After I got back from Tonga I really had the snorkeling bug. The problem is that Wellington is COLD! Even in the summer the sea is cold – I REALLY miss the waters of Canterbury. And while in Tonga I loved the snorkeling so much but I really wanted to go deeper, well at least at that last beach – all the cool stuff was so much further down than I could see. So I hit upon SCUBA! Awesome idea!! Pretty sure it won’t hurt while I do it (hahahahahaha) as I’m so much more comfortable in the water as far as my normal pain goes and other than the obvious issues (I actually can’t breathe underwater – dammit) it seems like something that can be done fairly easily regardless of disability levels.
So I did a very quick search and found Dive Wellington which offers a PADI Open Water Dive course and was in my budget level. It also allowed a private course for 4 people or more. So I immediately roped my daughter & Not Son In Law (NSIL? No – sounds like a pro-gun cadre, will stick with long form) into my plan and searched about for a 4th… This was weirdly trickier than I expected
A lot of people are not keen on being in the water if they are either not immediately able to touch the bottom or get to the surface. I don’t know why this surprised me but it really did. I think my childhood spent swimming in Le Bons kinda made me think it was normal that you were comfortable in the sea at any level…. but maybe there is something lacking in me anyway. Though after talking to Not Son In Law later he did say he wasn’t keen on swimming at all but was really looking forward to diving, so he’s WAY weirder than I am 😀
Anyway, I asked Duane – who is a guy I love for doing stuff because it comes up and looks cool – very definitely something I love in anybody but especially in a work mate. Duane’s got 3 kids, Dane (12), Aurora (10) and Haidyn who is younger. I have spent a bit of time with Aurora because of fish and books and have got to know both girls a bit. Don’t know Dane as well but I know his dad likes him 🙂
I was reading all the guff about the PADI Open Water course and when I read that they teach people as young as 10 I thought of Aurora and thought that she would really love this – and that she would be good at it. And so I asked Duane if his kids would like to join us… yes, yes they would.
Then I got in touch with Dave at Dive Wellington.
After a bit of back and forth the deposit was paid and Dave sent us the PADI Open Water Dive course.
Just FYI Dave and I had been emailing back and forth quite a bit by this time and I now have this image in my head of him being exactly like Holly on Red Dwarf (Norman Lovatt version) or HAL from 2001… while I’m fairly confident his vision of me is something more like Hyacinth Bucket – trying to maintain control of something completely uncontrollable in the silliest possible way.
Dave had said the course was about 7 hours. This was not completely accurate. Admittedly I had buffering issues with all the videos (not on the best Fibre plan) but I did the first section in a couple of hours, sat down for 12 hours straight for sections 2, 3 & 4 – using the buffering for tea and pee breaks as required – and then finished off section 5 another time in an hour and a half. THEN there is the final assessment which took about an hour. Though honestly a lot of that was REALLY making sure I’d read both the questions and answers correctly – just about every time I got a question wrong in the section assessments was because I hadn’t done that. And the other times is because numbers never work the way I think they do. My lowest pass was 90% and I got 93% on the final assessment, so this wasn’t a huge issue (75% is the pass mark), but it was stupidly stressful trying not to make stupid mistakes 😏
Our first Friday evening was a equipment try on and run through. Caitlin, Kane, Duane, Dane, Aurora and I went to Dive Wellington in Island Bay to try on wetsuits and learn how to put our gear together. (If you ever want to forget how to say a persons name get three of them together that sound the same – completely screws with your head! Duane, Dane & Kane are all now known as Ummm hand gesture him).
Will (awesome – very patient!) took us through sizing our wetsuits (depressing) and kitting us up. Duane’s kids were easy and mine ditto. Duane and I were the challenge – Duane because he’s a giant and me because I’m a rounder than ideal. Obvs. But we found suits to fit:
Caitlin pointed out that the while rest of us are super uncomfortable Kane is running around looking like action man and very pleased with himself – totally true! I kinda love that he’s so happy in a wet suit 😀 Meanwhile Dane looks like Agent Smith and I love that too. We forgot to take the photo while we were all in wetsuits dammit, but Aurora looked fabulous and Duane looked really uncomfortable – that was sorted later by getting him a wetsuit without arms, but I think that’s going to be even more uncomfortable in the sea dive bit… anyway, he’ll be cool in the pool!
We ran through putting together the BCD and breathing apparatus and how to check for leaks and contaminated air a couple of times. And we were ready for the pool! So buzzed after this session actually – it was really cool to have put some stuff together in practice that we had learnt in theory, and a MAJOR relief to know that I could get into a wetsuit! And the buzz lasted for days – it was very cool.
Next session, the pool…