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Day Five: An Open Water Diver?

Back on the boat we started to organise our kit for the dive. Whilst yesterday, we had been given a boat briefing as soon as we arrived on the boat, today we were good to set our tanks up straight away. I would never have thought that this would ever come easy to me, not being a particularly mechanically minded person. However, it was now a breeze, jacket strap dunked in the water, then popped on the tank, tightened up, regulators clamped around the valve and everything tested, I was readly to roll.

View from the boat
A view from the boat

Today as we headed out of the jetty we took a left towards an area called the Gardens. Our first dive site was to be the Fiddle Garden site.

Once our dive briefing was done, we had our swim test to complete... so we all hopped into the slightly chilly water... well we weren't allowed wetsuits for this bit brrrr. There were two boats moored up together, so three laps around them, meant that we would have done a good 200m swim. I went fairly slowly... I must admit I was never a fan of salty water and the Red Sea is really really salty (funny what you get used to isn't it?), but on I swam and it wasn't long before we were all gathered at the back of the boat for our float. Ten minutes' treading water, or if you are one of the lucky ones, you can just lie back and float. I sink easily so had to tread. The hardest bit here was the boredom factor... two minutes into the float we were all convinced we had to be at least halfway through!

Today I dropped a couple of kilos, which improved my buoyancy no end. I will say though that I did have a moment as we descended... patience flew out of the window as I dropped too quickly so slammed my thumb on the inflate.. too much! So I drifted up... dumped loads of air... sank like a stone.. a proper zig zag of a descent. A couple of signals from the instructor and it dawned on me... gently does it! Oops.

We saw lots more fish today, or maybe I was a little more relaxed so was able to look at them. My buddy was Billy Jo, as Margaret's boyfriend was actually helping on the course today, so she buddied him. A very nice dive, we saw green chromis all nestled inside their little coral tree, butterfly fish hung around in their pairs and we found Nemo! Two little clown fish snuggled up in their anemome host.

Our final dive of the day... and of the course...(!) was to be on Middle Garden.. basically, the next reef along. So the boat was moved during lunch, and we moored up again whilst John gave us our final briefing. Only two skills were left to do on this dive, woo hoo! But one of them was to be the dreaded mask removal and replacement.. I hate that skill!!!! (well I did then).

So we kitted up, did our buddy checks, I was with Billy Jo again, and did our giant strides into the water. What a great feeling that is... you are all kitted up, weighing a ton on the back deck, a regulator in your mouth and a mask on your face, step off the back deck, land in the water and you are floating! Cool.

We dropped down under the water. I had begun to wonder at my sanity.. I hate being cold with a passion, yet I had undertaken to learn a sport, where I would be shivering by the time we were settled on the sand. Oops. I guess it just goes to show the lure of the water, that it could make me overcome my dislike of being cold.

When I knew we were going to be heading down to eighteen metres today, I had had visions of us having to remove our masks at that depth (!), in fact I had spent much of last night, thinking about taking my mask off full stop. Anyway, much to my relief, we still did our skills in the shallows. When you think about it, there really is no difference between taking your mask off at five metres or fifteen, but I guess it was a psychological thing, especially knowing how much I really didn't like doing that skill.

Anyway, I digress... we were now all sat on the sand in a little row, and it was time to repeat the mask removal skill in open water.... John sat in front of me.. my turn... breathe in.. breathe out... gently this time, I fill my mask with water and keep breathing... off comes the mask, and I sit there. Woo Hoo! I did it without a cough or a splutter! On went my mask agan, I cleared it, and I was so excited. I had beaten it, banished the demons and had been really quite comfortable with my mask off.

To be honest, the rest of the dive was a bit of a blur after that. I was so excited, I loved it!

One Open Water Certification, to my name, and I felt that I could deal with anything. What a great trip. Mickey too had had a fantastic time, and had gradually gone a fantastic shade of mahogany... banished those January blues forever hehe.

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