On Holiday with Amor Part 2: Weight Issues

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Up again at 7am and Amor nips out to bring me coffee in bed! The sun is shining and it is hot.  It was over 100oF every day.  We have to meet the others at 8am.  Today we are going to dive in Ras Mohammed National Park at Shark and Yolanda Reefs.  I had dived here the last time I visited, but I can’t recall much of what I saw and really didn’t record anything of interest even though I was down there for 45 minutes.  I do remember that all of my dives were lovely with so much to see.  I think I may have been a little bit overwhelmed the first time I was there.

We got on the bus that took us to the marina where we were going to spend the day on the Mondi 1.  As we boarded, we checked to make sure our diving gear was on board, and fortunately mine was all there.  Once we were all on board and we found a spot to park ourselves on the upper deck, we headed out to the dive site. When we got under way, it was necessary to get our tanks and weight belts ready.  Amor thought it would be a good idea to have less weight on my belt and a couple in my BCD pocket.  He was also going to carry extra in case I needed it.  After everything was set up, we had a chance to relax and admire the view before we got briefed on the dive.

Mark and Amr were our dive guides and I remembered them from the last time I was here.  They are both really personable and good for a laugh. They are also very knowledgeable about the dive sites and thorough in their briefing, so we all knew what to expect.  I was excited and nervous at the same time – something that happens every time I go diving.  I know that there really wasn’t anything to worry about and I had Amor as my dive buddy, but sometimes the fear of the unknown can be a little overwhelming.

When it was time to get ready to go into the water, Amor was right there helping me out and checking that everything was ok, and that I was ok.  This was going to be our first ever dive together and I was hoping that it would be a good experience for him.  I felt better knowing he was my dive buddy.

Getting into the water wasn’t a problem, but I think I may have had a mild panic attack when descending, and I started hyperventilating.  It wasn’t helping that I was having trouble descending, so I popped back up to the surface to calm down for a moment and start again.  Amor was right there with me and helped me get down.  This time the descent was fine and we followed the others.  Once I was swimming, I soon forgot about anything other than all of the wonderful sea life that was there before me.

This dive was amazing!  I saw my very first Napoleon Wrasse.  I have heard so much about them and now I finally got to see one.   They are so beautiful, and huge.  We also saw: white spotted puffer, masked puffer, blue and red mouthed trigger fish, blue spotted sting ray, a school of unicorn fish, barracuda, cornet fish, crocodile fish, Moorish idols and yellow boxfish –  to name a few.  There were so many fish, it was difficult to look at everything.  The corals were really lovely too.  We stayed down for 48 minutes and our maximum depth was just over 22 meters.  I had more than 50 bar of air left, but I started to get really cold (I was wearing a short suit) and thought it a good idea to come up.

The worst thing about scuba diving for me is getting up onto the boat.  It isn’t easy hauling one’s self onto the ladder with wet gear and a tank on your back while the boat may be moving up and down.  Fortunately, there are always a couple of boat hands available to help you out of the water and to take your fins off.  Once back on the boat, I had to get my kit off and then set up with a new tank for the next dive.  Once that task is complete, then it is ok to shower, relax and rehydrate before the next dive.  Diving can be quite hard work sometimes! 🙂

In-between dives, those of us on the boat compared notes on what we had seen.  There were a couple of ladies that were very keen photographers and they always took some lovely photographs.  I have some information on camera equipment and will be doing some research for my next camera purchase.  I saw so many beautiful creatures and would have loved to been able to capture a few on a camera.

Amor and I went through our dive and made notes of what we saw.  I was so happy to have him as my dive buddy.  Having him with me made my experience so much better as I felt completely relaxed and safe with him next to me.  I was still getting to grips with my buoyancy and he was there to help me out.  Also, it was wonderful to share something so beautiful with him.  We are creating amazing memories together.

After a rest, we were briefed on our second dive.  We were going to dive in Jackfish Alley.  As before, we went to get our kit on.  When I was ready to put my BCD on, I had noticed that my spare regulator wasn’t how I had positioned it earlier and just thought someone might have knocked it and put it back.  Not giving it a second thought, I got all set up with Amor helping me as before and then we were ready to go.  There were problems from the start.  I couldn’t descend for the life of me and didn’t know the reason.  Amor had to get under me and drag me down.  Once we were down, I checked the pockets of my BCD – the extra weights weren’t there!  Oh shit!  I didn’t want to panic.  I was ok for the moment, but I couldn’t help thinking how things were going to go when it was time to go up.  I used sign language to tell Amor the situation, it took him a moment, but he eventually got the message and took hold of my hand.  We all had to swim through a passageway that I was a little nervous about as I had to let go of Amor’s hand to do it, but I managed it no problem.

I tried not to think about my weight situation, but it was difficult.  Then, to add insult to injury, my mask kept filling up with water and it steamed up.  I had to keep clearing my mask and it was difficult to see.  I forgot to spit in my mask before we went into the water.  I felt a little bit like an idiot.  I went through the motions of diving trying to see things but not really enjoying the dive.  I was also getting cold.  I didn’t want to disappoint Amor, but after about half an hour I had to end the dive as I was really shivering.   As we started our ascent to do our safety stop, I could feel my body just wanting to rise to the surface even though I had no air in my BCD.  Amor got me in a leg lock and kept us floating at 5 meters. It was an interesting position to be in, but I was really relaxed at this point as there was nothing I could do except to breathe normally and wait three minutes until it was safe to ascend to the surface.   I felt really grateful to be in safe hands.

Once we surfaced, and while waiting for our boat to come for us, I explained things to Amor and told him how sorry I was that I had to end the dive so early.  He was so sweet about the whole thing and was more concerned about how I was.  When we got back on the boat, I set up for the third dive and then went up to lie down and get warm.  I wasn’t feeling well at all.  I felt very tired, a little bit queasy, and cold.  Amor made me a cup of tea and had me drink a lot of water as I couldn’t face having lunch, even though it looked and smelled so good.  I managed to doze off and eventually warmed up.

After lunch and before the third dive, there was a young man on board talking about his dive and how he had on the wrong BCD with weights in the pockets – and he didn’t need any weights at all.  So that’s what had happened to my kit!  He just picked up the tank with the BCD marked medium (mine was a women’s medium though).  When I went to check my tank and put it on, the reason I didn’t give it a second thought was because it was the only tank by my kit box and where I had set up previously.   There were no other tanks set up for diving.  This young man had set up his tank next to mine, even though his stuff was on the other side of the boat, and he took my kit by mistake.  There was some mild hilarity once we worked out what had happened, and we made a mental note to remember to double check everything.  Fortunately, no harm was done.  In my opinion, it is better to have too much weight than not enough though.

Because I had been cold earlier, Amor talked to one of the dive instructors to find out if there were any long wetsuits I could hire.  It turned out there was a spare pair of a sleeveless long suit (that I could wear under my shorties) available.  How did we get that information while on the boat?  Mobile phone!  All it took was a phone call.  How amazing it that!  It seems that nowhere is sacred that you can’t get mobile phone access, even if it is in the middle of the Red Sea.

I opted out of the third dive as I was quite tired and still not feeling great.  Amor buddied up with someone else.  While he was diving, I slept some more, drank a lot of water, and got to know a few of the people left on the boat.  Diving people come in a variety of shapes and forms with interesting vocations and ideas.  I was feeling better by the time everyone returned from the dive.  Once everyone was on the boat and dry, one of the deck hands brought around some cake and fruit – a sweet treat to the end of a lovely day.

On the way back to the marina, I was looking out to sea at the back of the boat and saw a splash.  I gave a shout when I saw a large fish jump out of the water.  I could have sworn that it was a dolphin because of the shape of the tail, but we never saw it surface again.   Fortunately, another young lady saw it, otherwise, the others would have thought I was just imagining things.  If it wasn’t a dolphin, then it must have been one gigantic tuna (which had been seen later in the week).  I thought it might have been a dolphin because of the size of the tail.  We will never know for sure.  I do know that I saw the back end and tail of a very large fish that looked like it could have been a dolphin.

When we got back to the hotel, we dumped our things into our room and found this on our bed.

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I love it when the porters make towel art.

We went to get my long suit, and after the obligatory beer and dive chat, we got ready to go out to dinner.  I was feeling better and very hungry as I hadn’t had any lunch.  We went across the road to have dinner at Picasso Café where we had dinner the night we arrived.  I was in the mood for one of their amazing salads.  We had an enjoyable dinner and talked about our day and first dive experience together.  I didn’t think it was great enough for Amor, especially the second dive, but he insisted that he had a good time and that he was with me was enough. How sweet to say that.  I couldn’t have enjoyed myself half as much if I hadn’t had him beside me.  This holiday was turning out to be better than I expected.

After dinner, Amor and I went back to our air-conditioned room.  We were tired after a long day and had another early start.  After being reassured that the second dive wasn’t a disaster and that sometimes these things happen and that the most important thing was that I hadn’t panicked and that no-one got hurt, it was time to go to sleep.

No sooner did I close my eyes, the bed began to sway.  One of the after effects of being on the boat all day and something that would continue throughout the rest of the week!

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4 responses

  1. It was good because I was with you, to see your face and watch you relax and enjoy was a priviliege xxxx

  2. arlene – any days diving is a good days diving.

    and it doesnt matter if your buddy needs a little bit more time to get comfortable in the water. its all about being in the water thats the main thing.

    i’ve been reading along and i think you have done really well for someone who hasnt dived in 3 years! good for you.

    and i am sure that amor agrees with me in saying that good people make good dive buddies and we’re prepared to wait for them.

    keep diving.
    tara

    • Dear Tara,

      Thank you for your lovely and encouraging comments. You are right, it is all about being in the water and I was really lucky to have an excellent and experienced dive buddy.

      I have also had a look at your blog and think what you have done in the last 3 years is amazing! I also love your photographs.

      NZ is on my list of places to visit, so you never know….in the meantime, I will be reading your blog from time to time. I love how you set it up.

      All the best,
      A

  3. well i am really liking your photographs too – i may steal your montage idea … just giving you advance warning!

    please do keep in touch. even more so if you are planning on heading out this way. i would be more than happy to be your dive mistress any day!

    take care,
    tara