Day 2: Scuba diving refresher complete! (21st November 2010)

Urgh, I can’t believe I got woken up so early again…on a Sunday! Jono had set the alarm to ring at 7.45am instead of 8.45am – no wonder we had spare time to kill before Ben turned up in his van to get us. Jono…

Hmm, weather today was colder and looked rather grim with dark clouds looming. Not sure it would be much fun diving but we still had to get into the water regardless. The 3 of us headed to the dive shop to meet Steve at 10am, got all our gear checked and repacked like we did yesterday, and around 10.30am, headed over to Scorching Bay for our dives. Brr, it’s cold and windy out here – just look at the waves! :(

Before we headed into the water for our first dive, Steve talked us through how to use the compass and navigating our way to a target and U-turn back to where we started. Once we were clear on how to read the compass, everyone kitted up, did our buddy checks and headed to the beach into the water for our first dive. Oh god, the water was a tone of brown with shifting sand in the mix due to the wind and visibility, a poor 1.5 metres, exactly the type of diving condition I remembered from previous diving experiences in Wellington bays. Not liking this at all but I kind of expected it when I saw the incoming choppy waves. Guess we’ll just have to stick together closely. Worse case scenario, if we did lose one another, we would then search around underwater for 1 minute before surfacing and wait for our buddy to come up.

Steve got us to swim and navigate towards a buoy on the surface, having us use our compass and at every 15th kick, stop and take a look to see if we were still on course, making amendments as necessary to get back on track. I was struggling to stay on track with the waves pulling me off course and was hyperventilating by the time I got to the guys, exhausted from breathing through the snorkel and swimming against the current. We had a short rest on the surface to catch our breaths then gathered closer before descending to a depth of about 6 metres to the sandy bottom. Oh, this is just terrible – I can hardly see beyond arm’s length! We repeated the same swim and navigating exercise underwater, this time just 15 kicks towards the buoy, surface, do a U-turn, descend, and swim back to origin, all the time relying on the compass. And Steve was not coming with us since he was the ‘origin’ so we were on our own. I guess given we could hardly see each other, we had no choice but to put our trust on the compass and carried out the skill independently – Ben and I couldn’t see Jono after waiting at the bottom for awhile (turned out Jono was still descending and by the time he got to the bottom, we had already took off – oops!) and at some point, I lost both the boys but found them at the end. The brief moment when I couldn’t see anyone was rather terrifying but I was really glad that we found each other and were able to carry our exercise well despite the challenging water condition.

Back down to the sand patch, we continued on with the skills, doing the fin pivot and the boys had to do a mask removal, replacement and clearing which I was spared from doing. Phew! We did a tiki tour of the area, saw several spotty fish and loads of starfish scattered all over the seabed. I was constantly trying to keep up with Steve in fear of losing sight of him underwater and totally swam past an eleven-armed sea star. Thankfully Jono grabbed me on my arm and pointed it out to me. Wow, it’s huge! My baby must be feeling more confident and comfortable scuba diving since he was doing things like mask clicking me (bump masks) and swimming above and hover down to hug me. Aww, cute :)

Argh, WTF?! I got a fright when I saw a shoe emerge into view from the left corner of my mask. The first thought that came to mind was if it was a body – gulp! It was actually Jono showing me a shoe Ben found but I didn’t notice his outstretched arm holding the shoe, just one end of the shoe ‘floating’ towards me rather eerily…

Headed back to shore and Steve told me I had completed my scuba tune up – yippee! I could choose to sit out the final dive but thought since I’m here, might as well log another dive. Had a quick snack, warmed my hands using Steve’s hand warmer (I couldn’t feel my fingers and Steve had a hand warmer handy), swapped tanks and chatted about our dive and what was left to finish up the day. Only the guys went back into the water with weight belts, mask and snorkel to do their weight removal exercise; I stayed back to watch our gear at the car park :)

“Hehe, you look cute with the tank dangling behind you,” teased Jono as he watched me shuffle my way into the water for dive #4, the huge cylinder bobbing behind my back and you could see the end sticking way past my butt to about my knees. Seriously, there should be shorter tanks for people my size, AND lighter ones too! The water condition got much worse this time round and it didn’t help that my hair was all over the place, getting caught in my mask – each time I put my head underwater, my mask quickly filled up with water. After several attempts trying to descend with much difficulty, choking and drinking too much salt water with Steve calming me down, I managed to descend to the bottom to join the boys but spent the rest of the dive having to clear my mask so often that I wasn’t able to enjoy the dive. Gah, darn hair! The hover was the last skill we did in the water – we couldn’t quite tell if we were doing it right as we couldn’t see how far we were from the bottom and surface. Obviously did something right because Steve shook our hands to congratulate us!

We continued on diving, going through the kelp forest, no new creatures seen (still heaps of starfish and the odd sea worm that ‘disappears’ when you go near). Around 2pm, we surfaced and headed back to the car park. Congratulations Ben and Jono – you are now certified Open Water divers! YAY!! The boys were already hi-5-ing one another as they walked to shore, all excited about their recent achievement. I’m so proud and happy that they have both successfully completed their course :) Pretty proud of myself too that I completed my refresher – I wouldn’t done it if Jono hadn’t suggested I come along this weekend. Thanks baby xoxo! The refresher did help me build my confidence underwater plus work through some skills I’ve forgotten but most of all, I had fun diving in Wellington (even though the dives today were a bit s^%t). I guess it makes a huge difference when diving with people you know and trust, and also have more fun talking about the experience afterwards :)

Brr…it was much warmer in the water than out…We quickly washed all our wet gear at the outdoor shower by the public toilets. Gah, the water was freezing cold! Packed up everything and got changed, and by 3pm, headed back to the dive shop. Steve took us to The Realm Bistro & Bar in Hataitai Village where he bought us all a round of beers to celebrate and helped us complete our dive logs – thanks Steve for everything! I really like Steve (he’s laid-back, easy-going and all about diving) and highly recommend that if you intend to take a diving course and/or go out diving that you do so with The Dive Guys. Will have to go out diving with them on one of their Thursday/Sunday dives (the dive school holds regular weekly dives in various Wellington dive sites during summer)! Now that Jono is a certified diver too, that means we'll be able to dive together - woo-hoo!

Home to shower and around 5pm, Jono and I walked over to Monterey on Rintoul St to meet Ben and Rissa for an early dinner. I’m starving! I’ve never been to Monterey before and was expecting it to be a typical pub but it was nothing like that at all – the small venue had a welcoming feel as if entering a bach with d├ęcor from the 60s-70s (old radios, typewriters, books and scales etc.), music from the era playing in the background. We joined Ben and Rissa at their table that was covered with newsprint paper and crayons available for all your drawing pleasure. How cool is that! You can play cards and other board games and puzzles, or indulge in a magazine or book as you enjoy your drink and meal. And speaking of books, the menu was stuck in the front pages of old books scattered on the table (I didn’t know that until I saw Rissa so engrossed with her book and realised she was looking at the menu haha!). Serviettes were placed in opened sardine cans! Such an interesting place and their burgers and coffee were pretty good too :)

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What a weekend this has been! I’m going to sleep well tonight from all the workout…


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