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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Taking the Plunge: Scuba in Jamaica - Page 2

Written by Gary Pearson
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A crash course followed: equipped with flippers, a regulator (breathing piece), a compressed air tank, a mask and a weight belt – to ensure stable buoyancy was maintained – Halacoglu imparted some practical underwater knowledge. From learning how to inform fellow divers all is well – by forming a circle with your index finger and thumb – to alerting others of a depleted air supply – by slicing across your throat in a decisive, deliberate manner – I exited the pool bursting with confidence.

Halacoglu, who recognised my unwarranted hubris, smiled cheekily, recollecting his first dive when he too brimmed with undeserved confidence.

“When I first start I think I was the best,” said the 30-year-old, whose career started commercially, building garish underwater hotels for Turkish soccer clubs. “I think I know everything, when I realise that underwater everything can happen in a second and you can die.

“I had a couple close calls, not knowing where up, where down is. That changed everything.

“She (Hutton) is only one ready for dive.”

My confidence, along with my air-filled jacket, deflated. Prepared or not, the dive fast approached.

Hutton pulled me aside.

“I don’t feel ready,” the 24-year-old Canadian said. “I feel claustrophobic when I am underwater.”

Overcast skies and slightly blustery conditions made for a challenging first dive. Good underwater visibility is all weather-dependent, Halacoglu said, favoring, due to water’s amenability to refraction, crystal-clear blue skies.

After double and triple checking the equipment, and air supply – 250 bars for a full tank on the metric system – we shuffled across the silky, cushioned sand, bypassing numerous least grebes, whose chatter paused briefly, as if our presence interrupted an important parlay.

The waves, gentle and uniform, caressed the beach creating a serene sound, a sound I often use to combat temporary insomnia.

As we jumped aboard the six-meter boat, anxiety, excitement and the prospect of encountering sea life ensured I remained wide-eyed. Our mercurial diving instructor’s expression mirrored my own.

Turkish Intravel 4812 1

Halacoglu, whose vast experience has seen him sojourn to nine countries in as many years, including Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Indonesia, Mexico and currently, Jamaica, still retained a youthful glow. Over 3000 dives and 7000 hours submerged, he still exuded a boyish exuberance.

(Page 2 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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