One Step Closer to Being A Certified Diver

I had my diving certification exam today. The last time I had a written exam, the year was 2008, so I was a tad nervous. I was always eerily good at written exams (I’m booksmart, unfortunately not as streetsmart), sometimes exceeding my own expectation, but after 4 years of non academic work, even I have to cut my brain some slack.

Add to that the fact that I only studied for a few hours spread over 2 weekday nights. I didn’t think I would fail, but I certainly didn’t think I would ace it either.

I got 83 answers out of 85 right, scoring 98%. Holy shit, I haven’t lost my mojo.

Meli and Luis got 84% and 79% respectively. The passing mark was 75%, so we all did it! Hurray!!

Since I finished first, I had the chance of taking these pictures of them concentrating on the test. Our instructor said we were such good students not to cheat and share our answers with one another. I guess our parents taught us well.

Learning Scuba Diving

V is a certified diver. He loves to dive and has been telling me to give it a try. For a number of (logical and practical) reasons, I’ve been putting it off, but lately I feel like finally taking him up on his offer. It’s a new experience, and if I end up not liking it, then at least I can say I’ve tried.

See, I’m open. Even to going someplace we humans are not meant to go. And even if our last snorkelling adventure in Sibu island just served to reinforce that biological limit.

So I rounded up a group of enthusiasts (or stupid masochists, depending on where you stand on this issue) and signed up for a diving certification course. V was certified by CMAS, but I couldn’t find any CMAS dive center in Singapore, so between PADI and NAUI, we finally chose NAUI, the less commercial and more technical of the two. I wasn’t too bothered, but after B complained dramatically about the lack of quality in PADI diving education and raved about NAUI’s reputation, I was swayed.

My colleague Zhongjie happened to have a friend who owns a NAUI dive center in Singapore, so I contacted him and got everything settled! No excuse or backing out now.

Last weekend all of us (Luis, my sisters, my sister’s boyfriend Greg, V, and I) attended the theoretical classroom session and the practical pool session. Boy, we did not know what we were in for! The pool session was hard on all of us. We had to swim 200 meters and tread water for 5 minutes at the start as prerequisites! V said at his time the requirement was 15 minutes, by which time I think I would happily drown.

We wanted to call it a day and go home to nap after, but alas, the day was just starting! Throughout the day, we learned how to assemble and don the equipments, how to enter the water, how to recover our regulators, the purge and blast method to clear our regulators, how to clear our masks of water, how to take off and put back on our entire equipments under water, how to share air with our buddies in out-of-air situations, how to do an emergency ascent, and the session seemed to take forever!

Luis did marvellous, considering he’s 65, making all of us feel out of shape in comparison. He was also very calm underwater, though the day after he admitted to staying still because of fear he would shoot up if he moved (he was struggling with buoyancy control). I did alright, but I was too weak to handle the equipments. Taking them off and putting them on underwater was almost impossible to do on my own. Meli was too panicky and her instinct to surface would be dangerous in the sea, so she needed to practise breathing with her mouth and keeping her cool. Christin and Greg were OK too, but Greg lost one of his contacts sometime in the session. He’s severely short-sighted, so he was almost completely blind on one eye after. Lesson to take away: bring dailies!

V? He was completely in his element. He told me how out of shape he felt and that he needed to work on his stamina before the actual dive. He also complained about being more buoyant now that he’s a few kgs heavier (he was a stick back in high school). Seriously, if I didn’t know him well enough, I’d say he was showing off.

We finished the day feeling like we were turtles who just went through a marathon. But we DID IT, we COMPLETED the session! I regret not having any picture taken on the day to brag about, but then again, we were tired, hungry, and sunburnt. Maybe I should be grateful instead.

Our open water diving trip is scheduled on the first weekend of October. We all wanted it earlier so we wouldn’t have much time to dread it and chicken out, but arranging this based on the schedules of six people is not a walk in the park! In fact, we’re cutting it close to the start of the monsoon season. While we’re in the spirit of overcoming our fear of the unknown that is the ocean, why not throw in choppy waters to elevate the experience and make it more fun!

Till then, we’ll be preparing ourselves for the theoretical test. By any luck and evolutionary leap, we may even grow gills.