PADI Advanced Open Water Diver - Almost There
Three weeks ago, I headed to Scubadive West with our Scubadivers.ie group. I was there to start my AOW. The plan was to do two day dives on each day and a night dive. I decided to skip the night dive when visibility got too poor later on Saturday. We would have had a 5 hour wait until darkness. So we decided to keep the night dive for some evening in Dublin yet to be decided.
The first dive was your average dive, It was as much to ease us back in to diving as it was the first time we had been diving since December. It was also one of our chosen adventure dives. We picked peak performance buoyancy. It was pretty uneventful other than some obvious surge.
The second dive: This was my navigation dive, one of the mandatory dives when doing AOW. It went just fine and I was able to do basic navigation using the compass I had bought at the dive shop earlier that day.
The next day we had booked a boat dive. It was meant to be our deep dive, the second mandatory dive when doing AOW. It was a great experience in a sheltered part of the fjord other than one little snag. I literally got my tank snagged on the rope just as we started to descend so I had to had to have some divers help me get loose. The only other issue I had was descending. For those that are new to diving or who have only dived in warm water, this might be new to you. A wetsuit hood covers your ears so as you descend, you often need to pull it open and allow water in to help equalise your ears. That was no problem on the left hand side but I was descending from the boat down a rope and holding it with my right hand so my right ear took some doing to equalise. I had to go up a little to help, in fact you can see that in the chart, I got to 6 metres and had to go back up to 4 before I got my right ear sorted. I guess I need practice when it comes to descending down a rope. I'm not sure that 16 metres will count as my deep dive though so I suspect we will have to do that again.
The last dive was also a boat dive of sorts. Actually we just descended from the boat as it was heading to dock so would have to swim back ourselves. This was our wreck dive and it was probably the strangest experience as well as the toughest dive I have done. For this, we used our torches because visibility was getting bad. I went with the dive master. From the moment we descended, it was pretty much like a night dive. Almost all I could see was my buddies light. It got a little better further down and it was interesting. My torch couldn't really penetrate the dark holds as I floated above them. If I was the sort to get jumpy, I might imagine the gaping maw of a shark appear out of the darkness. I really enjoyed the dive but I didn't enjoy the ascent.
I had been under the impression we were doing a leisurely swim back to shore under water. Wires must have been crossed as the dive master brought me back up the buoy rope. He tried to tell me we were making a safety stop but I didn't understand at first, not until I started to ascend during our rest stop. Eventually I realised what we were doing. The real problem came when we got back to the surface. The tide was on the way in and it was a long swim back to shore. The tide kept pushing me to the rocks and I was tiring quickly. The divemaster came to help me and then as we got closer, my instructor got back in the water and came to help. I was wrecked as I'm unused to that sort of situation. Part of the problem was the DM told me to swim on my back but I would be more comfortable swimming upright so I could see where I'm going and avoid going off course and adding time to my swim.
On the whole though, the DM did me a favour. As he said, it's good to train in such conditions. I just felt embarrassed as I'm not someone who tends to need help and it felt like I was rescued. I wasn't in trouble, just tired and better safe than sorry as the rocks kept getting closer at times as the tide pushed me towards them and I couldn't see that while I was on my back. I'll know next time to swim how I feel most comfortable, even if swimming on your back is more efficient when it comes to kicking with your fins.
Above all, I need more practice. I'll have some pictures in a few days. I only took them on our boat dive.