Unfamiliar Territory

Posted on Sun 12 September 2010 in general

Today was the day of my first dive. Although Fliss is already a qualified diver she came with me to refresh her skills.

The morning was spent in the lagoon and went reasonably well. I do seem to have trouble equalising pressure, especially in my partially deaf ear. It was hard to follow the mantra of constant breathing while at the same time doing the nose pinching manoeuvre to equalise. However once we reached our depth of 5-6 meters it was seemed reasonably easy to control my depth with breathing. We circumnavigated a handy wreck before working our way back to the line and slowly returning to the surface.

The afternoon was the first open sea dive. We were only due to go to 12 meters depth though I didn't get that far. Again I had trouble with equalisation and the instructor had to hold me as I repeated a descend, pause, up a bit, pause, re-descend cycle. Once we reached the coral reef I was having trouble maintaining depth and my breathing started to get short and erratic. While I don't think I reached a full on panic moment I was uncomfortable with my ability to control breathing and buoyancy in the surging ocean. I erred on the side of caution and signalled my instructor my desire to surface. In all I was only in the water for about 10 minutes.

With my flying experience I'm certainly familiar with situations where inattention can lead to catastrophic failure, panic is never a useful state to achieve. However at least with flying the default state is for gravity to bring you down to ground (you just control how fast that happens). When my breathing got erratic I just continued to slowly sink down and being unfamiliar with diving I was worried about getting back up. I certainly felt out of my comfort zone.

I'm doing another 2 lagoon dives tomorrow and hopefully I can do enough practise of the basic techniques to not cock up quite so much on my next open water dive in the afternoon.