I woke up and felt this excitement in my stomach! Why? I always wanted to take scuba diving lessons and see the world beneath the waves! Today it was time for my PADI Open Water Diver course! This is where it started for me! I learned how the use basic scuba gear, how to dive safely and of course now I can discover the underwater world!
This course is set up in three stages, first theory to understand the basic principles of scuba diving, second Confined Water Dives in the pool to learn basic scuba skills and last but not least Open Water Dives to use my skills and explore!
I was so happy to start with this course at Rich Coast Diving. Martin, a PADI Platinum Course Director, was my instructor for these days. Rich Coast Diving does the course in small groups – often only me – so I got individual guidance. Besides Martin there were some Divemasters in Training who were assisting Martin. More people watching me. I wondered how that would end, but it all turned out to be an awesome experience!
The first day started in the classroom. I went through the theory and completed what PADI calls Knowledge Reviews and did some quizzes . Martin and his divemasters went over my answers, and gave some extra insights! The fun had already started as the group was a nice and relaxed crowd to hang out with. As soon as we all felt I had understood it all, we headed out for the pool.
At the poolside I learned how to prepare the equipment and how I have to put my weights on. Did you know that they attach weights to your body? Without weights you float at the surface and that makes it harder to go down if you want to dive. I thought it was pretty funny that I still needed 4 pounds to get me sinking in the pool 😉 After all our gear was in place it was time for the safety check, this check is performed by my buddy before descending on a dive as a final inspection of the dive equipment.
Time to get in the water. There are 24 skills to learn before we could trade the pool for the ocean. The skills range from clearing a fully flooded mask to breathing from an alternate air source. This is a secondary supply of air used by the diver in an emergency, for when you or your buddy is out of air. There are 5 pool sessions which we did over two days. After 10 hours training in the pool, I felt confident to face the big blue ocean out there.
Being in the ocean is what this course is all about. The “open water” in the course title refers to the sea. (or any other body of open water, like a lake etc ) I was super excited to be diving “for real” the first time. After the theory and the pool, there were 4 dives planned to get me certified. We planned these over two days of two dives each day.
After the descent I had to show that I was able to do the skills underwater. After all the practice in the pool, that went very smooth. The really cool thing was that as soon as we were done with the skills, I could go and explore the dive site with Martin. He showed me various marine life. I didn’t know what I was expected to see, but it was million times better than I ever imagined before. We saw white tip reef sharks, funny puffer fish everywhere and so many other small and large animals! It was soooo beautiful! But things would soon turn unexpectedly…
Did you know that some people can get seasick under water? Even while they never did on the surface? Well, I’m one of them. I figured that out at the end of my first dive. The hard way, I am sure you get the picture 🙂 Lucky it was the end of the dive and time to ascent to the surface. At the boat I had time to recover from my seasickness.
If I wanted to get my Open Water certification, I had no choice, but to dive again! After the surface interval of about 50 min I felt better , and was lot more comfortable underwater. I had serious fun!
After the dives, we went back to Rich Coast Diving. During our de-briefing I fully recovered from my seasickness. Martin and the divemasters in training gave me a few tips and we discussed the skills I have left for the next day. After we finished everything it was time to rinse the gear and go home!
The next day I was prepared!. I took a dramamine pill, and had no issue with the sickness anymore. On our way to the dive site, I had to set up my own gear; I was becoming such an master in doing that. We had 2 dives planned for the day. The first one would start with a set of skills and we could spend the remainder of the time enjoying the underwater life.
One of the skills was tired diver on the surface. Emil, one of the divemasters in training, was my tired diver and he did not have any objections that I had to tow him! I believe he even enjoyed it
The last dive of the course was the most fun. Martin and some Divemasters in training guided me. I felt like it the first time I was really diving. When we get back at the surface I was almost a Open water Diver. The only thing I had left is the exam. So the afternoon I sat down and put my brain to work and I passed! I can now say I am officially a DIVER!!!!
Lieke de Smet, Netherlands- continues to do her internship to leave as a PADI Divmeaster.