Our dive instructor gave us a polite golf clap and then thrust both of his fists up above his head; we’d done it, Ben and I were finally PADI Open Water Diving certified!
It was a bit surreal. We were on our knees at the bottom of the ocean with our six other classmates and instructor surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef. The only sound was our regulator almost whistling as we inhaled and the glub of the bubbles made as we exhaled. I could see a smile in Ben’s eyes past the goggles.
It was the culmination of four long days of classroom quizzes and tests, hours in the pool learning how to use the gear and what to do in different emergency scenarios, and four dives in the ocean practicing those same skills.
We’d been talking about getting certified for years, but something had always gotten in the way. When we finally decided to take this trip, we did lots of research about how to get certified. We found out it was less expensive to get certified on the Great Barrier Reef than it was to get certified in Chicago, and our open water dives would be on the Great Barrier Reef instead of in a quarry. It was an easy decision.
There are dozen of different PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) courses, but the Open Water Diver certificate seemed like a good choice because it would allow us to go diving without an instructor down to 18 meters/60 feet.
Both of us had bouts of nervousness, me before our first day, and Ben after the classroom sessions and before the pool, but they were unwarranted. We were both nervous about breathing underwater since it is so unnatural and were nervous about some of the skills we were going to have to master: removing our regulators under water, filling and clearing our masks underwater, and breathing from a free-flowing regulator. Yet, after practicing these skills in the pool, we felt pretty comfortable with them. Heading to the ocean definitely upped the ante since we couldn’t just stand up out of the pool if there was an issue, but we felt confident with a couple days of pool practice under our (weight) belts, and we completed our tasks at 12 meters and 18 meters easily.
I have always loved the water and between the 80 minute boat ride to the reef, a couple hours of diving, a couple hours of snorkeling, and the return boat ride, I was in heaven. Ben really enjoyed it as well. We found a new hobby and we can’t wait to dive in some of our upcoming destinations!