On January 21, 1996, I had a really bad ski jumping accident. Since then, my right arm has been pretty much useless. I still can’t use it to pick anything up, and it still occasionally hurts. It will get better, and may even be better in time for skiing this winter (96/97). I only mention it because it had a drastic effect on my certification dives.
Dive 1 — Back Beach, Rockport, MA
I got to Rockport at 6:45 AM. I am not a morning person, and really didn’t appreciate having to leave home at 5:45 in the morning. But, I got there. After another brief lesson, we started suiting up for our snorkel dive. I had a lot of trouble squeezing into the wetsuit, putting on the weight belt, and getting into the boyency control device (BCD). My right arm just kept getting in the way. Plus, the harder I tried, the more my arm hurt. Once our snorkel dive was over with, I had to get back out of the BCD, hook up the tank and regulator and guages with one working hand, then get back into the BCD. I was having a really tough time. It took me a long time to get into and out of everything. My arm was really sore. My equipment kept having problems, the BCD leaked, one of the tanks leaked, the weight belt was very, very stiff and almost impossible to adjust, etc. I was getting really frustrated. At one point, I thought, “is this really worth it?” Finally though, we got into the water for our first open water dive. I put the regulator in my mouth, and let the air out of my BCD. Immediately, I felt better. My mood changed to one of wonder. Here we were, floating along under the water! A slight kick with the legs, and off we went. It was incredible! As we swam, I kept putting more air in the BCD to adjust for the added water pressure and keep myself two or three feet from the bottom. The entire way out, I was playing with flounder, watching lobsters scuttle this way and that, and just having a great time.
Eventually, we stopped in about 25 feet of water, got in a circle and one at a time, went through the certification test. While I was waiting for my turn, I was sitting still and just looking around. There was a pile of rocks and seaweed right next to me. I noticed, though, there weren’t any fish or crabs in and around that pile. I realized that something large must live there since all the other similar piles we had passed were teeming with life. Eventually, I discovered I was right. While I was sitting there minding my own business, two lobsters crawled out and headed in my direction. They had their claws up in a threatening position. I knew they were too small to harm me through my 1/4″ wetsuit, so I just watched. As they got closer, I turned my head in their direction. They immediately scooted back under the seaweed. After a few seconds, they came back out to try to frighten me away again. It was rather amusing watching them run back and forth.
Anyway, the test went fine. Then we swam back to the beach and had lunch. We were under for around 35 minutes, and had been to a depth of 25 feet.
Dive 2 — Back Beach, Rockport, MA
After lunch, we went back in for our second certification dive. This time, there wasn’t any test. We just had to swim around with the instructor. Basically, the last three certification dives are just so the instructors have a chance to watch you dive before they recommend certifing you.
We swam mostly straight out from the beach. On the way out, I didn’t have too much trouble. I had a little bit of difficulty pressurizing my ears, but by doing so every two or three feet of descent, I managed. I just swam around playing with the fish again. One of the other students caught a lobster, then let it go. It was a pretty uneventful, but most awesomely fun, trip out.
Unfortunately, I started having problems on the way back in. My BCD malfunctioned and sent me shooting to the surface! Well, I’m really glad I was only in twenty feet of water at the time. However, I have since learned how I can get around that type of malfunction. As a matter of fact, I simulated that malfunction during my third dive, and didn’t have a problem keeping my ascent rate slow.
When we got back to the beach, the instructors suggested we walk from the water across the beach and up the rocks to our cars. That way we could take the equipment off up there and not have to make several trips to carry it. Well, none of us did that. We made it a few yards onto the beach, then dropped our weight belts and tanks. We were completely exhausted. I knew then, that by the end of next summer, I’ll be very fit. Since, I loved the SCUBA dives.
Dive 3 — Halloway’s Pond, Hyannis, MA
This time, everything went smoothly. I practically jumped into my wetsuit. The BCD was easy to put on. The equipment didn’t malfunction at all. I was first in my group to get in the water all suited up. I was really pleased everything was going so easily.
This dive consisted of swimming straight out, and then swimming straight back. There also was almost no life, no fish, no animals. But it was cool anyway. I really enjoy swimming, and being underwater the entire time is really awesome. That’s about all there is to say about this dive.
Dive 4 — Halloway’s Pond, Hyannis, MA
This dive was supposed to be pretty much the same as the third dive. For a while it was. We were about halfway through the dive, and in about 25 feet of water, when all of a sudden the bottom dropped about 10 feet. As we crossed over the drop, there was a car! This is a long way from shore. I assume someone must have driven the car out on the ice in the winter, and it fell through. Anyway, this was a cool site, so we turned around to gather the group together so everyone could see it. However, we then found out two divers were missing!!! We couldn’t see them at all. So, we surfaced. They weren’t there either. We couldn’t even see their bubbles anywhere. After a couple of heartpounding minutes, we saw their bubbles approaching. One of the divers had not strapped his tank on properly, so it had started to fall off his back. The other diver had stopped to help him. It took them a while to take care of the problem, and they had lost sight of us. So, it turned out to be nothing major, but there were the couple of minutes when we were all very nervous.
Once the group was back together, we all dove again, and eventually returned to shore. In spite of the fact that this was a “boring” dive, I really had a lot of fun, and loved it. SCUBA diving is really awesome!