November 7, 2011

Remembering the first

After several lake dives I had the chance to do my first saltwater dive in 2001. I was quite excited and it's still a nice memory but the most important experience was to realize how different can be the reality from the expectations.

We traveled to Rhodes and saw many wonderful places above water but my main goal was to organize THE dive. I browsed some websites but they weren't too informative. We went to the harbor and booked the daytrip. The boat seemed quite large, we thought it would be very comfortable. Next day we arrived early and enjoyed sunbathing on the huge upper deck. In a few minutes more guests arrived. Later came another group. And again. The big boat became full of divers and first time intro makers soon, it wasn't easy to find a place amongst the dozens of tourists.

The boat ride was short. Later I discovered in those years in Rhodes there was only one bay where they allowed scuba diving. So there were another boats full of divers near Kalithea. The place of preparing looked like a dive equipment store, there were piles of tanks and fins, people walked around, divers jumped into the water while others came back. It meant we didn't have the chance to see too much animals in this crowded spot. But the water was nice warm, a shorty was enough so I tried to enjoy the first salt water dive. And it was really nice! There were shallow caverns, I tried to swim carefully, later we swam into a larger hole where we were able to surface.

Between the dives my girlfriend had her first intro dives. I just looked the chaotic way as they organized the first time scuba adventures of the tourists. It was really surprising to see this kind of operation. We certified divers got the briefing but there wasn't real buddy system, we simply followed the leader. We did the same during the second dive: I saw only "exciting" field of grass until the guide found an octopus, it the was the first one I've ever seen under water. Something to remember.

What else? Well, a traveling diver needs more information. It's essential to learn about the dive spots- in the whole island of Rhodes there was only one which resulted the daytrip was my first and last one during the holiday. Whatever the dive center's homepage says try to find reports from the past customers. A huge boat is nice but if it's overcrowded your trip will be anything but comfortable.

We always remember our "firsts": the first breath under water, the first saltwater dive, the first octopus and so on. The difference between our first experiences can be decisive. I liked the first dive in the sea, but I didn't like the way as the dive center worked. I think I was lucky: although there were problems basically I enjoyed being under water. I learned what do I want to do and how do I want to organize it. I drew a lesson from a single day. Fairly typical in the life of the beginner diver, am I right?

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