Leo, my SCUBA instructor, teaches me all the hand signals: Ascending, Descending, I am ok, Something is not right, Counting etc. He also teaches me the basic problem solving methods-what happens when your breathing device is knocked off, or what if water enters your goggles etc. I struggle a little bit in mastering those techniques. Its difficult to mentally accept the idea that the world’s endless oxygen supply is no longer available to me and that I only have a meager 12 litres of an Oxygen+Nitrogen mixture to work with. The next thing Leo tells me is:
“Where?” I ask.
“Into the sea, lets dive”. He answers.
Ha, I think to myself: Do I look prepared from any angle to go into the sea? I argue. I think of as many questions as I can ask so I can delay the ‘going into the sea’ process. I look around. Burj Al Arab stands proudly at the shore–like it earned its right to stay above the sea. My questions to Leo include:
“So, if I go into the sea with you, and something goes wrong, I can come back up right?” or “So how long are we going in for? 10 minutes, 2 hours? How long?” Another question that I didn’t dare ask was “Why are we going into the sea”.
He senses the needless doubts that are going through my head. He takes the cord that controls the air in my life-saving jacket and deflates it. Down I go with my aluminum tank and so does he. I struggle. I point up to indicate that I want to go up, like I have something important to say. My acting skills fail on me. He pulls me down. Then he points at a fish. I look. Then he points to another fish. And then another. There you go-he got my attention. He successfully distracted me from my own thoughts and before I know it, I have myself under control. I am breathing under water and its working.
We only went six metres under the surface this morning, so the sea was lighted up with the sun’s rays. I only used around 25-30% of the gas in my dive cylinder. The deeper you go, the more quickly the gas is consumed and the darker and more mysterious the sea gets. The laws of Physics make themselves very apparent underwater–because everything is different under water. Today I literally just tapped the surface of what this experience has the potential to be. Experienced divers can go anywhere from 18 to 100 metres below sea level, the Titanic is buried 4791 metres below.
I look forward to exploring this activity even more. I want to hear my breathing and see how the change in environment can influence my thoughts. As of now, I am standing above sea level and am loving every molecule of O2 that comes my way.
- Top 10 – World’s Best Dive Sites (essentialtravel.co.uk)
- The wonderful wrecks of the Red Sea (dailynewsegypt.com)
- A Trip with the Guys: Deep Sea off Stewart Island – Stewart Island, New Zealand (travelpod.com)
- The relationship between CO2 concentrations and sea level (terradaily.com)