Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Adventures Underwater

Before Martin and I started this sailing adventure,  I wasn't super keen on snorkeling or diving.  In fact, I still don't get the same kind of excitement being in the water as Martin does.  He loves the water.  He gets lost in his thoughts while diving and he could spend oodles of time swimming in the deep blue of the ocean.  Me? Although I have developed a love for diving and snorkeling these past few months, I could still take it or leave it.  I think it's because I still worry about what is lurking around in the water with me.  That, and a mild case of claustrophobia makes for unwanted panic at times.
For example, the other day, Martin and I decided that we would go out for a snorkel.  I was more than wanting to go, but again, the anxiety of what is swimming with us always brings on unnecessary panic on my part (I try to remain 'cool and at ease' to any onlooker).

When Martin and I got in the water, we were in a pretty shallow area.  The current swept us up onto some coral where I immediately got a small, SMALL, cut on the palm of my hand.  From the wound there was a miniscule trace of blood coming from the tiny opening.  Of course, I immediately pop up out of the water and ask Martin, "Is this cut big enough that it will attract sharks?"  Poor Martin, I saw as he tried to conceal his laughter while assuring me that it would not, in fact, lure sharks.  Truthfully, at the moment, I only half believed him.  I grabbed a piece of driftwood on the ocean floor and cupped onto it forcing the cut closed to stop the small trickle of blood.  (I swam like that for the remainder of our snorkeling excursion.)
Not the best photo, but it's Martin and me at our wettest.
About 10 minutes after the abrasion/wound incident, I started to feel my lips getting numb.  Then my gums and teeth started going numb.  Putting two and two together, I surmised that the cut had most certainly caused dungy fever, no, denghue fever or was it dinghy fever?  Whatever it was, I HAD IT!  I yelled to Martin, "Hon, I think something is terribly wrong with me.  I am having an allergic reaction to getting cut on the coral."  Martin swam over to me and had me tell him exactly the symptoms that I was experiencing.  As I went down the list, I told him that I had a terrible headache coming on and was afraid that I was going to pass out.  Just about that moment, he asks, "Is your mask on a little too tight?"  Flustered, I responded, "Of course it isn't, silly!  I am having an allergic reaction!  I need to get back to the boat before my lungs give out."  Then Martin starts laughing while lunging forward and pulling my mask off of my face.  Just about that moment, blood comes rushing back to my face and the numbness slowly dissipates.  He was right, and the panic that I had experienced was quickly replaced with laughter.  The mask was the culprit.
Notice the nice suction cup indentations around my face.
While on the subject, our scuba adventures go a little like this as well.

A few years ago, Martin and I were diving off the coast of Costa Rica.  We were with some inexperienced divers who were friends of ours.  Martin was particularly worried about one of our friends as she had just been barely certified and was having a problem equalizing while under water.
We all went down (a group of 8 of us) and Martin could see that our friend was again having trouble equalizing.  About that time, I realized that I probably didn't have on enough weights and I started (uncontrollably) heading for the surface.  I started banging on my tank to get Martin's attention so that he could grab my fin and pull me back down.  He didn't look up as he was still helping our friend with her little problem.  Then I started screaming, "Martin!" through my BC and mouth piece.  He still didn't look up.  I continued yelling, "Martin!" over and over again until I finally bobbed up to the surface.  Luckily we were in less than 40 feet so I was fine.  But still…
After reaching the surface, I worked my way to the dive boat still furious with Martin.  I couldn't believe that he didn't check his "buddy" to see if she was alright. Namely, ME!  His wife!  At the end of the dive, everyone came up and Martin noticed I was a bit angry (to say the least) and asked me why I went up early.  You can imagine my anger as I started in on how I had been banging on my tank and was trying to get his attention to help me, but he was too busy helping out our friend.

About that moment, the guide on our dive said, "Call me crazy, but I think the whales are coming back early this season.  I could hear them singing in the water while we were down there."  Realizing that the guide had actually heard my screams of yelling, "Martin!" underwater and NOT the whales, I couldn't control my laughter.  I then explained it to Martin and we couldn't stop laughing every time the guide brought up the fact that the whales were coming early to Costa Rica that season.  We never let him in on the joke and it remains one of our best stories to date.
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These types of stories are only a small example of my time underwater.  Don't get me wrong, I have had some wonderful dives with Martin, but somehow, they always end up being some kind of funny story with me being the punchline.
*  *  *  
Just today, Martin and I went on a dive trip that was literally in the middle of the ocean.  We had David back AMARA up to this large reef and Martin and I jumped off the back of the boat into the abyss.  I really didn't want to go, but Martin needed a buddy since David had to steer the boat, so I had a bullseye on my forehead (Neither Sue nor myself were willing to keep AMARA out of harms way since we were so close to the reef).  So, I had to suck it up and jump in even though I was teeny bit terrified.
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This dive was absolutely the nail-biter for me when it comes to diving.  All I could think the entire time that we dove was, "How are we going to get back onto AMARA in the middle of the ocean?"
Martin and I swam out to the reef with a drop off of 2,000 feet.  But it was worth all the anxiety, because the view was spectacular.  Imagine being dropped in the middle of the most beautiful aquarium.  It was so lovely.  Fish were in abundance, while large fan coral and different colored coral made a patchwork quilt all along the reef.  It was breathtaking.
Here are a few shots of what we experienced while under the water.
Large plates of coral.
Large fan coral.  We had never seen fan coral this large.
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Can you see the lion fish in this photo?

In the end, I am glad that I did it.  It was still a bit tricky getting back on AMARA and I won't lie that I did panic at one point and yelled to Martin in my best high-pitched voice, "Do not leave my side!"  Finally, when AMARA dipped down under a swell, Sue was able to grab me by my wetsuit and pull me up on to the deck.  Of course, once on the deck, I forgot about the panic and couldn't stop raving about what a magnificent dive that we had just had.   I was so grateful to Martin for helping me face my fears and get out there and have such an amazing experience.

Wow!  Maybe I am starting to love this more than I had thought.