BREATHE! For goodness sake don’t forget to BREATHE!
On land you don’t even think about it. Under water it’s a whole other story. How on earth does one forget to breath?
During my first few dips in the Anacapa Dive Center pool I slowly started to realize that breathing underwater was one of the most amazing things I had every experienced. Being able to be weightless, slowly moving around with only the sound of your breath is a wonderful feeling. There’s no talking, no empty words or phrases, no cell phones ringing, nothing but your inhale and exhale. I laugh now at how scared I was before taking the scuba class and of diving in the pool.
I had the same fear before diving in the ocean for the first time. Back in March I took my first boat trip to Anacapa Island to do my first dives. Leaving at 7am from Ventura Harbor we headed for the islands under a cloudy sky. I spent most of the time outside looking back at the coast and chatting with the cast of characters also on the boat – a bunch of men who have dived hundreds of times. They eased my stress and talked about their adventures diving all over the world and always came back to how amazing diving off our coast is.
Before I knew it, I was all geared up and giant stride out and plouf! into the water I went. Though the weather had become sunny, the water was real chilly, but I was not thinking about how cold I was. The signals were given: Okay? Begin descent. And down the anchor line we went.
A sense of calm enveloped me. My fears were no more. Scuba diving is like going to a different planet. There is a different landscape, animals function totally differently, there is constant movement, light and colors come out different, and so many other things! You are totally engrossed by this new environment. Megan, my instructor, pointed things out to me like neon purple and orange blobs and little creatures that Dr.Seuss must have gotten inspiration from. Before I knew it, it was time for our ascent. With a 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet I then resurfaced totally in awe.
2 more times I dove that day. The 3rd dive was in a nature preserve and let me tell ya, there are way more things to see there. It’s like they know they are protected there. What an amazing feeling to look a Sheephead fish in the eyes and sway, back and forth, with the sea grass and the kelp. Did I mention the Garibaldi fish? Oh, those guys in their bright orange suits. (Photos by Megan O'Meara)
The boat ride back was rough as the wind and the rain picked up. I stood by the door the whole trip, trying to keep fresh air on my face as others slept inside. Back at the harbor, in the rainy darkness, we all lugged our heavy bags and tanks to our cars and went our separate ways.
I was tired and hungry for days afterwards and could hardly find words to describe my adventure for quite some time. It took me a good month to truly digest this experience.
And this morning I did my 4th dive and am now a certified diver! From the shores of Butterfly Beach, my buddy and I waddled into the ocean backwards and clumsily swam out passed the buoys. We did a 30 minute dive at around 20 feet in surprisingly good visibility for that area and saw crazy looking crabs and beautiful lilac colored starfish. All this before going to work!
Come to think of it, focusing on your breath is a good idea on land too…