Monday, June 30, 2014

Scuba Diving in Roatan

The first port on our recent cruise was Roatan, Honduras.

I already wrote about the crazy lady that accosted me in Honduras.  But, I didn't write about the main event while we were there.

Since we were recently Scuba certified, we had taken this cruise specifically so that we would have the chance to use our certification.  We had heard that Roatan, Honduras was one of the coolest places to do Scuba, so we made it happen.

When we got off the ship, there were billions of different people holding signs for different excursions.  It was like when you land in the airport and there are all those people holding signs, and you always wish you were important enough to be on a sign.  We weren't important enough to be on a sign this time either, but we were looking for the sign that said "Scuba 2 tank dive".  We found the guy holding the proper sign and he asked to see our certification cards.  We showed him and then we got on a little ghetto fabulous bus.

I had been nervous about Scuba diving without our instructor to take care of us.  He promised us that even if we died underwater, he would bring us up alive.  (He's that good.)  The real world doesn't have that kind of guarantee.  However, what I didn't realize was that I didn't need to worry about the Scuba part.  I needed to worry about the bus part.  The bus was winding through the thin streets of Roatan at a speed that seemed much faster than what I would consider safe in those conditions.  There were children, dogs, goats, other cars and various other obstacle that came way too close to the bus for my comfort.  The bus driver would just honk loudly and hope that everyone would move.  At one point, I heard a little girl scream but I looked out the window and we did not hit her, so I think all was well.  I think the bus was just a little close for her comfort.  (She was experiencing the same discomfort I was.)

The bus dropped us off at a little resort.  (Or at least what passes for a resort in Roatan.)  It wasn't fancy or anything, but they had boats and Scuba gear.  That's all we needed.  We had to fill out paper work saying that we promise we know what we're doing and we won't sue if we die.  Then they asked us how much weight we needed.  I didn't need any weight in fresh water, because I sink like a rock.  But I had no idea what I needed in the ocean.  We explained that we're newbs, and we have no idea.  He gave me 16 pounds.  It turns out, 16 pounds is more than I need, even in the ocean.  But we'll get to that in a second.

The boat took us out to a little place called Green Outhouse Wall.  It's a really awkward name, and I thought I heard it incorrectly, but I googled it when I got home.  Maybe an outhouse is something different in Honduras.  Because I probably wouldn't name a dive location after a bathroom, but that's just me.

I jumped in the water with my BCD (Buoyancy Control Device, that's the vest you wear while diving) fully inflated like I'm supposed to.  In my class, I always just dumped all the air out of it so that I could sink.  It turns out when you have 16 pounds of weight, you probably want to leave some air in it.  I emptied it out and sank like a rock.  Luckily, we were only in 15 feet of water at that point.  I hit the bottom, and realized I wasn't supposed to sink that fast.  So I decided to put more air in.  I probably should have been more careful about how much air I put back in, because I then shot straight to the top.  Robyn was descending slowly and reached out her hand in somewhat of a panic as I shot past her on the way back up.

It took me a while, but I did eventually get the hang of buoyancy.  I've heard even experienced divers say that buoyancy is the hardest part of diving.  Getting to the point where you can control your ascent and descent or just staying at one point in the water is hard.   So I'm not ashamed that I didn't do it perfectly on the first dive.

I had a fantastic experience.  We saw crabs, turtles, lobster, tons of fish, lots of different kinds of coral, and even a shipwreck.  I wore my GoPro and took video the whole time.  The video isn't great for 2 reasons.  One is that I apparently move my head around a lot which makes for somewhat nauseating video.  The other is that it was an overcast day, and though I could see just fine, the video turned out very green and it's hard to make out very many things.

Nonetheless, I pulled out a few stills from the video for your enjoyment.

I took this selfie accidentally when I was trying to make sure the camera was on.

We saw lots of coral and sea fans.

We were constantly surrounded by fish.

Can you see the turtle?
 The first dive was about 45 minutes.  Then they took us back to the resort, let us take bathroom breaks and visit the gift shops while they got more air tanks on the boat.  We took the opportunity to show how cute we were.

Our second dive was to a place called Deep Eel Garden.  We never saw any eels but we did see a shipwreck which was super cool.
Approaching the shipwreck

Getting a little closer to the wreck
 The wreck itself sat at 110 feet in depth.  We're only supposed to go to 60 feet.  But I really wanted to check out the cool nest sitting on the mast.
You can't see super well but there are cool little furry worms on and in the nest.  
 After looking at the nest, I checked my depth gauge and I was at 75 feet deep.  I looked up at Robyn and she made a gesture to show that she was very cranky and that I needed to ascend to 60 feet.
Robyn never made that kind of mistake, because she was looking at her gauge 100% of the time.

But she still loved me, even when I went too deep.

She was easily the cutest thing I saw on the dive.

One of the things that we had to do in our dive class was that you are supposed to ascend to about 20 feet of depth and do a safety stop, where you stay at that depth for at least 5 minutes before continuing to ascend.  In our class, we just played paper rock scissors because there was nothing else to do.  The divemaster on this dive did a good job of leading us to a place where it was only 20 feet deep but there were still things to see.  So that made it a nice way to end the dive.

Finally we had to come up and finish off our diving experience.

These fish were all around the boat.  They hung out right at the surface.

Once we got back on the boat, they had people that took our air tanks off and broke down all our equipment.  We had learned how to do all of that in our class, but it was so nice to have someone do it for us.

This is how cute we were on the boat.

So that was my diving experience!  It was sooooo amazing!  The best part is that Robyn really enjoyed it which means we'll be doing it a lot more.  Woot!  I hope to share many more diving experiences.  And maybe in the future I'll have better pictures to share.


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