J instructed me through a series of charades to empty the air from my buoyance compensator device (BCD), and I did so. He then reached into the weight pocket on either side and removed two pounds of lead. He then instructed me to hover, and I did so with only the slightest puff of air.
He signaled for me to wait another moment, and reached into the weight pockets again, removing two more pounds. Again I hovered without difficulty.
Buoyancy control in scuba is a big deal. There are a lot of factors that affect it, including weight, body composition, use of a wet suit, fresh vs salt water, and the equipment you are carrying. A year ago I was floating with 12 pounds on my first dive, so I carried 14 for the rest of the week (although I thought less would be better by the end).
This week I started with 12, garnering raised eyebrows from the divemaster issuing weights. And today I got rid of a third of that, so now I carry only 8 lbs. That’s huge. It means less use of air to balance the extra weight, which means better control of buoyancy as my depth changes, and all of this means less use of energy and air overall.
This felt personally validating.
The day started with a visit to Mr. Bud, a sunken fishing boat. Compared to Grand Cayman, a year ago, I feel like the wrecks here don’t have many amusing anecdotes to accompany them. Or perhaps the dive masters last year were better at describing them. I saw a large drumfish here, but my picture didn’t come out. Sigh.
After this dive, I wasn’t feeling great. My sinuses were bothering me again, so I skipped the dropoff dive. My sinuses usually begin bothering me about 45 minutes or so into a dive. We time most of these dives at 60 minutes or so, so I’m ascending with plenty of extra air.
In the afternoon we dove Too Tall Too Small, and the bizarre highlight for me was a free swimming moray that swam at my side far too long for my comfort, then turned his head toward me baring his teeth. That honestly gave me the willies, so I veered starboard and it moved along. (That picture is a random toadfish)
The true highlight of that dive was losing those extra four pounds as part of my Advanced Open Water Certification process. Everything else is a blur. I don’t even care that it was cloudy and chilly.
J and I did the afternoon dropoff at the the wreck of the Prince Albert again, this time for a “wreck diving” unit in the training. We are supposed to describe the wreck, and after a few go-arounds I was bored of this. The worst part of it was writing my notes underwater. My writing is terrible on dry land – 45 feet below the surface of the sea it certainly isn’t any better. (Random urchin)
With that I cleaned up my equipment and returned to my room in preparation for dinner. At dinner, the debate was whether or not tonight would be a night dive. We have talked about it for days now, and for one reason or other we have cancelled again and again. This time we would go.
So we met at the lockers well after sunset, and suited up with all of our equipment, including backup dive lights, and headed toward shore. The air was cool as we waded into the water and approached the platform where we finish donning our fins before heading out. (Random sea cucumber)
With that, we dove into the murky shallows that surround our resort, all of us with flashlights in hand.
I bought my flashlight just before this trip, after doing a great deal of research. And I am absolutely thrilled with it. It’s not perfect. In fact, during the day, when we are shining lights into crevices on some of the walls, it hasn’t been the best, whereas other lights have been much more effective. Tonight, however, those other lights were useless, with their narrowly focused beams, whereas mine, with a wider beam, was the clear winner.
It was the light that guided us around the wreck fo the Prince Albert and over to the wreck of the DC-3. (Random pic of Prince Albert, not at night)
What did we see? A turtle on the bow, with remoras again chilling on its back. And an octopus on the stern, behind the wheelhouse. The octopus didn’t like us – it kept changing colors and shapes in an attempt to hide himself. They are just breathtaking. In due time, we moved along, leaving the octopus on his own.
Still, my highlight of the day is this: I lost four pounds today. That was pretty cool.