Becoming a Diver, Wrecks and Seals - the Dive Journey Continues (Part Two)
My big question this week is: How do you go on a dive to see a wreck, shine your torch on the wreck, get your photo taken next to the wreck, return to the surface and have to ask “so where was the wreck?!”
Before our first ‘fun’ dive, we had our final open water dive to complete. Our instructor Rannvá Tórfríð Jørmundsson told us that we would be leading it. We’d have to plan it, work out the direction to go out and come back, calculate our turn time and keep a check on everyone’s air, depth, and safety the whole time. I thought it might be difficult to keep an eye on everything but it wasn’t! I still managed to spot some fish!
As we were coming to the end of the dive, Rannva signalled that we had to watch her. She pulled out her wetnotes slate and pencil and I thought ‘uh oh, which skill do we have to do that I have forgotten about?’. Then I read “Congratulations, you are now DIVERS’!! That was the first time I have ever danced underwater! My buddy (who is also my mum) squealed and grinned, which made her mask leak! We are both always doing that - we smile too much!
A really fun part of the dive debrief was uploading all the information from the dive computer to our dive log app on our phones - there’s a chart that shows the line you took for your dive. Rannva’s looked like a beautiful smooth curve, but mine and mum’s looked like an ECG chart gone crazy. Now we have discovered this, we can’t wait to compare graphs after every dive to see whose is the smoothest! I am pretty sure I am winning!
I was really excited when we went with Rannva on our first dive as certified divers. I managed to walk down loads of steps and climb across the rocks with my cylinder and my weight belt on; when I did my first ever try-dive (only a few months ago) I couldn’t even lift them. In the water, Rannva led the dive and took us in the direction of an old sunken World War II submarine. I was excited to see it, and it was only later that I discovered I had completely missed it! I had thought it would be an obvious wreck and look like a boat - no one told me it would be covered in plants and seaweed and stuff. I swam right next to it, apparently.
The more we dive, the more I love it. It’s the feeling of joining another world - not just watching it, but being part of it. I can’t get enough of swimming through kelp or around big rocks and crevices, and looking for all the sea creatures that either scurry away or cruise past as if they couldn’t care less that you are there. We saw really big starfish, and I followed a big fish into some kelp and discovered a massive spider crab with huge orange legs. There were some really big fish too, I was sure that one was a shark but Rannva said later that it was a dogfish.
I’m getting used to going deeper too. We followed the seabed slope and I was surprised when my dive computer showed that we were now below 10m - it didn’t feel deep at all and it was almost easier down there! I think still being able to see the surface helps, but I’m not so anxious about diving deeper now. I’m too busy looking at the animals to worry. I had brought my GoPro camera with me and I loved finding fish, crabs, and starfish, and taking photos of them. I have a lot to learn before I can start taking photos that look colourful and clear, but for now I am concentrating on taking their picture without bumping into them or frightening them.
Towards the end of the dive, as we got closer to the rocks and close to the surface, my mum suddenly grabbed me and started squealing. I didn’t understand what was wrong and I looked back and saw that her bright green fin had come off and was at the bottom of the rocks. I was a bit cross that she was making such a big deal about it and went to pick the fin up. When we surfaced, all I could hear was her shrieking “A seal just pulled my fin off!!” I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so happy! We looked round and there it was, about 10m away, watching us. I was a bit freaked out - it was big, and I had never been in the water with anything that big. How long had it been following us?! But then I looked at it’s face as it looked at us, and it was so pretty!
Mum was desperate for it to come back and play so we stayed at the surface for about 20 minutes while it repeatedly came near then swam away again, checking us out. We were so excited! Rannva couldn’t believe we got to swim with a seal on our very first qualified dive, and mum was ecstatic. She has wanted to swim with seals for ages, and I’m so happy that it was her fin that the seal pinched! She wants to swim with whale sharks next, but we don’t get many of those in Cornwall!