Monday, July 11, 2011

The Pressure is Three Tons Per Square Inch, Enough to Crush Us Like a Freight Train Going Over an Ant If Our Hull Fails. These windows are Nine Inches Thick and If They Go, It's Sayonara in Two Microseconds

For Christmas last year, in an effort to give more "time" and less "stuff", I gave Drek a Groupon to go on a scuba diving adventure for two! 

I will spare you the details of the horrible company giving the scuba tours, the nightmare of scheduling, the lies the owner told and the overall problems and skip right to the good part: 

Saturday Drek and I left Ash with a babysitter and drove down to the bay. Thanks to no traffic, we arrived an hour early and spent it hanging out, just the two of us. It was wonderful. 

Right on time our instructor arrived with all the equipment. We suited up (scuba diving wet suits are thick. Thick wet suits are very HOT!) learned a bit about the gear, and then wore the gear. Here is a fun fact for you: Those oxygen tanks are not light. They are heavy. VERY heavy. We then walked across the park, across the beach, and finally, into the water. That was just about the hardest walk of my life. I do not think I am built for backpacking trips. 

We got in the water and swam around a bit. The instructor took us down one by one to give us our safety test (water in mask, air running out, loosing your air hose). Drek passed in one minute flat. And then it was my turn. Before we went down I had her explain how to surface one more time. I don't know why, but I have an irrational fear of submarines. I really can't stand stories about the bends or lungs exploding because a diver surfaced too fast. Things like that really freak me out of some odd reason. I've always wanted to go scuba diving, but at the same time, I was very nervous I wouldn't be able to handle it. But the instructor was very nice, explained it one more time and said "just don't go faster than your air bubbles." And then we dove. 

As soon as we started diving my ears decided they didn't like it. I panicked. I motioned to go back up and then promptly forgot how to go back up. I inflated my air vest to surface (a huge no-no) and shot to the top. Since we were only ten feet under, the air in the vest didn't really matter that much, but I had the instructor walk me through surfacing one more time so I wouldn't do it again. I also explained the problem with my ears. She said some people are affected more than others, but I might just have to get used to it. She showed me a trick she thought might help, and then we went down again. We dove to about twenty five feet. 

Ow. Just ow. Sure it was cool that I was underwater, and even cooler that I was breathing underwater, but my ear was EXPLODING. Even underwater, that is not pleasant. But I tried her trick and it did make it hurt less so I tried to ignore it as I did the tests. I did fine and she signaled to go back up. We started swimming toward the surface, but I was terrified of going too fast and kept stopping to watch my air bubbles and push all the air our of my lungs. When I finally surfaced she commented "Did you get lost on your way up?" Which made me realize that I was being a bit ridiculous. We were not deep sea diving. I could swim faster than I have ever swam and still be fine. With that fear abated, we went and got the rest of the group to go on an adventure! 

We were in a cove that wasn't very deep, the deepest we went was for the tests. I think after that we were only ten to twenty feet down. The bottom was all silt and visibility wasn't that great, but were there more for the experience rather than the sights. Even so, it was pretty cool. We saw giant bright orange fish, silver purple fish, teeny tiny shining fish and even a few black spotted fish. Drek saw a sting ray. That is so cool. 

But the best thing for me was that I was breathing underwater. I loved it. I wish I would have stopped swimming for a bit and just floated there for a while, just to take it in, but I was too excited and didn't want to miss seeing anything. I was SCUBA DIVING! It was awesome. 

An hour later we climbed out. I was freezing, but the weather was perfect and as soon as I took of the wet suit the sun warmed me right up. For the next two days my ears kept popping and every so often they would scream with shooting pain, but I think I'm passed that now. I want to go again. I want to go in a coral reef or some place with crystal clear water. I want to go where the water is warmer and the dive is a bit deeper. Although, in all honesty, I was grateful for the shallow dive for my ears' sake. Also, I'm still a bit nervous about my lungs exploding. 

I hope Drek had a good time. Merry Christmas, Drek! 


  1. You are SO much braver than me (of course, I already knew that). I can't even go on the submarine ride at Disneyland because I get freaked out about being stuck under water (and it doesn't even totally submerge).

  2. Hah! So when I went on that ride I had to talk/breath myself through it: It's okay, it's not a real submarine. It's not even all the way underwater. It's more like a boat. You are on a boat. It's fine. It's just fine." But I still had to be the last one on and first one off. And when they closed the hatch I did have to stop myself from panicking.

  3. I have an irrational fear of sea animals touching me. That I did not know of until sea animals were touching me. I will have to tell you about it sometime... :)

  4. That is awesome! I've been snorkeling but never scuba. I want to try a zip ride sometime!

  5. That's awesome. I'm curious, did your wet suit cover your ears? Do you think if you had a wet suit that did cover your ears, it might abate the problem? I suspect I'll have the same ear problem, and if/when I go scuba diving I'd like to avoid the issue.

    I think we should get certified and go scuba diving together a lot!

    Oh, hey, I just realized that my university offers scuba diving certification courses...hmm.

  6. Ear pain is common when scuba diving, but isn't good, as it's a sign of unequal pressure between the inside of your ear and the outer part. If it's ignored, and you dive deeper, it can lead to a ruptured ear drum. I've found the best ways to avoid/prevent it when diving are first, don't dive if you're congested at all, second, descend slowly (and ascend slowly too!), and third, make sure to equalize your ears every 5 feet or so during both descent and ascent.

    The most common way to equalize the ear pressure during descent is to take a breath, plug your nose, and try to blow air out your plugged nose. If you're having a hard time equalizing still, make sure your head is up, towards the surface, rather than down, and try again.

    Equalizing during ascent is also important, I find it easiest to do by forcing a yawn, like to pop your ears on an airplane.

    Anyway, if you ever decide to get certified as a diver, they'll go over all that information in depth, and you should get lots of practice with descending and ascending at an appropriate rate, etc.


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