Friday, August 5, 2011


I'm a scuba diver now!
Travis was certified back when he was around 13, but he had very few dives and hadn't been diving since high school. He wanted back in the water, but first he wanted to find out if I would be willing to join him. So back in March Travis surprised my by pulling up to a scuba shop when we were out for my birthday and signing me up for a discover scuba class (put the gear on and see if you can handle breathing underwater before investing in the certification class). I had absolutely no clue how I would handle it. It went great! So we signed me up for class.
So in June I finally had my certification classes. They were split between two weekends, the first being in the pool, and the second weekend being open water dives up in the Hood Canal.
Here I am in the pool.


My buoyancy skills rock! Thankfully! Seriously, I think that's made a big difference in enjoyment, that I haven't had to fight any of the skills, they've just come really naturally.

Here's the view from the balcony of Mike's Beach Resort on the Hood Canal, my first open water dive experience.
Mike's Beach Resort


Travis came with me of course and got some diving in with the dad of another of the students there, but he did take some pictures for me on the last day during our last training dive.

All geared up
Laurie, Vickie

Safety check
Laurie, Vickie, Justin

Getting ready to go


Look how gorgeously smooth the water was this day! That's me at the very left starting to descend with my dive buddy.

And soon, we were all down.

While we were down, Travis spotted this Lion's Mane jellyfish near the surface. These suckers can get huge and you have to watch out for their seriously long tentacles which do sting and since they get so long, they can be super hard to see. This one was at least the size of a dinner plate with 10-15 ft long tentacles. We saw several while diving.
Lion's Mane Jellyfish

There's Justin, our instructor, leading us back in.

Having ended our last certification dive, Justin presented us all with our cards, but dropped mine! James, a Divemaster candidate assisting Justin, grabbed it up before I even saw.
dive for your card

Now, I've got it!
Justin, Laurie

Debbie and me. Debbie is Justin's wife and another Divemaster candidate assisting the class. She's been great to have a woman to ask questions of!
Debbie, Laurie

Thanks for grabbing it James!
Justin, James, Debbie, Laurie

James, Justin, Holly (another student, there was another as well, but she took off before we got this picture), me and the amazing Debbie.
James, Justin, Holly, Laurie, Debbie

After the pool I had a lot of anxiety about this whole diving thing... but not for why you might think. The diving itself continued to come naturally to me. I was concerned that it was all going to just be "okay" and not amazing. What if we invested all this money and I didn't love it. Was I going to think diving was enough of a reward for all the money and effort involved in going diving?

The answer is YES! Getting into the open water and seeing all the life down there is a complete game changer!

So last weekend Travis and I completed our Advanced Open Water weekend class together. We spent Friday through Sunday at the Hood Canal with Justin and Debbie and were joined late Saturday by another AOW student who could only get part of her class done that weekend.

We tried out some new accommodations, Sunrise Motel & Dive Resort, and let's just say no one will be returning. It was an adventure though! This picture doesn't even come close to doing it justice, but that's all I've got. I absolutely cannot believe I got up there without my camera. Blasphemous! So I only took a couple shots with my iPhone.

Justin and Travis
Justin, Travis

Playing with instagram on my phone

Friday we did three dives at Sunrise. The first two were for my dry suit specialty and the third was our night dive for AOW. Night diving is very cool! Different, but cool. The aquatic life that's out at night is different than day too.

So, unfortunately, on top of lousy accommodations, the diving at Sunrise really wasn't all that good either. It's too bad about all that since the set up is nice with the room right on the water, making access right at your feet. But for Saturday we bought admittance to Sund Rock and did five dives there that day. The parking is very tight there.
Sund Rock

The tide is way in here, but here's northern entrance. When the tide is out, it's a rocky beach down to the water.
Sund Rock

Getting ready for dive four out of five there that day.
Travis, Debbie, Justin

The rest of these pictures I have to thank Debbie for!

Finishing that fourth dive. I guess I didn't get the memo about taking off our hoods for a picture. At least I'm dry though. That's my new dry suit. Travis had to wear a wet suit because he doesn't fit the type that I bought, mainly because of his super huge feet, so he has to go with the more expensive custom fit ones.
Laurie, Justin, Travis

At Sund Rock Saturday, we started with a deep dive for training, then had a fun dive at the north wall. The third dive was a training dive to the wreck. Justin usually does a frog kick that moves him slowly through the water, but we needed to get out to the wreck faster since it's further away and you don't want to use up too much air getting over there, especially since it's at 40-60' depending on the tide, so you're using your air faster when deeper too. Unfortunately, Justin hauled tail out there. Travis, Mr. Marathon trainee, didn't have any problems with that, but I simply couldn't keep the pace and it had me breathing heavily so I used my air way fast. Debbie thought she was gonna die, he was working us so fast! SO, trying to conserve air by getting there quickly totally backfired by completely overexerting Debbie and I. There has to be a happy medium. I wanted to know if we couldn't head out there shallow and use a surface reference for a cue on when to head deeper to find the wreck. (There used to be a buoy on the wreck, but the weather keeps ripping it off and it doesn't get replaced.) Debbie had the winning idea though. Run a line from the wreck, straight towards shore so that people can head out shallow and run into the rope that will lead them straight to the wreck. I couldn't help but wonder why that hadn't already been done.

So for the fourth dive, Travis and I went with Justin to run the line. When we found a big rick to tie off to at the shallow end, and Justin started tying it off, Travis and I found out what NO visibility is like. Tying the rope kicked up so much silt that we seriously only had visibility ranging between three and six inches. I could just see a couple inches of Travis' light beam, and same for mine, but with Justin busy tying the rope, there was no light to see him by, so I just held on to the neck of his tank so I'd know when he started moving away! Talk about something that could really disorient you!

The fifth dive was another night dive, much better though at Sund Rock. That was just a fun one for Travis and I and it was the first time the two of us went off on our own, while the other student who had just arrived did that for her training.

Sunday we did our last two training dives, underwater navigation and then search and recovery. Travis and I finished s&r really quickly, so after that the two of us got to head out to finish our air just us again. How fun to be out with Travis, just having fun. I love this!

After our dives, we packed up and then sat down to do our log books.
Laurie, Justin

Just because I like this shot of Debbie's.

Such a fun weekend!
Travis, Laurie, Justin

And here's all my credentials now. We just ordered Travis' dry suit today, so he'll take that class later and get that card then. In the short meantime, I get to be more trained than him.

We're really happy we've gone with the new crew in town, Blue Element Scuba for our training. Travis was originally certified elsewhere and we know others who go elsewhere, but the people at Blue Element are outstanding, the shop is super clean and well lit (not always so common with dive shops) and they're always welcoming and helpful when you come in, which also isn't always the case elsewhere. I definitely highly recommend them!

By the way, I've been on Blue Element's home page for a bit now. That's a crop from the second picture in this post.
Blue Element Scuba


Laura said...

Love these photos! Congrats on your certifications!!

Aaron and Kristel said...

Love those pictures.. so excited for you and Travis to have this fun activity together... by the way you make scuba gear look fashionable, good for you! ;)

Mom said...

I love the picture of just the bubbles on the surface of the water after the 'monsters of the deep' disappear.