Young Beth embarking on her adventure in diving (Part one)
My new nickname is "Oh look a crab!". I forget what I'm doing and start following the fish. It's driving my mum, who is also my buddy, crazy!
Two months ago I attended a PADI Women’s Dive Day event run by Fourth Element. I didn't really want to go because my friends were going to the beach, but I'm so glad I did. I was given the chance to do a "try dive", and although it looked like the gear I had to wear was almost as big as I was, I was excited to give it a go. The moment I put the regs in my mouth and placed my face in the ocean I felt so free and ready to explore. It really is like a whole other world. All the noise of the busy beach disappeared as the creepy crawlies emerged.
Of course, I am the typical Cornish kid; I've jumped, swam, snorkelled, surfed and rowed my way around and into the ocean, but diving was so different. I felt as though I became part of the marine life instead of just observing it from the surface. Fish were the first thing I encountered. The way they glide through the water next to you is unimaginable. My first fish was grey with small stripes on its body; it wasn't scared of me just like I wasn't scared of it, its eyes locked onto mine, and that is a moment I will never forget!
After exploring with Rannvá Tórfríð Jørmundsson, my instructor, we ended the dive, and I immediately felt all the weight of my kit, pushing me into the floor. It was so heavy, but I couldn't stop grinning! I then knew that I wanted to be a diver and explore!
I started my PADI course as soon as I could and was very excited when Rannva said she would teach me and mum. I watched some of her amazing dives on YouTube and got very inspired! She was diving in huge caves, wrecks and icy water; technical diving looks so scary, but I still want to do it! The freedom of exploring inside the caves or diving down a staircase in the middle of a wreck must be amazing!
The trouble is, when you watch divers on YouTube, they make it look so easy. My first hurdle came just putting on the dive gear in the car park. It took me ages, and I was baking hot by the time we reached the shore! But again, once those regs were in my mouth, and we were descending to the sea bed making darth-vadery breathing noises, I was in the world of the crabs and the fish, and I was really excited!
I have got a lot to learn and a lot of fears to overcome. My biggest worry was taking the regs out of my mouth underwater, or having the gas from my tank turned off - all part of the skills we had to do. It's hard not to panic, even though we were only about 3 metres below the surface. Rannva was great and made sure I was properly ready, and although I wanted to swim to the surface, I kept calm and blew the little bubbles instead, and before I knew it, the regs were back in my mouth, and I could relax again! I think there will be lots of other hurdles to get over, but it feels brilliant once I have done it!
We have 4 dives left to do on the course, where we will go deeper and practice the skills again. Rannva is going to teach us how to use dive computers too, which I think I'll learn faster than my mum will! Our final dive is going to be a fun dive, and Rannva said we could dive a shallow wreck just off the coast. I can't wait! It's amazing to be able to see and explore all these things under the sea that people just a hundred metres away on the beach have no idea are even there!
Once we have done our PADI course, I want to do more, and I'm planning to find a weekend job to fund it. I want to learn how to dive in a drysuit, so I can go deeper and don't have to get out of a cold wetsuit after each dive! And I want to do a night dive - it scares me like crazy, but I might get to spot some creatures that only come out in the dark, and that would be brilliant. The idea of going into caves or old mines really frightens me because you can't see the surface, and there are loads of tight spaces to squeeze through, but if I work my way through all the training and become as experienced as Rannva is, who knows?!
The excitement I feel underwater has changed things for me. It's made me think about going on to study marine biology and doing something to help protect the animals and their environment. I live near Falmouth where there is a marine school, so it could be a real option. And I want to be an instructor by the time I do my gap year, so I can go to places like Indonesia or Mexico and teach diving. It'll be a great chance to see some of the amazing creatures that I see in documentaries like mantas and whales.
In the meantime, I will work towards my PADI Open Water, and I'm learning all I can about diving. I want to get a book, so I can learn to identify all the different fish we see in the seaweed and the kelp. Last week, it was really stormy, so we weren't able to dive. I really hope we can go this week. I can't wait to get back under the surface!