We booked a scuba diving session for this morning. Stu is certified but I didn't get around to it before we left Hobart, however the dive companies are quite happy to take beginners out provided you sign away all liability....so sign I did and off we went!
There were 5 beginners, 6 if you count Stu as he was happy to dive with me rather than leave me to the mercies of the ocean! That said, the advanced group was diving in the same place anyway so there wasn't much difference. The instruction was brief but to the point and very good.
Our first stop was Turtle Canyon - deceptive, as there were no sea turtles....
As fate would have it once the experienced divers had gone I was first in line - not really my preference! But in I went, amazingly remembering to hold my mask and reg as I leapt in to the unknown!! Well, not totally 'unknown' as the water was incredibly blue and clear and I could see exactly what was going on below, including the massive school of fish that swam under me just as I jumped in.
The set up was that once we were in we held on to a rope which stretched from the boat to the bottom, giving us time to get used to the idea of breathing underwater...
What a strangely foreign concept! It really did throw me, and I found that I was really, really concentrating on my breathing. It was quite an uncomfortable feeling at first, and I signalled to the instructor that I wanted to go up 2 or 3 times before I finally began to feel comfortable. I also hadn't expected the sound of the air bubbles going past my ears to be quite so loud - it was almost headache material and it took me a while to get used to that. I had a moment of frustration when I thought that I wouldn't be able to do it, but I'm here for adventure and I wasn't going to be the one that gave up! As it turns out, out of three girls on the dive I was the only one that did the dive so I'm pretty happy with myself :)
We spent about 5 minutes on the ropes, giving all 4 divers time to adjust plus practising skills like clearing our masks and regs of water and finding our reg if it got knocked out of our mouth. Then down we went! As soon as I was under the water properly and not bobbing about a foot from the surface I found it all suddenly became quite easy! Also, I guess I was distracted by what was happening around me. We followed the rope down to the bottom. I had bit of trouble equalizing my ears (left was fine, right played up) so was up an down a few feet at a time, but eventually I was fine and just had to remember to keep clearing them as the pressure built. Frustratingly I had to do it a lot, and I know I snotted in to my nosepiece a couple of times (delightful...) but at least I had it sussed.
Equalising while heading down the rope to the bottom
We were about 40 feet down - the water was so clear and we saw lots of fish, some of which seemed to be as curious about us as we were about them.
Some dopey looking thing!
After about half an hour we went back to the boat. I must have been sucking the air like crazy as I only had 500kpa of air left when we got back and Stu still had about 1200....!!
Our next dive was at Koko Crater, which is where we were told we would probably see turtles. As if on cue a massive green sea turtle popped its head up near the boat. It was about a metre long - incredible! No problems getting used to being in the water this time - I jumped in and headed straight for the bottom where Stu already was. As I watched the turtle dove down from the surface, passing right underneath Stu within less than a metre before finding itself a comfy position under a ledge.
We made a couple other friends on this dive too:
The friendly neighbourhood octopus
('Hawaiian Day Octopus' / Octopus cyanea ??)
Pincushion Seastar (?)
Some weird species of starfish...
We had to go back to the boat way too soon (and this time I had loads of air left too!!), but it has given me a taste of diving and I definitely want to do more. Perhaps I'll get certified while I'm somewhere warm, rather than waiting until I get back to cold Hobart...
(Look at me, diving and kind of looking like I know what I'm doing!!)