Scuba Diving Lessons and Safety
... Go back to Part 2: Hawaiian Dive Boat
The second thing that the boat crew went over was “clearing” your ears as you went down and back up. They explained the need to equalize the pressure inside your sinuses and ears as you dove down and rose back up. The suggested holding your nose and blowing to pressurize your ears periodically as you went down and taking time and breathing naturally without holding your breath on the way back up. While most of us did not have a problem with this, for Tina it did not work out so smoothly and she felt it in her ears for a few days after the dive. Later when she took lessons in a pool back home and got certified for diving, she discovered what she had done wrong, which was not to have pressurized as often as she should on the way down. She said that she had not held her nose and blown as often as she should to build up the pressure on the inside of her head on the way down.
The third thing they instructed us to do was to be conscious always of our air supply and to check it once a minute or so not matter how interesting our surroundings were. They told us to prepare for a gradual assent even though we were only going to dive down thirty feet at the most. They suggested coming back up when we had about five minutes of air and to just let ourselves drift back upward as we breathed naturally. This seemed to work well of everyone. While deeper need to ascend and stop in stages to adjust things, in thirty feet of water you are much more concerned about equalizing air pressure in your breathing passages, sinses and ears. Divers who do deeper have the additional complication of needing to allow time for the oxygen pressures to stabilize in their blood streams or they risk the bends and dangerous damage caused by much higher pressure changes in their blood streams.
The fourth things they told us to do was to relax and to minimize our physical exertion. The crew members, who by the way actually were very competent, experienced, and enjoyable, told us that while the experience of diving would be new to us, it would be relatively short lived, if we moved around too much and too quickly. They told us that we would consume more air going down and getting adjusted, but that we should concentrate on calming ourselves down on the bottom and to breathe naturally, if not slowly.
They told us that some first timers do not necessarily panic with the new experience of diving compared to snorkeling, but that they treated the experience like they were swimming and snorkeling, which can consume a lot of air rather quickly. With diving they told us to put our arms back to our sides most of the time and to gently maneuver with our legs and fins. When I was on the bottom, I watched my air pressure gauge and noticed that I seemed to be using my air pretty quickly at first – however, it is difficult to tell because I was not using a watch to gauge the passage of time, as well. Anyway, I consciously tried to slow down and drift and move with my legs and fins, and it seemed like my heart rate slowed and my rate of air consumption seemed to slow.
I am sure that told us other things like how to adjust our buoyancy and how much we needed on our weight belts, but this further instruction gets fuzzy with the passage of time. Once we had are equipment on, we just sat of the edge of the boat and let ourselves fall backward into the water. Since Steven and I were larger than the women, we were able to stand upright with relative ease despite the diving tanks and weight belts, but the equipment was still pretty heavy. It felt a lot better after we sat on the side and fell backward into the water and started floating a bit.
Tina and Tabatha on the other hand found the diving equipment to be rather heavy and the found it better to put the weight belt on while standing and then sit down on one of the benches to put on the tanks. We all got assistance from the crew to get the tanks on. After their tanks and all other equipment were secured, the women just scooted along the fiberglass bench to the edge of the boat and fell backwards into the water. When they came back up a crew member pulled the equipment up for anyone who did not want to try to climb back into the boat with all this weight on their backs.
Once we were all in the water, we gradually let some air out of our vests and stopped floating and began to descend. We were to dive in groups of three or four per crew member accompanying us. We were told to pay attention to our group members and also to keep a sense of where the boat was. This was not always as straightforward, as it might seem. While the waters were very clear, the waves were gentle that day, and there was little turbulence in the water, you still can see clearly only so far under water. If you did not stray more a perhaps seventy five to a hundred yards horizontally then it was pretty easy to spot the anchor line and see the bottom of the boat. Any further and it would be dicey to know which was the correct direction back to the boat.
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