May 06, 2008
Warm-up in the pool
A pool does come in handy for checking out gear and seeing if you still remember how it all works. Once the water had reached 68 degrees Fahrenheit at Dim Cove (the name I have given my pool), I felt it was high time to get wet again after so long. So I pulled the whole setup out of the closet, hoped I had not stashed away some vital part of the gear in some place I now would not remember, and wondered just how I had managed to collect so many masks that in all likelihood I'd never use on a real dive.
Getting the gear out reminded me once again that scuba is equipment-intensive. And almost all of it is needed for a dive. Another good reason to keep it all in one place. A complete set of my stuff is in a large travel bag that I bought at CostCo for just this purpose. It's not a scuba bag, but perfect for the task. I hope it'll hold up to the abuse of many more airplane trips. Things are already beginning to fray a bit here and there. That's probably the difference between a $40 bag and one that costs hundreds.
I was also reminded again just how heavy those tanks are as I shlepped one from my garage through the house and into the backyard. Sure, my steel 95s are monsters and Carol forever advocates the use of smaller and handier tanks for regular dives, but there's just a huge difference between the effortless way happy, smiling divers carry their tanks around in movies and commercials, and how heavy the beasts are in real life. Every time I pick one up I think of cave divers with their doubles, or the deep divers who carry and clip on five or more. Maybe sometime in the future materials science has advanced to a point where compressed air containers, if they are necessary at all, will weigh a fraction of what they do today and people will look at today's gear with the same mix of awe, reverence and amusement we peruse a medieval Knight's suit of armor.
I was pleased that I still remembered how to get the gear assembled. No mistakes there. I know, this must seem trivial to seasoned divers but -- alas -- I am not yet one of them. And I swear, one of these days I'll even learn how to put on my fins more or less elegantly. As is, watching me put them on must be comic relief and raise doubts in onlookers' minds as to my suitability to go under.
But go under I did, and it was great to blow bubbles again. Everything worked fine and, as always, my 12-year-old son had fun looking down with his mask and snorkel and playing with my bubbles. He also practiced his underwater photographer's skills with a Casio in an underwater case. I let him breathe through my regulator just below the surface while I used my AIR2 backup. That's when I noticed a minor annoyance: the nylon tie that secures the mouthpiece of the AIR2 stuck out in the wrong position, poking me in the lip. No big deal, but I always get a bad feeling when factory-authorized service on a potentially life-saving piece of equipment is not done quite right. I mean, if the tie is put on wrong, am I totally sure everything else works okay?
After the 35 minute dive (if you can call practicing in a backyard pool a dive) I was reminded that the end of a dive is really not the end of a dive. That comes only after everything has been taken off, rinsed, put somewhere to dry, and then finally stowed away in its proper place.
Now that my son is old enough to take a scuba class himself, I find myself wondering if I think he's ready for it, and whether I'd be scared letting him dive. I know it's a parent thing to worry, and I'll let him decide if he wants to and when he is ready.