Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Scuba Diving in BC

Ooops! It’s been a while!!

Last time I said I was going to blog about Vegas, but that’s going on hold. I’m going to blog about my first cold water diving experience instead.

After reading many articles and talking to one of my work colleagues who just completed her open water certification, I decided it was finally time to bite the bullet and go diving again. Besides it has been 10 months (way over due!) and I need to keep my skills up to scratch. I thought I had mentally prepared myself having ready through my manual again just to refresh my memory and I thought I was going to be a-ok. What I didn’t realise (probably due to inexperience and some lack of knowledge) is how different it would be.

Yes, I knew the wetsuits would be thicker (7mm over arms and legs and 14mm over our core – tropical diving I only wore short sleeved 4mm wetsuits) but did not realise that I would be carrying more than double the weight. Other differences include the measurement of the air you use (PSI as opposed to bar) and depth (feet as opposed to metres). I don’t think this helped my sense of ease about the diving. I really wish when we did training we learned in both as they use different forms of measurement (air consumption and depth) around the world. Another thing was that there wasn’t a dive computer on the rentals (I suppose they are expensive) so I don’t really know how deep I went nor my dive time.

Anyway, I arrived at the Vancouver Diving Locker at 9am as requested and checked that I had all my gear. One of the instructors (let’s call him Tom…as I can’t remember either instructors names!!) asked me how much weight. I said I wasn’t sure as it was my first cold water dive. He gave me 28lbs (12.7kg). Far out! That’s so much weight! Anyway, I went with it.

The awesome thing is that they drive you to the dive site, which was Porteau Cove.

There were quite a few of us with some people who had just recently got their open water. I still felt very much like a newbie as my last dives were all close together when I had just got certified!

We were split into 2 groups, got our gear together and then headed to the water. Another new thing for me that day was shore diving! So there we were, weighted down, walking through the car park to get to the beach to enter the water. It was such a hot day so it was actually a relief to get into the 10 degree water in our thick wet suits and all the weight. So we got our fins etc on and I was having trouble putting my mask on. Everything seems so much more difficult when you also have to wear a hood and gloves!

We started to descend and my mask flooded straight away. Great! So we surfaced again and I swapped with the instructor.  Much better – eventually got down but then that’s when I started to have more problems. I put way too much air in my BCD (jacket you wear) and this totally screwed up my buoyancy. Visibility was poor and I lost site of the other and due to the amount of air in my BCD was taken straight to the surface. We tried again and the same thing happened. It was so easy to lose them as for the first few metres you couldn’t see a metre in front of you so I got too high from them, couldn’t find them and surfaced again. By this time I was frustrated and felt like I was letting my buddy down. So I said I wouldn’t go down again (and had used a lot of air) and I felt like a real failure. So I started making my way back to the shore. Meanwhile the rest of the guys said they saw some cool things and I felt even more defeated.

It was lunch time by then and I really did not want to go again. The instructors asked me if I wanted to go and I said that I probably wouldn’t. Basically felt like crap. Tom pulled me aside and then I cried. (How embarrassing!) Actually for some reason it still makes me tear up. I don’t know why, perhaps because what he did really restored some faith in myself and my diving abilities. Anyway, he said he learned to dive in Australia and that he also had trouble the first time switching from tropical to cold water diving. He also suggested that he take me one on one and do the buoyancy skills so I know what to do. The other instructor agreed and I immediately felt better.

This time, my mask was perfect, no problems at all and when we got down we did the buoyancy skills. Once I had perfected them we went for a dive. Finally! I felt good! I still had some small problems but was able to quickly rectify them without shooting up to the surface. Progress!!
There wasn’t much to see, some large cod, crabs, prawns and jellyfish but still so different to tropical diving. It was cool though and I made a breakthrough.

While the day was not quite as I expected, I learnt so much. I’m hoping to go again in September to cement what I learned and then perhaps even do a dry suit course so I can keep up my skills in the winter…yes you heard me winter diving! It’s supposed to be so much clearer and there’s more to see.

Anyway, I think I must remember I’m still a beginner and not to give myself a hard time. Not every dive is going to be a success.

I also highly recommend the Vancouver Diving Locker. They are so professional and they definitely know what they're doing!


  1. Good on you for sticking with it! 'Tom' sounds like a great instructor too!