I started my Diver Stress & Rescue course this morning. Like most courses, it starts with an academics session. By the time you take this course, all the academics should be familiar. Most of the pool exercises should be familiar, as well.
After the academics, we went to the pool. We mostly rehearsed the exercises we first learn during the Open Water Diver course. There were a few new exercises, including removing gear while neutrally buoyant.
I found it interesting, but logical, that the first diver you practice rescuing is… yourself! We did freeflowing regulators, emergency ascents, equipment troubleshooting, and more.
After the pool session, I overheard that the dive center was getting very busy. Because I live in the area and have more opportunities than most to take these courses, I volunteered to give up my instructor for the afternoon. He would go on to teach an introductory scuba course while I would go on a fun dive.
And what a fun dive it was! It was my first beach entry. All my other dives have been boat or pier entries. Another diver took the dive center’s GoPro that I normally borrow, so I only had a mesh bag with me this dive.
We took a route through Shangri-la Marine Sanctuary (Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan Island, Hilutungan Channel, Cebu Province, Philippines) that I have never taken before. We saw a massive coral reef restoration project, different from the one that I have participated on, that I was unaware of.
Considering the number of dives I have already done at SMS, it is incredible how each dive feels differently from the others and still amazes me with new sights. I spent considerable time wishing that I had had the camera!
It is also fitting, considering that I had started the Diver Stress & Rescue course in the morning, that today was the first day I helped another diver. We went a little shallow, then she and I became positively buoyant. She was going up faster.
So I grabbed either her arm or her BCD, I already don’t recall which, and started dunping air from my BCD while also emptying my lungs. My negative buoyancy was enough to help her become negatively buoyant, as well. She thanked me after the dive.
This demonstrates, by the way, why everyone should take a buoyancy course. Dumping air from a BCD takes time. I believe that emptying my lungs was the trick that stopped both of us from surfacing prematurely and unsafely.
I also had my first encounter with a triggerfish. We were approaching the wreck at 20 meters, and I was focused on the wreck. I did my standard look around to see where everyone else was, and I saw the divemaster signal triggerfish. So I started towards them, looked back, and saw this angry-looking fish in hot pursuit. It was really close to my fins while I was power finning away.
After the dive, the divemaster ranked the triggerfish as a 6 out of 10 in size and anger. They are territorial, but he said it pursued me a far greater distance than they normally do. It also ended up stealing 20 BAR of nitrox from me.
The dive ended at 52 minutes despite the triggerfish incident. I’m still hoping to cross the hour mark at some point. The important thing was that everyone was OK, and it was still a spectacular dive overall.
The final thing I learned today is where to put my gear so I don’t miss a boat dive. I was supposed to go on another dive in the late afternoon, but I had to do some quick maintenance on the GoPro lens and housing before leaving. I also still had my gear, and discovered a last-minute equipment issue that was quickly resolved, but I missed the boat.
In retrospect, it was probably a good thing that I missed the boat. I started to experience nasal congestion but was going to ignore it. I know that’s a bad idea. Also, the equipment issue I had would not have been fixable on the boat. I would’ve been stuck on the boat, probably unable to dive anyway.
So, I learned a lot today. I went home after diving and experienced an uncontrolled nap!