As another part of my advanced diver training, I did the Peak Performance Buoyancy and Underwater Navigation dives this Saturday. It’s amazing how rapidly a diver can improve with proper training and patience. After getting my bearings underwater at the Tortuga dive site I was able to hover just above the ocean floor, looking like an underwater Buddha. We practiced flipping ourselves upside down completely, swimming on our backs, and swimming around the site with optimum buoyancy. The visibility was excellent; around 15 meters. We saw some amazing fish and I had my first experience swimming into a school of fish; talk about a surreal experience! By the end of the dive I was able to control my buoyancy so much better than before and swim in a position as not to disturb the marine life on the ocean floor.
After the buoyancy dive, we took a short boat ride over to the Cacique site and dropped down to do our underwater navigation dive. I was a bit nervous about my compass skills before the dive but once we started doing the navigation exercises everything fell into place. My buddy and I started by establishing our kick cycles while swimming along a straight line, and then used the same line to determine how much time it takes us to swim 30 meters. After that we used our compasses to swim out from the line and back, and then followed the same path using natural navigation.
Our compass navigation skills were put to the test when we were required to swim in a square pattern at a different angle than we had explored before. I followed the angles and counted my kick cycles and landed back nearly exactly where I started: a perfect square! Small victories like this are really empowering. This little accomplishment really made me feel like I was growing, learning, improving as a diver.
My demeanor on this boat ride back to Playas del Coco was much better than the last time, after my night dive. Rather than beating myself up over my failures, I was celebrating my victories and enjoying the sunshine and salt air on my face. I walked home happy and ready to further test my skills with the rest of the Adventures in Diving activities that I have ahead of me.
It is really easy to shy away from activities like diving after having one unsuccessful run, but those experiences are the best teachers. They key is to take them and see clearly what went wrong and also to detach yourself from the failures enough as to correct them without getting too frustrated. Easier said than done, I know. But I think that when I am able to do this, I am such a better student and I get so much more out of my experiences. I am striving to achieve this clarity during my course, and I really feel like with each dive I am getting closer to this goal.