Open Water Dives 3 & 4

So on to Sunday. Back out to the same place, where our first activity was to learn how to use the compasses we all bought. We stood in the parking lot and navigated to, well, the other side of the parking lot. Or at least 20 feet from where we started. Then we went back. A compass isn't that tough to use. :-) Then the task was to navigate out to a tarp that had been set up, by setting the dial on the compass to point to it, then swim along that line.

Initially we did this on the surface (dive 3). The tarp had dive flags on it, so we could see where we were going, but we were to keep our heads underwater and swim at or just below the surface. Not a big deal, 'cept we had to look up to see how far we were from it. Then some more exercises, like the emergency ascent, where we go up without breathing in. That's a fascinating feeling, you exhale all the way up. But since the air is compressed at depth and expands as you rise, you can exhale all the way up. Which makes perfect sense, but it's a weird feeling.

We swam back from that and found my wife and son on the shore, watching. It's not real exciting watching a scuba class, since it's mostly underwater, but she did get the picture of us on this page. We were tired by the end of dive 3, so rested for another hour (keeping track of our dive time and nitrogen levels in our blood), and headed back for dive 4.

The first thing we had to do was follow the same line with our compasses along the bottom, where we couldn't look up. An instructor followed each team, but let them do the navigating. The first duo that set out missed it by just enough (remember, the vis was just a couple of feet, if that) to go on past it a good bit, but we think they got moved by the current. There wasn't much current, but it didn't take much to miss a 10 foot tarp you can't see. The second duo missed it on the other side, overcompensating for the current. We, I'll have you know, went right to it and nailed it. :-) A minor feat, but a feat nontheless.

Then the last of the things we had to do as part of the test (all of which, by the way, were the same things we'd done in the pool). Followed by an underwater navigation back to shore. We missed that one a little bit, but not much, and we were done. Rebecca had another bloody nose, and was really worn out, but we were certified! Hoot!

Now on to planning our first instructorless dive! We'll probably go to Monterey, because it's supposed to be a good spot to dive. Some of the classes do their certification there. And there will be more to see, the bottom of Lake Folsom has been compared to the surface of the moon. But more boring.

Next: Sand Beach at Lake Tahoe, NV

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