Adventures and Sports

Under the Sea Part 1

Batangas

Renzelle Ann Palma
Renzelle Ann Palma | Oct 01, 2013

I adore Ariel and Flounder from Disney's Little Mermaid. I love Nemo and his anemone. But as they say, life isn’t a fairy tale. But it is a lot better.

Choose Philippines is taking you to a place, or should I say, a world, only a few have seen- the world of Nemo, Ariel and Flounder. We are taking you under the sea!

DAY ONE - ACACIA DIVE RESORT, MABINI, BATANGAS

It was my first time to SCUBA dive. SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) diving is a form of underwater diving in which a diver uses scuba equipment to breathe underwater. Being my first time, I was both excited and nervous! Excited because I love the ocean and I’ve always wanted to try it. Nervousl because I’ll be breathing thru my mouth several fee underwater via equipment that would definitely take some getting used to.

The first step in diving is to get familiar with the equipment. It can be quite overwhelming to a beginner so make sure to pay attention to your instructor.

The first instrument they had me learn was the BCD or the Buoyancy Control Device. It's a vest that helps the diver maintain proper buoyancy underwater. There are buttons used to inflate and deflate air within the BCD that would allow me to either go up and down the water. Buoyancy is important to stay afloat and controlling it is of equal importance so as to avoid touching and damaging the coral.

Other equipment are the mask, snorkel, fins, the regulators (most important since these deliver the life-giving air to the diver), the weight belt (to help with the balance) and the air tank.

Despite the technical nature of the equipment, I found the wetsuit to be the hardest part of the whole experience. Donning a wetsuit for the first time is like putting on those pair of pants from five years ago that you desperately need to fit. The wetsuit is made of 3mm thick neoprene and is super tight and snug. It helps in regulating the temperature of the diver underwater. It took me 20 minutes to put it on and the effort alone already made me feel (and look) likea pro and I was ready to dive! But it was just the first step.

It was now time for the introductory lesson to prepare us for the dive. I was glad to have Sir Rhoel, my Choose Philippines editor, to take the lesson with me. It was his first time as well so it took some nervousness on my part knowing that I am with a familiar face during the whole experience.

It was a great thing that our teachers, Dive Instructor Albert Robles and Dive Master Candidate Neil Andoque, repeatedly assured us that since this is an introductory dive they will never leave our side and would take control of the technicalities. We were told to just relax and enjoy. Now it was time to jump in the pool first to get started with the lessons!

All the equipment strapped on the diver becomes lightweight in the water so it really is not much of a problem. I personally love to swim so that never really became an issue. I have no fear of drowning so that was a plus. The only problem really was getting used to breathing and exhaling thru my mouth, which is the most basic and important thing. It helped that I tried snorkeling already so I have a bit of knowledge of what to expect. But still, it takes time getting used to.

• The first hour in the pool was spent practicing several stuff which included breathing using the regulator

• Learning the basic hand signals which would be the only way we would be able to communicate: "OK", "no air", "problem", "look at me", "go up /go down"

• How to remove water from your mask underwater,

• How to put on the regulator when it is accidentally removed from your mouth

• Maintaining balance and buoyancy

• Swimming around to get the hang of moving with all that equipment

• There were also a practical tip that included how divers would defog their masks-they spit on then lens. Yep you read that right. Make sure to apply a generous amount, spread it and wash it off with water.

There are two things to never forget while underwater: first is to continue breathing. This needs practice for beginners and that's what the lessons are for. Take your time to practice. The second is to equalize. Water pressure increases the deeper into the water, so the pressure in the ears is inevitable and results in an uncomfortable sensation. To equalize, pinch your nose close and gently exhale through your pinched nostrils. You should feel your ears "pop" as they equalize. Remember: to equalize and breathe.

The lessons were easy just as long as you pay close attention to your instructor. Albert and Neil encouraged us to ask questions and to share them our concerns. They patiently provided answers and eased any doubts while providing assurance that nothing will happen to us in the open water. They reminded us that for anything, the fishes might be more scared of us than we are of them.

We ended the day with a promise to test our newly developed skills and dive to the real thing: the ocean.

(This is a two part series of my adventure under the sea. Stay tuned for the next entry where I get to do the real thing..)

Photos from: https://www.facebook.com/SNUPS.ph

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