Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I took the plunge.  For years I have been talking about getting my SCUBA certification and last week I finally did something about it.  

The main reason I wanted to do this was so I wouldn't have to pay a diver to clean the bottom of our boat every month or so.  Lots of barnacles and 'junk' accumulate on your bottom and if you don't get them off, it can affect your boat's performance.  The cost of the course was equal to about two cleanings, so I thought this experience would pay for itself in a few months.

The dive shop where I would be taking the classes sent me a very large package in the mail with all the course materials inside.  It also contained several DVD's and workbooks we were to complete before the training began.  All in all, I spent about a week going over everything.  The course itself was a three day classroom/pool event.  We went over the course material one more time and then headed to the pool for some hands on training.

There were five of us in the course:  three 20 something year olds from south Florida and two fifty-ish guys from Ohio.  

We met on a Friday afternoon, the first of three days of 'scuba' immersion.  The first thing the instructor asked was whether we had watched the videos and completed the materials.  The two senior citizens of course had done everything.  The young turks hadn't even taken the plastic off the books yet. Sipping his Red Bull, youth #1 asked if the test at the end was a 'take-home'.  It was.

The ads for the course highlighted that everything was included.  Instructors, pool time and open water certification were all part of the price.  What wasn't included was any equipment needed to actually dive after you completed the course.  For that, I found out, one would pay dearly.  The dive shop did provide some rental gear if you wanted, however I didn't relish the thought of putting a regulator in my mouth that had been previously used by another customer.  

Of course, you could buy all you needed right there. It was all on sale.  I had no idea you needed so much stuff just to go underwater.  Here is a what a basic diver needs to have before he jumps in.

These are just the basics, mind you.  When it comes to the water, the sky is the limit.

I bought the bare minimum I needed to complete the course and get my certification.  I figured I could always add things later on after I had a feel for what was really necessary.  Even so, I was going to have to clean the bottom of Maya many many times in order to break even.

The in-water portion of the training was a real blast.  We started off with the fitness test which consisted of swimming 16 laps of the pool and then treading water for 5 minutes.  Old guys smoked the young guys (who probably smoke too much).  After that, we practiced using our equipment, getting used to the fit and feel.  It was all very cool.

The next three days consisted of practicing emergency procedures, equipment malfunctions and diving techniques.  At the end, I really did feel confident and prepared to tackle this new hobby.  Our instructor constantly reminded us that our certification was only a 'license to learn' and that we only knew enough now to not kill ourselves in the water.  As Clint Eastwood would say, "a man has to know his limitations."

The last day as we were packing up our gear, one of the young turks asked me if I wanted to race him and his buddies in a few laps of the pool (apparently they were hung-over the first day and were a little embarrassed at their performances).

In my best 'Clint' voice I responded....  "sure".   "Are you feeling lucky?   .... punk."

They didn't get it.  I am not sure that they even know who Clint Eastwood is and I would bet that they have never seen a Dirty Harry movie (and hence didn't recognize his famous quote or my wonderful impersonation).   What they do know however is that the second thrashing I gave them, "Made my day."