OK well as much as I dislike doing this blog at the moment I have been informed by Jane that it is a permament record of our experiences on this trip, so even though it is SOOOOOO tedius to keep doing this I have to keep going.
In Egypt in 2010 I did the first three dives of the Advanced Open Water (there are 5 in all), I had little time and I was flying the next day, so to be on the safe side I never completed the whole thing. But I was informed that doing just three of them would result in the Adventure Diver Certification so I did that instead.
Fast forward 2 years and here I am in Belize with the opportunity of completing the last two dives of the AOW with a local dive shop in Caye Caulker. I won’t mention them because I was pretty unimpressed with thier attitude. Anyway I signed up for two dives, Deep Dive (which is mandatory for AOW) and Multi Level Dive. They told me to arrive a 8am to start. I arrived on time and they kept me waiting for an hour and fifteen minutes, I was pretty pissed off by this time.
Anyway… we set out to our first site “Raggedy Anne” for a deep dive. It was quite a plain reef and not much life but then again I was here to dive deep, not to look at pretty fish. I kept an eye on my guages – I didn’t want to descend too fast because I still have problems with my ears. But I managed without incident and for the first time in my diving I reached a depth of 30.2 metres!!! So that’s one mandatory dive done. Cool.
My next dive was a whole different ballgame… this dive was my Multilevel dive, where you start deep and make your way to shallower waters or”levels” with the use of a computer, the idea being that your body starts to expell nitrogen gradually so you can dive safely and don’t have to do too long a safety stop on the way back.
Our next dive took us to “Booring” which to me looked like the hills and mountains of Glencoe – only under 130ft of water, it was truly a sight to behold. We started the dive at Level One (the deepest part, about 27 metres) and glided effortlessly through the underwater plant life and through narrow sand gullies all the time keeping an eye on my guages so as not to inadvertantly go deeper than my first dive of the day (not good).
Half way through Level Two (about 20 metres) the instructor gestured to his ears pointing at them. I assumed he was having trouble with the water pressure. Until I heard it. The unmistakeable sound of sonar, a series of squeaks and clicks. The kind used by whales and dolphins to find thier way (and thier food) in the ocean. We both looked around but the water visability wasn’t perfect – about 10 metres, so we carried on with our dive. Again I heard it and I looked into the blue to see if there was any sign of a whale or dolphin. And suddenly I could see huge outlines ahead, but couldn’t make them out. Was that a group of Pilot Whales? Closer they came… closer… then bam! four HUGE bottlenose dolphins came straight for us, bombing around the rocks and plant life. Initially I thought they were feeding unil of course one blew a bubble ring right in front of me and proceeded to spin the bubble round until it got bigger and bigger then swam through it. Totally incredible! They darted past us, they span around doing forward rolls and pulled things from the rocks just to show they could. I copied them as much as I could to try and keep them interested in us (a trick I learned in New Zealand – Kaikoura), so I did forward rolls and spins, I made high falseto sounds from my throat so they could hear me and made shapes with body, arms outstretched like a starfish, waving my hands like a madman. But it worked, and one of them swam right up to me for a good look, straight in the eyes… so cool. About 10 minutes of total joy for them and for me. By this time my instructor had basically nicked off and left me, I didn’t see where he was, so I assumed my Multilevel Dive skills were forgotten about once the dolphins arrived. I checked my guages to find I was nearly out of air (a big no no), so I made my way to 5 metres and stayed there for 3 minutes as a safety stop. As I surfaced, the boat pulled around and I got in. A truly magnificent day and easily the best dive of my life so far. I became an Advanced Open Water Diver that day, how? I’ve no idea, but don’t tell anyone.