besides, divers are always in high spirits, they don’t need alcohol to take them there!

Fresh fruit juice, sans the alcohol

Fresh fruit juice, sans the alcohol

Certification time is time to eat healthy

As you dunk yourself underwater, gear et al, you will feel the pressure. Trust me, even though you don’t want your stomach or intestines to feel the pressure, they will. It is best that you eat light and give yourself at least a couple of hours before you head for your dive. There really isn’t scope to throw up when you have the regulator in your mouth. If you think that you may get sea sick and queasy during the boat ride to the dive site, pop a pill. It’s best to hit the water when you are fit and fine!

Happy stomach after a healthy breakfast... 2 hours before dive time

Happy stomach after a healthy breakfast… 2 hours before dive time

Certification time is no time to fall sick

Cold and cough? Irritation in the sinuses? Don’t dive! They will get worse during the dive and won’t allow you breathe the pressurized dry air comfortably. I went for a dive when I was recovering from a throat infection. I wanted to cough ever so often and the regulator made it difficult. While the coral was stunning, I remember it as one of the most uncomfortable dives ever.

Nudibranch - beautiful colours under water

Nudibranch – beautiful colours under water

Certification time is no time for massages

We did our Open Water SCUBA Certification in Thailand. There are so many good massage parlours in Thailand and a massage on the beach is an epitome of a perfect beach holiday. Hola! You are diving! Stay way from the parlours for a few hours after diving (depending on the residual Nitrogen in your body). You will be tired enough to sleep like a baby…no relaxing techniques needed!

Leave the wine and massage for later...

Leave the wine and massage for later…

Certification time is time to swim and stay afloat

You need to be able to swim or snorkel to get your Open Water SCUBA Certification. If swimming is not your strength, try snorkeling – its easier. Try either of these with the wet suit on to give you additional buoyancy. I would personally recommend that you learn swimming before getting into the deep sea simply to be psychologically comfortable with the idea of swimming in deep waters, where your feet do not touch the ground! For me, this was the easiest part; for Ankur, the most difficult. Get your comfort in water before taking the test!

SCUBA-d

SCUBA-d

It takes about four days to get one’s Open Water SCUBA certificate… and a new world opens up after these four! Keep an extra day between your last dive and your flight as flying isn’t recommended within 24 hours of diving.

While I continue to be the underwater baby, Ankur prefers to be the over land dweller. I have seen the underwater world at Thailand, the Maldives and the Red Sea. Diving in the blue hole at Belize is on the bucketlist… hope it gets ticked soon!

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