When I was on my travels : My first Scuba Dive

Happy Saturday everyone.

For the first 3 months of this year I took a trip ! A little jaunt through New Zealand and Australia which was everything I hoped for and more. Before leaving I decided that I was going to try everything, absolutely everything I could. There was no way I was going to head home with regrets and saying ‘I wish I had done this’ or ‘I wish I had tried that’. This is a blog about one of those times when I had to pull up the big girl pants and dive straight in !

On TV this week was a program about the Great Barrier Reef and it brought my trip back to me – the colours, the wildlife and my strong emotions of being there. People say that there are better reefs in to the world to visit, perhaps there are, but I wasn’t going to Australia and not seeing it – one of the natural wonders of the world. I’ll pay a suitable homage to the Reef in a later blog, and apologies for the self-indulgence, but this is about me and my first scuba dive.

My trip to the Outer Barrier Reef was on a catamaran Passions of Paradise (www.passions.com.au) and we set off on a cloudy morning out to the ocean blue. Part of the package for the day was a free 10 mins introductory dive and in my ‘trying everything mode’ I thought to myself why not give it a go ? Now before I go any further, I’ve only tried snorkelling once, a few days earlier around the Whitsunday Islands and while I feel really confident in the water because of all my open water swimming, there’s always some thought in the back of my mind about big sea monsters with big teeth lurking in the depths…….

Passions of Paradise
Passions of Paradise

After a basic briefing session from an instructor, we arrived at out first dive point, Paradise Reef and the certified divers got all suited up and dived straight in, the snorkelers got all snorkelled up and off they went, while my group waited on the deck for our turn to try this for the first time.

Now perhaps it was the waiting around, perhaps it was the weight of the tanks on my back or maybe it was the thought of the big sea monsters, but I started to have a little teeny tiny panic ! ‘I’m not doing it, I can’t do it, I’m doing it, I can do it’ and then followed by more crazy head-talk ‘I’m a wimp, I’ll regret it if I don’t at least try, I don’t have to do it, it’s going to hurt my ears’….. just a sample !

After some supportive words from my fellow first timers and the crew and a few deep breaths, I found myself heading down the steps to the launch deck, with the biggest pairs of fins I’ve ever seen, as an absolute shaking wreck.

Then I stopped being a big girl and jumped in !!

Instantly my breathing settled and the panic stopped…….. I opened my eyes to find myself  surrounded by a shoal of beautiful blue and yellow fish in very clear and warm ocean. And I remember the calmness under the water, it was silent and peaceful after the noise and waves above. That calmness was contagious………. After 10 minutes of further basic instruction and a little descending, I decided that’s it, I’m going to stay for the dive – how could I not ?

Simple instructions for the first 10 minutes
Simple instructions for the first 10 minutes

It felt like time stopped for the next 30 mins or so. The instructors held onto our arms and off we went for a tour of the reef. Very quickly I got used to clearing my mask and equalising as we descended (ie avoiding sore ears as you go deeper under water) while I was surrounded by many wonderful sights. The visibility was about 10 metres so not as clear as it can be on some days, but there had been storms, it was the start of the wet season after all, but the photos give some idea as to the wildlife and colours – honestly nothing can do it justice !

IMG_1567 IMG_1576 IMG_1606 IMG_1614 IMG_1638

It was all over so quickly and we came back at the boat. Coming back to the surface is a skill in itself, with valves and weight belts etc, but my excellent guide took care of that as well as the necessary underwater photo – trying to smile with breathing apparatus isn’t easy, I discovered ! Then it was time to climb back on the boat……. remembering to take off the huge fins before attempting the steps – doh, blonde moment !

Hello ! Its me
Hello Mum, it’s me !!

A quick change back on the deck and I was straight back in the water with snorkelling kit – still so much to see even if the ocean felt much rougher when you are bobbing around on the surface

The rest of the day involved some more amazing snorkelling on Michaelmas Cay and the world-famous bird sanctuary and again it blew my mind. I found myself alongside a turtle, above a stingray and in the company of some amazingly colourful fish…. and if it was possible my smile was even detectable underwater !

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This day still makes me smile ! I didn’t download the photos until I arrived back in the UK and going through them took me immediately back to the Great Barrier Reef amongst my new buddies. One photo did make me look twice though……. Is that a big sea monster I spy ?

What is that ?
What is that ?

Time to go, have fun this weekend !

Catherine

Age Group girl

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