“Been there, done that” and you know what? It doesn’t matter. I could have dived the same site a hundred times, and yet I still feel that same bubbling excitement as I gear up for the dive. The drive or boat ride hums with anticipation as everyone discusses what we might see this time. I will grab a tank and set up my equipment – a comfortable and familiar procedure. The sound of waves on the shore, the salty sea wind on my face; the feeling of going home. People are spitting in masks, swilling them out. It isn’t elegant, and we don’t care! Others attach strobes to cameras, and buddy teams help each other gear up. Buddy checks complete? Let’s go.
It begins. Wading out through the waves, letting the cool water wash over you, or back-rolling into the blue. Looking down at that whole other world that lies beneath us – just waiting to be explored!
70% of the planet we live on is covered with water, making it hardly surprising that some of the most spectacular spots on earth lie under the ocean’s surface. Non-divers only get the chance to experience 30% of what is on offer – imagine what you are missing out on!
Regulator in – my lifeline that will supply my air during the dive – I start my descent. Deflating my BCD, I’m in free fall, I can twist and turn in any way I please. I am weightless, I defy gravity, I am flying! Lying face down, arms and legs splayed slowing my descent. I am sky-diving in slow-mo, watching as the sea bed rises to meet me. I will twist over to lie looking up at the surface, as it slips slowly away from me, or maybe let my whole world flip upside down as I plunge – Superman style – onwards; one of my favourite moments of a dive is the descent. It is that sudden sense of weightlessness, when the laws of physics exerted on us on land no longer apply. Ever wanted to experience zero gravity and what it feels like to fly unaided? Then diving will give you a pretty good idea.
Seconds before making contact with the bottom, I take a slow, deep breath, stabilising myself, stopping me inches short of the sea bed. I hang momentarily, then begin my dive. Learning to control your buoyancy is the key to ‘underwater flying’, and you will find that once you have it mastered, you can perform impressive underwater gymnastics with next to no effort. You think it, you do it – your body unquestioningly following your brain and imagination’s orders. Honestly, there is no other feeling quite like it! (You can perfect your buoyancy with a Peak Performance Buoyancy Course!)
Now that you are here, it is time to look around. The whole universe has gone quiet – something else that I love. All you hear is the sound of your own breathing. In, out, in, out… Slow and steady, you are in total control. Every now and then you may hear the unmistakable sound of a parrotfish chomping on nearby coral, or maybe the annoying whine of a boat engine, but you relax, knowing it will soon pass and fade.
How many of you like to spend ages in the shower because it is your ‘thinking place’? Somewhere you can be alone with your thoughts and finally make those decisions that have been hanging over you for a while? Being underwater is kind of like that, but a hundred times better. Your troubles, worries, and problems all fade for that time you spend out in the blue.
No matter where you are diving, there are always a million sights to distract you.
“Whoa! Look at that giant crayfish, right there” *frantic hand signals*
“Seal! Seal behind you!” (What is the signal for seal, anyway?)
Sharks, turtles, pretty colourful fishes… The kelp and coral itself a delight for the eyes. The light playing through the water, floating rainbows, sparkling off the sand… Everything about our underwater world is mesmerizing.
I have been diving for almost fourteen years and yet even now, nothing can match the feeling I get before and during a dive. I still catch myself in complete wonder, halfway through a dive, as I realise I am breathing underwater (a look at my dive computer confirms that yes, I have been breathing underwater for a full 45 minutes now). So I will grin and perform a series of flips, just because I can.
Diving is so much more than a sport; it is a passion, it is true love, it is a life-style! Once you learn to dive, enter into that whole new world, and join the community made up by scuba divers, you will never want to turn back.
Dive HQ Christchurch 2013 Ltd
103 Durham Street South
Phone: 03 379-5804