St Elmo's Bay

divelog·blue

This is the first in a three-part series. As in these other articles, we welcome Kristaps' brother R., sister-in-law M., older nephew N., and younger nephew L.

This dive (really two dives, but for the sake of simplicity, I'm pretending they're one) was special to us: we were joined by Kristaps' brother and his family—first time divers! Instead of the usual recounting of dive site and conditions (the nearby HMS Maori is a well-known location to us, being in our backyard!), we thought instead to describe the process of introducing new divers to the sea.

Prerequisites: all of my brother's family are fine swimmers. Moreover, all could equalise on the surface.

We started diving in St Elmo's Bay—probably not the best idea, as it's not as protected as other dive sites. But given that it's the closest, we did it anyway. We started everybody out on the surface without weight belts: this ensured that our new divers could get comfortable using their fins, snorkels, and masks without fear of sinking. We demonstrated at length in how divers don't really move all that much: we rest on the surface. This is especially important: if new divers feel they must always move to stay afloat, they'll have a difficult time focussing on the task at hand.

Next: the snorkel. Apparently breathing through a tube doesn't come naturally. The children in particular had trouble actually keeping it in their mouths—you can see some pictures where the snorkel is held loosely in the lips. Maybe this is just a matter of practise.

Once everybody was comfortable snorkelling, my brother started first with diving and donned a weight belt. Then came the next steps: duck diving and equalising. Since we'd weighted my brother rather light, his duck dive was somewhat compromised by buoyancy. The next issue was equalising: it's easy, in the moment, to forget to equalise preemptively. We're used to our ears building pressure quickly from descent; but for novice divers, this comes as a surprise. He learned quickly to equalise continuously all the way down—and once learning to multitask diving and equalising, to slowly reduce the number of equalisation attempts.

Once equalised, weighted, and breath-up'd, we were good to go!

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