Dives 3 & 4. Clear blue greets us on our first ocean dive.
Can’t remember much about the dive at Anton’s Cave. Everything’s a blur. Underwater dive skills training session goes as follows:
•Buoyancy control – not good. Okay, really terrible.
•Buddy breathing – okay.
•Mask clearing – blood-red eyes getting an instant shot of sea salt is not recommended.
•Mouth-piece retrieval – a mouth full of salt water for my efforts.
Scuba diving conditions can change quickly.
The second boat ride out to Five Mile Reef is really hardcore. Waves are smashing the boat all over the place. We’ve been assured visibility will be good on the reef. Can’t wait. Just thinking about the first dive this morning makes me lean over the side of the rubber duck… again. Feeding the fish, they call it.
Shooting through the water… like a champagne cork!
Will be leaving the dive site early as I have huffed and puffed my scuba cylinder dry. Execute all my underwater surfacing signals perfectly and add what’s left of my air into my BC… leave the dive group in one major hurry. ‘Breathe out, breathe out’ I keep telling myself rocketing upwards. Blast out of the water head and shoulders above the surface, .5 metres away from the boat. Luckily, not directly underneath it. Dive boat skipper shakes his head.
Dive 5 & 6. Getting to the dive site.
Let me explain the boat rides out to sea at Sodwana Bay. All the vessels are dragged along the sand and deposited a very short distance away from the crashing waves – by a really rusty tractor.
Securing your scuba diving gear.
After our dive briefing we dump our gear onto the dumped boat and proceed to manually turn it around so it is facing the open sea. Now, this is a rather difficult task – it’s a fully loaded dive boat. Imagine trying to turn a beached whale around. Somehow, we manage. The skipper, who is already onboard, shouts “Jump up!” Jumping up onto a dive boat when you’re in the sea not touching the sand is also pretty difficult. But we manage that too. Somehow.
Boat rides to the dive site and I just don’t get along.
I’m hanging on for dear life, being pounded in the face by waves, my feet are nowhere near the ground – yet somehow I manage to jump up. We’re all trying to get opposite our gear while the skipper hits full throttle as a gap in the waves is spotted. We’re all thrown backwards… sideways… then forward. It’s like that all the way out to the reef today – luckily Pinnacles isn’t too far from shore.
Starting to recognise some underwater life while scuba diving.
My dives are getting better. Even my buoyancy is improving… slightly. Dive 5 and 6 are done. I am now, officially, a NAUI Open Water One Scuba Diver. Man, are we going to party tonight!
I remember a raw egg squashed into my snorkel, which is in my mouth, as I down a disgusting celebratory concoction with my mask on. I wake up with my face in the sand. I look around and see a few other divers in pretty much the same position – I don’t think they’re from my dive group though.
Dive 7 – Aliwal Shoal, Umkomas, South Coast
Diving with sharks for my birthday.
It’s amazing what goes through your mind just before you enter the open ocean knowing there will be sharks fining around you – as close as a metre past you while diving underwater. “Will I get bitten on my birthday?” “Will I be able to fin away with one leg?” “What will the newspaper headlines read?”
Sticking close to my dive buddies.
I’m incredibly nervous going down. No, I’m crapping myself. I’ll just stick right behind my dive buddies and push one of them towards a Raggie if it heads my way – I think my dive companions are having the same thoughts about me. We’re all really, really close.
Visibility isn’t that good – about 6 to 8metres on this dive. A dark shadow flashes past as we descend into the depths. We land gently on the sand in the centre of Cathderal Reef. It’s magnificent. Sharks are all around us. Gliding effortlessly in and out of view. They’re not even slightly concerned. They completely ignore us while we scuba dive.
Hey, I’m sitting in the water, inches about the sand. I’m not even moving. My buoyancy is perfect on this dive!
My Scuba Diving Dives will continue…