Saturday, October 24, 2015

Funnest yet Scariest Class of All: SCUBA

I'm leaving the Big Island in December and trying to keep busy by taking different classes.

Well, I've taken one for production and now I'm taking one for SCUBA.

I love to snorkel because there is so much you can see and I'm pretty comfortable with swimming at that depth but SCUBA is a whole different ball park.   

It's pretty stressful and intimidating...almost scary.  This is the scaredy-cat in me talking here.

I have a healthy fear of almost...anything and it's kept me alive so far. *Knock on wood*

Don't get me wrong, I love the ocean but there are just too many things in and various factors of the ocean itself that scares the bejesus out of me!  You have to worry - okay, maybe only I worry about this - about tides, currents, waves, undertow and don't get me started on the various critters that can kill you.

And this...

...and those are just examples of some of the dangerous things lurking underwater.



These things can KILL YOU!...or hurt like HELL!

Getting tangential, so back on the ranch...

I have a healthy fear of varying degrees.  Oh, well.  I deal and one of the ways I deal is by throwing myself headfirst and face - one of many - fears, the ocean.

Okay, I may have painted a horrible picture about how I view the ocean but I truly love the ocean!  Heck, I live on a rock surrounded by ocean, how can you not?

It's absolutely gorgeous and there is so much that the ocean provides.

I'm very land locked and can forget there is a whole different world under the ocean that is thriving a remain unseen by most of the world.

The adventurous side of me just wanted a glimpse into that world.

Just a tiny peek.

Thus, I enrolled in SCUBA classes.

Let me tell you, I didn't know what to expect and it was definitely all foreign to me.

I've only ever seen people wearing SCUBA gear on television and let me tell ya, they cut out a WHOLE LOT OF PREP just to take that first step into the water.

Luckily, I had great instructors were thorough and made sure we were prepped to a T.  Lucky for me they were patient as well.

Funny story, I felt so out of place with all these early 20 to mid 20 year old students in my class and I had a startling realization.  I would be classified as a non-traditional student because the median age was (and this was back in 2003-05, if I'm not mistaken. I have no idea what it is now) 28 years old.  I was turning 30 in two weeks (actually already happened yesterday - yay, 30's!)  I started UH when I was 17 so that was a bit...weird.

Needless to say, I felt old!

Anyhoo, I could see the difference between me and the 'young whippersnappers' - I want to wave around my walker in indignation -  because I had no freakin' energy!  Between all day work, all day clinic and having to take my grad classes at night, I'm completely beat!  Heck, by the time Wednesday hits, it's all down hill from there and you'd be lucky if I can elicit a response other than a 'uh-huh' or 'nu-uh'.  Multi-syllabic words and actually doing shit on the weekend takes an act of god but somehow I managed.

We did our first ocean dive at Mahukona and it was a beautiful day!  The first dive in was the hardest to get used to because now you didn't have the safety of the pool.  One of the instructors however, said something that put me at ease.  "I hope you'd trust me enough to keep you safe."  ...or something along those lines.


I kept my cool until I descended and found I had a hard time with my buoyancy and equalizing but mainly the buoyancy.  Go fuckin' figure!  The one think I have an advantage with over Rico turns out to be the one bane of my existence underwater.  I also had a bit of difficulty equalizing and kept on coming up and down until I got it right.

Second dive was easier and and I had an easier time equalizing and I had more weight added to my BCD.  I was able to relax a bit more during the last dive and we saw some pretty neat things underwater.  Apparently there was a shipwreck that wrecked shop on that vessel all over the sea floor, so we were able to see chains and parts that survived wear and tear of the ocean.

It was pretty neat to see but I had a bit of a stressful time with the buoyancy as well as the equalizing that I couldn't fully appreciate it until halfway through our dive when I wasn't stressing about it at that point.  I can see why the instructors and the book keeps on stressing, Stay Calm.  It's easy to let your fears run rampant, especially if you feel overwhelm now that you're in the open ocean.

Our crew stayed in Kawaihae area and grabbed ice shave until we acclimated and headed on back.

The following day we went on a boat dive just off of Leleiwi and really close to Richardson, a place I'm familiar with for snorkeling.  In that respect I felt a bit more at ease when we got there.  I'm not a boat person per say and I took Dramamine before hand because I know I'm not a boat person.  I didn't want to get sick because the last time I got sick was absolutely miserable!

Well, going out to Leleiwi was fine and actually beautiful and I had the back of the boat all to myself.  Everyone was at the bow and because I'm such a klutz, I didn't want to be the person that served as an example of 'man overboard!'.  I don't have sea legs and I'm not coordinated at all so I just stayed put.  Well, because I was alone and overlooking Honoli'i, I started to get nostalgic about picking sea glass with Rico and how if he wasn't puking his guts out at the side of the boat, he would definitely enjoy the ride.  I cried a bit - thankfully with no audience - and tried to reign it in as we approached out destination.

So our 3rd dive was also a bit anxiety inducing because the depth seemed so much greater than the previous day's one; it was.  I had some issues with buoyancy but not as much as with my equalizing this time.  I can never get it right.  Once I settled in, we doing skills and it was then that by buoyancy became an issue because now I wasn't just skimming the sea floor but trying to navigate.  I wasn't paying attention to the fact that I was slowly but surely rising as I was swimming around and eventually popped that up at the surface without intending to.

I descending again and we explored for the rest of the dive.  It was great seeing things at that depth but it didn't feel that...exciting because it looked just like Richardson's Beach Park, only deeper.

We boarded the ship again and had to wait for the other group of divers to go in.  That was when most of my issues started.  We were moored to an anchor and all the waves were choppy and hitting the side of the boat causing it to sway.  A bit too much for my own comfort and I started to get nauseated.  Yay!

Luckily, the other group was in the water and I was told to just jump in and they were going to hand me my gear.  I felt so disoriented that I couldn't wrap my head around it but I did it and actually it worked out best.  The instructor partnered me up with a master diver which I'm very grateful for and actually felt that helped with a bit of my anxiety about being down.  When I descended, I definitely came down too quick to really equalize and the pain in my right ear was excruciating.  It was almost more than I could bear and I signaled my partner that I needed to go up.  While he was signaling the instructor, I equalized and was completely fine and signaled to everyone that I was okay.  From that moment, i have the best dive of all four dives we complete in the past two days.

The deepest we dived was 57 feet and it was really different seeing everything down there and exploring for the heck of it.  We didn't have to work on skills and it felt great just to wander.  Granted, I mainly followed my dive partner because he was had more experience and I felt completely at ease just being a shadow but I enjoyed this dive the most.  Yes, during the previous dive, we were able to see a turtle, but I was actually able to enjoy the fish and coral around me with ease.

We followed behind the others in the group and swam through a sandy patch and I enjoyed just feeling the sand since the only sand on our side of the island was rough and usually black from the basalt.  It was nice to actually reach out and feel something tangible and not worry about ruining the sea floor or getting stung etc.  I felt I could really hone in what's around me an appreciate it.  I had moments where I would almost get claustrophobic because we were own there deep and all the other divers were huddled around me.  I had to consciously breath and keep calm during those moments but this last dive didn't have anything like that.

For the first time in that whole experience, I felt at ease and knew why people got hooked to diving.  Our dive had to come to an end unfortunately and get back onto the boat.

Unfortunately, I was back to where I started with the sea sickness - my Dramamine must have completely worn out by now or I metabolized it faster than anticipated - I was miserable until they started the boat.

I was sicker than a dog!  My stomach was churning and I felt completely uncomfortable for the duration of the trip because I wanted to puke.  Luckily I didn't but I wish I did because if it resulted in some measure of relief, I would have gladly purged all of the contents in my stomach.  GLADLY!

Graphic...yeah, I know.

I can definitely say that I'm grateful for the people I dove with as well as the instructors and crew.  They all check on me and took care of my equipment when I got out.  I was extremely weak and I had to take really deep breaths to keep from hurling but once we were moving again, I was told to go on the bow because it would have the least impact.

Fuck, I hated life at that moment.

Granted, I was having a blast the previous half hour but now I just wanted to die.  I did the next best thing and fell asleep.  Fortunately, when I woke up, I was all better!  Thank goodness otherwise, FML!

We unloaded SCUBA equipment and got off the seemingly unsuspecting vessel of doom to take pictures on firm, solid ground.  I couldn't have been happier to be back on solid ground!

I would have kissed it if it wouldn't have garnered me odd looks for being that weird old person that gets sick and goes around making out with asphalt.

If you felt as fuckin' sick as I did, you'd be happy to kiss the ground, too!

Instead, we took pictures - the one in front of the boat and had a great time! Woohoo!

I'll need to dive again to get used to being down there but one thing at a time.  I've got to get back to school mode on the weekends...Yay.

So, now that I'm getting closer to moving to Thailand, I really want to book a dive trip over there and after having taken that class and getting used to everything I experienced in two weekends, I'd say I'm about ready to test those waters again.  Maybe sometime next year, I can try for my advanced SCUBA class.  We'll see, but I'm really looking forward to getting back down there!

Open ocean session for our SCUBA training. Taking random pictures throughout our training.
Posted by Danie Takeshita on Monday, October 19, 2015