Two Savages in Southeast Asia

Scuba Class, Day 1

| Comments

Mechanical life,
Air flows, magic, in a tube,
Quiet underwater.

In line with my bucketlist, we’re training for Open Water Diver scuba certification (via PADI). We managed to get a terrific deal by waiting until last night to book our spots in the class, since they wanted to fill it and were willing to take a hit on the money in order to do so. Standby prices win!

So, today we started our class. We first trekked back to the Balaclava hotel, since the school doesn’t pick up from private addresses (our AirBnB being a private address) and that is the closest hotel to it. A crazy fellow named Calvin was driving the van, and he explained to us that he loves Australia except for all the Aussies. He turned out to be the instructor and from New Zealand, and we had a very entertaining ride to the ProDive shop.

Scuba seems pretty theoretically simple. The main things to learn are these:

  1. Water has weight.
  2. More water has more weight.
  3. Water weight compresses air spaces (like your lungs and inner ears) unless you equalize.

Most of the skills we’re taught are to deal with that. The two main rules of scuba:

  1. Keep breathing
  2. Look sexy

That first one helps you keep your lungs equalized so that they don’t get overexpanded or crushed. The second one raises awareness about scuba, reefs, and marine wildlife, and makes it seem cool to conserve it and explore it responsibly ( at least this is what we were taught).

We’ve also been learning skills related to this second one, like clearing our masks so we don’t come up all squinty with our eyes full of briney water.

The most dangerous part of scuba, it sounds like, is coming up too fast. Basically at depth our bodies can’t offgas nitrogen the same way they can at the surface, so controlled ascent is key to avoid decompression sickeness, where expanding nitrogen bubbles in your body can make you have joint pain or mess up your lungs. But there are tons of safety measures in place to keep us all from dying. We even got homework! Then we had to wait an hour for the bus, so we did it. We learned how to use the tables that calculate how much nitrogen is in our bodies so that we don’t die and can continue to look sexy.

So this class is 5 days, 3 of which are spent living aboard a ship on the Great Barrier Reef. I believe the bucket list items this works towards are, in no particular order, these:

  • cage dive
  • cave dive
  • ride a ray
  • swim with dolphins

Learn Aussie:

  • flashlight => torch
  • friend => mate