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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Taking the Plunge: Scuba in Jamaica - Page 4

Written by Gary Pearson
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Noticing her apprehensiveness, our wily instructor asked Hutton what the matter was.

“I don’t feel comfortable,” she retorted without hesitation. “It feels unnatural.”

ShiraH Intravel 4810 1

Hutton, a 24-year-old university student from Canada, was in the same boat as the rest of the group, both physically and mentally. She, however, was the only one with enough guile to speak out. It, too, was her first dive. The tension could have been sliced with a shark’s fin.

“Just remember to equalize,” Halacoglu enforced sternly.

Somehow amidst the frenetic scene, I almost forgot what it meant to equalize. Pinch your nose and blow as you descend, I remember him saying during our brief stint in class. Your ears will pop, neutralizing the effect of increasing pressure. 

Pressure injuries, referred to as barotrauma, can be painful and potentially fatal, but are uncommon as long as proper procedures are adhered to.

Just as Hutton and the others appeared at ease, our forthright and candid instructor imparted some last-second words of wisdom.

“Stay calm, if you panic you are done,” he said, snapping his mask into place as he disappeared over the boat’s hull.

Easier said than done.

As I shuffled to the boat’s edge, his parting words circled my mind like a shoal of sharks.

Richard Hooker’s famous proverb, “he who hesitates is lost”, hit me like a bag of bricks, compelling me to leap.

The first of the group to reach the rope connected to the buoy, I watched the others jump cumbersomely overboard. In unison, we started our descent.

The need for constant equalization became immediately evident. Pressure accumulated rapidly, compressing my head like an excavator crushing a defunct Toyota Corolla.

After descending cautiously and meticulously, we reached a depth of 10 meters – industry standard for a first dive – and kneeled on the seabed awaiting our leader’s instruction.

Perrin kneeled across from me, our eyes locking. He gestured, giving me the universal OK sign. I reciprocated.

Finally, I was awarded a chance to scan the unfamiliar surroundings. The coral reef was teeming with plant life, resembling an underwater rainforest.

Conscious of maintaining a composed breathing manner, I inflated my vest a touch as to reach a suitable equilibrium. Again, I tapped the inflation device. This time, however, I overcompensated and rose like a helium balloon. Like a missile, Halacoglu darted to my aid. After deflating my jacket a tad he motioned to his flippers, demonstrating how to properly ascend.

It dawned on me. I must simply kick my flippers. Slightly embarrassed, I faulted the Halacoglu’s classroom lesson for neglecting to teach common sense.

(Page 4 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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