Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sometimes The Start is the Hardest

So, we returned from Jamaica. A month later I decide, "Oh, I want to be certified too!" Boy am I a dork. I had the best place to dive (warm, clear ocean water with tropical fish, spectacular reefs, and an excellent dive crew) BUT NO, I have to wait until the end of September in the midwest to decide that's when I will learn to dive.

We found a close shop and went in and checked it out. They were friendly and it wouldn't take that long to become certified - 2 weekends in the classroom, 1 weekend in the pool, and 1 long weekend doing my 'open water dives.' They were SSI designated (Scuba Schools International) and it all seemed great.

The classes went well. The instructor was great! I did my book work and was diligent (which my husband hadn't been while on vacation and getting certified in Jamaica - but who could blame him?).

The pool session was interesting to say the least. My husband was kind enough to join in all the water sessions with me. We also had some "refreshers" and a few other newbies. Getting all the gear on was a nightmare in 7mm suits and hoods. It was at that moment that I realized what a big mistake I had made in waiting to come home and get certified. The added bulkiness of the suits was insane. And the hoods??? Oh yuck. (Needless to say, no more hoods for me, even if the water is in the 50's.)

Despite the suits and gear, I enjoyed it. I began to grow in confidence.

The next weekend was the real test. We dove at Bon Terre Mines in Bon Terre, Missouri. Yes, the same place Jacques Cousteau dove. We arrived on a Friday night, lugging probably 150 lbs. of equipment each. That's when we found out we had to go down an enormously long flight of stairs (some crazy amount, like 300, which felt more like a thousand) - which no one had bothered to mention. Yes, with all the gear.

Thank goodness we were both young and my poor hubby carted more than his share down to the bottom of the mine. I should have just geared up in my 7mm suit and bounced down the stairs - it would have been less grueling.

The mine is enormous and beautiful. It was well-lit and the dock was nice and large for everyone's gear. The inside temp was around 62* which was a smidge chilly but not too bad. It wasn't till much later that we realized there were no bathrooms. OOPS!

We were gearing up and I had to put my hood on first because it was a hooded vest. I thought my husband was going to just throw me in like that when he saw that on my first attempt, I put the dog gone thing on backwards! I couldn't see and began laughing hysterically, while he was so embarrassed :) He finally got it off of me (there was no way I could have done it myself) and we finished gearing up.

About that time, someone asked about water temperature. I just about died. 56* - 59*! And I HATE the cold. Of course, they all said it sounded worse than it really was. NOT!

THAT FIRST JUMP IN WAS INSANELY COLD - LIKE A GIANT BRAIN FREEZE FROM ICE CREAM! Then it began sneaking into the suit and it was like someone had unzipped me. (Did I mention all the instructors wore dry suits??)

We swam over to the 'saddle area' and dropped down into a half circle (which wasn't near as easy as it sounds). Then began our skills for the first check out dive. We did the second check out dive a bit later, and after that, everyone else did the third dive but me - I just couldn't take the cold anymore.

Check in on the next post to see how the next day went :)

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