foggy goggle problem

Fix Foggy Goggle Problems, Forever

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Ranelle Ivens

SITE AUTHOR

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Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology.

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Ever went diving and had to continuously put water in your mask to swish around, just so you could clear all the fog out. Only for that fog to come back 2 minutes later so you could repeat the process. And you are diving for 45 minutes so eventually, you just give up and start squinting through it. Then your guide points out a frogfish which you’ve been dying to see… but them darn foggy goggles are foggy again. Yeah, no one likes that crap.  Which is why there are a few things you should know if you often suffer the foggy goggle issue.

I can’t see through the Fog

Just about every diver has had the foggy goggle problem at least once. Though it doesn’t leave you totally blind, a foggy mask can be really annoying while diving. Especially when trying to enjoy observing the behaviours of seahorses or other marine animals. There are a couple of reasons a mask might get foggy. The most common problem being that it wasn’t defogged well enough before diving, and the second being that the mask has not been treated properly. Here’s how to fix it.

Defog, Defog, defog,

Before each dive, you need to defog that lovely viewing window we call a mask. To do so is quite simple, put a defogging agent onto the inside of your mask rub it around and rinse it out. The trick being not to wash all the defog out of your mask, just enough that it won’t get into your eyes. Then, and this is the most important part, put your mask on your face right away and don’t take it off. This way the defog will not dry out and you are less likely to rinse your mask… again.

 

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If you are wondering what to use a defogging agent there are many great options, and all do the trick. Though I, of course, prefer you use an ocean/earth-safe option as there is enough pollution in the ocean already.

  • SCUBA defog: there are many brands out there such as Frog Spit, Reef Safe Biodegradable Anti-Fog, and many other, each will stop your foggy goggle problem.
  • Toothpaste: also leaves your mask smelling minty fresh
  • Liquid Soap: typically dish soap or shampoo is used, but any liquid soap will work. I recommend finding an earth-friendly baby shampoo, as it will be ocean safe and no tears.
  • Mermaid Spit: Wondering where to find the mermaid? Look no further than your mirror. You are the mermaid I’m talking about, and yes, your spit will work wonderfully as a defog (it is also earth-friendly, bonus!)

 I defogged, defogged, defogged, and it’s still a foggy goggle!

If the defog isn’t working, it isn’t the defog that’s the problem; it’s your mask. Don’t freak out though, you don’t need to go buy a new mask, you just need to treat the one you’ve got. When masks are manufactured, the company will put a thin layer of film on the inside of the mask. This protects it from scratching, but it also makes your mask fog like crazy. To make it stop you obviously need to get rid of that layer. There are two simple ways of doing this.

 

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More Toothpaste, please!

Toothpaste is once again the answer to our problems, defog treatment, gingivitis, teeth whitening it does it all! To start your treatment find a white paste toothpaste (not the newer gel toothpaste) and smear and healthy layer on the inside of the mask. Allow it to sit and overnight and dry before washing it off. Note that you may need to repeat this process 2-3 times, and you will still need to defog your mask before each dive, or you could still get a foggy goggle.

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Though you don’t need to create a disco inferno in your mask, burning the film on the inside is, in my opinion, a sure-fire way to treat your mask (pun intended). All you need is a lighter and some water. It is a good idea to wet your mask beforehand. Though it is not necessary, it will help protect the skirt inside your mask. To treat it, light your lighter and pass it over the inside of the mask, burning the film off. You will see black soot forming, this is good and means that it’s working. It is very important that you do not hold the lighter in one spot for more than a couple seconds. The heat from the lighter can melt the silicon skirt on the inside of the mask so you need to be aware. After burning it let the mask cool off before washing away the soot, then burn it again. though it shouldn’t be necessary, it will help ensure you didn’t miss any spots. If you don’t feel comfortable burning your mask yourself, remember you can always ask a dive professional for help. Most shops will do it for you free of charge even.

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Viola!

If you have followed my instructions correctly you should have a beautifully clear and fog free mask! Woo-Hoo! Now you can see all those little ocean wonders! If you are still experiencing the foggy goggle problem leave me a comment and I can try to help you as best as I can. Feel free to send an email instead if you’d prefer.

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what scuba equipment to buy first

What SCUBA Equipment to Buy First

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A little while back I trained a student who instantly fell in love with SCUBA. After their first few dives, they were already wanting to buy their own gear. At this point, they asked me what was most important, and where to start. When you decide to buy your gear piece by piece it can be tricky figuring out which purchases will be the more vital. Hence I have decided to write this gear guide on what SCUBA equipment to buy first, which I would like to develop into a series of posts helping divers choose the equipment best suited to them.

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This article is based on my personal opinions and feelings and experiences. I hope that you all find it useful!

Numero Uno

The big cojones on my order to buy scuba gear list is the mask. Every person has a different kind of face making the mask one of the more important buys. I say this because the mask is typically one of your primary sources of comfort while diving. Imagine have a leaky rental mask that just doesn’t quite fit even when you tighten it own so hard you feel like you’ve put your head in a vice grip. Not fun. Many people find ill-fitting masks very deterring and even cause some people to panic while diving.

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Finding a mask that properly fits your face, doesn’t fog up on you, and fits comfortably is a great first choice scuba purchase. The mask is also one of the less expensive pieces of gear typically sold in the $50-$120 range. It’s lightweight, easy to travel with, and you can use it for snorkeling too!

Safety is Important

Especially in SCUBA diving, safety is extremely important. It is for this reason that I highly recommend that a dive computer be at the top of your ‘what SCUBA equipment to buy first’ list. A dive computer can not only help you log your dives, but also save you from decompression illness. Computers can also extend your bottom times in comparison to using dive tables. This is because dive computers calculate your no stop limits as you dive.

There are many great models out there that are quite affordable and great quality. After you buy your computer make sure that you read the manual and get familiar with it. Knowing how your computer works and being able to understand the displayed information is key when it comes to avoiding decompression illness.

They say to follow your feet

After buying a mask and computer the next vital gear pieces are a bit of a toss-up. That being said I would recommend your next purchase to be fins. It’s a hard decision between fins and wetsuit but in the end, I choose handy dandy flippers. The reason for this being that many shops cheap out on rental fins.

A fair few dive shops will provide snorkel fins instead of dive fins because of their lesser cost. The problem is that they are really crappy underwater. If faced with any kind of current, or even if you are simply a weak swimmer, having good-for-nothing fins can be dangerous. Having a proper SCUBA fin that fits properly can save you a whole lot of trouble in the water.

Exposure protection!

As I mentioned earlier it was a hard decision between wetsuit and fins for 3rd place. If you are wondering why, well it has to do with something you may find disturbing. I wasn’t to place wetsuit third for the simple reason that rental wetsuits are often peed in… Yeah, totally gross. I know. It is for this reason that many divers choose wetsuit when deciding what SCUBA equipment to buy first. However, the trouble with wetsuits is that depending on where you are diving you may require different thicknesses of suits. Where ever you decide to dive, proper exposure protection should be available to rent. Whether you need no wetsuit, a 3mm all the way up to a dry suit. 

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Why buy a wetsuit? You mean apart from not having to dive in a smelly, old, peed in rental? Well rentals, being old, tend to get thinner meaning they don’t offer the same warmth as a newer personal wetsuit. You can also buy one that is exactly your size, meaning no too short limbs for the tall and slender, and extra room in junk trunk spaces for women buying ladies wetsuits. In addition, there are many different wetsuit technologies out there such as infrared and polar fleece that will keep you warmer than generic neoprene.

The Life Line

That’s right, coming in second to last on my list is your regulator set. My reasoning for having it so low on the list is that a proper dive shop will maintain their regulators well. Meaning that you shouldn’t need to worry about it malfunctioning. Unlike the previous pieces of gear, your regulator will need servicing and maintenance at regular intervals, especially if you aren’t using it for an extended period of time. With proper maintenance and care your personal regulator will become one of your scuba treasures. Not to mention, having a regulator that you trust and are comfortable with can help you feel relaxed, improving your breathing technique.

The Big Piece

Last but not least is your BCD. though this too is an important part of your SCUBA set up I recommend it as the last purchase for a few reasons. The first being that it requires just as much maintenance if not more than your regulator. With a BCD it is very important you always wash, dry and store it properly, as a failure to do so can end up in a malfunction at depth. The other reason I believe you should get your BCD last is that it is the most difficult piece of equipment to pack in a suitcase.

That being said, once you do fall so deeply in love with the underwater world that you are ready to buy and drag a BCD around the world with you, that purchase is going to be one of your little babies. When I finally bought my first BCD I was in love with it and 7 years later, I’m still loving it and taking all the steps to make sure it lasts another 7 years. Having your own BCD can also help with your buoyancy control. Diving with the same equipment on a regular basis allows you to get to know how it works, instead of switching it up all the time wiith different rentals.

What SCUBA Equipment to Buy First

When trying to decide what SCUBA equipment to buy first you will need to take a few things into consideration. Things like comfort, safety, peace of mind, cost, etc. Each of these is important but you need to prioritize what is most important to you. I hope you found this guide insightful and has made your ‘what SCUBA equipment to buy first’ conundrum a little easier to solve!

 

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[/et_pb_text][et_pb_social_media_follow _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”rgba(15,15,15,0)” text_orientation=”center”][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”instagram” url=”https://www.instagram.com/seareinascall/” _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#078773″ border_radii=”on|3px|3px|3px|3px” border_color_all=”#078773″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] instagram [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”facebook” url=”https://www.facebook.com/SeaReinasCall/” _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#078773″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] facebook [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”twitter” url=”https://twitter.com/SeaReinas_Call” _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#078773″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] twitter [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFgrcUN1Xa8-B_zlRtEcrNg” _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#078773″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] youtube [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”pinterest” url=”https://www.pinterest.com/seareinascall/” _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#078773″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] Pinterest [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][/et_pb_social_media_follow][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text (author bio)” _builder_version=”3.14″ text_font=”Lato||||” text_text_color=”#0c0c0d” text_font_size=”16″ text_line_height=”1.4em” text_orientation=”center” module_alignment=”center” border_style=”solid”]The ocean is my biggest passion. As a SCUBA instructor I have a unique opportunity to show people exactly how precious the ocean is.  I aim to inspire others to love and respect the sea through education and diving. 
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reduce air consumption

5 Crucial Steps to Reduce Air Consumption

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Ranelle Ivens

SITE AUTHOR

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_social_media_follow _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”rgba(7,135,115,0.33)” text_orientation=”center” custom_margin=”0px||0px|” custom_padding=”0px|||”][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”instagram” url=”https://www.instagram.com/seareinascall/&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#61e8a6″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] instagram [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”facebook” url=”https://www.facebook.com/SeaReinasCall/&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#61e8a6″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] facebook [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”twitter” url=”https://twitter.com/SeaReinas_Call&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#61e8a6″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] twitter [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFgrcUN1Xa8-B_zlRtEcrNg&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#61e8a6″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] youtube [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”pinterest” url=”https://www.pinterest.com/seareinascall/&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″ background_color=”#61e8a6″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”] Pinterest [/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][/et_pb_social_media_follow][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text (post intro or author bio, social sharing shortcode)” module_class=”dd-author-bio” _builder_version=”3.14″ text_font=”Lato||||” text_text_color=”#04493e” text_font_size=”17″ background_color=”rgba(7,135,115,0.33)” custom_margin=”0px||0px|” custom_padding=”20px|9px|20px|9px” border_style=”solid”]

Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology.

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To stay in that place where time slows down, where you are weightless and where nature constantly surprises you. To be there for even just a minute longer to savor that blissful feeling is what every diver wants. We all know that when the needle on our gauge falls too far that our time is up, and must return to our other reality. It always happens too fast. Lucky for us, there is one thing that we can always improve. Reduce air consumption.

To stay in that place where time slows down, where you are weightless and where nature constantly surprises you. To be there for even just a minute longer to savor that blissful feeling is what every diver wants.

How to Reduce Air Consumption

If you reduce air consumption you have more time before your tank runs low. Which means more time underwater, or at least as much as your computer or dive tables will allow. If you are running out of air before you are running out of bottom time, you’ve got room for improvement. How do we go about doing that? Keep reading.

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You are not a flying

Even though it may feel like it sometimes. You are not a bird and you are not in the sky. When underwater many divers like to use their arms to swim. If you are one of these divers then stop. Just stop. Arm flailing is for birds, we are fish and fish swim with their tails. The reason for this is that moving and especially swimming with your arms is inefficient. Not only does it not get you as far as your flippers, but it also gets your heart pumping. Which, in turn, leads to shortness of breath and an increased rate of air consumption.

Instead of flailing, smacking your dive buddies, freaking out animals and being out of control use your fins. Clasp your hands together, cross your arms, leave them limp at your sides. It doesn’t much matter so long as they are not moving. At first, it may be tricky but just focus on keeping them still and you will get the hang of it. You will also notice a change in your buoyancy, so be prepared to add a little air if need be. Which brings me tip number two.[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src=”https://seareinascall.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/img_6255.jpg&#8221; _builder_version=”3.14″][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.14″]

Buoyancy

Yeah, you’ve probably been told a million times diving is all about buoyancy. Sorry, but it’s true. If you want to be a good diver and improve your air consumption you are going to need to get really good at buoyancy control. I’ve written a detailed guide on mastering buoyancy so I will give it to you in short. Weight yourself properly, learn to control your buoyancy with just your breath, and practice, a lot.

Being in control of your buoyancy will reduce if not eliminate the need to add and dump air into your BCD. It will also help you relax so you aren’t rolling around all over the place. All three of these benefits will reduce air consumption and help extend your dive time.

From the book of a Yogi

Wondering what diving has in common with yoga? Breath control. Simply, you need to learn to control your breathing if you want to reduce air consumption. The first step is to actually pay attention to your breath. After that, you should try to relax and slow it down a little.

I find the best method is to breathe in slowly for 5 seconds and then breath out slowly for as long as you can. However, don’t force it. If you feel like you need to breath in again do it. Mastering this technique takes time. With practice, you will notice that taking one breath will take up to 20 seconds. As you can imagine this will make your tank last a lot longer. Not to mention you will feel more relaxed during your dive.

Once you have gotten the hang of this technique and you feel it comes to you naturally, stop paying attention to your breathing. Sometimes paying too much attention to it will increase your air consumption. This comes from stressing over it. Instead, establish a rhythm, then relax and enjoy your dive. If you feel yourself losing your beat then come back to your breath and reestablish the pattern.

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Stop Fighting the Ocean

While diving you are going to feel currents, surge, and swells. Most people will try to fight against these natural forces. Sometimes you will need to but in many cases, you don’t. When dealing with surge and swell you will be tossed around a little bit forward and back, or side to side. The best option is to relax and focus on maintaining buoyancy. Just go with the flow and the ocean will likely put you right back where you were. It may even help you get to where you wanted to go.

When dealing with the current you will need to decide whether you are swimming with it, or against it. Always take into consideration your dive plan before choosing. If you need to return to where you started then begin swimming against the current.

Swimming against the Current

That being said swimming against the current can be tiring and will almost always increase air consumption. The trick to minimalizing the impact is to go slow. Often currents will have small lulls. Take advantage of the lulls to move forward. If the current increases stay were you are and look in the rocks until it passes. Once it resumes its normal force, continue to move at a slow and steady pace. This will make swimming against the currents much easier and less straining.

Swimming with the current

In comparison to swimming against the current, swimming with the current can be very relaxing. The key is to not swim, or swim as little as possible. Instead, use your fins to steer and only speed up when necessary. If you need to slow down try flaring out, if that doesn’t work you can always turn and swim against the current. Whenever there is a time that you don’t need to kick or swim, take advantage of it. It will almost always reduce air consumption.

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Frankie Says Relax

Just do it! When you want to get to better air consumption you need to relax. This is probably one of the most important steps to reducing your air consumption. Being nervous, giving into anxiety, and stressing are things that you need to let go of. At least while you are underwater. Battling your mind isn’t always easy but for 45 minutes of the day try to just enjoy the life around you. Aim your focus on the fish and beauty of the world around you. Distract yourself from your mind and let go.

Battling your mind isn’t always easy but for 45 minutes of the day try to just enjoy the life around you.

 

Another trick to reduce air consumption is to pay attention to the muscles in your body. Try to consciously relax each of them. allow them to go limp and take advantage of being weightless. It may even work out some of those kinks in your back. The more you accustom yourself to being underwater and truly enjoying it the less air you will use. Nervous and new divers almost always use more air than anyone else. So just take it easy; you’ll get there.

 

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rich coast instructor course experience

My Rich Coast Instructor Course Experience

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Ranelle Ivens

SITE AUTHOR

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Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology.

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[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”2_3″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”no-repeat”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.14″]Who doesn’t want the perfect job? For me the job includes connecting with nature, inspiring others, traveling the world, and most important, diving. It was for these reasons that I chose to become a PADI instructor, and it is because I wanted a proper education that I decided to study through Rich Coast Diving. To this day, I do not regret my decision which is why I’ve decided to share my instructor course experience.

Below you will find my step by step experience and overall opinions of the course. Please know that all thoughts and opinions are authentic. That being said, Rich Coast has offered to give me commissions if you decide to take their course through my article. This is at no extra cost to you but it does help me out, so please let me know if I was helpful to you.
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Lots and Lots of Choices

When trying to decide which Dive school you want to attend the choices can be overwhelming. There are so many options, and if you have any dive experience you know that there some outfits that cut corners, there some that have questionable safety, some mediocre but still good places, and then there are the gems and pearls. When trying to make up your mind you need to first decide what you want. Do you want cheap, sloppy, and potentially dangers? Or would you prefer average pricing, safe diving practices, and a concrete education?

When trying to make up your mind you need to first decide what you want.Click To Tweet

 

If you decide on the second option then you want to start by looking for a 5 star Career Development Center (CDC). These are PADI dive schools dedicated to training professionals and need to follow safety and standards to uphold their rating. After that it’s about location, and personal preferences. Rich Coast was not only a 5 star CDC, the lead Course Director, Martin, has a Platinum teacher rating. Being that I wanting to train inn Costa Rica Rich Coast was the best option.

Before It All Started

I wanted to make sure that I was prepared to start the actual Instructor Development Course (IDC) training. Brenda (the other Rich Coast Course Director) made this easy by supplying me with the PADI Instructor Crew pack well in advance so that I could study and prep. She even told me what I should focus on which proved to be a big help. The crew pack comes with many materials and as exciting as it is to crack it open like its the biggest present under the tree, it can be a little overwhelming.

Her recommendations were to complete all parts of the work book and get familiar with the encyclopedia, especially in sections that you find more challenging. In addition to this, I was told to study my instructor manual (which you receive during Divemaster Training). All the suggestions she gave proved very useful as they were some of the key focuses of the course.
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The quality of training

I found the Rich Coast instructor training to be top notch. As someone who has witnessed other IDC courses I can say that Martin’s class was very organized, he went through every piece with you, and challenged you with scenarios often. He also places a huge focus on standards and makes sure that his professionals know proper conduct. This keeps things legal and safe, which is key to your success as a PADI professional.

Martin has loads of experience in many faucets of diving and loves to share his knowledge and experience, especially with aspiring professionals. The man’s even been underwater in a diving suit. Big metal helmet and all! I still use the knowledge he passed on through his experiences on a regular basis while teaching and diving. You can assure that in choosing this IDC program you are being taught by someone who knows what they’re talking about.

What you need to know before you start

The Rich Coast IDC is a great program but it is not all rainbows and butterflies. If you are looking for an easy breezy experience this is not the right place. That being said an IDC course shouldn’t be easy. It should challenge you, it should make you think, and should not be a breeze. When you become an instructor you are not only responsible for the safety of your students today. You are responsible for making sure they dive safely for the rest of their diving life.

When you become an instructor you are not only responsible for the safety of your students today. You are responsible for making sure they dive safely for the rest of their diving life.

 

During my IDC course I felt nervous and stressed and there were even points that I really despised my teacher.  Martin can be really intense and knows how to put the pressure on. However, when I got to the Instructor Examinations (IE) I almost laughed at how easy it was. Rich Coast had trained our class to excellence and you could see the difference between the caliber of students from various IDCs. Suffice to say, at the end of the day if I had to choose where I did my Developmental Course all over again, I wouldn’t change my original choice.

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What is expected of you

If you are taking this IDC or any other for that matter you should take it seriously. Above all else you are expected to act like a professional. What does this mean? It means you are not a kid anymore and it’s time to pull up your sleeves and dig in.

  • Get to class early: class starts on the dot, and it’s highly unlikely that the teacher will hold up the class for one person.
  • Be prepared: have your instructor manual, guide to teaching, and any other relevant materials on hand. Remember your note paper and a pencil!
  • Do your homework: people who fail to complete their homework hold up the class and/or fumble more on presentations. The tasks aren’t that hard so just do it
  • Pay attention: if you aren’t paying attention you are setting yourself up to fail. You will be tested on this information later.

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Loosen up!

  • The IDC can be stressful but do your best to relax and enjoy it. Remember you are a diver, and you are learning how to introduce others to our magical world. The IDC only lasts a week or two and the Instructors Examinations two days. The whole thing will be over before you know it so make sure you buckle down and do your best! Have fun with your classmates and don’t forget to joke around a little. Even your instructor could probably use a laugh once in a while.
  • Your classmates will likely become good friends of yours as you all share an unforgettable experience. During my IDC my classmates and I would get together once in a while after class to take a break and have a few laughs. Sometimes Martin would even join us. These experiences really helped me to take a step back from the more stressful days and remember despite it all I did enjoy learning everything in the IDC.

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You Will Succeed

One thing I remember very clearly from my IDC was a short chat given by Martin. Simply put, he would tell you if you were ready for the IDC or not. If you tend to struggle or happen to be a slow learner, or even if you get a lot of anxiety over tests, you can relax a little. Despite the stress and push you will feel in the development course if Martin does not believe you ready to take the Examination then he will let you know. He and Brenda will also take the time to help you become ready, and that is something you can count on

 

Have more questions about my Rich Coast Instructor Course Experience? Ask away in the comment section!

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bad fin riding

A Lesson in Fin Riding Marine Giants

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Have you ever imagined what it would be like to ride a wild animal? Some people dream of riding tigers, or whales, or rhinos. But that’s how they should stay; just dreams. It is one thing to ride a trained animal such as an elephant, however it is another thing entirely to ride on a wild animal, especially fin riding an endangered species.

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Why Fin riding is a bad idea

In the dive industry fin riding is highly frowned upon. If you don’t  know what I mean by ‘fin riding’ it consists of taking hold of the animals fin or grabbing onto it in some way and letting it take you for a ride. The problem with this is that it will stress the animal out and is very dangerous, not only for the animal but for the people involved. In addition to this most large marine animals including the Whale shark, Gigantic Manta ray and many species of whale are endangered. Harming endangered animals is illegal and punishable by law! So don’t touch please.

You may be wondering about the dolphin shows in professional aquariums, the trainers there are often seen riding the animals during performances. These animals are trained for this yes, but it’s still not right. These animals are subjected to horrible conditions. The size of the ocean could never compare to the size of a tank and the training is often very cruel.

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No one wants that kinda stress

Imagine that your walking along, minding your own business, and someone literally just jumps up onto your back. You would almost certainly be thinking something along the lines of ‘what the phoque,’ and you would almost definitely be trying to get them off of you. I know that I would be freaking out a bit. I wouldn’t be sure if this person was trying to hurt me, rob me, or was just messing around. I’d be confused and stressing; animals are no different. An animal is not going to understand that you are just messing around and it’s going to be scared and upset and feel stress. It is not fair to any animal to subject them to this, especially when we are visiting them in their own environment.

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Your Next Move

So here we are, we’ve got a random person hanging on you what are you going to do now? Obviously, try and get rid of them. How do you do that? Well you can wiggle and shake, or you could try reaching back and grabbing or hitting them. Or maybe, you fall backwards on top of them. Wild animals have these same options, and trust me, they are much more inclined and able to hurt you than another human being. A whale, for example, can weigh 1000’s of tons. Imagine getting fin or tail slapped by that much force? Animal riding is dangerous! You do not know how they are going to react, and that animal has every right to attack and protect itself from anyone who would try something as stupid as fin riding.

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It is important to note, that especially in the case of the giant Manta ray (pictured above) fin riding is detrimental to the animal. Mantas skin have a mucosy coating that helps them swim and protects them from bacteria. This coating is removed and damaged on contact and puts the animal at risk of infection. Due to this fact, you should never touch a Manta unless absolutely necessary.

It’s all fun Until…

Let’s go back to where we were standing there minding our own business. So here we are and some dumb bloke decides to jump on you, but what he doesn’t know is that you’ve got a bad leg from a boat accident a few years back. Instead of a funny joke you are on the floor in pain, possibly with severe injury. Many animals get injured in the wild from propellers, other animals, fishermen, ecetera. We don’t know if grabbing on to this animal is going to hurt them. They may have weak cartilage or simply their biological anatomy is not made to drag around a 200 pound diver by the fin. Even if you mean well, Fin riding can seriously injure the animal, and I don’t believe that is anyone’s intention.

Here are a couple more reasons fin riding is dangerous:

  1. The animal may suddenly dive and take you deep. This can damage your ears and/or you may drown.
  2. They may try to jump/breach out of the water, taking you with them before they land on top of you.
  3. You risk getting bitten if riding an animal such as toothed sharks.
  4. If the animal spooks it may swim very rapidly trying to escape, taking you far from where you were. This could result in you becoming lost at sea.

There are So Many Videos and Pictures

Sadly, yeah. There are tons of people doing this and they are ignorant. Maybe they are good people who don’t know any better, or maybe they are pompous jerks who don’t give two sits about anyone but themselves. Either way, fin riding is wrong. In most cases, people are told not to touch or harass the aquatic life in the dive briefings by their professionals, however not everyone listens. Yes, fin riding seems fun and all but it isn’t worth the risk to you or the animal.

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Please be Responsible

If you are out there and you are diving, or swimming, or snorkeling or whatever! Please be respectful of the animals around you. No one wants to hurt these beautiful creatures nor does anyone want to see you get hurt by them. Below are a few simple tips that will allow you to safely enjoy the presence of these animals.

  • Stay calm: of course you are going to be excited, I am too swimming next to a graceful giant, but  if you splash and make a lot of noise it is going to get scared and swim away. Instead take your time relax breath and slowly get closer.
  • If on a boat, don’t use a typical entry; it tends to scare them off. Instead quietly glide or slip into the water.
  • Keep a Safe Distance: Animals like whale sharks, Mantas, and whales are huge animals. Make sure that you always stay far enough away that you won’t get hit by a fin or tail, even by accident. If the animal has a baby stay even further away. Mothers are protective of young and may become aggressive.
  • If you are diving, make sure to maintain good buoyancy control! Often, larger creatures are near the surface where it is most difficult to control your buoyancy.
  • Don’ t Chase: As much as we all wish we could stay with these big beauties for the rest of our lives (or at least I would) don’t chase them if they are trying to get away. Chasing them will only make them hurry away faster and trust me… You aren’t going to catch them.

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The ocean is my biggest passion. As a SCUBA instructor I have a unique opportunity to show people exactly how precious the ocean is.  I aim to inspire others to love and respect the sea through education and diving.

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Let Others Know

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5 Dive Entry methods for boat diving and when to use them

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Ranelle Ivens

SITE AUTHOR

Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology. [supsystic-social-sharing id=’2′]

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Being a SCUBA diver means that you need to know how to adapt and go with the flow. You never know what nature or your dive shop has in store for you. Sometimes it’s a calm peaceful sea and nice big boat that can facilitate your preferred entry style. Other times you’re wading into big waves, battling current, or dealing with small boats. So how do you still pull it all  off like a seasoned diver? Knowing and using the right dive entry method.

First things First

Before you go jumping into the water make sure you’re ready. Just because you’ve put your kit on and you want to get in the water doesn’t mean that you’re set to go. To avoid looking like newbie diver, and be perceived as that diver that ‘has definitely done this a lot’ then don’t forget to go through this checklist.

The List

  • Check, check ,check: Remember that horrendous acronym from you open water course for the buddy check (BWRAF)? Use it! Whether you use it by yourself or with a buddy make sure you go through the steps. Here’s a quick reminder in case you forgot; BCD, Weights, Releases, Air, Final okay.
  • Check your hoses: Ensure all of your hoses and gauges are tucked away and secured. Your extra regulator needs to be secured with the hose under your right arm with a clip or D-ring, but still easily accessible in an emergency. Your pressure gauge or computer on the other hand needs to be tucked into your waist buckle or secured with a clip under your left arm. Dragging hoses reduce streamlining and get get caught on fragile reefs or damaged banging against rocks.
  • Accessories: If you have an goodies like cameras, lights, safety buoys, or anything else make sure they are attached to you using clips, re-tractors, magnets, shoelaces or I don’t care what, but make sure that they aren’t going anywhere. In my career as guide and instructor I’ve seen people lose knives, cameras, compasses, dive computers! You name it. Dive gear is expensive and if you lose it, it becomes ocean pollution so make sure its secure.
  • Don’t Forget your Fins: This may be more of a personal reminder, but even as a dive professional you forget things sometimes. I’m particularly bad for leaving my fins on the boat. As much as I wish my legs would transform into a tail it never works. In other words, don’t feel bad if you forget something its usually not that big a deal, no one’s perfect all the time.

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Time to Jump

The most important part of choosing a proper dive entry as assessing the conditions. Each entry has different benefits and draw backs so you need to make sure that the dive entry makes sense. Not only that, but some boats can’t facilitate all kinds of entries which is why it’s good to know more than one or two.

Always remember before you jump to make sure of two very important thing. First, that there is air in you BCD (unless your guide tells you to do a negative entry). Second, don’t land on your dive buddy! always make sure the landing strip is clear.

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The Giant Stride

This dive entry style is one of the more popular styles and one you may have seen before. The giant stride can be used in any kind of conditions as long as the water is deep (10ft/3m +) and can be done from any kind of ledge that you can stand on (edge of a boat, dock, pool etc.). When done correctly your head will stay mostly out of the water and you will end in a vertical position.

To preform the giant stride put your toes right on the edge of the platform. Next, place one hand over your weight belt buckle, this will ensure that it does come undone when you hit the water. Take your other hand and use it to secure your regulator and mask. You can do this by using your fingers to hold the mask and the palm or your hand to push the reg in your mouth.

Once everything is held in place look straight ahead and take a leisurely stroll of the side of the boat. Of course make the sure that first step is a giant stride (ha ha). You should hit the water mid stride as your legs are nice and far apart, at this point bring your feet together. the force of the kick, along with the air in your BCD, will keep your head at the surface. Though be aware your head may dip under for just a second or two.

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The Back Roll

Much like the giant stride, the back roll can be used an any conditions suitable to recreational diving. What makes it different is that this technique is suitable for deep and shallow water. You will find that in some places you will enter the water over shallow coral reefs. Where a giant stride would likely cause damage to the reefs and yourself, the back roll is a better alternative. To do this dive entry you will need a ledge that you can sit on, such as the side of a boat. In many small boats the back roll entry is the only geared entry available.

Have you ever heard that dive joke why do divers roll backwards out of the boat? Well the back roll entry is where that joke came from. With this entry method you sit on the side of the boat fully geared, with one hand securing that weight belt buckle and the other keeping your regulator  and mask in place. You then simple fall backwards into the water and into your tank. When you hit the water, sit up. This way you avoid doing an underwater back flip. Have you figured out the answer to the joke yet? Well, if you rolled forwards you’d still be in the boat.

The In Water Dive Entry

You can’t enter the water if you’re already it. Which is why the name in water isn’t talk about how you get in the water, rather, it’s referring to donning your gear. With this dive entry method how you get in the water is up to you. Whether you want to do the toe dip and slide in, the cannon ball, or a triple standing back flip that’s up to you. Just don’t hurt yourself. Grab hold and put on your gear after getting in. Don’t forget to double check that your hoses and accessories are still secured. You can either have someone hand you the equipment or put it in the water yourself before you jump. Especially if you use and integrated weight system, Make sure that the gear is fully inflated before putting it in the water.

There are a lot of variations in this dive entry method. People who have difficulty putting gear on in the boat for health reasons are the primary users of this method. These variations have to do with when you put on your fins, mask, and belt. I always recommend entering the water with fins and mask, this way you can see and swim more effectively. As for the weight belt, You can have someone hand it to you in the water when you are ready for it, or put it on before you get in. If you decide on the later, make sure that you maintain contact with your BCD so as not to sink.

This entry method should not be used in rough waters or strong currents as this could make it dangerous.

The Trust Fall

This is by far is my favorite entry method of all. The first time you use this entry method it may be a little bit scary but I swear you will love it. You can use this method in deep or shallow water, in any kind of conditions. All it requires is a ledge that you can stand on. As with the giant stride,  secure your belt/gauge, mask and regulator but this time stand on the edge with your back to the water. When the way is clear and you are ready, fall backwards onto your tank. The ocean will catch you I promise! Oh and by the way, you will look like a total badass when you do this one.

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The Controlled Seated Entry

Controlled seated entry is a dive entry used primarily by people who cannot stand up in SCUBA gear for health related reasons, and where back roll is not an option. This entry method is suitable for most conditions but can be hazardous in high swell or waves. I do not recommend this entry to people who do not need to use it, or have poor upper body strength or limitations. The reason for this being that you may hurt yourself and/or potentially damage the boat. I also highly suggest practicing this entry off a dock or pool side before attempting it off a boat.

To begin, sit on the edge of the boat with your legs hanging over the edge and get into your gear. Next, turn and place both hands on the platform next to you. You will then push up off the platform and twist and the same time. You should land in the water in a vertical position facing the boat.

Relax Just Do It

When you want to go to it, and you aren’t sure which method entry to use just ask! If you have questions about anything always ask. A good guide will always do their best to get you in the water nice and easy. Trust me, even if you feel like a nuisance for needing someone to hand you this or that, don’t! It really isn’t a problem.

Do you have a favorite entry method that isn’t listed? Thoughts or comments? Tell me about them in the comments!

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How to be a buoyancy master using 4 simple methods

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Ranelle Ivens

SITE AUTHOR

Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology. [supsystic-social-sharing id=’2′] [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”2_3″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text (main post content)” module_class=”dd-post-content” _builder_version=”3.0.92″ text_font=”Lato||||” text_font_size=”15″ text_text_color=”#04493e” text_line_height=”1.4em” border_style=”solid”]

One of the most important and most useful skills in SCUBA diving is neutral buoyancy. It can also be the most difficult to overcome, and often takes dives and dives of practice. However, once you get the hang of it, diving becomes so much more enjoyable.

Mastering neutral buoyancy also comes with a few extra bonuses!

  • Air consumpotion goes down
  • You can get closer to wildlife
  • Focus on what you love about scuba diving
  • You can minimize your impact on the marine environment

Oh, the struggle

When becoming neutrally buoyant is a fight the whole dive becomes a challenge. Not only that, but it can become stressful and even cause anxiety. You start to worry about what other divers think of you, you can’t enjoy the little stuff because you’re rolling all over the bottom. People are giving you exasperated looks because you are harming the environment they are trying to enjoy. Nobody wants to feel like this. That’s why it’s important to practice, because no matter how horrible your buoyancy is, you can get better!

The mind is powerful

Very powerful. Studies show that in many sports, visualization techniques aid in improving skills. Whether you want to watch videos of people practicing buoyancy or visualize yourself being a neutral buoyancy master, both can help you achieve your goals.

As you visualize pay attention to things like breathing techniques (watch those bubbles!), body position, and swimming techniques. Each of these will help guide you to improvement and eventually mastery.

Take a minute for yourself

Having patience with yourself and staying calm are the most important steps while tackling neutral buoyancy. So take a long, slow, deep breath and try to relax, especially if you are starting to get frustrated. If you take your time and think critically to figure out what’s going on you can typically sort yourself out. This is especially important as you begin the dive and are setting up your buoyancy.

 

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Just breathe

One if the biggest mistakes I see in scuba is breathing techniques. People just forget to breathe out, or try to take in less air to reduce air consumption. When you took your open water or scuba diver course your instructor should have taught you to just breathe normally. This is true, however there is a breathing method that can help your buoyancy, air consumption, and how relaxed you are in the water.

I like to refer to this method as the zen method (check out the link for other methods to practice breath control). It is quite simple, just breath in slowly and count as you do; I like to count to five. Once you have a nice comfortable breath start to exhale. The key to this technique is in the release if breath, try to let the air out nice and slow. You can count as do so, try to aim for twice as long as your breath in (i.e. breath in for 5 and out for 10). If you can breath out longer that you breathed in that’s even better. These long slow easy breaths should help so stay calm and in control, which will aid you buoyancy tremendously.

Where are your weights?

Have you ever had a dive where you kept rolling to one side, or you just couldn’t get into a horizontal position? Then before you know it you are fighting and you loose control of your buoyancy or are simply just uncomfortable the while dive? Well luckily there’s an easy answer for the problem. Lead distribution. When you are checking over your gear take a look at your weight belt/pockets. Try to make sure that your weights are symmetrical in both amount and positioning. This should stop any tilting or leaning to one side. If you still lean try adding one or two pounds the opposite side. This leaning can be caused by many things including dive accessories or even increased muscle mass on one side of the body.

Next take a look at your trim weights. If you find it difficult to hold a horizontal position try moving about 1/4 of your total weight into the trim pockets on your tank. If you find you are top heavy, and your fins are always to high and you get stuck in a head down position reduce tank trim or add ankle weights. By evening yourself out like this you will find it easier to swim and maintain a steady depth while diving.

Once you have the positioning and balancing of your lead under control try to do buoyancy checks before and after the dive. Diving over weighted can be beneficial until you get better at buoyancy, however being too overweighted can be problematic, tiring, and makes you more prone to floating up and away.

Don’t forget to check

To do a buoyancy check hold a normal breath at the surface with an empty BCD. Remember no cheating! This means no kicking or sculling. You should float just below the surface and sink slowly as you let out air. Staying above the surface means you need more weight and sinking like a rock means you have way too much.

 

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Position, position, position

While in the water you should try your best to stay in a horizontal swimming position. This makes swimming and observing easier and more relaxed. Its also a good idea to keep your arms tucked in. People often don’t realize how much their arms weigh. They can actually throw you off balance just as much as lead will. Try playing with it a bit next time you dive. If for any reason you want or need to be in a vertical position remember to stop kicking! Otherwise you will find yourself swimming for the surface, or if overweighted, kicking up sand and damaging the bottom. In terms of position in the water these are the most important when it comes to buoyancy.

It may seem like a lot…

but it is really just 4 things:

  • Weights
  • Visualize
  • Breathing
  • Body position

It may seem like lots at first but try focusing on one or two things at a time. Once you master one portion add in another. Eventually all of these things will come easily and naturally, you just need to practice!

If you feel as though you would like to improve but want a personal training session ask your local shop about the Peak Performance Buoyancy Course. This course is two dives and generally costs around 160$, not much more than a typical day of diving depending on where you are. As an instructor it is one of my favourite courses to teach as it includes lots of fun and interesting underwater exercises!

 

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Describe SCUBA Diving

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“Describe SCUBA Diving, what is it like?” Is a question that non divers often ask me… Its one of those tricky questions to answer  because every diver will describe SCUBA diving differently. I cannot tell  you what you will experience if you decide to try it, but I will do my best to help you understand what I feel.

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First is the predive excitement

To me diving starts when I wake up at 6am and I remember ‘I am going diving today!‘ At first there is excitement, that giddy flutter of happiness as your heart smiles. followed by my brains incessant and logical worries, such as do I have everything I need? Is the weather okay?‘ In response I begin to methodically check and go over the lists in my head, and once I’ve made sure that the weather is clear, I have my camera and my dive computer, and the rest of my gear, I can never get to the beach fast enough.

Next is the Heavy Part

Then I’m lifting heavy tanks and duffel bags of gear telling myself, ‘this is worth it, I’m almost in the water, just a couple tanks more‘. Then I am climbing into the boat and setting up my gear,  still hoping I haven’t forgotten anything, making sure all of my gadgets are fastened tightly to my vest, double and triple checking everything. Next I’m putting on the gear. You cannot describe SCUBA diving without mentioning gearing up. Here I am, strapping a 30 pound tank of compressed air to my back, sticking lead in my pockets, slipping some fins on my feet and jumping in the ocean.

Yet, it is the moment that I slip that tank onto my back that I stop worrying about everything else in the world. The weight of it seems to ground me. Then I’m jumping into the water and I’m so excited that I can hardly wait to deflate my vest. Once everyone is ready to go, we start our descent.

Finally, I’m in the water

My head goes under  and the silence takes over. The only noises down here are subtle. It is just the sound of my own breathing, sand skittering against the rocks, and the chorus nearly silent chorus of fishes. Yet even these sounds fade into the background; all the commotion of the world above just disappears. I feel calm and peaceful as I slowly sink down to the bottom. I no longer feel the weight of my gear, and the aches and pains in my muscles and joints dissipate as I reach the bottom.

Next, I take a few breaths to make sure  I am  neutrally buoyant. I feel how my breath lifts me up and my body sinking as I exhale once more. There is such delight in that weightlessness. Even though 1-4 atmospheres of extra pressure are being exerted on my body I don’t feel it. In fact I feel light as a feather.

Then My Heart Swells like the ocean

Finally, I begin to look around, I can see colorful fish in reds, yellows blues, and silver swimming about in groups. Little puffer fish nestle into the rocks taking a mid day nap. Everything moves slowly, calmly, there is no rush to do anything. Down here I can’t see as far, only the distance the visibility allows. This does not make me nervous instead it makes me more curious, ‘what’s beyond that rock? Is there a reef just beyond that bed of sand?‘ By nature I love adventure and SCUBA diving satiates that craving to explore and discover. You never know what strange creature you are going to find, and everywhere you look there are all kinds of nooks and crannies where some little ocean treasure could be hiding.

There’s all the little stuff

I remember the first time I found a nudibranch (a teeny tiny colorful sea slug). I felt so proud that I had spotted something so tiny in an ocean so big, and to this day I still feel a sense of immense accomplishment when I find small or well camouflaged creatures. Or when you are able to approach a stingray for the first time, and he doesn’t swim away. When you can get so close that you can see the reflections in his eyes. There is a sense of knowing, in the way they look at you. They seem to understand you are there only to observe and admire.

And then the big stuff

Even more indescribable is the feeling of seeing your first extra large marine animal. whether it be a manta, a whale, or a giant shark, there is no way to explain how amazing they are to behold. One thing is for sure, they have a unique own energy around them. It is as if you can feel them nearby, and once you actually see them there is this intense majesty in the way they move through the water. In these moments time slows to a crawl and you can only gape in awe.

But it all happens too fast.

Then, before you know it the dive is over. It’s the last thing you want to do right now, but you need to return to the surface; to your own world. It has been almost an hour yet the whole thing seemed to pass by in the blink of an eye. I Climb up onto the boat and the weight of my gear returns, reminding me that I am exploring a world that, biologically I shouldn’t be able to endure. It makes the whole experience seem even more surreal.

Then there’s that amazing sense of connection and community

Once my dive companions make it on the boat we begin excitedly chattering on about all of the amazing things we saw and experienced in that short hour below the surface. You feel a connection, not just to the people around you but the earth and ocean themselves.  It is a craving that, to me, is insatiable. Despite this need, after diving I always feel whole and happy and content… Not even those after dive munchies could change that.

Eventually I’m home and every night as I lie in bed, I’m hoping that tomorrow I get to dive again.

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