Wow, what a course. Everyone asks me if I had fun… the thing is... I’m not sure I did!
Although I finished a few days ago, it’s taken me this long to get my head sorted out. This was easily the most challenging course I’ve ever done, and because of this, the most rewarding. I thrive on a challenge, so I certainly enjoyed myself, but ‘fun’ never entered into it.
I went into the course expecting to go beyond my comfort zone. At this level of diving, the course is as much about testing the diver’s mental abilities as physical skills. Task-loading and simulated problems add to the stress level and test the diver’s ability to cope. I knew all this, and at times still found myself questioning whether I should be there.
In many ways, we are our own harshest critics. It was only when I reminded myself that I did achieve what was asked, that I felt better.
DIVE 1 45M TRIMIX 18/35
My first Trimix dive, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. This was a shakedown dive, an introduction to our instructor, Rubens Monaco. It’s inspiring just being in the water with someone of Rubens’s ability. His easy, controlled movements and perfect trim set a standard for us all. I like to think my diving style is reasonably coordinated, but in contrast, I felt uncoordinated and bumbling. It was a great reminder that we can always improve.
It also served as an introduction to diving Trimix. With reduced nitrogen levels came reduced narcosis, and the gas was cooler in my drysuit. I often dive to 40 metres on air where narcosis doesn’t incapacitate me. At 45 metres on Trimix, I didn’t notice a lot of difference. I know my narcosis was less, but with everything going well, I wasn’t tested. I did feel cooler during the deco stops, especially towards the end of my hang.
DIVE 2 32M TRIMIX 19/25
While all the course dives went beyond no-decompression limits, practicing skills at extreme depths is inviting trouble, so the second dives of each day were task-rich and depth-lite.
Passing stage tanks back and forth, following lines without masks, simulating out-of-gas situations, valve drills… all good fun and essential skills.
With the light (25%) Trimix, narcosis at this relatively shallow depth was unnoticeable, but as an inflation gas, it was still noticeably cooler.
To finish the day’s water activities, we jumped in at the jetty to practice rescuing an unconscious diver from the bottom.
Follow my adventures into Day 2 in the next post...