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My First Scuba Diving Experience
What this article is 'not'
Firstly,let me clarify...this article is not about the basics of scuba diving and the technicalities of the instruments involved. I am not qualified to share that kind of information.In fact, I can't even swim to save my own life,so imagine my plight as my dive buddy said "OK,buddy...you heard the Master Trainer tell you everything about Scuba diving and the Do's & Don't's...let's dive!"
This article is all about preparing oneself for this 'once in a life-time kinda experience'...am going to share my experiences through this un-edited video,so that you can experience first hand what I went through.All the images and video here have been captured on my Kodak Playsport HD underwater camera.
En route to Anilao...some of the world's best scuba diving destinations
In Dec'12,I had an opportunity to be in Manila on some work and had just one weekend in between. I had long read about the diving sites around Anilao and being an Aquarium enthusiast was quite keen to go Scuba diving and seeing these wonderful reefs firsthand.Anilao is about a 3 hour drive south of Manila. The recommended site was an oft-visited resort known as Planet Dive at San Theodore,Anilau.You can find them on http://www.planetdive.com.ph/
We were a group of 5 first timers, of which only 1 knew how to swim. The reason I keep referring to knowing how to swim is because firstly, you don't have any fear of the water and secondly in case of any emergency,you at least feel secure in the knowledge that you can swim and save yourself (or whatever).So,it was but natural for the four of us to ask our Master Trainer whether it was necessary for us to know swimming and to hear him say "It helps,but not necessary". I think part of that response was in effect because we were diving in a shallow site not more than 25 feet and at no point in time were we diving without a trained diver as a buddy.
So,knowing that helped and we sat attentively as our Dive Master explained the use of the Diving Mask,making us wear it and breathing through our mouth (the mask blocks your nostrils). Next he explained the 'BCD - Bouyancy Control Device' and how one could control the bouyancy (making oneself go down or up) and the air regulators.The next step was to get strapped up in our wet suits. This was a struggle for most of us as the wet suits seemed to be fit for some other size,but we finally managed getting in to them.
Easier said than done
We were fitted with the BCD,the air cylinder and the lead weights once we were in waist high water.That helped lighten the load.Our buddy divers took us through the final set of instructions and the hand signals once again and we were set to dive (or so we thought!).
While I had the air regulator on,I instinctively tried breathing through my nose,which was obviously blocked and I had my first panic attack...I wasn't even under-water!My Dive buddy signalled that I had to start breathing through my mouth. So, the next couple of breaths were heavy and quite rapid as I struggled to get used to this way of breathing. After a couple of breaths,my buddy asked me to take a dip inside and continue breathing under water.I saw some hard corals and a couple of Butterfly fish swimming past and I remember thinking 'Wow' and I think I must have opened my mouth a bit as water came in. I immediately surfaced.
My buddy told me to practice breathing slowly and steadily. He asked me to take a few deep breaths and after a while asked me if I was OK. I could feel myself relax by now and gave him the sign.I was now ready for my 'life-changing' experience.
Relax..breathe easy and see a whole new world unfold in front of your eyes
You can see my first hand experience in the main video at the top of this hub,that I recorded through my hand held underwater camera,Kodak Playsport, as I struggle initially and then settle down...enjoying this beautiful world as I go on my first scuba dive ever.
Some of the key lessons I learned that day in those 45 minutes under water...
- Relax...the most important thing to do is learn to breathe through your mouth as you would normally
- Take deep slow breaths,inhale slowly and exhale slowly
- Dont hold your breath anytime,this is an instinctive reaction,but will panic you further
- Go slow,look around...enjoy the beauty...allow yourself to be awestruck (happens naturally)
Lastly,would like to leave you with this bit of advice from the movie 'Life of Pi'..."A little bit of water in your mouth won't kill you...panic might"
From a 'been there,done that' first time scuba diver...go for it...Happy Scuba Diving!
This article is not intended to be an expert's advice on Scuba diving but rather a first time scuba diver's experience. Do ensure you go Scuba Diving with certified Scuba Divers only.