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We went down to Rye and Portsea last Saturday, with [livejournal.com profile] kitling  and [livejournal.com profile] nigelw  and Tom and Nat.

rye_pier_underneath

The plan was for Tom, Nigel and me to scuba dive Rye Pier in the morning, then do a Scallop Drift boat dive from Portsea in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, Nigel hurt his arm and wasn't diving. And the conditions at Rye Pier were terrible: visibility of less than a metre, and lots of swell. We called the dive off after five minutesand went snorkelling instead.

Then we had lunch at the Portsea Hotel while our tanks were refilled.

After lunch, the Scallop Drift dive. Which was interesting, rather than good. Basically, they throw a long rope off the boat with a bouy on one end. Five of six divers line up side by side along the rope, descend, then let the current push them over the flat sea bed.

scallop_drift_02_lawrence

We saw a couple of small rays and a banjo shark. But the dive was really aimed at scallop hunters. Mostly we were just drifitng over a flat brown plain, getting in the scallopers way. So, an interesting dive to do, but not one I'd bother repeating.

Still, I was back in the water. It's been over a year since I did my course, and a couple of months since I dived the ex-HMAS Brisbane up in Mooloolaba. Any diving is better than no diving.

I still feel awkward in the water. My bouyancy is all over the place, I can steer properly, I get tangled up in lines. It's like being surrounded by the most exhilarating song in the world, and I just can't move my feet in rhythym. But it's so beautiful down there, in the quiet and the weightlessness.


My photos from the day are up on Flickr.

Dilemma...

Dec. 21st, 2009 05:07 pm
sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Do I do my SSI Advanced Open Water in Melbourne, which would qualify me to dive wrecks? Or do I go diving with whalesharks in Ningaloo?

Mooloolaba

Dec. 7th, 2009 10:36 pm
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We're back.

Took a long weekend to go diving. In Mooloolaba. On the wreck of the ex-HMAS Brisbane.

It was amazing. The Brisbane sits upright on the sea bed. They cut access holes all through the structure so even beginner divers like myself can dive inside her. We swam through corridors, the old galley, even the computer control room. Saw lots of octopuses, three scorpion fish, and manages to scrape my hands up on all the barnacles. (I feel very macho now - I have dive injuries. I also now have a pair of gloves.)

My camera fritzed itself, so there aren't many photos. Instead, feel free to picture me wrestling an enormous octopus through vast, drowned engine rooms of war.
sharplittleteeth: (Default)

Ten metres under the waves.

I'm kneeling gently on a bed of kelp. The fronds sway softly in the currents. Above and to the right of me, one of the students is having a panic attack. But she's in magnificent hands: [livejournal.com profile] _ryn is calming her, holding her hand, settling her breathing.

Soon the class will be ready, and we will swim deeper. There's a blue devil fish down there, and a undersea canyon that used to be the Yarra, and a toadfish that the instructor will pull by the tail so that it puffs up into a spiky ball.

And after that: the heavy climb back into the boat, then hours of theory, and the final exam, and the instructor quietly informing who is now a certified Open Water Diver, and who still needs more work.

But that's all still in the future.

Right now, I'm kneeling on a bed of kelp, ten metres below the waves.

And all I am thinking is yes.

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Last night: saw a free preview of Adam Hills's Comedy Festival show.

He's such a sweetie. Even when he was picking on the audience members, he did it with a friendly twinkle in his eye.

His show was mostly stories - polite Dutch audiences, heavy metal forensic specialists from Wales, and the crudity of the athletes at the Beijing Special Olympics. He finished up with the obligatory uplifting meaningful bit, which felt like Daniel Kitson without the swearing.

His support act was Hannah Gadsby, with her deadpan stories about growing up in small-town Tasmanian, lesbian haircuts, and her eccentric mother. She started out a bit stiff and nervous, but she warmed up as the audience warmed up to her.


Tonight: swimming. 16 continuous laps (400m), then a few short ones, then 8 continuous laps (200m), a few more short laps, and then another 4 continuous laps. Not exactly going to win the Olympics, but that pwns the 200m swim test for my Open Water Certification in a week.


ObBushfires: Registered at www.donateblood.com.au. Haven't given blood in years, not since the whole chronic fatigue thing.

Swimming

Jan. 27th, 2009 11:08 pm
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Hit the continuous 200 metres mark today in the pool.

Very pleased. That's the distance I need to pass the swimming portion of my diving exam.

Yes. I know. It's not very far. But given last week I struggled to swim half that continuously, I felt a certain sense of achievement.

The improvements come mostly from 1) staying as relaxed as possible throughout the stroke and 2) breathing properly.

Staying relaxed means I slip through the water, rather than fight my way against it. The only real power I'm applying is on the downwards pull of the arm.

Breathing properly: I realised I was holding my breath when my face was underwater, exhaling rapidly when I turned my head up and then having to gasp down air because I'd run out of time to breathe deeply. So tonight I focused on blowing a steady stream of bubbles out my nose while face down in the water, so that I could "drink" the air in when I turned my head, rather than taking a single quick gulp.

Result: much, much less of that awful "help I can't breathe!" feeling.

Note that I've never had a problem with breathing when snorkelling or scuba diving. But they both supply a nice steady flow of oxygen. It's only when I have to hold my breath I struggle.

I have my diving medical on Thursday. I'll be very curious to see the results of the lung capacity test.

Scuba!

Jan. 14th, 2009 11:53 am
sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Just booked to do my Open Water Scuba certification with Queenscliff Dive Centre.

*excited*

The funny thing: [livejournal.com profile] _ryn answered the phone there. Neither of us recognised the other.

i've kissed mermaids, rode the el nino
walked the sand with the crustaceans
could find my way to mariana
on a wave of mutilation...


sharplittleteeth: (Default)
I have all the aquatic grace and prowess of the 1973 VW Kombi.

But I'm working on it. I've been swimming twice this week, and there's been considerable improvement. ("Considerable improvement" means I could complete two laps before I had to stop and get my breath back, as opposed to just one.)

Increasing strength and fitness will be important. But technique is where the most improvement will come from. I need to learn how to glide through the water like a shark, as opposed to a rusted hippymobile,

So at the moment I'm working on rotating the hips, and using that to power the shoulder rolls. It's not that different from using the hips to power a punch in karate. Biomechanics are universal, I guess.

This article explains it a bit better: A Hip New Twist to Swimming.


And now - A Brief Note About Freestyle:

Freestyle is not a stroke, of course, but a type of race - one where the competitors are free to use any style they like. The stroke of choice in such events is the front crawl.

The front crawl was introduced to Europe during a swimming competition in London, 1844, where Native Americans competed against the British. Apparently, Londoners were shocked by their wild and savage style, preferring the genteel breast-stroke or side-stroke.

The only problem?

The Native Americans won. The front crawl is simply a faster stroke. That's why it's universally used in freestyle races.

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Article in today's Age about the research station on Heron Island.

The research team there are part of a project examining the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef in WA. They've just release some initial results which include the discovery of hundreds of new species.

Article here. Multimedia content (video and slideshows) here, which do a very nice job of showing off Heron Island.



When I was in Primary School, I wanted to be a marine biologist. My mother actually told a story last weekend, about how I came home from the library with a book on marine biology and read it within a few hours. He didn't really read it, she thought. He just looked at the pictures. So she quizzed me on it, and I answered every question.

Somewhere along the way I chose robots over reefs, and ended up in IT. It's not that I regret my choice. But I've been thinking about it a lot, ever since we got back from Heron Island.

Guess I'll just have to be an enthusiastic amatuer.

Restless

Sep. 18th, 2008 12:29 pm
sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Just over a week ago, I was kneeling on the bottom of the sea. Ten metres of teeming blue water stood between me and the surface.

Last night, there were four people in the first karate class. The second one was just me and the instructor.

Restless today. Can't focus on work.

I can understand why people run away to become dive instructors, or warrior monks.

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