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My Certification Story
ScubaJedi - 10/02/2007 3:34 PM
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Category: Travel
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My Certification StoryI first started diving last year. At the urging of a friend who told me that SCUBA was like snorkeling on steroids, I decided to go for it. I am a fairly fearless person so the idea of diving wasn`t so scary to me. I hear people all the time when I bring up the fact I dive have a ton of excuses loaded up as to why they "can`t" dive. Their ears won`t equalize, they`re claustrophobic, they`re afraid of sharks, and so on. My biggest excuse for not learning to dive prior to August of 2006 was I didn`t think I was going to look good in a wetsuit. So I was rolling out of a bar one night and right in the same plaza was a SCUBA center. It wasn`t far from home and so I decided to call them and sign up for lessons. That was in July of 2006 and by the end of August I was able to get in a class. I took a three day crash course and was eligible for my open water certification within a weekend. I wasn`t able to get on a trip to go for the open water portion until November. I purchased some good fins, a 5mm Henderson Gold Core wetsuit, some other tidbits such as safety sausage, whistle, dive knife, lights, and was ready to go. I found a carpool partner for the trip to San Carlos, Mexico. I had never been to Mexico before so this trip was a trip of firsts. my first time to Mexico, first time SCUBA diving, and first time visiting a strip bar. Details to follow on that last one. The shop I dive with, Scuba Specialties ( is the best dive center in Arizona. The instructors are second to none, the facility is fantastic, and they do a great job keeping everyone together on the trips for the camaraderie and friendships being established. For the open water skills, my instructor was shop co-owner Frankie Smith. Frankie is a lot of fun as well as being a Master Instructor with loads of experience and a talent for making you feel calm and secure. We had to split the students up into two groups and I was diving with Frankie and a set of twin girls whose father was with us to help. Their dad was a divemaster. The first dive was just to follow Frankie around and get comfortable breathing under water and to look around at the marine life. There were a lot of sea lions there and they were swimming along with us and playing. Going through the skills is quite the gauntlet. I did pretty well until the last dive on the second day. I was getting tired and the second to the last skill I had to do was mask removal and clearing. During our classroom session, our instructor, Gary, said somehow, some time, somewhere, no matter how experienced you are, something is going to flip you out and you are going to spew your reg out. I though, no way, not me! I`ll never do that! Well, when I removed my mask, I opened my eyes and I freaked out when the salt water burned them. I spit out my regulator and Frankie had to wrangle me back to reality, he jammed the reg back in my mouth and i completed the skill. I gave him the OK signal and he sent me off with Beau to swim around and calm down. I had kicked up enough silt from flailing that I caused poor visibility, but I followed Dive master Beau for a while. We surfaced a little ways from the ship and had a surface swim. Being inexperienced i had way too much air in my BC and it was strangling me. I tried to swim but there was a current and I was exhausted from the incident down below with the mask. I begged Beau to help me and we did tired diver tow. I did my last skill which was releasing the weights and re-installing them. I had trouble with one of the pockets and Beau couldn`t even get it so he let it go. I got back on the ship, ditched my gear and went to sit on the bow to catch some sun and mellow out. There were waves and the ship was rocking. I started feeling worse and worse and worse. The guys were very attentive and kept asking me if I were okay. being the rugged independent trooper, I kept saying I was just fine. Soon I admitted that I wasn`t fine. I was getting very seasick. They told me to get out of the sun and so I went and sat in the middle of the ship. Beau brought me some cold fresh water and I drank it, but he told me to pour it on my head. I did and it made me feel a bit better. But, that didn`t last and before I knew it I was chumming off the side. All I had in my stomach was water and so that`s all there was. Izzy, one of the instructors, laughed at me and asked me if I was feeding the fish. I said, well, kind of...if they like water! So I got my open water certification. I went back to my room and calmed myself for the night`s festivities. We went to dinner and I bought Beau a nice shot of expensive tequila. He asked me if I would be interested in going dancing and I said sure! Here`s where the strip club comes in. I was shocked at first, but thought there is one of two things I could do. I could get indignant and ask to be taken back to the hotel, or I could have more tequila. The tequila won out.