Buoyancy & Navigation

The following morning we got up and met Stephen, another British guy that was taking the course at the same time. He was on a month long trip with his partner Catherine. Together they own and operate a guesthouse in southwest Scotland called The Alexander House. Our course consisted of 5 different dives and during each we were to practice or learn some skill associated with diving, the first of which was called Peak Performance Buoyancy. We motored out to the calm water on the sheltered southern side of the island and although the visibility was only 10-15 meters we had a great time playing around with our buoyancy. We had to hover motionless for at least one minute using only our breathing to keep us from shooting up and down in the water column. The best part was a game where Dan set up a line of steel weights in the sand, each a couple of meters apart and we had to swoop in and knock each one over with the mouth regulator. We positioned ourselves just right at the beginning, then we would swim forward slowly, exhale and sink to hit the weight, and then inhale to rise and move to the next in line, and so on. It was very helpful in learning how to dive properly.

The second dive of the day was the Navigation Dive where we learned some basic underwater techniques to find our way around. We did it at the house reef about 700 meters out from the beach in front of the dive shop in the lowest visibility water we had yet been in; probably less than 10 meters. The boat took us out and we pulled our way to the bottom along an anchored mooring line to avoid drifting away with the slow current. During the dive we had to use a compass to navigate a straight line out and back from the anchor in the murky water. Next we had to use the compass to swim a square transect. Every 20 meters we had to turn to the right 90 degrees, swim another 20 meters and repeat until we arrived back no farther than 8 meters from the starting point. I couldn’t see them through the murk but apparently perpetually turned-around Emily was swimming off in all sorts of different directions with Dan a bit bamboozled following behind and trying to correct her. The final task was to swim in a straight line and use natural features underwater like rocks and corals as landmarks to find your way back to the start point. With all the tasks more or less successfully completed we surfaced to find our boat had left without us. The 72 year old Philippino tourist that Dan was afraid was a spy had come up from his dive very early and they decided to take him in before collecting us. It wasn’t too bad because we could still see the boat in the distance, but we had to bob around on the surface for 20 minutes or so until they came back.

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