As I flopped into the ice cold water, I felt adrenaline rushed through my body. I vividly recall telling myself to play it cool. Despite it was the first time I was diving in open water, I know a bit of swimming after all!
Hours before the dive we drove from Kenmare to Killmackilogue harbor. It took us a good half an hour to get there. The road to harbor was very narrow and curvy but we managed to get there on time. As we reached to the bay, our instructor Paul (of Kenmare Bay Diving) was waiting for us outside a pub. For the first half an hour, we were briefed about our equipment, hand signals in the water and technique to equalize ear. After the tiring process of getting into our wet suits, we walked to the bay, where we were given our gear or I must say laden with weights and equipment. We then descended the steep stairs down the harbor to the boat. Waving to my father-in-law and son standing at the harbor, we left for the Island on a high speed dive boat.
The boat ride was quite exhilarating in itself.
We stopped at a beautiful lagoon at Sherky island. The instructor gave us 15 minutes to be comfortable in the water. The lagoon was so serene that one can hardly resist the temptation of jumping in it. The only thing, that I wasn’t comfortable with, was the heavy equipment on me. First, went down hubby. And without exaggeration, his first few minutes in the water were wobbly. Next, went me, with all the machinery… lolz. For a second, I was relieved that the weight of the gear was buoyed up by water. Still it was giving me chills. I wanted to trust the life-jacket, but the weights tied to my waistline were adamant to take me down with them. I focused, took a few deep breaths, and looked down. I knew from my snorkeling experience, that looking in water will soothe my nerves. The water under me was clear but not as clear as I thought it would be. My eyes started looking for marine life but couldn’t find any, except for some yellow and brown plants (well may be because I was in shallow water). The first few minutes were the most accomplished. I was able to calm my jittery brain, my thoughts were slowed down and I was absorbing the sensations around me, until, I felt the urge to come to the surface. Breathing in water is very different from breathing normally. You have to keep your lips locked to the mouth piece at all times (imagine a fish’s mouth). If you try to breath with an open mouth (like when you are smiling), trying to take in all the air at once, you will lose the seal with the mouth piece and ultimately end in a fit of panic. So, I came to the surface for a few normal breaths.
“You are doing fine!!” I heard my instructor yelling from the boat. “Just keep looking down”, he instructed from a distance. As I flipped to go back in the water, my oxygen tank moved to one side of my back. It hurt to move with a tilted tank, so I stopped struggling and just laid there on my back. Half merged in water, all I could hear was the sound of my own breaths. As I became more and more aware of my surroundings a sudden gratitude took over me. The most frustrating moment of my life suddenly became the most peaceful one. I felt glad, that I brought myself here and challenged myself to this point. Finally, I convinced myself to move on. After a few dips in the sea with my instructor on one side and hubby on the other, we came back to our dive boat. Hubby was extremely nauseous after the activity, may be because of lack of oxygen to the brain. I, on the other hand, was not sick but relieved to come out of the water and couldn’t wait to get out of the wet suit. Later, Paul told me that there are some special tanks for the petite ones. But what use telling me now. Although the test-dive was not an ideal one, the overall experience was surreal. My back was sore for days after that. But no gains without pains! I was glad that I could finally check off scuba diving from my bucket list of adventures.