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My first adventure in Scuba

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  • My first adventure in Scuba

    As promised to Tim, T and others, my first experiences with Scuba. As mentioned elsewhere, I completed my course work and my confined space dives, and all the skills required, up here in the middle of the prairies in Canada. I did not do my Open Water certification dives however. For that I went somewhere warm, specifically the parishes of St. Marys and St. Anne in Jamaica. For OWD cert. the dive shop will not book anything in advance. They want to see you, your log book and a medical certificate in person. This meant that I lost a few days at the start of my vacation. No big deal, really. I needed a few days to unwind anyway.

    On to the dives:
    Cert dive 1.
    My first ever open water dive saw me splash in nearly a full 60 feet of water, my allowable limit. I loved it. I've never had trouble equalizing so it was no problem. We descended near the wreck of the Kathryn off Pirate's Cove, but swam east to a rock and reef, the name of which escapes me at the moment. That's what log books are for, right? We didn't do too many skills this time, but did do all the variations of flooded mask/ mask off skills as well as the shared air ascent.

    I love rays and managed to see my first ever yellow ray on this dive. I thought that was a real treat even though it was much too bright to see any bioluminescence from it. We ducked under a huge swarm of jellies, saw some arrow crabs (look those up...) as well as a couple of lionfish. Lionfish are not native to the Caribbean and are choking out native species. PADI offers an invasive species Lionfish hunt certification and since we go to the Carribean most years, I will pursue that certification down the road. There was a certified hunter nearby , so we fetched him and got him to take the lionfish. We ate them that night.

    Dives 2 and 3.
    Couples reef, depth about 35 feet. These were both on the same day and covered almost all of the skills. We also did not exit the water between dives. I actually enjoy all the skills on the bottom, like remove and replace your kit and weights etc., but have always been less keen on the surface versions. I had never dived with a BCD that did not have integrated weights or ever used a weight belt before the first OW dive and while I found the weight belt awkward at first, I loved how easy removal and replacement of the kit is on the surface in this configuration. In fact I think I now prefer the weight belt to integrated weights. The end of dive two was the controlled swimming emergency ascent, which is my weakest skill. We hit the surface and I was more than a bit winded. When Aliem says "Ok, back down." I experienced a little anxiety. I swim like a fish on the surface and am really comfortable under the water, but was a bit anxious whenever I was on the surface with diving kit on and this made that worse, even though the water was only a little choppy. I managed to calm myself before I got anywhere near panic. Back down, some more skills and then... the payoff.

    We have finished all the skills and I am a bit winded, but enjoying some of the reef. We swim near this sort of limestone archway and Aliem suddenly puts his right hand on his head, extended straight up. I shrug...where's the shark? Aliem points to the shaded portion of the arch way and I see a really big tail. Huge upper lobe and virtually non-existent lower lobe. Nurse shark. Aliem signals "OK?". Two OKs and a grin you can see even with my regulator in. We swim to the other side of the archway and Aliem points me right to the opening. I rest my hand on a clear spot on the limestone and I am now less than ten feet away from an 8 foot long Nurse Shark's mouth. This is the first shark I have ever seen that was not in an aquarium. They are sooo beautiful in their habitat. This was almost a religious experience. As we swim away Aliem is pew-pewing OKs at me with both hands. Not just special for me, then. We told Ting Ting about it and she returned on the afternoon dive. The shark was still there. She has been the lead DiveMaster at this shop for about a year and a half and has dived Jamaica most of her life. She told me this was only the third shark she has ever seen and it was by far the biggest.

    Dive 4.
    Back to the reef and rock where I did dive one. I did the last couple of skills including the navigation. I loved that one. We swam through a bunch of channels in the reef and then I had to go to the wreck, which was only in the general vicinity of our splash point. Did not see too much that I had not already seen, though I spotted the first of many endangered electric rays.

    I am done. I am a diver. YAY me!

    Dive 5, the first where I do not have to perform for an instructor.
    This one is directly on the wreck of the Kathryn. 60 feet + or - . The Kathryn is an ex- Canadian Navy minesweeper acquired and sunk by a Kingston based dive shop in 1991. In the intervening years they have recorded the ships decay and rebirth. In this time they have also spent more than $100, 000 on fish food and feeding stations. It has paid off for them. The Kathryn is now a self sustaining reef that is home to rays, eels and the occasional shark as well as many lesser species. I snorkelled over top of this last year and it is the is the reason I decided to take up scuba. I spent about thirty minutes around and on top of the wreck.

    This is the internet. A thread without pictures sucks.

    Me hovering at about 55 feet.

    60315584_10160094112297355_2229255624837824512_o by Hank Blanc, on Flickr

    An electric ray

    59969801_10160085561507355_2683118940858613760_n by Hank Blanc, on Flickr

    60254514_10160094114042355_2773270540624855040_o by Hank Blanc, on Flickr

    60158860_10160094113902355_3881130270564286464_o by Hank Blanc, on Flickr


    The weather in Ocho Rios is notoriously changeable and also it tends to get windier as the day progresses. When we went out it was a bit choppy. I surface in two to three foot swells with whitecaps. Where two days earlier I am on the brink of freaking out in a little swell, here I am grinning with delight and having too much fun. I guess that anxiety is taken care of.

    Dive 6, my last dive.

    Dickies reef, a little less than 40 feet and quite a ways south and west of my starting point. The water was as calm as it gets on the Gulf side of Jamaica and visibility is radically better than the day before on the wreck. This was so peaceful and beautiful. This was also the first dive where I wasn't the first to hit the air limit. I still have a long way to go on my breathing, though.

    The reef was the most vibrant I dove . Pretty good variety of coral and sooo many fish. This is also the reef where we saw the scorpionfish and where the Divemaster got stung by fire coral.

    Happy puffer.

    60121457_10160094325027355_1750809861634916352_o by Hank Blanc, on Flickr

    Unhappy moray

    59204028_10160072804327355_1111663078098862080_o by Hank Blanc, on Flickr

    Smallish lionfish

    60335192_10160094327887355_5346578605222658048_o by Hank Blanc, on Flickr

    60011218_10160094325437355_5389681827558457344_o by Hank Blanc, on Flickr

    Sooo many fish. That is a certi class from a nearby Sandals behind all the little fishies.

    60343883_10160094328167355_8174291403967299584_o by Hank Blanc, on Flickr

    The camera viewpoint is me having some fun with the illusion of weightlessness.

    60057429_10160094327937355_5202600095891062784_o by Hank Blanc, on Flickr

    I love scuba diving.
    All told I saw (and was not stung, bitten, shocked or stabbed by) scorpionfish, stonefish, puffer fish, lionfish, electric rays, moray eels, fire coral or sea urchins as well as yellow rays and one docile shark.
    Last edited by Henry Krinkle; 05-14-2019, 01:56 PM.
    Solve all your doubts through question mode.

  • #2
    Henry, great write up, great experience. Thank you for sharing. Your learning and adapting to each step in the process speaks well of you and your future enjoyment of diving.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for sharing your experience Henry. Looks like a great time overall, and now you have your license to learn more
      TKite,
      Hydronaut

      I need a new watch

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the details! I'm excited for you.
        I realize I'll never have the passion for this I witness here (I'm far more of a mountain/woods guy) but I love seeing and hearing about it.
        You Extraordinary Gentlemen allow me a vicarious thrill now and then!
        B

        Comment


        • #5
          Nice story and pictures Henry. Looks like you must have been south of the equator in that last picture.
          I am living the dream in Hawaii.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by vjb.knife View Post
            Looks like you must have been south of the equator in that last picture.


            Comment


            • #7
              Yea, Henry!
              Cardigan American Princess Celeste says, "It's too quiet. You guys get up off your butts and start doing things."

              Comment


              • #8
                Very Cool. Great pictures!

                Thanks
                "So Many Watches / So Little Time"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Your cert dives are way more interesting than the ones I had. Well done.
                  Keith

                  Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes; after that, who cares?! He's a mile away and you've got his shoes!

                  sigpic

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                  • #10
                    Fantastic Henry, congratulations, I asked for a report and you didn't disappoint, very comprehensive, many thanks for sharing. Are those shots taken with your new little tracker?

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                    • #11
                      Great shots, Henry - congrats!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mosswood View Post
                        Henry, great write up, great experience. Thank you for sharing. Your learning and adapting to each step in the process speaks well of you and your future enjoyment of diving.
                        Originally posted by TKite View Post
                        Thanks for sharing your experience Henry. Looks like a great time overall, and now you have your license to learn more
                        For me learning something is one of the reasons I take it up. It is one of the things that keeps me interested in something. I have a long, long way to go here, even at this basic level. I burn through a cylinder. I think it's a holdover from how I breathed as a competitive long distance runner. That's my first priority, now that my finning technique is getting better.

                        Once I get better at that I'll do Advanced Open Water and then probably pursue some of the specialities. As mentioned the Lionfish certification for the Caribbean interests me quite a lot. Navigation, wreck diving and photography may well follow.


                        Solve all your doubts through question mode.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Watch Carefully View Post
                          Thanks for the details! I'm excited for you.
                          I realize I'll never have the passion for this I witness here (I'm far more of a mountain/woods guy) but I love seeing and hearing about it.
                          You Extraordinary Gentlemen allow me a vicarious thrill now and then!
                          B
                          Diving is certainly not for everyone, but I have become more and more interested in it over the last few years. For me it's clearly been worth it. Mrs. K was almost as excited as me by my first shark sighting, but she will never take it up and I couldn't recommend it for her.
                          Solve all your doubts through question mode.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by vjb.knife View Post
                            Nice story and pictures Henry. Looks like you must have been south of the equator in that last picture.
                            Well, I heard the currents at Ochi can be quite strong, and there is certainly more than a bit of it around the Kathryn and Gateway Reef. I thought that perhaps I should swim in proper Southern Hemisphere fashion in case one of those currents got me and swept down there...
                            Solve all your doubts through question mode.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by George W. Olney View Post
                              Yea, Henry!
                              Originally posted by kurt48 View Post
                              Very Cool. Great pictures!

                              Thanks

                              thanks George and Kurt!
                              Solve all your doubts through question mode.

                              Comment

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