In part 1 of my blog about doing my Open Water Scuba Dive Course I shared some information about the theory as well as the pool skills that you learn while doing your PADI Open Water Scuba Dive Course. In this blog we will be looking a bit closer at what you can expect from doing the real thing… scuba diving in the ocean!
On the day that I did my ocean dives Theo took us to Long Beach near Simon’s Town Naval Base. Long beach is an excellent location for divers that are still finding their sea legs because of the protection that the harbour offers from currents and waves that are generated deeper in the ocean.
This shore dive offers an easy entry and exit from the ocean with little wave action making it perfect for beginners who are still getting a handle on lugging around scuba dive gear. What’s more, the public toilets nearby are clean and well kept.
We started the dive by assembling our scuba dive gear. It is best to first assemble the BCD, regulator and cylinder before you put on your wetsuit. Wetsuits are excellent for retaining your body heat which is great for when you are actually in the water, but sucks when you have to assemble your scuba gear in the hot sun because you can get very hot, very quickly.
With the ocean dive section of the Open Water Course, more time is spent on assembly of the gear to help build your confidence in your equipment and teach you the vital safety checks that you should perform before you dive. This includes the tried and trusted ‘Begin with review and friend’ rhyme that you are taught to make sure you check your 1) BCD 2) Weights 3) Releases 4) Air and then do your final checks. Once the gear was assembled and we had put on our wetsuits it was time to don it all and head out for the sea.
Once in the water it took me a while to get comfortable. I had to make sure that my mask was in place properly by checking the seal, else you just end up having a mask full of water…I did that, my bad.
Finally we got the signal from Theo to descend. I swapped out my snorkel for my regulator, took my first breath of cylinder air and started deflating the BCD. With that, I gently descended beneath the waves. The Long Beach dive is not that deep, with the deepest that I went being about 6 meters, but it is easy, which is a great confidence builder.
At that point in the course we practised the same skills that we learnt in the pool the day before. This included clearing our masks, practising regulator recovery and buoyancy skills.
After doing our skills we took the rest of the time doing a bit of sightseeing. I was fortunate enough to see a cormorant dive beneath the waves in search of fish nearby, saw a couple of jellyfishes as well as numerous other fish and shellfish.
Once again I was impressed with the professionalism and care that both PADI and Into The Blue Scuba Dive Centre took in the repeating and reinforcing the skills that we had learnt in the pool.
After completing all my ocean dives, all that was left was the written test. I must admit I was a bit nervous but it turned out that it was for no reason at all. The test was really easy. So with that I got certified and am now officially an Open Water Scuba Diver!
For those of you that are wondering if you should do your Open Water Course, all I can say is that it is well worth the effort. Not only do you get to explore new and exciting dive sites as a scuba diver, but you get to meet lots of new people as well.