I am now a certified open water scuba diver. After five classes, five closed water dives in a swimming pool and a weekend trip for our final check dive, I can now rent equipment, get tanks filled and dive to a depth of 18 meters/60 feet.
It’s a very basic certification that opens the doors to other certifications. It’s similar to pilot ratings where you can get trained on twin engine, single engine sea, performance/variable pitch prop and instrument only flying (IFR). With diving, it’s advanced open water, which will let you dive in heavier currents and down to a depth of 40 meters/130 feet. There’s also wreck diving, cave diving and nitrox diving (higher concentration of oxygen). Unfortunately we won’t be able to do the wreck diving since we’re not certified but how cool would it be to fly around a ship like the Felipe Xicotencatl?
Like Flying, but Slower
Scuba diving is the closest to flying like Superman that you can get. We did our check dive at Lake Rawlings which has a sunken bus, car, plane, a paddy wagon and other random things. When you’re swimming around the bus you can swim over the top of it, down the side of it or however else you want to. The coolest thing was swimming inside the bus and just hovering between the bus’s floor and the ceiling. I rotated around on my back and watched my bubbles float up towards the top of the bus and then explode as they impacted with the roof and attempted to escape.
This YouTube video does a good job showing off some parts of Lake Rawlings (and the exploding bubbles on the roof of the bus). The fish really are that plentiful and friendly. When we were there, there were about 6 large groups of scuba diving classes, just like ours, that were there diving all day Saturday and Sunday. Being early November I can’t imagine how many more divers there would be in the summer! So the fish are very use to people. We even brought some popcorn balls down with us and fed the fish. Being in a school of fish is amazing as they dart past your head trying to get at the food. They’ll even come within arm’s reach of you and just stare at you as if asking, “Who do you think you are?” They really do look at you funny. It’s like being in an aquarium, without the glass.
We visited a plane that was sunk in 60 feet of water. Swimming along, the bottom was only about 15 feet deep and then there was a ledge that dropped straight off down to 60 feet. Swimming over the edge was a bit intimidating, as if you were going to fall off. But being in water, we just hovered over the darkness below and just like a flying super hero, slowly floated down to the depths below. As we got down to the bottom, it wasn’t as dark as it looked from above. Check out this YouTube video of some other divers exploring the plane. My smile was so big my regulator almost fell out of my mouth several times!
The most fun thing we did was play underwater basketball. They had two hoops set up under water and small basketballs filled with a little concrete to give them some mass. It was impossible to shoot a jump shot since no matter how hard I tried to throw it, it would only go a few feet into the “air.” So instead, from the free throw line, I launched myself toward the net and in Michael Jordan fashion made a slam dunk. The only difference was, I was in super slow motion and it took me about 20 seconds to actually reach the net, but it was freaking cool! We also did some ally-ops as the ball slowly floated toward the net from another diver floating five feet above the net.
I Need Dive Buddies!
I don’t say this about many things, but scuba diving is something everyone has to do in their lifetime. And for those lucky enough to live in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech has a scuba diving club that will certify you. It’s relatively inexpensive, extremely fun and very easy. Classes are closed for the semester but they’ll start up again for spring semester. I’ll try to remind people if anyone is interested.
Always Looking Forward
As for me, the next adventure is scuba diving in Cozumel! We’re staying there for 3 nights, which includes two two-tank dives (two trips, two dives each trip) and unlimited beach diving. Three meals a day are included and renting equipment is only around $30/day. The other 7 days will be spent in Cancún soaking up rays, drinking margaritas and hitting on the local girls. It’ll expensive still, but I’ve been saving up so I’m not going into debt, which is the most important thing.