Thursday, July 28, 2011

Night Diving

Yes, you read that title correctly – I finally gave in and tried a night dive. I don’t think I would’ve done it voluntarily, but it was part of my Advanced Diver Certification class that I’ve been(slowly) completing. The five dives you must complete in order to be called an Advanced Diver: boat dive, deep dive (to 100 feet), advanced buoyancy control, underwater navigation, and night dive. Well, I’m happy to report that I did in fact make it through the night dive successfully, and am now an Advanced Diver!

My verdict on the whole night diving thing: definitely not as scary as I had been imagining for the past 6 months. I’m pretty sure I was mostly hyping myself up about it – which Matt told me I was doing, but of course I wasn’t able to believe him until I actually bit the bullet and did the dive. What really helped is how many people we had going with us on the dive – our class was huge (about 20 people), we had a few different instructors, and a bunch of people even came as “tag-alongs” (Matt was one of them). In my opinion, there weren’t many things to see in the water compared to how many fish and other sea life we see on our dives during the day. I remember hardly seeing any fish at all, but to be fair,what we did see was pretty interesting. In general, I would say night diving is more about the actual experience than anything.

My “buddy” during our class was one of my best friends, Amanda,so staying together during the whole experience made both of us feel much more relaxed. We dropped down into the water somewhat still near the shore(this was at the Sunabe Sea Wall – a dive spot we’re both pretty familiar with) and swam out to the deeper area (only about 35 feet), where we dropped down onto our knees on the sand below. This area that instructors generally call “the classroom” is where Amanda and I (staying together) navigated a straight line and back again, using our compasses in the dark. After our skills were performed, our instructor Allan, who we feel very comfortable with as well, led the way around as we went deeper to about 60feet, looking for interesting night-life under the water. Amanda and I felt safe as we literally swam holding hands (so as not to lose each other!!)and stayed right behind Allan the whole time. I enjoyed that part the best, because Allan seemed to find all of the cool things and pointed them out to us – we saw glow-in the dark, neon sea slugs, sleeping Stone Fish,baby Puffer Fish, and a ton of shrimp with glowing red eyes!

Amanda and I before the dive

Me getting my gear ready

It was such a beautiful night as well – the temperature was warm, the water was still and smooth as glass, and there was a full moon outside. And now for the information everyone reading this probably really wants to know: just how dark was it down there at night? Well, Matt was right when he had told me you would be able to see without your light on… up until a certain point. When you are in shallow water (10 feet or less), it is true – I didn’t need my light at all. The light of the moonshines right through the water, and it is actually quite pretty. As you descend to 30 feet or so, you need your light, but you can still faintly seethe surface and rocks and things around without it, because of all the other people and lights in the water with you. Even at 60 feet, where you could really only see exactly what your light was pointing at, I never felt panicked or felt as if I was going to run into something or get disoriented and not know which way was up (which I was actually very worried about for some reason!). The only thing I feel like I wouldn’t be able to do on my own was keep track of where we were or where we were going. We let Allan do all of that – we just blindly (no pun intended) followed him, and he led us back to the entrance.

Check out this video clip Matt took of all of the students under the water - including Amanda and I when we are getting ready to do our navigation:

This photo is making it look a little darker than it actually was, but this is pretty much how it looks - you can really only see where your light is!

Check out this video clip of a shrimp:

Check out this video clip of a large Hermit Crab:

When we surfaced, we just relaxed, floating on the still water in the moonlight, looking up at the stars and around at all of the lights on Okinawa. It was actually one of my favorite parts of the night, and it wasn’t freaky at all. After it all, Amanda and I actually had a really great time, and we both said we’d even do it again. We were thinking it would be fun to do as a group on a Friday night – you know, go for a dive, get some burgers for dinner afterward… isn’t that how you spend your Friday nights??


1 comment:

  1. Sure...that's just how we spend our nights! How fun for you. Glad you could do this with a friend along with Matt being able to come! Thanks for the live shrimp as well. Don't remember ever seeing one alive. Glad Matt didn't eat him.