Friday, August 27, 2010

Out of air

It’s something which you have trained for a few times; that horrible sensation of a hard regulator where you pull for a breath, and it seems to just dry up. It takes a second to register, then you realize, the next breath you take will be even harder and you will have to surface.
Fortunately, I was well prepared for it. My mum came over to Malta for a holiday and she decided to try out the Discover Scuba Diving Course, organized by Watercolours Dive Centre.  We did the pool work and there were about four others who were starting their Open Water course. I decided to join and catch up on some skills, so I opted for a small five-litre tank. We spent about 20 minutes in the pool, swimming around and doing a few basic skills. After that, it was time for the real thing with an 8-12-metre dive near the Dive Centre in Valletta Harbour.
Mum managed superbly! I entered with a good enough supply of about 80 bar, but after a good 40 minutes of frolicking about, that had gone down to 20 bar. I realized that we were headed back towards shore, so I was not in the slightest worried. Besides, we were only at about eight-metres, so I knew I could safely surface at any time.
Slowly but surely, we got to within about 100-metres of the shore. I pulled for breath, and the regulator felt hard. I knew I was very close to it finishing, so I was ready for it. It’s a very odd sensation. Even though you have trained for it, it still catches you by surprise and takes the brain a minute to register. You check you air gauge and sure enough, just as you were expecting it reads zero. I must emphasise that I was in very shallow water and I was fully expecting this to happen at any time. I was buddying my mum, and had already communicated that I was low on air. We were all in a group and I knew that I was really close to the surfacing point. I gave the out of air signal, told her to buddy with the rest of the group, pointed one thumb skyward and kicked for the surface.  Hand above head, to make sure there’s no obstructions and you break the surface. The first thing you must remember to do is to depress the valve on your BCD deflator and blow air into it so you can stay afloat. I was more or less at the shoreline and the rest of the dive team surfaced within a couple of minutes of myself having surfaced.
It’s not the nicest sensation in the world, but I’m glad it happened. It allowed me to experience an out of air situation in a controlled environment when I could expect it to happen. Now I really do know what to expect in the future. 

No comments:

Post a Comment


View Malta Dive Sites in a larger map