Paws in the water


Two more names haven been added to the PADI list of “Open Water Certified Divers” this weekend – we passed our test! We took the whole course online over the past few weeks and then did three days of confined and open water dives here in Sarasota to finish our certificate.

We pretty much got private lessons from our instructor Jeff at the Florida Underwater Sports dive center. On our confined water dives – at the Sarasota Country Club pool, swanky! – we started out with another couple but he was constantly droning on about how he couldn’t clear his ears way-back-when during his first scuba dive experience and she had too much on her plate already to really focus on what was happening – she also had her knitting, photography and cooking classes and there was just so much happening but she really wanted to go diving on that cruise in October because it would just be so neat! It wasn’t a big surprise when they left after the first confined water dive…

We learned how to assemble our gear (wearing an aluminuium tank full of air? MUCH heavier than I thought), how to clear our masks underwater, buddy breath (i.e. use your buddy’s second regulator for emergencies), inflate/deflate our vests, taking off our gear underwater and putting it back on. All together we spent about five hours at the pool that day to complete our mandatory confined water dives. Last time I was that tired was after my first day of snowboarding. But apparently that wasn’t enough, we also both got sunburns that should last a few days.

Saturday we moved on to our open water dives. On the beach the conditions seemed perfect: 32 C air temperature, 29 C water temperature and no strong waves. But then we got into the water and things went a bit downhill. Visibility was about 2 m and everyone was excited about it! (From now on the first thing we’ll be checking at any new dive site will be the visibility.) There were also smacks of jelly fish welcoming us to the warm gulf waters. With the low visibility there was little warning and they’d just appear out of nowhere floating in the current so we got our fair share of stings. Useful though – we learned how to put them on an express elevator to the surface: “shoot” them with your second regulator.

Dive three and four on the next day passed in a similar fashion. Feling more comfortable in the water helped us enjoy the dives more this time. And in retrospect we are actually happy to have learned in such a tough environment as it will make future clear water dives seem that much simpler and more beautiful.

So now that we’re certified divers we have to continue diving of course. There’s plenty of great diving here in Florida but there’s probably only one place (in the world?) that screams FLORIDA, USA quite as loudly as the one we picked for our first ‘alone dive’. Yes, we’re going diving at Walt Disney World! It’s called the Epcot DiveQuest and according to all the reviews we read online it really is an amazing dive. It’s inside a humongous saltwater tank (21.5 million liters) at Epcot’s aquarium and we’ll get to swim with literally thousands of different sea creatures, including sea turtles, dolphins and sharks. We’ll let you know how it goes!


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