After 3 morning dives with my Open Water Diver Class, I had about 2 hours until diving with my Advanced Open Water Diver Class. I made a quick trip back to Tsunami Scuba to fill tanks and then returned to Ark Dive to do two dives, am Underwater Navigation and Peak Performance Buoyancy Adventure Dive.
We all met up at Ark Dive and the first thing we did was to practice using our compasses in the nearby park. At first we reviewed how to set a heading and its reciprocal. Next we practiced making a square and a triangle. After everyone understood how to use the compass with ease, we geared up and entered the water.
I stretched out a 50 ft rope along the ocean floor and everyone swam along it timing how long it took them to reach the end. They then turned around and swam back while counting their kick cycles. Everyone did a good job of taking their time on the swim – it’s important to be steady and paced to give the most accurate kick cycle and timed distance information.
After returning to where I was positioned, everyone made note of their stats and then we moved onto the next skill – underwater navigation without a compass. Everyone came back to within 10 feet of where they started. They then repeated the same drill but this time they could use their compasses….once again they had no issues completing te drill.
The last skill we completed was to navigate a 100 ft by 100 ft box. Everyone did a great job. Sometimes people focus on their compass too much and don’t pay attention to where they are going – they usually end of crashing into either a rock or on the surface.
Even after completing all the skills, everyone still had some air left in their tanks so we went on a short tour. Jason led us around the large rock near where the ocean floor began to descend past 30 feet. While passing through we spotted a semicircle angelfish – a very beautiful fish that’s fun to photograph. They tend to not be huge fans of people so it didn’t stay around for very long.
We also spotted a Hyselodoris bullocki nudibranch resting on the coral. I had the flash on my camera set to go off so I was able to get some really nice photos.
After making our safety stop and making out way to the surface we did a buoyancy check. Everyone drained their tank to 500 psi, emptied their BCD, and took a full breath with their regulator in their mouth. This would help us get properly weighted for the Peak Performance Buoyancy Adventure Dive we would be doing after our surface interval.
After returning to the water and making our descent, we began our dive with a hovering drill. Everyone had to hover for 1 minute without kicking or sculling. This was a great refresher for some of the people who hadn’t been in the water for a while. To help them out we started doing a neutral buoyancy drill and then transitioned into a hovering. The trick was to get them to relax, take deep breaths, and add only little amounts of air to their BCD.
We then practiced swimming near the ocean floor without touching it – staying within 2 feet from the bottom. As briefed on the surface, everyone made sure to secure their depth gauge and alternate air source so nothing would drag along the bottom. We also stayed conscious of where are fins where positioned in the water so we wouldn’t kick up debris from the bottom or bump them into rocks. Fins can do a lot of damage on coral reefs.
After the short swim we practiced hovering in different positions – vertical with our head above our feet, inverted with our feet above our head (everyone loves doing this one), horizontal with our stomachs facing towards to bottom, and then “the turtle” (on our backs horizontally with stomachs pointing to the surface). Manoela was definitely the quickest to hover in the different positions. I would finish demonstrating and she’s be doing the same thing within seconds. Wow!
While I was doing the hovering drill with the students, Jason was setting up the hoola hoop obstacle course. We transitioned into that drill next and I was seriously impressed with everyone’s buoyancy. Most of the time people get caught up on the hoola hoops with their tank valves or fins – this time nothing like that happened. Everyone just zipped through like it was a piece of cake.
We finished off our dive with a short underwater tour. The two main highlights for me were an anemonefish and some sort of plant/animal swimming in the water (seen below). It was kind of creepy to see because I’ve only seen them tucked into the coral. If anyone know what this might be, please let me know!