Day 195: Wet And Dry

Sun. 24th February 2013

Here we go a divingAs Dave is keen to get started on his diving qualification he has booked in for two dives today, 9am and 2:30pm. This means a 7am alarm to give him time for a light breakfast and a briefing before the first dive. It is like being back at work (not!).

Relaxing walk along the beachIn the morning I went for a walk turning left out of our accommodation and headed to the north of the island. We are almost at the top end of the restaurants and hotels so the buildings soon gave way to overgrown green fields on one side of the ‘road’ and the golden sands of the beach continued on the other.

Broken coral washed ashore At the northernmost point the road turns west to continue along the coast and there is a short row of hotels and a couple of dive shops. Quite pretty but I would rather be where we are close to the main street. No worries about traffic noise as the horse and carts are quite quiet. The main noise is the call to prayer emanating from the mosque close to our bathroom window, which we would close if there was a window instead of fixed wooden louvres. Shutting the bathroom door does little to keep the noise out, so it is back to earplugs for the 5am call.

Our RoomThe rest of the morning is spent with Dave doing his diving homework and me my blog homework before retiring to the hotel restaurant on the beach for lunch. We watch a lady on a stand up paddle board effortlessly paddling by and also a much less experienced couple having a battle with the waves and their boards. The lady, who was also out pre breakfast and we chatted to her then also, came over and tried to talk me into having a go, saying it was easy – I am not convinced. I still remember how I used to struggle at windsurfing.

Returning from divingI enjoyed a lazy afternoon reading and staying out of the rain, while Dave was out for his second dive and then back doing more homework. We are both very happy with this division of labour – he cannot sit still and I love to laze and read.

As the rain continued into the evening we ate in the hotel, well in their beach restaurant looking out to sea, as the food is good enough here and it saved walking far.

Turtle (and his friend)For my Advanced Open Water Diver qualification, I have to do 5 dives each based around a different topic / module. The Navigation and Deep dives are compulsory and then I can choose any 3 from a number of different optional modules. This morning it is the Navigation dive, and my homework last night was all about ‘natural navigation’ – using the current and underwater features to help you navigate (and return to the starting point) as well as using the compass.

Puffer Fish (I think) - get low shoot up is one lesson from the course. Get closer is another!Some of this was familiar from my boy scout days (just a year or so ago!!!) and some was reasonably obvious (if there is a reef on your right side when you go out, it should be on your left as you go back). Some, however, is in the ‘all very well in theory, but what about the real world?’ category. One exercise I will need to do is use the compass to swim in a square, counting fin kicks to measure distance. As I explain this to Janet, she says “well what about the current”?

Clown fish hidingAnd that is exactly what happened – once we got in to the water at the dive site there was a reasonably strong current (or weak as, Jo, my instructor described it). My square was very non-square, but at least I turned through 90o at the right points and followed the compass bearing and so that was a pass. It was also good to be in the water again.

Looking up over some coralAs I had splashed-out (ha ha!) on a snazzy underwater housing for my camera, then the Underwater Photography module seemed an obvious pick as one of my optional modules. I had been very frustrated by the results from the little disposable camera in the Galapagos and so was very keen to see how the results from my normal camera in its rinky-dinky housing would come out. We’ve been very pleased with the photos the camera has taken on land and the housing is specially designed so that you can use all of the buttons and features underwater – so the quality of pictures will be down to the photographer and not the camera!

I got you Mr Turtle - the movie is even betterIt was a lovely dive in the afternoon – though, I’m not sure why the dive site is called Sunset. We saw a fantastic assortment of fish in all colours as well as a white-tipped shark and 3 turtles. The turtles in particular were wonderful, just chomping away at seaweed seemingly without a care in the world. They also had the benefit of not moving very far and so I had (more) time to try to manoeuvre myself into position; work out which button on the outside of the case corresponded to which button on the camera; try to keep the camera still while being buffeted by the surge (even at 18m down) and the current whilst not holding my breath (a big no-no while diving).

If only I'd done the Fish Identification module, I could say what this wasI did get a movie of the turtle that I am pleased with (I will try to upload it though the Internet connection is very slow here) – it does capture some of the size and power of the animal but I did struggle to get close enough and still enough to most of the fish and so there is a lot of blue in the photos (as well as a lot of blurred photos). Jacques Cousteau can rest easy for a while! Still, it could have been worse – my dive buddy was doing the Fish Identification module. Beyond saying “yes, that’s a fish” he struggled more than I did. I think we both need more practice.

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