Why PADI Open Water?
My family was planning a vacation to Hawaii. I wanted to go scuba diving. My brother who is in the Boy Scout wanted to use this opportunity to get a scuba diving merit badge. In order to earn the merit badge, he had to get an open water diver certification. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is one of the organizations that offer this certification, and they are most widely recognized. The PADI Open Water Diver certification course is a three day training course that includes classroom and swimming pool training as well as open water ocean diving. I really only want to go scuba diving for one day but since my brother was going to do it I was going to tag along just for fun.
After registering with the dive shop online, we each get a package in the mail. It contains a DVD and a booklet. I spent about two days studying and doing homework.
We get off the plane, checked into the hotel, and got settled in. The next day, the instructor picked up my brother and I and took us to the dive shop. From there, we walked over to a coffee shop and review the course material. After that, we went back to the dive shop. The instructor issued us our equipment, and we went over the procedure for inspecting and setting up the scuba equipment. We assembled and disassembled the scuba equipment three times before loading it into the van. Then we drove off to practice in the pool.
The pool we went to was in the back of somebody’s house. It had rain recently so the water was murky. We practiced putting on our gear and getting into the water. The wetsuit, flippers, tank, and buoyancy control device felt completely unnatural to me at first. It was nothing like swimming; completely different. I got used to it after a while. We practiced breathing through the regulator, clearing water out of our mask, reading gauges, recovering a lost regulator, and a bunch of other divers skills.
I have to say that this was the best and the worst day. We finally got to go into the ocean. My brother, I, and a group of people got into a boat and drove out to sea. The first dive went great. I was able to take a cool picture of a sea turtle.
After coming up from the first dive I started to get seasick. I wasn’t really sick, but I was starting to feel it. When I got back into the water for the second dive, everything was fine. We swam around some more. I saw some coral, more fishes, and another turtle. Everything was great until we surfaced. Everyone else got onto the boat first. The instructor and I were the last one. Then suddenly…
Vomit everywhere. A school of red fishes swam up to the surface and started eating it. After getting onto the boat I felt a little bit better. The captain asked me if I took any seasick medication before the trip. I said I didn’t think I would need it, but apparently I did. I’ve been on boats before, and I’ve never gotten sick. I think it was a combination of drinking salt water, the change in pressure, breathing tank air, and motion sickness all combined together to make me sick. Otherwise I think I would’ve been okay. After getting back to the shop, I bought a pack of Bonine (motion sickness tablets). That stuff makes you relax. It doesn’t make you drowsy or sleepy, but it does makes you mellow. I’ve heard rumors that people use this as an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, but I don’t know for sure.
The last day I went a lot better. I took two tablets of sea sick medication, and I felt fine the whole time. We had two dive at two different locations, Turtle Canyon and KoKco Crater. We did the navigation skills test, where we follow a compass underwater, the regulator recovery, and the emergency ascent. The water was really clear. Supposedly there was a storm the week before, and the rain caused the water to be very calm. It was a bit counterintuitive. We saw a puffer fish, an eel, some the more turtles. After getting back on land, the instructor signed my logbook and took my picture. Now I am PADI Open Water certified. That means I can go anywhere and rent scuba equipment and dive without an instructor.