Scuba Virgin In The Red Sea

Sometimes people enter your life at just the right moment.  When I first planned my trip one of the things I wanted to make sure I tried is scuba diving.  I’m not really comfortable in the water so this would be pushing my boundaries still something I have always wanted to experience.  Everything I had seen and heard suggested diving in the Red Sea is among the best in the world, so when I arrived in Sharm El Sheikh during my Egypt tour I decided that I would look into it.  Then I met Amr, a 29 year old diving instructor whose passion is found under the water.  He becomes so animated and excited as he talks about the amazing things he has seen under the sea and how he has moved into the area of photography and videography… capturing some of the spectacular scenery and his encounters with sharks, seals and giant Manta Rays. As he spoke I found my fears dissolving replaced with a fascination to see what it was that has inspired so much passion.  It also turns out that he works at Ocean College, the same diving school that I had been considering, rated number 1 or 2 in any of the online rankings.  Unfortunately he is off work because of a sinus infection (a dangerous thing for a diver), but still I decided that I would sign up for the Discover Scuba Diving PADI course… just a one day introduction teaching the basics.  He walked me through the things they would teach and how they would introduce me to the water,  very reassuring.  Still when I arrived at the dive centre I was more than a little nervous. I was in a group of 7 people, 5 from England who were feeling more confident (a couple of them had tried the Discover Scuba Diving course before) and one from Jordan who was even more nervous than me.  We went through the basic instructions, how to clear your regulator, how to clear water from your mask, how to inflate your vest to rise and how to deflate it to go down as well as the hand signals for okay, problem, etc.  We also filled out the forms giving us medical clearance but still clearing the dive school of any responsibility if something went wrong.  Then it was time to get suited up.  I had worn a shorty wetsuit before so I knew how to get into the suit, the boots, and the goggles, they then strapped on the weights (about 8kg for me but they added 2kg more in the water) and then we hooked up to the tanks and equipment.  When it was time to stand up it was like lifting two of you… and walking was a chore, carrying all that extra weight.  We walked into the water, slowly and then sat down so our heads were just below the surface.  That’s where we started to breathe underwater.  At first it seemed easy, I remembered everything my friend had told me, relax and just breathe normally, do not hold your breath.  I was doing fine, and then we went down a little lower and knelt down on the bottom.  I couldn’t seem to stabilize myself and kept drifting around and we started testing the basics, taking our regulators out of our mouth then putting it back in and clearing the water from it.  I obviously was doing it wrong, releasing too much pressure and water kept going inside my mask and up my nose.  I shot to the surface coughing and sputtering and my guide came up reassuring me that it was okay and how to clear it out underwater.  I went down again, and the same thing happened again and again I shot to the surface.  The instructor was losing patience, telling me just to relax, that a little water up the nose wouldn’t kill me and then he said go down again.  I said ‘just let me catch my breath for a second’ I was still coughing and trying to clear the water from my nose.  When I felt okay again, down I went and this time I got it right.  I managed to clear the regulator and clear my mask without getting panicky.  Still I my breathing was not quite right, I was taking big, quick breaths instead of slow and steady.  We started to swim around up and over coral that were teaming with fish of every kind. It was very beautiful but I was still trying to remember everything I was supposed to do and not do.  My ears started to hurt from the pressure and the simple blowing through a pinched nose wasn’t working so the instructor told me to move my head from side to side when I was doing it… I started bopping around like a headbange so he put his hand out and told me (all through signs and mimes) to just gently tilt my head from side to side… it worked. Still it wasn’t the most enjoyable experience, I was trying to adjust my breathing as well as my kicks to stay near the bottom but to be aware of the coral so I didn’t run into it and destroy anything.  Over the next several minutes of just swimming around with the fish, I managed to relax. The instructor came over and checked our air gauges and his eyes went big when he saw mine (I forgot to keep checking it) and so we started heading back to shore.  Suddenly I realized he was right in front of me and sitting up with his head above water so I did the same and discovered we were about 2 meters from the beach.  He said my eyes were as big as saucers, but I think that was because I was shocked to realize we were that close to shore.  We managed to go down only 8.5 meters and were down there for about 35 minutes… we went in the water with 200bars of air and when we came to the surface I only had 10 left while my diving buddy (you swim with a buddy) was at 85, the instructor said it was because I was breathing frantically and I needed to remember to just relax (but he did admit I got better near the end).   We trudged up the beach with all of our equipment on (except the fins) and it was like carrying a ton of weights, we stripped down and put all of our gear in the cleaning tank and sat down for a bit of a debrief with the instructors.  They told us we were now able to go diving with another instructor to a maximum 12 meters from a boat if we would like.  I definitely want to try this again but I think I might go for the beginner Discover Scuba Diving course again.  I want to really feel confident and more in control before I attempt an underwater dive that is a bit more of a challenge.

ps. I bought a small disposable underwater camera to catch photos underwater… unfortunately the quality is not very good. I will get a housing for my camera  WHEN I do it again.

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One Response to “Scuba Virgin In The Red Sea”

  1. Lindsay
    June 5 at 7:37 pm #

    SO PROUD OF YOU!!!! Now you can teach me because I am a chicken shit!!!! xoxo

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