Swimming with the Fishes!

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
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Thursday, October 14, 2004

I'm absolutely knackered but what a fantastic few days!

Here's a quick run down:-

There are six of us on the course which is being instructed by a very professional PADI diving instructor called Warren (or 'Waz' as he prefers to be called). He's very clear and concise and explains things perfectly, so I knew from the outset we'd got a good one.

The first couple of days was split between the classroom and the swimming pool. The classroom work consisted of completing five chapters of coursework following evening study, with an assessment at the end of each chapter. The pool work taught us basic scuba skills and techniques in a confined water environment.

Taking my first breath underwater was quite amazing - another natural instinct twister and an incredible new experience. We learnt a lot of skills such as buoyancy control, removing and using alternate air sources, mask removal and emergency procedures just to name a few. It was actually quite enjoyable once the initial panic was out of the way.

The first two days and nights were quite intense as we started at 8am right through until 5pm, with a good 4 hours in the pool on both days. Then there was the studying in the evenings so it has been quite tiring. Plus, chlorine in the eyes and breathing compressed air doesn't help, neither does two people snoring simultaneously and one going to the toilet eight times during the night slamming doors on the way!

This morning it was up even earlier and out to sea at 7.45am for our first open water dive. 'Dave' the skipper took us out with Waz who was accompanied with 'Tyra' - another instructor and 'Junya' - a divemaster from Japan (though it did take me a few hours to realise his name wasn't 'Junior'! - if I hadn't have seen his name on his kit bag I wouldn't have known and an embarrassing situation would have followed. Thank goodness I was lucky this time!)

We anchored at a place called 'The Nostrils' about ten miles out from Paihia. The open water was quite a bit different than what we were used to, I can tell you. It was bloody freezing for a start. If I'm honest it was quite 'nerve racking' going down to depth in the open sea. A few of us had problems equalising, and one girl had to abort and stay on the boat. We managed to kneel on the bottom at about 12 metres to complete our skills (as required). As nerve racking as it was, most of us got through it successfully, without too many problems.

Once we had completed our skills and got a little more relaxed we went for a look around. This is where it started to get quite fascinating. The aquatic life was stunning. And we were part of it - it was all around us. What was truly incredible though was swimming with the fishes. I was following 'Debbie' at one point who came across one of those cute little fish that Jo and I saw at Kelly Tarlton's that day in Auckland. It swam right up to her nose and just glared in. And Debbie just glared back. I was right next to her when it happened and I just grinned the whole time. It was a wonderful moment and certainly made Debbie's day.

So, we achieved our open water skills for the day and headed back to the diving school - for our final exam! On the way back, we stopped the boat while Waz, Ty and Junya went back in for ten minutes to get some dinner. They came back with bags full of scallops and Junya managed to get a couple of crayfish.

I got back quite late and I'm completely knackered, though I'm pleased to say I passed the exam! No more evening study or classroom work for me!

All I've got to do tomorrow is two more dives, this time at a depth of 18 metres and with more difficult tasks to perform.

Before I turn in though, I just have to mention this. Last night after studying the last chapter, I went for a couple of games of pool with Dan (my new room mate). We were on our second game when from right across the room I heard 'Hello Scott! Hello!'

I looked up to see who it was and would you believe it?



Armin & Mahir! 'What the hell are THEY doing here?! They've got no money or transport!'

God bless em'..

I thoroughly enjoyed today and can't wait for tomorrow, but it's another early start and I'm beat so I'm gonna turn in ready for the big day!
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