Sunday, November 01, 2009

Flunked my Scuba certification

I practiced for weeks underwater, but when it is time for certification everything seemed to go wrong. It was a nice day with sun coming out, but I got late getting to the site and got too much tension on the way. We started in our wetsuits and got down into the alki beach overlooking the ships entering the Seattle harbor.

I had a wet suit with tight hood and gloves to tackle the cold waters (10 C), masks with snorkel, weights to help me sink easily, BCD (a suit that is connected to air suply) to help me move up and down in the water, boots, fins to swim easily, cylinder with 2 regulators to breathe, gauges to monitor depth, direction, air pressure etc... Scuba is a sport with too many gears all strapped into your body :(.

The first few minutes seemed to go ok and I swam underwater about 100 some feet, when the dirty waters of Alki seemed spooked me. The salt water was bitter, visibility was not good with all those silt and I got extreme claustrophobic. The extra weights (I strapped some 40 pounds into various parts of my body to help me sink well) were awkward and it was tipping me onto one side all the time. I don't know what got into me, but the panic I felt was sudden. And I broke the cardinal rule of scuba diving - never panic. In that panic I lost all the rationility.

The regulator went out of my mouth and water salt started rushing into my mouth. I could not find the BCD regulator that will help me go from the bottom of the sea. Salt water filled my masks and I could harldly see a thing. In that panic, I took the emergency exit and zoomed thorough the top of the water and started gasping. And since I had all those extra weights to help me sink, I could not stay on top of the water and kept sinking repeatedly. The coast was just 100 feet away but water seemed to take away all my courage. Finally the scuba instructor pulled me out of the water.

Relaxing for a few minutes out of water, I wanted to go again., But, the one time panic was still acting on my brain and I could not act rationally underwater. The salt water was still producing all those nasty reactions in my mouth, but this time I calmly swam out of the water.

That confirmed my flunking the underwater diver certification. Maybe scuba is not for me. I donno. I still have this fear of open waters - having seen the brutal powers of water. Having once struck under a whitewaterstream and suffocating in a powerful rapid before entering a waterfall, maybe contributing to that effect.

I was so disappointed with myself and as usual I took up the 2 activities I enjoy. I went to the bookstore and spent some time reading and buying books, and then drove randomly. I went for 5 hours to go to beaches in Oregon, when the tiredness of the day started getting on me. I pulled up in a rest area and started sleeping in my car - usual stuff in my roadtrips. After 2 hours woke up, drove back, returned gear. I'm not ready to give up Scuba yet. But, I will hopefully get over claustrophobic...