Florida was very interesting. The Ft. Lauderdale hostel is a story unto itself, as was the (now bankrupt) airline Flea-sure Air. But I transgress (as much as I can), so back to the checkout dive. The guy was older than old dirt. When we did our first predive check, before I turned on the air, I checked the primary second stage and the octopus. I was able to get some air through the octopus, so I said “Yo!” He told me it just needs to get wet so the diaphragm will seal. OOOOOO—KKKKKK!
So I turns on the air I do, and then I hear “fffffftttttpppppppphhhhhhhhhhhh”. I says, I says, “Um, my inflator hose has a leak here.” He says, ‘oh, it’s just a small leak. it just needs to get wet. you won’t even notice any air loss from your tank.” I must say, he sure knew how to quell MY fears. But, I figure, in 15 feet of water, it’s always OK to go shooting for the surface if I need to, so I think I’ll be OK, but I would never dive with this guy if I wasn’t getting him to sign off for me.
Walking in from the shore was a pleasant challenge. We were swimming out, not even that far out yet, and the BLEEPin’ regulator fell out of my mouth. So I grabbed it, but I noticed that it was free flowing. Damn. I thought maybe it was the pressure of how it fell out of my mouth, so I turn the thing upside down to reverse water pressure, ya know? Still free flowing. Starting to panic. I was in the middle of exhaling when this happened, so now I NEED a breath. So I tried to stick my mouth next to the air stream to get a gulp, but in my panic, I didn’t do it right and got agua instead. OK, I NEED a breath. I think of my octopus and the possible air leak, decide I don’t have time to find out that it has a leak, so I turned to Brainiac and did the cut sign. He gave me his octopus, and I was fine, I wanted to stay under and fix the problem, but he dragged me up to the surface. The primary seemed to be OK, so after 5 minutes of resting, we went back down. He had me go through the skill of taking the primary out of my mouth and putting it back in, but THIS lunatic made me do it while holding my breath! I figured, weel, I’m sitting on the floor, here, I ain’t not going up or down here, I’ll just do it for him, but I will NEVER DO THIS AGAIN.
We did see some bee-yoo-tee-ful fish and two small barracudas. On the way back in, we suddenly found ourselves right smack dab in the center of a school of baby jacks (little silver fish.) I turned to face into the oncoming school. It was pretty cool. They swam past me on one side and then the other. At one point they bumped into me, which i was hoping they would do again but they didn’t.
The second day was choppy. Lots of waves breaking on the shore. Brainiac says, he says, “This is more like it usually is.” Weel, it was HELL getting out into the water. My mask kept leaking. This is when I decided that it was a good idea to put my mask on before I even step into the water. Also, I was getting washed away from Brainiac. Finally solved these problems, we’re going out, then HE started having problems with his mask, so I sat patiently while he fixed them. Then the dive flag got away from him, so we had to surface. He went after the dive flag and I kind of waited, kind of tried to keep myself closer to him, then being washed further away. By the time he got back to me with the dive flag I was seasick and he was exhausted. After 17 minutes, we terminated the dive for the day. He towed me back until we got where the waves were starting to break, then we went under to come the rest of the way in. I couldn’t stand up at the shore, I could still see and breathe, but I was floundering on the shore under the weight of the tank and I couldn’t get out into the water either because the waves were HURLING me in. People started gathering on the beach to watch, they thought I was in alot more trouble than just being extremely embarrassed. Some knight in shining red shorts pulled me from the drink and helped me up to the truck. I was hungry and nauseous at the same time (and I thought it couldn’t be done!) and he offered unto me an egg mcmuffin (a pseudo-food which has the power to induce nausea all on its own) which i accepted gratefully and shivering. turns out he is the roomate of the instructor and he dives too. he took apart my equipment and said, “hey, chuck, you really should replace this o-ring.” the angels sang and i thought, “this guy makes me feel safe.” when chuck asked him to dive with us the next day, the angels were joined in chorus by the wood nymphs and boddhisattvas. so, on the third day, the lord did create a calm sea and Brainiac had me perform more ridiculous skills, such as, taking off the BC and tank under water and putting it back on again. Why the hell would anyone do such a thing you might ask. But, you see, when you’re wreck diving, you might want to go through an opening that is too small for you and the scuba unit. So you take it off, swim through, pull it through after you, and then put it back on again. I told my dive instructor (in Boston) this one and he said, “If you ever see a hole that you can’t fit through with the scuba unit, DON”T GO THROUGH.” His coworker qualified it with “unless there’s a big pile of gold on the other side.” Anyway, I survived this most harrowing ordeal and now I don’t have to purposefully bring about emergency situations. I feel a lot better about the whole thing. Found two people on the Cape who dive, so I’ll try cold water this summer. Lots of wrecks up here, so they say, whoever they are. I haven’t really decided if I like this sport yet.