Into the Wild

So, finally the weather is good and we’re mostly all able to do this! How exciting!!

Unfortunately this is one Friday when I have a very long meeting at work and can’t get out of it. Only actually I probably could’ve after all and that’s really annoying… but it’s good, am glad I was at the meeting in the end. And my Not Son in Law has damaged himself in such a way that diving just now is a terrible idea. So it’s just the two of them on Friday and Dave arranged it so that I could go on Saturday.

So on the Friday morning Duane and Caitlin rocked up to Dive Wellington in Island Bay for their first sea dives – yay!!!!

I don’t have a lot of details around how they felt, but I know that Duane had the same issues with equalising as he did in the pool. My girl was exhausted afterwards but that’s normal… it’s insanely tiring doing this stuff. So they had two sea dives with a decent break in between. Videos for your perusal. FYI Caitlin is beardless and has yellow fins, Duane is not beardless and has white fins 🙂

In the water!

As you can see the water was really murky. I talked to Simon the next day (he is the guy that’s leading this dive, Jesse is the camera person :)) and he said that these guys had 1 -2 metres of visibility. Duane said that the camera picked up way more than he was able to see underwater.

At the bottom
Sea Creatures

There’s more diving vids, I’ll stick them down at the end of this post.

Finishing up

So that was their adventure. And the reason I’ve started with this rather than my own experience is that I don’t have any pictures or videos of my dive – I forgot to get an SD card for my camera 😦

I did take a photo of the waterfront outside the dive shop before we set off though – we didn’t dive in the same place as Duane & Caitlin did, not sure where they were but we were directly in front of Dive Wellington. It was great – easy to get to thank goodness. But getting out was NOT easy at all…

GORGEOUS morning in Wellington!

So I got there at 9 and met my fellow diver – lovely woman who was clever enough to bring a camera that worked. We got our gear sorted out, need a thicker wetsuit for the sea dive than for the pool dive. The thick wetsuits are really funky, you almost feel like you’re bouncing in them. Very cool… and really warm 😀

Went through the dive plan with Simon and then went down to get changed. Was really happy to see Will and find out he was coming with us, that was awesome!

So then off we strutted, directly across the road and down the rock steps to a tiny inlet where we got our fins on and made our way out to the diving flag. There were a lot of people!! I’m not sure why I was surprised to be honest, it was a beautiful morning, the sea was flat, there’s no wind and it was surprisingly warm for nearly the middle of July… I’m sure it was more crowded than the swimming pool.

Once we finally got down (and when I say we I mean me really – Simon and the other chick were off and running very quickly – I had issues with sinking. In that I couldn’t :/) we went through a few exercises, pretty much what we did in the pool only obviously this time out in the real world. And they were easy! Which is good 🙂 My big issue is still sinking, I’m okay at it if I just lie back and drop, but as soon as I turn over to see anything I’m rising up again. It’s really frustrating. And this time I had issues with one of my ears. Was equalising all the time but couldn’t get that ear to release the pressure. And it got painful. Not till about half way through our (23 minute) dive though which is good – by then we’d done all the exercises – but was annoying at the bit where we were meant to be enjoying ourselves.

We went down to 8 metres or so and had visibility of 5 -6 metres which was significantly better than the previous day’s dive. Saw HEAPS of fish, lots of blue cod but a lot of other fish too – it’s been way too long since I saw a fish identification poster in the fish & chip shop, I don’t remember what any of them are any more. But definitely recognised the crayfish and the anemone. Didn’t see a kina myself and didn’t even recognise the paua that show up in Duane’s videos, they’re not how I expect paua to look at all! It was really, really awesome. Surreal even – couldn’t believe I was actually experiencing this thing not just watching it on a screen.

Ear was becoming an issue and I was hugely frustrated at trying to keep myself under and ended up being up the top way sooner than I wanted to be. I really wish this was something that you can go out and practice on your own. I mean I understand why you can’t, but it would be great to just go off and practice on your own for a while. Am definitely going to be doing more dives as often as I can.

So – time to get out. Hahaha… that was terrible!!! My knees gave out as I hit the actual ground, mate! I was so heavy and they were unable to cope at all… I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this. Before I got out of the water I’d given Will my weight belt (generous right!) and taken his fins in return (totally generous :D) but just past the waters edge I wanted to dump everything and crawl up the rock steps and over the road… I really didn’t think I’d make it to be honest. My knees were screaming, my head, sinuses and ears were pounding and I was just like okay, leave me here for an hour while I die and then we’ll be all good. And then Will pointed out even if I dropped everything I still needed to get it up the bank and over the road. So. I pulled up my big girls knickers and got up. And totally left Will with my weight belt and both of our fins. ‘Cos honestly I’m really not a nice person. Fortunately he is.

During the break we were discussing a guy that had done a second dive the week before after having issues with his ear on his first dive and the fact that that resulted in quite a bit of damage to his ears and I figured that this was not something I wanted to do to myself. Which is frustrating as heck – honestly don’t think we’ll get a better day for diving before the middle of August (based purely on no facts at all) and it really was the most awesome day for it. And Caitlin had said the first dive was a bit sucky but the second dive was awesome and I was very much looking forward to that. Very much! But I also thought I’d probably spend the whole time trying to make my ear pop and in pain and however awesome it was it would not be very awesome at all… damn it. So I got changed and headed upstairs to fill in the dive log, sign my PADI course thingee and do the quick quiz. Easy peasy. Actually easy peasy. Nice.

And that was that… so now out of our wee team of 4 we have 2 that have done 2 sea dives, 1 that’s done 1 sea dive and one that is yet to get out there… I’m really hoping that we can all do the next one together but I don’t know how possible that is.

Anyway – still loved it, was really thankful that we had brilliant weather for it and hoping desperately that next Friday will be just like this Saturday was 🙂

More videos for your enjoyment, should you choose to partake

More diving!!!

I can Scuba, can you?

My kids finished their pool course last session, I was slow (again), but had at least got to the stage where Duane was before his arm went funky, so this time it was just Duane and I.

When we got to the cafe the woman behind the counter totally remembered our order from the first time – I felt bad saying that no extra shot was needed in our coffee, she’s actually amazing and made me feel good. If you go to the Kilbirnie Pool cafe please tell her that. Or maybe it’s just she remembers Kane…

Helped Elliott unload and then I got changed while waiting for him to get back from parking the truck – took a while, parking in Kilbirnie sucks too. Duane held off because he wasn’t sure if he’d be doing the 200 mtr swim & 10 minute float before or after.


So by the time Elliot and Duane were ready I’d actually realised this is all good, I’m doing it because I want to and there is honestly no pressure. It was an amazing shift in head space.

So Elliott got back and he and Duane suited up, we did our buddy checks and I jumped in with very little grace. Not sure I’ll ever do that with grace to be honest, but mate! it felt so good to be in the water and buoyant. I LOVE that a lot.

Duane jumped in too and we were happy as pigs in muck… then had to do the exercises. One thing I discovered – for myself at least – is that it’s way worse to be told about it than to do it. The first couple of dives I’d spent so much time in my head trying to visualise how this would all work that when it came to doing it I was freaking myself out. This time I was most definitely like give it a shot, what’s the worst that can happen? Seriously? I can’t believe I let myself get so wound up. BUT I guess the other part of that is that this means something so much more than just achieving something. To me anyway. I want to be able to do this quite badly.

SO. The realisation that just doing it is way easier than thinking about it was fantastic! Duane had a wee bit more head time to go through – I’m thinking that maybe the older you are the more you feel the ramifications of things not going well? Not sure. But the first couple of hours took a bit of doing for both of us, the last hour we zipped through! Elliott was pretty sure (and I agreed) at the end of the first session that we’d need another couple of hours in the pool to complete the tasks, but actually we zipped through those tick boxes in the last hour! And then we got to just swim – I like that best. Even at the bottom of a pool, it’s very cool just sliding along under everybody else.

What I would like to do again: Will had told Elliott that I was pretty good at hovering – which I have to say I rocked, and I loved! – but this time I wanted to do it on my front rather than my back and so didn’t really pay attention to Elliott (NEVER ignore your diving instructor by the way – s/he really does know more than you do whatever you think at this point. What I should’ve done is told Elliott what I wanted to do – thing I should’ve done differently). I do not rock at hovering when not in my lazy-boy position. And I did not impress Elliott at all. And that’s fine – I was working on staying in a position where I can see things when under the sea – if I want to look at the sky while floating I don’t need to put on a wetsuit to do so :/ Not sure now I can do either.

Duane brought his Go-Pro and Elliott was the camera person this time 🙂

I hurt a wee bit this time, but nothing like the first couple of times. I think I’ve got used to not fighting to stay in place? But also I’ve been using my rowing machine every night since we got it set up, or at least 6 nights a week. Am changing shape! And sleeping well 😀

I’ve also bought myself a cheap wee underwater camera – next exciting install will be our sea dives!

Have also booked another trip to Tonga and trying to set up a diving trip there, definitely taking my wee camera if it survives the sea dives :/

Scuba Dooby Doo

So yes, now into our second dive. If you read my last post you probably understand that at this point I’m slightly freaked out but WAY more prepared than the first time.

Duane couldn’t come this time – he’s done something funky to his arm. And so it’s just me and my kids at the cafe this week. All of us are really disappointed that Duane couldn’t be here. It actually felt kinda wrong to do this without him.

Was not looking forward to this. At all. So. We walked in to the pool and saw Will from our first venture and Elliot from our last one. I was stoked to see them both actually! It was great to know the people that are going to cut off your oxygen while you’re a metre below the surface 😁

So the plan was that Elliot continues with the kids and Will was here to get me past the mask thing – yay! And that we’d get through the pool sessions as quickly as possible. Pretty sure I fucked that up – sorry Dave!!

First thing we had to do was a 200 metre swim. That’s cool, and actually wasn’t an issue but we all forgot how to count. So we had a gap in the middle where we had to figure out whether we’d only done a hundred metres or not. Annoying. We did another round just in case.

Then into the pool! Will was our on the spot photographer and did a fantastic job – not a finger in sight, I really need to ask how he did that!

That first step is a doozy…

Going in
This is my favourite – totally printing this one out and framing it!

I asked that we did the mask work later – my theory being if we did the fun stuff first I’d cope much better with the stuff that freaks me out. Both guys were good with this. Phew. But Elliot took the kids for their lesson and I had my catchup with Will.

It was cool! So cool! We started with a snorkel run up and down the lane, loved that – still loving snorkeling thank goodness 😅 and then moved on to a mask off thing, and after that I don’t remember really… we did quite a bit and it was all REALLY cool!! Even the off mask stuff was cool – pretty sure we’d done the right thing with our pool trips.

The fin pivot was a notable exciting bit though! The connection between how you breathe affecting how you float was very cool and an essential thing to know to find your space in the water. Will showed me the technique for getting rid of cramp – actually hugely important to me because cramp is a large issue in my life. He also showed how your buddy could help, including a calf massage. I don’t like massage at all. Though didn’t tell him that, but when I repeated the buddy cramp solution on him I did tell him I wasn’t going to massage him. This was an unfortunate thing to say to a guy who was about to cut off my air supply while I was at the bottom of a pool…

We did the out of air thing with the weird thrum that happens when you have no air coming through your regulator which was also weirdly cool. Probably helps knowing that your air is going back on again obviously. Though don’t insult the guy that has to turn your air on at this point FYI 😁

And then we did the hover – I love the hover! I’m pretty sure I’m the champion staying still person – I could do that all day. And (afterwards) I was trying to figure out why. I think it’s because Will told me it didn’t matter what way up I was, or how I turned, I basically just needed to focus on my breathing and not go anywhere. And so I didn’t move!! At all! It was much like being in my lazy-boy – really really cool and I could definitely have done it for more than 30 seconds.

We had an hour between our first session and our last one. And when we went back in the pool the first thing Will had me do was the minute without a mask on thing. This freaked me out. I just could not bring myself to get under. Stupid brain was screwing with the rest of my body.

He was SO patient and let me spend the time to figure out how I was going to achieve this wee milestone. And it was important to me that I did so I was doing my best to figure out how to make this work. And Will let me. I’m so grateful for that. He didn’t suggest things or try to persuade, he just gave me the space and allowed me to make directions to make this situation mine to control. I don’t know whether he did this on purpose or not, but it made SUCH a difference. So we swapped sides so I could touch the wall And still release air from my BCD and we went down slowly at my leisure and I breathed through the stupid fear and got it!

I just want to say that it sounds like I’m doing this just to tick some kind of weird box. I’m not. I’m doing this because I really love that I can explore an AMAZING part of this world without pain while I do it and because it’s actually the most amazing feeling when it’s right. Absolutely amazing, there are actually no words to describe how it feels to be down under the surface and be in control (mostly) and move freely. It is nothing I thought I’d ever experience again. So. I want this to work because it gives me something I thought I’d lost and also because it’s VERY COOL 😆

So yeah, was totally comfortable in the end with being underwater without a mask on, and then sticking the mask on and emptying it while still underwater.

Then tried to do the putting a tank back in the BCD and it was all over rover… partly because the current had pushed us way out of lanes and I’m always aware of when we’re intruding on other people’s space, partly because I couldn’t frickin’ flip over to be able to tighten the belt, and partly because by this time we’d run out of time.

So! To sum up… just the most awesome thing! After the dread of the start I felt a million times better at the end. It was so very cool.

After we got out of our wetsuits we had a 10 minute float – lovely! Well apart from the fact that without a wetsuit it was REALLY cold, and the stupid current which kept trying to take you to different lanes. I think we should do that every time, but maybe in the spa.

Underwater Astronauts

SCUBA is hard!

I thought it was going to be hard for different reasons than it is. I knew I’d have issues with the whole ‘lack of control’ bit, the being in an environment where you screw up and things are exponentially worse than when you’re in a place where even if you fell from a height and shattered a bone or 5 and on landing couldn’t draw breath you still have a more than decent chance of making it through. I knew about the secondary air supply and how to get it, or at least how to make sure you are near someone that can see you need it and make it happen. I’ve read about diving adventures gone wrong and decompression chambers in remote locations… gorgeous, warm and most beautiful locations!

What I didn’t know, and didn’t even guess at, was that your face has the channels that drive water straight into your mask and up your nose! That didn’t happen when I was snorkeling! Turns out there are multitudes of places this can happen (Google is not always your friend people), but in my specific case I THINK I’ve figured out its my lips. When you get old, or at least when a woman gets old (I honestly don’t know whether this happens to men and am NOT Googling to find out sorry) you get lines above your lips that channel straight to your nostrils when you blow (or “purge”) or pout or purse your lips… And then there are your laugh lines, which is slightly disastrous if you have the inclination to smile at people to indicate you’re okay. And it hurts! Not necessarily the first time, but after a while it’s really quite painful. And then there’s the whole swapping mouth pieces and purging and swapping back… I’m struggling with this a lot.

Anyway – to start. We all got to the pool in good time and met up for a coffee before hand, which was lovely! Kilbirnie pool has a cafe – they’re not quick but they are good and have a decent range of food. None of us really wanted to eat because we really didn’t know what was coming up. So the four of us (Duane’s kids are going to do this in the holidays – we’re doing this on my kids mutual day off – retail sucks for weekends.) went and met Elliot and Dani.

We got our gear sorted and in to our wetsuits and started in the small pool – slightly frustrating for the giant as even on his knees his head was out of the water but good for the rest of us. I was almost immediately behind – I really hate being special! But had the nose issues pretty much from the start. And Elliot immediately knew that all was not right even though I was signalling okay madly hoping that I could just move on.

OK scuba hand signal

Elliot and Dani were fantastic in their persistence and patience and we had a good first session really – the worst part was trying to be on your knees in the water! That’s really hard on muscles that are rarely used in actual life. I also had the problem where I couldn’t sink. I’m a champion floater but for whatever reason I could not go down. Issue when diving :/

Dani weighted me down muchly and off we went, it was good. Honestly don’t remember lots about the first part of being underwater except that breathing wasn’t the freaky thing I thought it would be and that trying to balance was insane. And then we were out and into the 2 & 5 metre lanes. Awesome!

We did the buddy alternate breathing thing – swapping out your regulator for your buddy’s alternate – and the taking out your regulator and blowing bubbles, swapping it for your snorkel etc and then the filling up your mask with water and emptying it while still under. Did it! Absolutely hated it! And that’s where I ended really.

By this stage my nose was becoming a real issue. Dani and Elliot got me to try several masks and some were more successful than others. In the end Elliot took the others for lessons while Dani tried to sort me out.

Honestly at this stage I was nearly in tears – of all the things I thought that would stop me diving it was not my stupid nose or the wrinkles that went into them. Or the fact that after a while I was in absolute panic mode every time I went down and my nostrils started to fill. Insane!

So I sat the rest of it out – floated on the surface with my mask and snorkel watching under water and trying VERY hard not to make eye contact so I wouldn’t smile accidentally.

It sucked.

But… I was not going to bloody give up at this stage of the freaking game!

The others had been steaming on – it was awesome 🙂 Duane had the remnants of a cold and had sinus issues, but had kept on keeping on and they were all very stoked with their time in the pool. Not sure if I mentioned this but both Elliot and Dani were VERY cool – so patient and absolutely clear in their explanations and expectations.

Elliot suggested I go see Dave and get him to help me get a mask that fits properly and that would make a huge difference. And I did. The next day went to Island Bay and got myself a mask and snorkel with Dave’s guidance and then was like yeah and how do I know it works.

So my girl and I went to the pool – a couple of times actually. And spent time underwater smiling, pouting and taking the snorkel out and putting it back in… anything we could think of to feel more comfortable with this stuff underwater. And it worked! It made such a difference – thank you chick!

Oh – and the other thing! It freaking hurts! Your whole body hurts – my theory is that you’re constantly in motion and water resistance is high and so after a couple of hours you’ve actually done a huge amount of exercise that you don’t feel until you get out of the water. Worst is shoulders and neck, though thighs are a close second 😀 And the result of that is that Duane and I have both started exercising, though in different ways. I did ask Kane if he had hurt after but apparently not. Pretty sure he’s comfortable lying to me, but I suspect his gym body is used to pain. I do know that my kids went home and had a nap straight after the pool. Duane and I went home and logged into work and bitched about how sore and absolutely tired we are…

So this is my new friend which I am using every day (so far) and actually loving.

This diving thing is a terrible idea


Posts & Pages

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.

That’s fine.

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…