Sunday, June 14, 2009

Open Water Diver

Three days and 6 dives later, Ian and I have both earned our Open Water Diving Certifications! We set out about 9 a.m. every day to visit different places around St. John, including Calf Rock, Caval Rock, which pirates used to use for cannonball target practice, and Little St. James again.

For putting yourself underwater and surviving, and being comfortable on top of that, there are a lot of things that you need to keep in mind, which you don't realize until you do it. Equipment is, in our experience, safe and reliable. I had more trouble with the small comforts, which can be big discomforts underwater if they're not managed, and a distraction from everything you're trying to see... like mask fit, appropriate weighting, equalizing habits, and mobility skills. All this comes with experience, and I think the nicest thing about having the cert now is that I can take more of my own time rather than having to keep up with an instructor.

All in all, however, it was definitely the highlight of this Virgin Islands trip. Being able to breathe underwater really makes you think about 1) how much the body is like a machine and relatedly, 2) what human beings are capable of. That is, how we can simulate conditions to continue life in otherwise non-ideal or unsurvivable environments, and not for the purpose of survival, but for exploration. I realized that I'll probably never see this kind of diversity of life in eyesight anywhere else. While I hardly thought much about marine life before, I can definitely see now how a person could commit their life to understanding it.