Advanced Open Water Completed

It has been a long few months trying to get my AOW complete. The main obstacles were visibility and weather issues. Some Dublin dives were aborted because of this. This weekend just gone, we headed back to Connemara to try again. We left behind a rainy east coast with the hope that the forecast was correct and Connemara would have some good weather. We were not disappointed because apart from a little wind and cloud, the sun was shining and more importantly, the sea was calm and the visibility was excellent.

We started off on the Saturday. I only had one dive to do and Hilary had two so we started doing navigation for Hilary and I tagged along. While our instructor was out with his OW students, I went over the compass with Hilary and taught her the basics. We then got our kit on and our instructor gave Hilary her orientation before we went in the water. It was a nice, easy dive for Hilary as she often gets sea sick.

One thing worth mentioning is that this time, we had our own weights. I got 16x2kg blocks for both of us. Ordinarily, I take 16kg of weight but I always thought this just a little too much. So I entered the water with 12kg but couldn't descend. Another diver loaned me some weight so I should have had 16kg but I still had problems. Eventually I managed to get down and found my buoyancy was brilliant. I had a feeling that my weights aren't quite 2kg. My instructor said it might be something to do with a dry wet suit.

The second dive was just a fun dive for both of us. We were to go back to the nearby wreck and take a look. There was a slight problem though. While we were doing our first dive, something like 30 divers showed up. I imagine it was a large dive school. By the time we got to the wreck, even though visibility was excellent that day, the sediment around the wreck had been disturbed by so many divers so we changed course and just went snooping around the area. If you look at the dive log above, you will see a rapid ascent warning. One of the other students disappeared for a while so we all surfaced to wait for him. He eventually surfaced and we regrouped. The dive was otherwise uneventful and just a pleasant experience.

For the second dive, I used my own weights and had what should have been 16kg but I still had problems, even though I made sure to get my wetsuit wet before entering the water. Just when I was about to give up and borrow some more weight, I tried it again and this time I went down. I now found my buoyancy to be pretty much perfect, or as perfect as someone on the 14th open water dive can be.

The following day, we took the boat out to a deep part of the bay to do our final dive. This was our deep dive. I was looking forward to it but Hilary was a little worried about being so deep. Afterwards, she said it was no big deal after all. In fact, it was one of our favourite dives in Ireland. We got down to nearly 28m and the dive was almost uneventful other than at the very end. If you look at the red ascent warning, this was were we got back to the anchor of the boat. We were to do a rest stop but all of a sudden I started to ascend and even though I was trying to hold on to the rope, I kept going up and bear in mind, I was upside down at this stage. It was even more confusing when I surfaced as I couldn't stay balanced. It was a fun and interesting experience and the cause became clear when my instructor surfaced and asked did I lose my weight pocket as he saw something fall. I checked and I did in fact lose it. He went back down to find it while we got back in to the boat. Thankfully he found it.
So that was it, on my 15th dive I finished my Advanced Open Water. I can now look forward to diving in Croatia next week without holding anyone back in the depth department. I look forward to honing my skills and getting 10 dives in.

So, what I learned this weekend was that my weights are not 2kg blocks, but 1.8kg and that using 8 of them gives me perfect buoyancy. They might not be what I paid for, but that turns out to be a blessing in disguise.

I'll post my pictures in a day or so.


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