Finally…deep diving. And what it was like to boat dive with 30 people.

Today is the day down here in the paradise that is the Florida Keys. I am finally going to go for Deep Diving to finish out my Advanced Open Water (AOW) certification. There is no wreck dive scheduled today, so I won’t be adding that to the list, but I have finished the other four out of five required – Peak Buoyancy, Navigation, Search and Recovery, and Fish ID. Oh, and by the way, diving here this week – the visibility has been about 75 feet and the water about 75 degrees. Everyone is wearing wetsuits but me. I have good natural padding and have not been cold at all. My 5mm boots and rash guard are all I need.

For some reason I am nervous about today. Although I have already been diving at 60 ft a couple of times, I still am uneasy and I cannot explain why. I guess there is this fear that added depth means more things that can wrong and as a new diver, I am am still building confidence and figuring out my comfort zone. Thank goodness I at least clocked in my first very first boat dives (ever) in shallow water before going for Deep Dive from a boat. The combo of worrying about boat diving, diving with other people (until this week I have only been diving with instructors one-on-one), AND Deep Dive…well, that would have been too much multitasking for me. One thing I have learned about the diving process for me – slow and baby steps.

Yesterday, for our shallow dive, there were 27 divers on the boat plus the crew. At first I thought, “Oh, hell no. This is going to be a cluster fuck.” But it wasn’t – the whole dive crew did an amazing job managing us by groups. Down on the reef, I barely even saw the other divers. Now that’s a damn fine crew. I was sure I had a 90% chance of getting fins to the face – but it never happened.

So, diving with that many people was a good exercise in boat and dive etiquette for me – especially with that many people on the line getting back in the boat. I did learn that all divers look the same in the water in their black wetsuits – so if you are swimming in close proximity to other groups, be careful and pay attention to your buddy (always) and your group – before you know it, you can easily lead yourself and your buddy into another group. Luckily my divemaster was wearing a bright orange wetsuit and I could always see him. And, we were shallow, so I could still see all of the colors of fins that distinguished my group – all my crew had yellow fins (it was a lucky accident). Since you start to lose color the deeper you go, that tactic, at some point, becomes less effective. So, I found, your best bet is to pay close attention to your group and don’t dart off or get too far ahead without constantly checking where your crew is. I found out the hard way that you can lose sight of people fast.

So, dear reader, I will let you know how the deep dive goes today. And, hopefully, by the time you read this, I will be AOW certified. Or, at least signed off for it.

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