On this page, I’ll be posting my logged training scuba dives so you can take a peek at how it all started, where I went wrong and what I did right, in case you’re interested in taking up scuba diving as a sport. I hope you are – it’s absolutely awesome. Once you get your head around the whole ‘humans breathing underwater’ issues. Visit My Scuba Diving Dives page for the rest of my logged dives.
Struggling while scuba diving.
Yes, I am the first one to admit it, I was probably the worst scuba diving student in the world. But with persistence, and a great scuba diving instructor, I managed to get through it all to become an Advanced NAUI scuba diver (National Association of Underwater Instructors). Some people also seem to struggle with the ‘claustrophobia’ of scuba diving, having a mask on – let me tell you all – there is nothing claustrophobic about scuba diving in massive oceans, seas and lakes.
Passionate about scuba diving.
I really struggled with my scuba mask removal underwater the first few (okay, many) times. I shot to the surface of the scuba diving training pool more than once (okay, even more than twice) during training – because I just couldn’t get used to the fact of taking my mask off while underwater. The moment the water hit my eyes off I’d go… sucking in my air and desperately seeking the surface. Luckily, it all worked out in the end. And scuba diving became my passion.
Excerpt on Bass Lake from MapStudio’s Atlas of Dive Sites of South Africa and Mozambique written by Fiona McIntosh:
“Bass Lake, in Henley-on-Klip just south of Johannesburg, is the most popular scuba diving training venue in the Highveld, with courses from basic open-water through to scuba diver instructor training.
It’s an old, rehabilitated dolomite mine fed by underground spring water, it offers diving down to a depth of around 23m with, you guessed it, bass being the most commonly sighted fish while scuba diving.
A number of wrecks are on view for scuba divers – a bus, airplane, cars and an old helicopter – make for interesting underwater exploration for the more experienced divers and, to aid navigation, the position of each is indicated by a marker on the surface.
Air and Nitrox scuba diving cylinder fills, gear rentals and scuba diving equipment sales are available and there are luxury tents and backpacker accommodation for those wanting to overnight while scuba diving.”
Dive 1. First time scuba diving outside a swimming pool.
Okay, so here’s the situation. We’ve completed all our theoretical exams and pool sessions for the OWI (Open Water One) dive course. I scraped through the written tests and did pretty okay in the pool – apart from vomiting on myself while trying to do the mask clearing exercise underwater.
Celebrating a training dive.
Of course we celebrate. We’ve just past the theory side of the course so we have to celebrate. Okay, it shouldn’t have gone on into the wee hours of the morning. Fortunately, our fist dive was at 10am, so I managed to get a few extra hours beneath the duvet.
Too many scuba divers spoil the water.
As it turned out, 10am was probably the worst time to dive. If you’ve ever dived in Bass Lake you’ll know exactly what I mean. Every dive club in and around Gauteng does their training/reconditioning/practice dives there – and there are a lot of dive schools in Gauteng. The first dive starts at 6am at the lake – now, imagine hundreds of learner divers kicking/finning/booting/bashing/churning the thick mud at the bottom for four solid hours.
No azure, crystal clear scuba diving water.
Pea soup I tell you. I see nothing on the way down. I stop with a thud at the bottom and tentatively open my eyes for the first time. There’s just mud. Everywhere. Best I look around for a familiar face. Nothing. Not a single scuba diver in sight.
Never panic on a dive.
My diving instructor’s words ring in my ears “If you ever get lost or separated, go back up slowly.” I can’t see my BC (Buoyancy Compensator) valve to add air into my BC so I can rise. I slowly feel around for it. Fortunately, panic doesn’t set in and I slowly work my way to the surface. Thankfully, the instructor is waiting there for me and we go down together; me holding his hand. My muddy water dive mask clearing session and buddy breathing goes pretty well. Hey, diving is pretty cool – can’t wait for our second scuba diving session.
Dive 2. Diving into a bus.
You’ll be amazed what you see underwater. And, no I’m not suffering from nitrogen narcosis – there is really a bus nestled in the thick silt at the bottom of Bass Lake. I know, because I finned directly into the back of. Can’t see a thing… again… because of all the silt that has been churned up from the over 100 divers at the site.
My underwater diving skills are getting better. Wish the visibility would too. But there is absolutely no chance of that happening. I would like to come back and do one of the early 6am dives around the dam – apparently there is a light aircraft down here somewhere… plus an old Combi, helicopter and a Fiat.
Underwater buoyancy problems.
Just got the ‘Okay’ signal from our dive instructor and the ‘Up’ signal. Dive No2 is over. We’re all slowly coming up; some of us faster than others. I’ve put way too much air in my BC. My hand shoots out to grab hold of something… anything. Manage to get a hold of my dive buddy’s butt. She’s really pissed off. I stabilize slightly and manage to deflate my BC…
“Oh, shit.” I’ve just let too much air out… going down again. Manage to get out safely. That’s it. My next dive will be in the ocean at Sodwana Bay. We’re all pretty chuffed with ourselves. Our instructor sees a light at the end of my scuba diving tunnel.
And just like that my scuba diving training is over. Visit My Scuba Diving Dives for the rest of my scuba diving journey.