On Wednesday I started the PADI Open Water Diver Course, and the first thing we did was getting some fitting gear from the shed: wetsuit, boots, fins, mask, snorkel, BCD (buoyancy control device), regulators, weight belt and scuba tanks. Luckily the dive shop had a mask with prescription lenses my strenght (actually, slightly stronger), so now I can see perfectly underwater as well. This is probably something I should buy for myself when I really get into diving, but unfortunately those masks are very dear, although I already got an address in England that makes prescription mask lenses for 38 euro a lens.
The other participants of the course were Arno (Dutch), Ron (German), Max (German), Helen (Scottish) and Elaine (English). Roy (Kiwi) was our instructor. After getting all the gear, we did some theory lessons, before doing our first confined water dive in the pool. That went all fine, except for the fact that the pool was fairly cold.
On Thursday we did some theory in the morning, before getting into the pool again. That was even colder than the day before, because Thursday was all cloudy, very untypical weather apparently. At least the rain did not bother at all under water. After our third confined water dive in the pool in the afternoon, we finished class early, because Helen and I still had not had our medical examination. That took about 2 hours, mainly because the doctor was running late with the previous appointments that day. Fortunately I can report that I am in good health, except for one thing: I cannot see anything without glasses… Nothing new there, and as I mentioned: I have prescription lenses in my mask to make me spot the fish, other divers and boat (although boats are usually hard to miss, even without visual correction).
The course group got slightly thinned out on Friday, because Helen failed her medical and Elaine was not very confident, so she wanted more time to study the theory. Since there were only 4 of us left now, things were moving a lot faster though, and we managed to finish the remaining confined water dives in the pool in the morning. In the afternoon we went to the Navy Pier with a whole lot of certified divers. The Pier was really cool to swim around and through, we saw lots of fish, from tiny bright blue ones (Neon Damsels) to entire schools of large silver fish. Only drawback was all the sand afterwards; everything and everybody was covered in sand.
Friday during lunchtime I met the daughter of a former Rabobank colleague (also doing a working holiday in Oz), and we went out together with some other Dutch, German and Canadian girls. I did not make it a late night though, since the doctor said I should sleep well, eat well, and not drink too much alcohol before diving. And since I always do what doctors say (ahem…) I decided to follow that advice. [Lecture]In all seriousness, diving is lots of fun, but there are risks involved, like decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis and the like. That is why it is essential to do a diving course before diving, so you know about the things that can happen, and how to handle in those situations. After all, you might be 20 metres deep in the water, and getting straight up when a problem occurs is just the opposite thing you should do. Therefore it is good to know the things you should do, so potential health damage is minimised.[/Lecture]
Today (Saturday) started with learning some more diving theory, followed by making the final exam, which I passed without any problems (and also without actually reading any chapter of the book). In the afternoon we planned to do another dive around the Navy Pier, but it got cancelled because of bad weather conditions (too windy, but at least it was not raining today, like the three previous days). Unfortunately I will not be doing another Navy Pier dive for the course, and I regret not taking my disposable underwater camera with me yesterday. The remaining three open water dives are at Ningaloo Reef on Monday, so tomorrow is a day off (maybe to study some theory or maybe to check out some beaches and/or gorges in Cape Range National Park). I used the afternoon today to browse the internet and update my website, since I can use the internet for free at the dive school (normally more than 3,5 0 euro/hour).