March 8, 2008

Helen – I had a toss and tumble night; kept thinking about the 20/20 special about the dive shops in Mexico where the divers weren’t checked out, the guides weren’t too careful and lost several divers, etc.!!!  When we had checked at Hikkaduwa, the dive capital of Sri Lanka, the dive shop insisted that I do a recertification class for $45 before I could go on a dive for another $50.  This was because I hadn’t dove in over a year (more like 7).  When we called on Friday night to confirm our plans, I said to Tom to mention about my last dive time frame.  Well, it was all ok and this morning we pack our things and go.  Now it gets a little “fishy.”  The gear is a little “dated” and the dials are in metric.  When I check my tank content it is only half full…I ask about this and he replies that they do that because the high pressure is not good for the hoses!!!   I am rethinking this!!!  I know that he was wiped out with the tsunami and is trying to get back on his feet…I asked if he wanted to see my cards,  he said, no need I believe you (another no-no!); I show him anyway.  I wonder if he is going to ask me some questions or check me out in the water before we go (NO!)  He reviews the hand signals, up, down, ok; that’s it for the review!  We gather the gear and go to the boat.  It is an open boat (no seats and no ladder) with a 25 hp outboard motor and a driver


Thank heavens the water is relatively calm, the sun is out and so the visibility should be good.  We drive out about 15-20 minutes to a reef area.  He originally said we would be going to a depth of about 45’ (15m).  I think he changed his mind when he saw that I only had a ½ tank of air and his was full!!  We dove around 27’ (9m) and my air was going fast!!  He offered me his octopus (spare regulator for emergencies) but I didn’t like it because it leaked air into my mouth on each breath.  I went back to mine.  After a little while, I give him the signal that I was down to 500psi which meant it was time for me to go up; he gave me his good regulator and he took the leaky one and we buddy-breathed for the rest of the time until his air was down. 


We got in about an hour underwater, only because we didn’t go very deep.  I had a little trouble (OK, a lot of trouble!) getting back into the boat.  There was no ladder and the sides were quite high.  He tried to push me over the side and when that didn’t work, we went to the back with the motor and I used it for some extra footing. In the boat we discussed the air problem and then he told me that he had it filled to 2000 psi and the tank must have had a leak but we didn’t have enough time to exchange it!!!  Good thing it wasn’t necessary to go any deeper (which uses more air) because we saw lots of beautiful fish and corals at this depth.  The reefs were really good because the visitor population has been down the last few years due to the tsunami and the war.  Also more divers go to Hikkaduwa which is a tourist area.  We were told that it is overcrowded in the tourist season.

Tom did not have as much luck.  He was not able to see much with his mask and snorkel and the tide was beginning to go in and the waves were getting higher – his tummy was going up and down with the waves and swells producing an unpleasant result; he was able to get into the boat before he threw-up…I had a great time with all the personal attention and after a few minutes underwater, wasn’t worrying anymore.  I am glad that Tom pushed me to go and made the plans, even though I was apprehensive and gave him a hard time, because I enjoyed every minute!!

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