Unda da Sea!!
Trip Start Jan 2006
14Trip End Ongoing
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It had been 17 months since coral reefs last got a glimpse of the hairiness which lied above, somewhere over the floating stratosphere, in "no fish land." 17 months is a long time, my friends, so when attempting to become an Advanced Open Water Diver, its good to keep that short year and a half of nonactivity on the downlow (excuse the 1992 jargon). Got to keep cool.
My first day of diving was amazing, and "cool." The reef sank sharply into the abyss below, a 2000m drop.The reef was colourful and full of life. Small fish swam in and out of the coral; lionfish and stonefish lie camoflaged against the rocky crevices; whitetip and greytip sharks rested on a small flat embankment; schools of jacks, thousands of them, chased each other dizzy in giant circles; green and hawksbill turtles over a metre in length clung diagonally to to reef, waiting for the feast to come. Fish in all sizes, all shapes, deep blue, yellow, clear, red, multicolour, purlple, black, pink, dancing around, a veritable Mardi Gras at 20 metres. All we needed was tequila.
A storm moved in on all the fun. Strong winds and horizontal rainfall left us tossing and turning in our boat. Hoping the water was calmer below than above, we dived again.
The sea below was calm but cold. My diving buddy, Maurits and I performed some navigation tests underwater before roaming around at 17m to find all the action. I still cant get that Grouper (over 3 metres) out of my mind.
All in all, good first day.
The second day of diving was even more amazing, yet lacked a bit on the "cool" side. Let's put it this way. On a deep dive (30+ metres) along an endless reef, its good to have a strong sense of buoyancy and of relationship to where your diving buddy is. I had neither. Spotting a wonderfully coloured fan coral, I sank to about 38m, 10 metres below the group to check it out. Thats when the mayhem started. The instructors had to come down to get me, but to descend another ten metres requires time, as one must continually equalize himself. So I performed one of the most dangerous actions one could perform under water, I inflated my BCD (life jacket), so as to catch up with the group. The next thing I knew, however, I had ascended all the way to the surface, 38m, 140ft.
Now, a quick review on the effects of a quick ascent to the surface for any depth over 15 metres. Since the body takes in much more nitrogen and as air compresses much faster which each passing metre under water, a quick jump to the top means the nitrogen decompresses, causing bubbles of nitrogen to form in the bloodstream, and/or lungs. You can only imagine what that means. Paralysis, Lung failure, or even death.
But wait, what could be worse than a 15 second burst to the top? Well, upon seeing my instructors were looking for me below them, and appeared to be quite scared as to where I had just gone, I made a quick descent to 25m, a 20 second descent to tell my instructors I had just done a 38metre ascension. It occurred to me though somewhere along those 25m that i had no idea how to say "excuse me, but i just performed one of the most stupid acts in all of diving, and so i decided to do the second most blatantly idiotic action just to tell you," with only my hands....The divemasters had a whole lot to say to me on the boat. It didnt matter, that really was a beautiful coral specimen.
What would Jacques Cousteu do in this situation?
It was a rough turn of events, one which left me sitting alone on a beach for three hours while the other diver enjoyed themselves, and with a splitting headache and fever the next two days. In the end, I recieved my Advanced Diving Certification. Now I can look at coral as deep as I want. Well up to 40m.
Another escape at the grizzly and menacing hands of death. Another lesson learned. A small price to pay, ladies and wonderful gentlemen, for an amazing life.