Nerdy Cat Scuba Travels

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

Tag: Drysuit Diving

Fantasy versus Reality – How much work does it take to earn $70?

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This weekend I got my first private lesson for a Drysuit Orientation. I’m pretty excited because I got to do these drysuit orientations every day in Silfra. Now I get money for this? Hooray.

Frank arrives just past 1pm. I’m already at Breakwater Cove relaxing after my open water course. He’s just finished doing a feeding show at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I find out that you can sign up to be a volunteer to clean the tanks or feed the fish. Its a year and a half waiting list, but he says its worth it.
We swap stories about diving and sabbaticals. He took one when he was younger biking around Europe for 3 months. I’m beginning to think that everyone in their lifetime should take a sabbatical to have fun instead of working 30 years (and then retiring to have fun).

I do my typical speech about drysuits…. Drysuits are a new factor of bouyancy… dive as if you are superman and keep horizontal… lift your left arm up with your elbow bent to release air…. kick your feet up a little bit to give yourself a better trim, press the center button to add air to your suit if you feel compression at deeper depths. Remember that the air will expand as we rise so if you have added air, remember to release the air via your left arm valve. And on and on I go.

By the time I finish, I start to see Frank sweating. Its a hot day to be in a drysuit. I help him put on his gear and then I go to put on my gear. I’m wearing my new backplacte Halcyon wing. I’m a little unsure about my weight distribution.

The first 20 minutes of the dive goes great…. then I test out my wing inflator valve at 35 ft and it starts to auto inflate due to a sticky spring. I try to quickly dump air out but its not helping. I start to ascend and feel helpless as I watch Frank fade away. I pop up to the surface where the Seals start barking at me. Frank pops out of the water and I explain to him what happens. I’m pretty embarrassed and feel my cheeks turn hot. I stop using my wing for inflation and rely on my drysuit instead. I wonder if it was smart of me to spend so much money on this backplate wing.

The rest of the dive we spend doing some drills and test out diving with out ankle weights. I also show him differences with diving with the dry suit valve closed versus open. As we walk out- Frank can’t believe how warm it is.  The 55 degree water had nothing on him. The sun is shining and it feels like a nice hot summer day.
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We get back to my car and I help explain to Frank how to get out of his suit. He struggles. Wriggling like he’s got a monkey on his back. I show him how I get out of my suit and then slowly assist him. He keeps saying- shouldn’t I be able to do this on my own? I tell him when I first started working in Iceland that I used to hide behind a van so that customers wouldn’t see my misery trying to get out of my drysuit. Like a crazy person escaping an asylum wearing a straitjacket. Frank, like most people, is intrigued by my travels to Iceland. I tell him all the great memories I have on the island. I wish I could go back but there are other places I want to dive… like the Galapagos and much of South America.

At the end of the session he pays me $50 a dive and a $20 tip. I’m really excited because it was a really fun day and it didn’t feel like working. I did this on my own. Frank asks me if I can do more privates with his 12 year old daughter. I respond that I hadn’t thought about it, but sure. I would love to dive and be a role model to his daughter.

A few days later I meet my dad and tell him about my weekend. His first remark- “didn’t you used to earn that much in a hour?” I know he didn’t mean any harm in it. But yeah, I did. And I know I can’t survive off of scuba diving. But really, What’s better: sitting in a cushy office and pushing around powerpoint presentations for an hour or 3 hours of Scuba Diving at Monterey Bay and smiling when you realize all the  truth-isms of Finding Dory.  (don’t mind this pirated secret ending…. hilarious)

To celebrate my gig completion, I took my hard earned $70 to San Francisco and met up with one of my besties from college, Habib. We go to at least 3 cocktail bars where I paid on average $14 a drink.  A whole day’s work in exchange for great conversations and tasty drinks. Totally worth my scuba diving hardwork.

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 Be a responsible diver and remember to drink afterwards!

And in case you haven’t used a taxi, download uber and use my promotional code “8tlu0” for a free $20 ride or my lyft code “LESLIE40”

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

Drysuit Diving: Its all in the hands!

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Me as the Divemaster Training, Daniel San, and Patrik as the Dive Instructor, Mr. Miyagi

Yesterday was my second day in training at Silfra.

I started to get comfortable packing and diving. (Check out my previous blog on all the preparations needed in the morning…)

The big problem I have now is getting out of the drysuit. When I first got to Dive.Is, Patrik had me take my drysuit to the shop. Then he watched me put it on and take if off about 5-7 times. I really didn’t enjoy this. But it’s one of those things you have to learn about drysuit diving.  It’s not like Thailand where I can just into a 3mm shorty and shout, ” let’s do this!!” Instead its this slowly and steady turtle like progress. I feel like I need some NASA assistants to help me out. I need someone on a loud speaker counting down for me. 3…..2…..1….. drysuit off!

After the Silfra Dive I had some swollen frozen sausages for hands. I felt like Homer Simpson when he gets too fat and can’t seem to dial the keypad on a fat.  “Error you are too fat.” Somehow the practicing at the dive shop wasn’t helping me. Darn sausage fingers.

Like Mr.Miyagi is demonstrating, I need to put my thumbs on the sides and pull out the sides of the cuffs with my shoulders. A couple of nights ago I even tried googling “how to get out of a drysuit” and couldn’t find anything.  So here let me try to describe what has been told to me:

Once you want to get out, tuck your hands in so that the thumb and pinky are touching each other. Then have the rest of the middle fingers get close to the pinky and thumb. Using the rest of the force in your other hand, make a hole in your wrist seal. Try making the hole as big as possible. Then tuck your fingers in, pulling your hand down with your elbow to get those suckers back in.

Dear God. What am I doing?! Mr. Miyagi show me the way!!

At this point my shoulders and back are really sore. Sitting at a desk all these years has really made me weak. I feel bad about whining so much, but really, waahhhh! I can’t believe its only been a couple days. Someone should have said this ain’t easy. Too late now.