Nerdy Cat Scuba Travels

A Cat Lovin' Engineer taking a career break by traveling, doing a divemaster internship, and diving around the world

Category: Iceland (page 2 of 2)

More information about my experience in Iceland

Drysuit Diving: Zip me up before you go go

Zipper

Yesterday was the first time I experienced water in my drysuit. Not that bad… But definitely something I don’t want to experience again anytime soon.

After the first dive, I asked Patrik to check my zipper…. There was a very small gap near the end. So water slowly leaked in and filled my right arm. I think the worst part was my elbow. It got really old and felt liked I had arthritis or something.

The water and coldness really messed with my head. I felt like the soggy sweater was occupying my thoughts instead of the dive (work). Once we finished everything, I couldn’t get out of my drysuit. I usually have a hard time anyways, but then my right arm was hurting and I just couldn’t find the leverage or strength to pull my hands out of the right wrist seals.

Once we got back to the shop I hung my under garment up to dry… But 7 hours later, it still was wet for my morning shift.

So what does it feel like when your suit leaks? Well- the biggest difference is that you feel WET. I felt soggy and painfully cold. When I first started drysuit diving I thought my back was wet. But really that was just the suit compressing. That felt like someone out a cold rock on my back. In comparison, the leak felt like a sharp painful coldness. Now I can explain the difference to customers.

Lessons Learned:

  • Double check your own zipper before jumping into the water
  • Double check your own zipper before jumping into the water – really!!
  • Customers always stress out about getting wet. They aren’t going to die of hypothermia, but if they do get wet, change before the next dive so they don’t become the most miserable person in the world

Grundarhverfi – Diving on my day off

Grundarhverfi diving

So it’s been about 2ish weeks into my dive program. Patrik suggested a “fun dive” on my day off. I thought he was crazy. Everyday I’ve been lugging around heavy gear and breaking my back- why would I do that on my day off?

Well, it turned out to be a good idea. We went to Grundarhverfi (north of Reykjavik). It’s a small reef with lots of macro stuff. Lots of hermit crabs, clams, slugs and stuff. I got to try out a 15L steel tank. I quickly realized that it felt like a giant turtle that ate too much. I couldn’t get my trim right and I think I was underweighted. www.divebuddy.com estimated 12kg for a 12L tank. I went with 10kg and a 15L… Should have been ok, right? Oh well- too late now.

If you ever thought about doing a divemaster course or an IDC, I think you really have to be a die hard fan of diving. Do it because you can’t wait to see what the water will show you. If you aren’t in LOVE with diving, this program can really wear you down. I’ve even had days where I wonder if I made the right decision to go on a sabbatical and become a divemaster. Then I open my eyes and take a deep breathe from my regulator and gawk at the life around me. This is amazing. Diving is amazing. Look at that hermit crab fighting with the other crab. Straight Crab gangster. Thug crab life. hooks up.  This fun dive reminded me why I wanted to do the divemaster program in the first place.

Cheers to fun diving!!

Customer Dive of the Day: My Experience at Kleifarvatn Geothermal tour

Kleifervatn collage

Yesterday Dive.is sent me on a customer guided tour of Kleifarvatn. Kleifarvatn is the largest fresh water lake in the Reykjavik Pennisula region. The big draw here is the geothermal activity. While diving you can see thermoclines, bubbles coming from the ground, smell and see sulfur deposits and hear the “fizziness.”

The dive site required about a 100-200m walk on the rocks before swimming another 100m to the active geothermal zone. The good news was that Patrik carried everyone’s tank to the dive site- which really saved me from exhaustion. Dive.Is likes to have every new employee, divemaster candidate, or Instructor Development Course (IDC) candidiate have a “customer tour” before they start working. The purpose is to show the newbie how a tour should feel like, and give you the customer perspective. Since I actually paid for a silfra dive last year during my holiday in Iceland, I was given the option to dive here instead.  It’s sooooooo nice not to carry or assemble any gear. Just jump right in! Nothing to worry about here. What a treat. This place made me feel like I was on a movie set. No one around.  We could be expecting Matt Damon to pop out of nowhere with his Martian outfit on.

I felt a little more relaxed in the open atmosphere compared to the silfra night dive. There were just a couple of times where I struggled with my fin and then lost track of my buoyancy.  But I’m here to learn, right? I can’t start the program perfect. (Although I really wish I would be better)

Once the dive was over, this tour also included a trip to Seltun.  The area is a small hike around geothermal hill where temperatures beneath the surface reach 200°C. It reminded me of the Hells gate geothermal spa in New Zealand. Unlike NZ, this place is free.  Hells gate charges $35 NZD just to tour the area. On top of that, you have to pay more for the spa area.    A big bonus over Hells gate is that you can hike up a hill and get really close to all the mud and steaming holes. I suppose if you really want to get that mud, you could dig into at the top and camouflage yourself. I decided to just stay dry and as I was. At the top of the hills we saw a grand view of the different lakes around the area.

This was my favorite part of the day.

Lessons Learned:

For Scuba people: Choose a divemaster program where you get to dive interesting spots!

For Tourists: Come to Iceland, its got Seltun for FREE!

Night Diving at Silfra

Night Dive Silfra

Amazing! Beautiful night dive at þingvellir National Park with Dive.Is staff

Dive Log: 157 days since my last dry suit dive.

Am I really here? Do I really want to become a divemaster in about 2°C water?  I’ve been here a few times before. Why is it so cold? Am I being the biggest wimp ever? Are there icicles forming from my nose? The night skies are quickly disappearing from Iceland, so we had to squeeze in a night dive before the summer officially arrives.

“Buoyancy control to Major Tom.  Major Tom. Are you there? Ground Control to Major Tom!! Help!”

It took me about 30 minutes to settle in my drysuit and control my buoyancy. I really felt like I could have been a ball in one of those pinball arcade games. Good thing I was in a fissure and didn’t drift off into the lake. I’m totally over exaggerating, but you get the idea.

Once I calmed down, I was able to enjoy the dive for what it was: Beautiful. The water at an angle beautifully reflected the scenery below.  There were periods of darkness, then flashes of bright light from the backgrounds as other divers moved about.  When I turned on my back, I could see the stars shine through the water.

After the dive, I struggled to get out of my fins. It seems like I just had one stress after another tonight. The 400m walk back to the picnic tables wasn’t as bad as I remembered.  But then taking off the drysuit was definitely difficult. I couldn’t do it by myself.  By then, it had dropped below freezing. Once I got my drysuit off, it looked like a frozen dead body on the ground. Kinda stiff and just laying there. I should have asked for her to walk herself to the van and put herself away.

As tradition for any silfra dive, we had some nice hot drinks afterwards.  I should have enjoyed the moment, but the thoughts and pressure of the divemaster program were weighing me down. Back at the shop, my dive instructor comforted me and gave me the strength/boost I needed to get me out of that “doubt hump.” Thanks instructor!

Takeaway thought of the day: Know that the divemaster program will be very difficult… but that you need to give yourself time to breathe, adjust to the weather, and stop being so hard on yourself.

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