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August 04, 2006

Gearing up for the open water dives!

Well, last night was the last session before the two open water certificaton dives in Folsom Lake. With all classroom work done, we talked a lot about diving gear, assembled all the stuff we needed for the open water dives, and got to spend a bunch of time in the pool!

Amanda had ordered all of her gear and took possession of her brand-new BC, regulator and computer. All Oceanic stuff. She's quite the action gal. Instructor Chuck and I continued our debate over the relative merits of Oceanic versus ScubaPro. Chuck, of course, knows vastly more than I do about the pros and cons of equipment and companies, but since I already have ScubaPro mask, fins and snorkel, and the co-founder of ScubaDiverInfo.com is a diehard ScubaPro supporter, I am leaning that way. Eventually, the owner of the store gave me quotes on both an Oceanic and a ScubaPro package.

On we went to get our gear for the open water dives. This was also to be our first experience with wetsuits. Chuck explained the trials and tribulations of donning a wetsuit, then pulled one out for each of is. Not the common one-piece kind, but two-piece "Farmer John" and "Farmer Jane" models. I got mine on fairly easily, but that was probably because it wasn't very tight. I am tall and slender, and so my rather beat-up Farmer John is probably too loose on me. Not that I know how tight it's supposed to be. I'd had visions of looking pretty cool in a wetsuit, but the well-worn, loose-fitting garb was reminiscent more of a deflated Michelin Tire man than an imposing/menacing Batman. Spencer struggled to get into his (much tighter), and the ladies, of course, looked terrific in theirs.

We also got to pick tanks, two of them. I got 80s, the women and 14-year-old Spencer 65s. Man, those things are heavy! I am no longer surprised that serious divers pack some muscle. Then weight belts. Chuck packed them with 28 pounds. 10% of body weight plus 12 pounds in sweet water.

Then it was playtime, or rather practice time. A fifth student had joined us, Stacy. She'd been nursing an injury and so this was only her second night in the pool, which meant that instructor Chuck had to catch her up on all the stuff we'd learned the prior few pool sessions. The rest of us were free to practice whatever we wanted, and that turned out to be lots of fun.

The next two hours or so we spent diving. Laps around the pool. Mask clearing. Alternate air source breathing. Taking the BC off at the bottom and putting it back on. Fin pivots. Neutral buoyancy practice. Controlled emergency ascent simulation. And so on. This was by far the most fun I'd had diving to-date. Amanda quickly got used to her new gear and did well, as usual. I think I made good progress, though the second time I took my BC off underwater, I accidentally undid the shoulder clasp instead of just loosening it. So then I got the low pressure airhose caught in it and "Mom" Julie came to the rescue. She'd make a fine dive master.

Then we were done. Instructor Chuck emerged with a visibly hard-worked Stacey and proceeded to explain the logistics of the Saturday and Sunday dives at Folsom Lake. Be there at 7am sharp. Both days. Auggh. We logged all our rental equipment, then shlepped it all to our cars. I made three trips. How come golfers have caddies for just a lousy golf bag, and divers have none? I mean, we have a lot more gear!

Anyway, I left the session all worked up and thrilled. I am a bit apprehensive about the actual open water dives, a bit scared. We'll be going a lot deeper than the 15 feet in the pool. And who knows what's down there in that lake. But I am looking forward to it as well! Very much so.

Posted by conradb212 at August 4, 2006 08:45 AM