Nerdy Cat Scuba Travels

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

Tag: Silfra

Scuba Diving with a Camera

Silfra Diver between the fissure

Yesterday I did my first dive with a camera for customers. Usually I’m really bad at photographs so I was really nervous. Thankfully I was at least able to get a good shot of the customer between the fissure walls. The customers were really nice and  bought the photos from the dive. Yes! Success!

During the dive, I swam backwards for a bit, but found myself hitting the sides or bottom of silfra. I also had a hard time equalizing with my hands as the camera was dangling around my wrists.

The entire time I was really nervous and anxious about my buoyancy. Afterwards my dive instructor, Patrik, checked my photos and gave me a thumbs up. Yay! One new skill learned today.

Divemaster Training Status: So after one week of my internship I have been supporting Dive.Is for a little over 53 hours.

  • Divemasters are also tour guides. They need to be able to guide a group and take photos.
  • Taking photos affects my buoyancy. I need to figure out a way to swim backwards and control myself.
  • My body needs some rest. My hands are beyond DRY.
  • Cold water diving is HEAVY. I’m constantly walking around with about 60+lbs of weight. Sometimes more.

Drysuit Diving: Its all in the hands!

karate_kid_hands

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.

First Day at Silfra – First Official Day of Training!

Silfra Thingvellier National Park

So today was my first day diving with customers at Silfra. I started the day waking up at 5:30am.  At the dive shop to start at 6am. I learned how to calculate people’s drysuit sizes and the logistics regarding morning preparations for tours. Next we picked up customers and drove them to Silfra. On the way Patrik explained the tectonic plates and size of Pingvellir lake.

Getting everyone into drysuits went well. It was after the dive that was a little more difficult. I’m still not used to helping people out of drysuits. On top of that- my hands started to swell up. My palms were swollen (and are still frozen now!) and so it was extremely did for me to pull my own wetsuit off. While helping a customer- I managed to punch myself in the face while I my hand slipped from their drysuit cuff. Ouch.  K.O by punching yourself. good one. I got a nice fat lip and some bit of blood. Ha ha.

Unpacking the gear was pretty easy. I kept trying to put more and more lotion on my face and hands. It seems that the Icelandic weather really knows how to dry them out.

Lessons Learned: 

  • Using people’s height and weight, I look at a size chart and grab a dry suit and matching undergarment.  For BCD’s, I use my own judgement on S,M, L or XL. If unsure- grab both sizes and have the customer decide which one fits better.
  • Weight belts: WTH?! I need to figure out how to do this.  I still have a hard time calculating what weights people need. I used http://www.divebuddy.com/calculator/weight.aspx to verify I estimated the right numbers. Most of the instructors knew the amount just by glancing at the weight.  Like a BOSS.
  • Morning preparation for diving: Verify every customer has a drysuit, undergarment, mask, weights, weight belts, weight pockets, fins, BCDs, and regulators.
  • Grab extras in case something goes wrong
  • Don’t punch yourself in the face trying to get a customer’s gear off.

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.