Last Friday, I dragged Antonio up to Manly to do an introductory dive with me. (You should have heard the fuss he made about having to get up at 7am. Wimp.) It may surprise many of you who know what a big baby I am about things like the ocean, and drowning, and crossing bridges over the ocean during an earthquake and therefore drowning in my car... but I've been wanting to learn to dive for quite a while. Partly on the theory that if I could breathe and see underwater, I wouldn't feel quite as freaked out. I wanted to sign up for a PADI certification course straight away, but given that the likelihood that I would panic and hyperventilate upon entering the water was significantly more than zero, I decided perhaps an introductory dive might be prudent first.
Antonio and I took the ferry over to Manly beach, and then were picked up by Pro Dive. We sat through a brief intro and instruction session with Mike, our dive guru extraordinaire. We then crawled into many layers of neoprene [I pointedly did NOT break out the camera], and headed over to Shelley beach, where there's an aquatic reserve. After proving to Mike that we could a) kneel on the bottom b) take our regulators out of our mouths, drop them, get them back and clear them, we set off swimming.
I found it very hard to control my buoyancy. At one point I started floating higher and higher, and Mike had to tow me back down. And at another I wound up stuck on the bottom, with my tank on the ocean floor, and no way to turn around and no way to get up. Mike and Antonio just floated there laughing at me. Eventually, I realized that I could float higher by taking a deeper breath, and sink by breathing out extra. Which perhaps explains why I went through so damn much air in our forty minute dive. Very tricky...
Anyway, we saw a very friendly blue grouper, a shy cuttlefish, an octopus, numerous fish, and two sharks. I haven't been able to figure out what type they were, but they were long, narrow, sand camouflaged and lay very still on the bottom. Very cool!
So that was my introduction to diving. Other than nearly freezing my fingers off, it was fantastic. So I'm going to sign up for a class as soon as I get back from Melbourne this weekend. And hopefully plan a trip to the reef soon. I've heard it's cool.