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August 28, 2006

Struggling after certification

Well, it's been over three weeks since my PADI certification. My enthusiasm for all things Scuba continues. I've been buying every scuba book I can get my hands on, I spend hours on the web researching scuba, and I continue to learn more and more from my partner in this website, Carol, who is a certified NAUI instructor.

Unfortunately, my practical experience is lacking. Or maybe it isn't. They say you should get diving right away after you get your C-Card as statistics show an alarming percentage of newly certified divers never don scuba gear again after their certification. Well, the C-Card is a bit of a sore subject as I still haven't received mine, after three weeks. My certification dive buddy, Holly, received hers ten days ago, so I am getting concerned. The PADI site, supposedly, offers a way to inquire about cards never received, but I can't find it. So no C-Card yet. No real big deal as I have the PADI certificate signed by instructor Chuck with whom, after numerous emails and proposed calls and meetings, still have to connect. And of my "graduating class," no one seems interested to get together or at least communicate. With the exception of Holly with whom I've stayed in touch.

At least I have all my gear, and so I HAVE actually managed to log some good bottom time. Yes, its still only in "Dim Cove," the name I have given my pool. Last Saturday I logged my second wetsuit dive there, 67 minutes. I spent the time practicing various of the skills we had learned: flooding and clearing the mask; taking the mask off entirely with eyes open, then put it back on and clear it; undoing the weight pockets from my Knighthawk BC; switching between the primary air supply and the AIR2 secondary air supply that is part of the BC; fin pivots and trying to achieve totally neutral buoyancy; slowing my breathing to minimize air usage. I felt thrilled that towards the end, for a few glorious minutes I did achieve perfect buoyancy and slowly just floated.

I also learned that you get a very dry mouth after a while, and that you MUST wash out the mask very thoroughly if you use a commercial de-fogger. I didn't, and so one of my eyes started getting irritated. And.... with a bit of allergy rearing its ugly head, your nose can get quite plugged up after a while. There are ways to deal with that.

I spent a lot of time with my dive computer, a ScubaPro/Uwatec Smart-Z. It is a wrist-mounted unit that looks like a very large watch. It's air-integrated and wirelessly communicates with the small black transmitter screwed into a high pressure port on my first stage. I watched as "remaining air-time" went from 60 minutes all the way to 99 minutes, the max the computer displays, as I laid still and slowed my breathing.

Once out of the water and all dried up, I uploaded the dive computer's data into my notebook. It uses an infrared interface, a bit archaic perhaps as IR is on its way out, but so far it still works. Once uploaded, you can peruse every part of your five. It is really quite spectacular, and very much reminds me of analyzing a datalog recorded by the Hondata K-Pro computer in my supercharged Acura RSX. Both monitor vitals and let you play them back. Both show you all the parameters, so you can learn, adjust, record, and make corrections.

So for now I am a theoretical diver much more so than a practical one. True, I logged "bottom time," but I am not sure it counts just in a backyard pool. It DOES give me experience in donning equipment, doing all the safety checks, and then practice underwater. But not that much more.

I really wish the Hudson Dive Center had not gone out of business. I wish the new dive shop I found would be a bit more proactive in going after obviously enthusiastic new divers (last Saturday when I went there to fill my tank, it was simply closed ebcause they'd gone to do certification dives; hey guys, didn't I tell you I wanted to come along?). And I wish I had been part of a more enthusiastic dive class that wants to stay in touch and get together to explore.

Posted by conradb212 at August 28, 2006 08:48 AM