Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Scuba Dooba!

on July 28, 2011

After a lovely extended weekend at a lake with friends, I find myself having a hard time coming back to reality. It then occurred to me that I never blogged about my first scuba trip from a few weeks ago. Since it’s a few more weeks until my next vacation, I might as well reminisce about a recent one.

My scuba trip was, in a word, amazing. I know I’ve referenced scuba diving before, but I’m not sure if I’ve described how I got into it to begin with. Briefly, on our honeymoon, Darren became very interested in scuba diving, but we were both a bit leery about doing a few-hour course at our resort. The spring after our honeymoon, we decided to visit our local dive shop and sign up for lessons. Our open water course consisted of one class a week for five weeks. The first hour and a half or so was in class, where we reviewed the issues brought up in the course book and DVD. The second half of the class was in the pool practicing the skills we learned about. The summation of the class was our open water certification, which took place at Dutch Springs, a quarry located in Bethlehem, PA. We were certified as PADI Open Water divers that summer and were pretty sure we had been bitten by the scuba bug. We continued with various classes and now both of us are Advanced Open Water certified and are working on multiple other certifications.

I admit I was a bit nervous about going on our first dive trip to North Carolina. I knew I would be in good hands and since we were going to be doing additional classes while we were there, all of our dives would be supervised by an instructor. I had also been hearing for months what an amazing trip this typically was, so while I was excited, I was still a bit apprehensive. There’s just something nerve-wracking about jumping into 100 foot water 30+ miles from shore.

We hopped on the boat early Saturday morning and started our trek out to our first wreck, the Atlas. We were blessed with good weather and calm seas, which did wonders to calm my nerves since I have a tendency to get seasick. In about two hours we reached our site and got suited up. Stepping off the boat was a bit scary at first, but once I got under water and to the lines under the boat, I was able to calm down a bit and enjoy the scenery. The water was a beautiful blue and it didn’t take long to start seeing the sand tiger sharks that we had heard so much about. Surprisingly, the sharks didn’t freak me out too much. It was actually really amazing to be in the water with sharks. They were very calm and didn’t pay us any attention; rather, they just lazily swam along going about their business.

The wreck was pretty neat, though I have to admit I was so overwhelmed with everything around me and where I was and what I was doing that I didn’t really get to appreciate the wreck much. I remember the sharks and there being some beautiful purple coral, and a bunch of fishies I couldn’t identify. It was also my first experience with current, which threw me a bit. It took me awhile to figure out why I was having such a hard time staying in place (like I said, I was a bit overwhelmed by everything and wasn’t necessarily thinking clearly). Before I knew it, it was time to head back up so we had enough air to do our safety stop.

As we were going up the line from the wreck back to the boat, I saw Darren waving at me and pointing up and behind me. I turned around and looked up to see a shark straight above me. I think I was about 4-5 feet away, but Darren thinks I was only about two feet away from sticking my head in a shark’s mouth (which probably would have equally startled me and the shark). That got the heart pumping a bit, but I paused for a moment and he continued to swim along, much less fazed by our close encounter than I was.

I came back up to the boat amazed by the experience I just had and wondering to myself how I got to a place where I was diving off a boat and swimming with sharks.

The next dive of the day was at the Caribsea and pretty much the same as the first. I don’t recall there being quite as many sharks but there was a barracuda that seemed to be checking us out on the line. I swear, if it could have, it would have been licking its chops, which was a bit disconcerting.

Sunday, the seas were quite a bit rougher. I was very thankful I had my seasick patch on, otherwise I would have been spending most of the trip over the railing. The visibility was great but there didn’t seem to be nearly as many sharks. The current was quite a bit stronger and I struggled with it, which caused me to go through my air quite a bit faster, making the dive much shorter.

My favorite dive of the entire trip was the second dive of the second day, when we visited U-352, a German WWI U-Boat. The visibility was amazing and if air weren’t an issue, I could have spent hours down there exploring.

Unfortunately, the third and last day of our trip was blown out due to rough seas. They had picked up even more from the day before and none of the boats were going out because it wouldn’t be safe. We were disappointed but respected the decision.

I am absolutely confident now that I’ve been bitten by the scuba bug and I can pretty much bet I’ll be on the same trip next year. I’ll just have to find a few more dives to keep myself occupied until then.

I’ll leave you with a video the captain of our boat, Mike Gerken took of the Atlas, immediately after the rest of us came back safely to the boat. I think this few minute video will do the trip far more justice than I can through this blog. Also, for a much better description of the specifics of our dive sites (and great pictures!), be sure to check out his blog entry from that weekend. Enjoy!

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