Sunday, March 21, 2010

Scuba Cont'd: Gumption, Do you have it?

Having survived all of my scuba training, I still had to complete 2 open-water dives to get certified. On a Saturday I got up at 6am and drove to the scuba shed where we were supposed to be provided with wetsuits because we were diving in the cold waters of the St. Lawrence River. I was biting-nail nervous about the written test, the dive itself, and even more petrified of putting on a wet suit.

The course provided us with wetsuits, while all of the rest of the class was ready to leave; I continued to be given wetsuits to try on. After what seemed like forever one of them, combined with another somehow fit, but was very large in a lot of places. That day we had one main male trainer and 2 who were there to observe and help out. When we finally got all of our equipment unloaded and prepped I noticed my weight belt barely fit over the baggy wetsuit and that the scuba vest itself once again would not clasp over my chest. Thinking things would be fine; I got over to the edge of the ice-cold river and began to ease my way into the water. I adjusted, got in, but was soon severely struggling. With all the extra weight of the wetsuit, I needed more weight added to my vest to equalize me. While the rest of the class patiently waited, two helpers screamed back and forth about how they needed to add more and more weight to me. As they tried to shove weights into my scuba vest, my weight belt fell off. For 20 minutes, even taking off my diving gloves allowing the negative degree water to enter my wetsuit, I did everything I could to get it back on, only to realize it was just going to fall off again.

The main instructor was waiting with all the students and I screamed over to him that I was going to give up and that the class should just go underwater and do the test. He kept asking me why. I was mortified, my hands were frozen, and I was black and blue all over from being banged up from hitting all the rocks. He screamed out if I was just scared, and I just said yes. He told one of the instructors to stay with me. While I stayed composed, I had never been so mortified. The young instructor was around my age, and as I pulled off all of the heavy equipment, he kept asking me questions about why I wanted to scuba and if anyone in my family was into scuba and questioned why I even did it in the first place. He came off condescending and rude. I told him to have the instructor call me when he was done for the day. I was proud that I was able to reach my car before I started bawling.

When the instructor called me back later that day he told me he knew it was scary and that my equipment was not fitting well and that I could just get certified somewhere else when I went on vacation.

My Response: "Your equipment did not fit me and I did not feel safe. When I signed up for the course, I was guaranteed to leave with the certification. If you can't provide me the appropriate safe equipment, then you can give me my money back. I'm not going on vacation anytime soon, and that would cost additional money. I can do all the skills and I didn’t do anything wrong."

It was NOT safe to scuba with equipment that could suddenly fall off. People DIE scuba diving from not having appropriate gear. Not having a properly fitted wetsuit is a serious issue when diving in negative degree water. The trainer understood, and he personally took me out in the rainy cold day in late October one-on-one to get my dives over with. I was given a wetsuit that ACTUALLY fit and given a different scuba weight belt and vest. When I was finally able to scuba dive in the St. Lawrence I thought it was amazing! Out of all the classes I took at in college, I will probably remember that dive for the rest of my life.

I am officially a certified open water scuba diver!

No comments:

Post a Comment