Friday, 26 August 2011
Diving the great barrier reef
Doing this had been on my list* since....well somewhere near the dawn of time. Apparently more is known about the moon's surface than our oceans, and to me, that sounds like a challenge. So where would be more perfect to learn to dive than the great barrier reef?
Me and my two travel buddies signed up with Pro Dive for a five day course to get our open water diving certificate. It started with a class room and the theory behind diving. Then it moved to the pool. This is where I hit my first hurdle, well second if we count my Buddie turning off my oxygen. But maybe I should give you some background to explain. Before a couple of years ago my swimming abilities were a little 'limited' to say the least. Technically I could swim, but I wouldn't stick my head in the water. I corrected this a few years ago by enrolling in swimming lessons however, I always kept a weird dislike to blowing out my nose under water. Unfortunately for me, this was a necessity to the course. As I would learn later, some masks have a habit of letting water in then and you need to clear it by blowing through the nose. Let me tell ya, I did not get any cool kid marks for how long it took me to get that right.
So two days pool and theory, taking a test that you didn't need to pass and looking hot in flippers was followed by three days and two nights out on a boat. The ride out to the outer reef was a little bumpy and made me glad I took some sea sickness tablets. Then it calmed down when we got to our destination. This was where the fun began and it all started to make sense. For the first dive I was a little nervous. I touched my first pineapple sea cucumber, which was a little freaky and saw a trillion fish on the coral. For the next four dives it was all skills and except for a little disorientation when descending without a line, all was a OK. After dive four I became a certified diver.
We then had five pleasure dives. The first; saw my first turtle, which I got pretty excited about. The Second; a night dive, which I was bricking it for, because night is when the reef sharks come out to play. And just before a night dive is when the instructors decide to take the piss out of you. It turns out the best way to get the adrenaline flowing is for them to make up stories about the sharks attacking and a giant sea eel. Thanks guys.
So I went into the water, leaving a note to my family saying I loved them very much and my possessions should go to homeless monks in Surrey (I'm sure they are there) after I was eaten my a couple of big fish. It was bizarre at night, the sea bed even more alien than in sunlight. But the sharks were the greatest thing I've seen in a long time. They were circling us for a while and even begun 'interacting' with our instructor, i.e going for him. Still we all got back to the surface with our limbs intact, which was a job well down.
The next three dives were filled up with 'massive fish' as I've written in my dive log, not paying enough attention to my depth measurement** and my mask leaking a lot. By the end I was an expert in getting water out of that damn mask!
For three days my life consisted of diving, eating some excellent food and sleep. This was one of the biggest expenses on my east coast adventure, but it was worth every penny and the subsequent land sickness, and even the temporary loss of hearing.
But then it was back to land, a night staying at Gilligan's before picking up our camper and starting the road trip...
* Yes, I have a list of things I wish to accomplish in my life. All the cool kids have lists...
** After my hearing didn't return after a week, I went to the doctor to find out I had barrow trauma. It took one month for my hearing to return to normal. Learn from my stupidity and always take a note of your depth. Don't just follow the pretty fish.