View Full Version : Anxious and excited: Tomorrow is OW diving

01-25-2008, 22:34
Here I sit in the infamous Lone Oak Lodge in Monterey, knowing that my personal "moment of truth" awaits in the morning, my Open Water Checkout Dives at the Breakwater.

The Bay Area is being hit with another big rainstorm, causing urban and suburban flooding, numerous collisions and assorted mayhem. It rained quite a few inches today and they're expecting more all weekend (through Wednesday). The drive down here was a bit thrilling at times. The recorded dive conditions phone line wasn't too encouraging, nor was the email from my instructor, who is taking a "wait and see" approach to the divability of the weekend.

The Lone Oak Lodge is a diver's hangout, well known for their gear rinsing and drying area, the drying hooks outside each door and the "spa" with sauna and jazucci for re-warming bodies that had been immersed in the not-so-warm Pacific ocean all day. However, the parking lot only has a few cars in it, none of which appear to be sporting dive stickers. The receptionist told me that at least one OW class was canceled, which led to a flurry of room cancellations.

In addition, I wonder how I'll react to that first dive. I'm hopeful that I'll be amazed at the window suddenly opened up to me. I'm confident in my skills and knowledge, but I'm a bit concerned about the stories I've heard from others who either felt claustrophobic or couldn't clear their ears or . . . .

With only one way to find out, I'm just hanging in my room, watching old Sea Hunt episodes on the DVD player and thumbing through my dive computer manual so I won't look like a COMPLETE idiot when I have to use the thing for real tomorrow.

By tomorrow, I should have lots of answers. And, I hope, some new buddies to hang with tomorrow night in Monterey. Sucks being a dive hermit.

Thanks to everyone on this board for all their information and support.

01-26-2008, 02:19
good luck! my checkout dives were fine, and i was buddied up with a DM so it was even better. there's nothing to worry about if you're pretty confident in your skills. the only thing i was worried about that i had to do was the fin pivot and hovering "indian style" controlling your buoyancy with your breathing, but both went fine.

have fun!

01-26-2008, 05:59
Just Looked at your weather report, 45mph gusts! Hope your dives off well!
We are headed out this morning with an expected high of 25 deg. but no wind.
Good luck and enjoy!

01-26-2008, 07:11
Good luck...This sounds like one of the worse conditions to dive in. Remember, if it is tough conditions it will be a lot better when the weather conditions are better ; so, don't judge open water diving under these conditions. I took my open water in 105 degree ambient temps having to wear a 7mm farmer john, full hood, and gloves. Very hot, but water was very cold (quarry). I remember thinking, this sucks, why is everybody saying this diving stuff is so great.

It is great, trust me.

S. Nagel

01-26-2008, 08:41
Good Luck-I hope all goes well!

01-26-2008, 10:01
Relax, remember your drills and skills, and take some time to look around while your down there. You'll do fine

NucMed Man
01-26-2008, 10:48
It will be a great time if the weather co-operates:smiley20:! My OW was to have been at Monterey but we could not find any rooms, so the DM moved it to Catalina instead. Best of Luck ( with the weather - you'll do fine on your OW)!

01-26-2008, 17:42
Thanks,all.Myspacekeyjustdied,soI'lljustsaythatall wentwellandI'mlookingforwardtotomorrow.

Super-Duper Scubasteve
01-26-2008, 18:17
I want to start a new thread but have no idea how to.

01-26-2008, 19:56
Steve, it's easy! just go to the forum category that suits the topic of your thread, and click on the "new thread" button at the top left.... give it a title and away you go!!

01-26-2008, 23:02
Thanks,all.Myspacekeyjustdied,soI'lljustsaythatall wentwellandI'mlookingforwardtotomorrow.
Glad to hear it! Hope the water wasn't too cold up in NorCal!!

01-28-2008, 08:17
How did everything turn out? Sounds like some rough conditions for the exam. I hope all went well :)

01-28-2008, 08:50
I'm back home (got in late last night), but have to leave for the work world soon, so I'll just make a quick post and give a more detailed one tonight.


That's the final result. Getting there was a challenge, but I enjoyed it. Water temps were in the low 50's and on Sunday we had the dive site, which is usually crowded virtually to ourselves. Driving rain, etc.

Underwater, all was well. The surf was flat and the vis was outstanding. I was the only student in the "class" and I had the instructor and a DM-candidate. Talk about pampered! But, it gets better. After the last dive, we went to a Mexican place for a late lunch, margaritas and PADI paperwork. The instructor even bought!!

Gotta run and thanks again to everyone of the board.

01-28-2008, 09:01
That is awesome. Very glad to hear everything turned out. Congratulations :smiley32:

01-28-2008, 10:03
Congrats on your cert!! :smiley32::smiley32:

Puffer Fish
01-28-2008, 11:46
My congrats also... now get out there and dive...

01-28-2008, 17:55
Congrats on the cert!!!!!!

You don't know what you have gotten yourself into. Kiss away all those weekend projects, mowing the yard, and such. You are now a certified diver. This means everything will take a backseat and you will rationalize everything in terms of "I can be diving". You will schedule your vacations from this point on around a dive trip. It happens to the best of us....don't fight it, you can't win.

Congrats again,

S. Nagel

01-28-2008, 18:06
Congrats on becoming certified, it's the first of many things you're going to experience. Be safe, don't do trust me dives and keep your brain in gear and you'll enjoy the hobby, or sport. Whichever you think it should be called.

01-28-2008, 19:04
Sounds like you had a good expirience (except for the cold part lol brrrrr) Now get out and dive

01-30-2008, 00:04
Now it can be told. (Work and family obligations back in balance and my space bar fixed.)

Saturday morning, the rain stopped and I arrived at the dive site (the famous Breakwater in Monterey, where virtually every NorCal diver does OW checkout dives) an hour early, so as to acclimate to the area and study the dive conditions (to the extent I could with my limited experience).

I saw three groups of 10 students, each with an instructor, either entering the water or preparing to. They would hold hands, facing each other, and sidestep into the waves in their fins. The waves were about 2 - 3 feet.

Sorry, but I dreaded that idea. The only person I want to hold hands with while walking on a beach is my wife, but she doesn't even swim. I noticed that none of the obviously experienced divers were doing that drill.

Later, I spotted my instructor and went over to see how the class was going to do. He told me that I was it, the entire "class." The weather appeared to have dissuaded everyone else.

I was excited that I would be getting private lessons, but feared the holding hands entry even more. The LAST thing I wanted to be seen doing in the S.F. region was holding hands on the beach with another guy, especially when there would be no way of any onlookers to know that it was a class. (I know, very wrong of me. Very un-P.C., but that's what I was thinking. Please don't flame.)

After suiting up and waddling down to the beach (steel 85 tank and 44 pounds of lead), he said "we're going to walk into the surf like men. No holding hands." I responded with a "bless you." He also said, "and we're not doing that," referring to another class crawling out of the surf. He explained that "if you need to crawl out of the surf, you'll already be on your hands and knees and you'll need to take your regulators in to be serviced before using them again, because there's no way to keep the sand out."

The Saturday dives went very well. My anxiety about making the transition from breathing on the surface to breathing underwater lessened. I still had (and have) issues with the initial descent, as my feet - even with double ankle weights- want to float up and I end up descending tank first for the first 10 feet until I roll over into proper trim. However, I was calm underwater and, being in a class of one, the scuba-skills portion of each dive was over in the first 5 minutes, so we could simply explore around until my air ran low.

During the surface intervals, it was like hanging with a buddy in the dive shop on the Breakwater pier, rather than being in a "class." We talked scuba and "shot the s---."

We were done with both dives by 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, when the down side of being in a "class" of one hit. There were no classmates to talk into a group dinner in Monterey. Oh well. I hung out at the Lone Oak Lodge, which is a diver icon, having a special dive gear rinsing station, hand hooks in front of each room and divers' discounts. I met many interesting and friendly divers, from OW students like myself to extremely experienced divers.

Sunday morning, the weather turned for the worse, MUCH worse. There were high winds and a driving rainstorm. Again arriving an hour early, I saw only one OW class. They disappeared fairly early. But the time I entered the water, there was only one other buddy group that I could see.

This second day, the instructor to student ratio, already at 1:1, actually improved, as a DM-candidate arrived to do her teaching internship. So, the class consisted of me and TWO instructors. Talk about getting your money's worth!!

While the weather was atrocious, the water was splendid. The waves were gone, just some gently lapping along the shore and the rest of the dive area was unnaturally flat. The visibility had increased from Saturday's 20-25 to 25-30 feet.

An interesting tidbit, to get to the water, we had to go around Coast Guardsmen filing sandbags for use in the local flooding. Not exactly the shiny, happy people in warm locales that I saw in all the PADI propaganda.

Again, the dives went well. Each time my confidence improved and I relaxed more and my dive was more enjoyable and less stressful. However, I still needed to concentrate on stuff. Just the simple taking of a couple of pictures on Dive Four was enough for me really to understand the concept of task loading. I don't plan on diving with my camera again until I've gained a fair amount of additional experience.

On my fourth and final dive of the weekend, a buckle on my Cressi-Sub Rondines broke. My instructor said that it would be fastest if I used his Force Fins and my just grabbed his spare pair from his nearby truck, rather than going back into the dive shop.

I was shocked at how easy it was to don the Force Fins. I'd always assumed that his quick fin donning was another example of his diver mastery. Little did I know that "it's the fins."

That dive, I was instructed to surface swim, head down, on a certain compass heading. Then, we dove and I did a CESA and we dove again. While underwater, I was given a compass heading and instructed to lead our group of three all the way to the Breakwater. There, we explored a bit, took some pictures and - when my air hit the turnaround - I was to use my compass to lead us back to shore.

All well and good and I know how use a compass very well (being a Scoutmaster and all). However, I was in task overload mode and when I computed our "go home" compass heading, I realized that it would lead us into deeper water, obviously in the wrong direction. So, I made it look like I was dutifully dialing in some azimuth and I merely swam along the breakwater towards the shallower water that I knew meant back to the beach. I learned both about task loading AND about the concept that even with decent visibility you can't really tell which way is which underwater (save for strong visual clues or a concentrated effort at navigation using a slate to remember crucial data).

After we hit the beach, I had to tell the instructor that he was "an evil, evil man," because I'd fallen in love with his Force Fins. It didn't feel like I was wearing any fins at all. He explained that he'd had a bit of trouble keeping up with my on my underwater compass swims and the DM-candidate agreed.

Of course, I didn't leave the breakwater without having purchased a pair. (I justified it that if my Cressi buckle broke while "out there," I'd be in a world of hurt. Hope the wife buys that.)

After we put our gear away and changed into street clothes, it was time to get something to eat and drink. So, we went to a Mexican place for lunch and margaritas, while doing the PADI OW certification paperwork, talking scuba and the problems of the world. I had a GREAT time and, unbelievable as it sounds, the instructor insisted on picking up the tab!!!

So, if anyone out there wants to take a class or hire a local guide for Monterey, check out www.robsscuba.com (http://www.robsscuba.com) and tell them that Oren sent you.

Now, I'm hoping that the local dive club will go through with this weekend's dive so I can get back into the water. Weather and water condition forecasts aren't too promising as of yet.

Thanks again for everyone's support.

I've attached a picture of me from Dive Four. (Sorry for the green. I was WAY too task overloaded to mess with the white balance or bring along the external strobe.)

02-05-2008, 12:13
Whoo hoo! Another monterey dive now done!