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GLOVER'S REEF ATOLL - BELIZE
PADI Open Water Certification Dive No. 3
Rebecca Cabral (Instructor), Linda, (buddy)
Glover's Atoll Resort - Belize
At the dive site, called the South Cut, we throw anchor. Matthew and Monica enter the water and wait at the float behind the boat. Linda and I are to enter the water without equipment, then suit up in the water on the surface. This skill is actually pretty difficult, and is going to be especially challenging today as the surface swells probably exceed 4 feet. However, to our relief, neither of us has any difficulties in suiting up. We then are instructed to make a no-look out-and-back compass-navigated surface swim, counting 25 fin cycles in each direction. Linda and I separate widely during this skill, since our compasses evidently indicate slightly differing vectors and our fin cycles are drastically different(although in an actual dive situation I would not intentionally separate so widely from my buddy). Unfortunately, there is a non-trivial cross current on the surface today, and while I compensate a bit for it, ending at the boat stern instead of the middle, Linda widely misses the boat by about 20 yards.
Wyatt, Matthew and Monica make an anchor rope descent while Linda are I are to make a free descent, then meet up with everyone at the anchor. While we are making the necessary last minute checks on each other, we drift on the surface about 40 yards from the boat. We descend and reach the bottom, only to look all around us and see nothing but beautiful ocean scenes and no sign of the anchor or rope or boat or other divers. Hmmmm... I have somewhat oriented myself to the boat prior to descent, so we begin swimming in that direction a few feet above the bottom. I keep scanning the surface for the shadow of the boat hull and before long I find it, then follow the anchor rope down as the three other divers come into view. I experience a slight relief at finding them so directly.
We have more cert skills to perform, including another fully flooded mask clearing and a neutral buoyancy mid-water float. I am starting to feel like a trained seal. Arf!Arf!The skills go very well, which I again attribute to the good training we have received at El Mar. We then take off to tour the outstanding coral wall and gardens nearby. We especially see fantastic stands of elkhorn and pronghorn corals, enormous vase sponges and brilliant yellow tube sponges and purple fans. There are stunning reef fish around every corner! This is world-class reef diving!
While we are diving, my depth gauge sticks at 40'. I am not concerned since I will be staying with Linda and Wyatt throughout the dive. Matthew is especially enjoying the dive, and performs a variety of space-walk flips and other clowning around on the wall. This is OK, but he fails to pay much attention to his gauges or to the divemaster Wyatt. When Matthew descends to 75' while Wyatt is guiding us around 50', Wyatt finally goes down and grabs him up by the valve. I think that perhaps our certification training has given us an added respect both for depth and for keeping a watch on gauges, something that Matthew perhaps lacks at this point.
After that episode, Wyatt takes us to the wall top to explore for a while. Matthew and Monica are low on air, while both of us have over 1200 psi remaining. Wyatt signals to us that he will ascend with Matthew and Monica while we can explore around for 5 minutes or so and await his return. Cool! What a treat to be able to do some independent exploring! I decide that swimming in a broad circle around the anchor rope is probably the most prudent course, and we begin examining various coral formations on the bottom. After about 2 minutes of this, I notice that Linda has stopped our tour and is hanging 6 feet above me without much motion. She looks at me, rubs her tummy once, then places her hand on her regulator, then moves it away. The message is clear - she is feeling sick.
We agree to ascend on our own, rise up to a 15' level, then swim slowly over to the anchor rope where the other three are finishing their safety stop. Wyatt is surprised to see us. Once we complete our safety stop, we surface and board the boat. When we explain our actions to Wyatt, he comments that we took the correct action. Linda, who feels immediately better once out of the water, discusses her indecision on how to throw-up under water - regulator in or out. Keeping the regulator in your mouth is the correct way, since you may otherwise suck in water. Linda's distress was undoubtedly caused by the surge on the wall top, significant today, and also perhaps by the relatively greasy corned beef we had for breakfast.
Our dive is 42 minutes long - this time I have a whopping 1200 psi of air left, actually more than Linda this time. Wyatt indicates that men use air faster than women on average, possibly due to larger lung capacity. Matthew and Wyatt also discuss the depth of his dive, and Matthew insists to Wyatt that he dove no lower than 60 feet. Unfortunately, his depth gauge, which is resting on the deck at his feet, clearly reads 75 feet as his maximum. We arrive back on Northeast Cay dock, and Wyatt asks us to complete our navigation skills in the calmer water around the island. Linda's stomach is still a bit queasy, however, and so we postpone this until tomorrow. Linda notes that she took 19 pictures on this dive.
Mares Avanti Quattro
80 ft3 Al
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U S Divers