It’s official – I’m a certified Open Water Scuba Diver!
On Tuesday and Thursday of this past week I did my “open water” dives – meaning, I wasn’t in a pool. Over two days I had four separate dives from Golden Acres campground in Square Lake (Stillwater, MN). There were seven people in the class and two instructors. Below is a picture of lake we were in, and I’ve circled the buoys that mark underwater locations. There were ropes strung from different underwater platforms, creating paths to and from each area, and several of the exercises required us to swim along the ropes at different depths.
Over four dives we completed the following skills: putting our equipment together, weight checks, descent (on a line and without reference), buoyancy control (hovering), mask clearing, alternate air source breathing, snorkel/regulator exchange, removing and replacing the entire scuba unit in water too deep to stand, removing and replacing our weight belt (juggling 24lbs of weights in eight feet of water – that sucked), tired diver tow, leg cramp removal, surface and underwater compass navigation, safety stop, CESA (controlled emergency swimming ascent – basically – getting your ass to the surface quickly if you run out of air underwater).
I racked up 108 minutes of dive time over four days, and I swam at a depth of up to 20 ft. The coolest things about the dives were the thermocline (the depth at which the water temperature dropped dramatically), compass navigation (I actually found my way back to where I was supposed to be!) and finally, on the fourth dive, getting comfortable enough to just swim around underwater and being able to look around instead of worrying about my equipment or staying neutrally buoyant. The most unfortunate part was the sucky visibility – on day 1 we had 4-5ft viz and on day 2 we had 6-8ft viz. Ah well, that just means I have to plan a trip to somewhere with crystal clear waters to try out my new scuba certification. Like…maybe, Italy?
This is my equipment that I used – the tank and the weight belt are outside of the picture.
Countdown to Italy: Nine days to departure!