Open Dive Scuba with KCD

**UPDATE: Unfortunately, KCD has gone out of business after a long, successful run in Brooklyn. While there are many other places to learn how to dive in NYC, it’s very sad to see Mia and her business close. I wish her all the luck & much success in the next chapter of her scuba diving career and everyone who was involved with KCD. Mia was kind enough to give me some really good deals with extra gear, so now I own my own wetsuit! Thank you for everything & the great experiences, Mia!**

This is perhaps the final recap of my scuba diving adventure. If you somehow landed on the page without reading the rest of the story, start here. Or to view the previous post, read my scuba lessons day 4! It seems like this is a story of how I came to equalize my ears. Each day at the pool equalizing became easier and easier and now, at the bottom of a lake at 40 feet I hardly had any problems at all! The most help of all came from my dive instructor, Mia, who helped me tackle my setback one step at a time.

Onto the next coolest thing. Mia, myself, and one other student, a very funny guy from Russia with some interesting things to say, hopped in a truck today and drove to Pennsylvania. Today is especially hard not to share my adventures with David especially since he thinks I’m working in New Jersey all day. Nonetheless, the adventures came out rather promising. During our final pool session two days ago, Mia made sure we were ready for open water and that we operated well at the bottom of the pool.

I’ll have to admit, the idea of the open water made me a bit nervous, but it has proven to be a lot more fun than I expected. This morning, over breakfast, Mia explained everything we would be doing for each dive for today. There would be no surprises. We briefed, pre-planned, and finally let the cold cold water slowly seep into our wet suits.

Once you get past the standard risk procedures, which is really the “meat and potatoes” of our dive lessons, it really is fun from there. We did a lot of review today, but with the added factor of deeper, colder, natural waters. Review such as removing our masks and clearing them of water, simulating running out of air, emergency ascents, and buoyancy–which isn’t so much an emergency skill, but a required skill one needs to master.

An interesting question came up from my mother as I explained some of today to her. Do you kick to go down or what? Which made me realize, even I didn’t know what a BC (buoyancy compensator) was before I started these lessons. It seems that it isn’t until you’re learning the ways of diving that scuba diving really makes sense and holes in your knowledge are filled. Let me give you an idea of how one of the most important skills in scuba, obtaining neutral buoyancy, works.

When you’re diving, you’ll be wearing some form of BC, which is inflated with air while you are on the surface, keeping you from sinking with your weights on. You need the weights to go down because you’ll be very buoyant with your wet suits and such, even with a heavy tank on your back. I needed 16 pounds on me just to be able to get down into the water!

Once you’ve let the air out of your BC and you begin to sink, something interesting happens. The more you descend, the faster you descend. This is because the air that is keeping you neutrally buoyant compresses, so you sink faster. The opposite is true when you ascend. You have to let expanding air out of the BC to prevent from shooting up too fast. The idea is a slow and steady descent as well as ascent.

There was quite a hilarious BC-related moment during one of my open dives. Mia was passing the responsibility on to us as students to ascend while watching our depth and to be able to control our safety stop. Knowing that air expands, once you get to your depth, you’re going to keep going unless you let air out.

During the ascent, I saw Mia stop and seemingly descend below me. In mid-water, movement is hard to differentiate. What was really happening was that I was still ascending. I remembered the BC in time, stopped for my safety stop, and realized my buddy was still going up, up and up. He forgot about letting air out and flailed his arms and legs trying to go down. The air in his BC continued to expand so he was helplessly buoyant, flailing all the way to the surface. It was a comical image. This is the same guy who cut in front of me somewhere around 30 feet, frantically pointing at a rather grey fish. He was so excited to see that fish that he decided to chase excitedly after it. Imagine a man in scuba gear pointing and swimming towards a fish he had no chance of catching. I tried not to die–literally–laughing.

After our dives, we stopped at a coffee shop and talked about what we could improve upon. The buoyancy is something I could improve upon for sure, and I look forward to it. Mia also pointed out we could have both improved upon our buddy system. And I couldn’t agree more. Buddies are extremely important in scuba diving. They provide security on many levels. I am very excited to work on diving with my unassuming buddy, my boyfriend, who happens to live in Monterrey, such a gorgeous beach with ample wildlife.
On that note, I will continue to ‘play dumb’ with him until Christmas, when I tell him his surprise!

As I mentioned before, I was nervous about my open water dives. But today I realized that I’m in this for a reason and that I’m going to love scuba diving more and more. I can attest to its addictive qualities.

I have a lot of thanks and appreciation for Mia and my new dive shop, KCD!

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

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