It was a somewhat chilly Saturday, and a brave group of ten souls travelled down to the Buckland lake dive centre to dip their toes in the water. The air temperature was a balmy 9 degrees Celsius and I later found out the water temperature was 5 degrees although I wasn’t sure what this would be like. The last time I had been diving was in Mexico and the water temp was like a warm bath. On my part there was quite a bit of slow movement getting ready to get in the water.
I was buddied up with instructor Victor who went over the pre-dive checks and what we would be doing once we got into the water. By the time we were done, the other divers had already entered into the water, and since there was very little shrieking from the water temperature, Victor and I decided it was time.
It turns out 5 degrees is very much like an ice bath and the greatest effect was a burning feeling on lips from the cold which never went away. Visibility was reasonably good I thought and I could see Victor at all times while following the underwater lines that led us to the platform where I carried out the skills test we had planned. We were in the water for approximately 20 mins and by the end I was very happy to get out.
All in all it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and would definitely go again (although hopefully in a dry suit next time!).
My first lake trip. My first open water dive. My first trip to Buckland.
It was a grey day, a cool eight degrees with a water temperature of four. I was anxious, but quietly hopeful that my history of tolerance to the cold would help me. Well, that and six millimetres of neoprene!
The joviality of the group was infectious and soon everyone was laughing and swapping stories. Then came time for the eight of us that were going in the water to kit up and take the plunge. By the time I had all my kit on I wanted to get in the water to cool off. I took a moment to observe that I was strangely calm given the circumstances but soon lost that thought as I followed my instructor Lee down the entry stairs and into the water.
We found a line heading out to the left from our start point and followed that. We passed several “sites” along the way, including a computer keyboard on a desk, which made me laugh – a very strange experience when one has a regulator in one's mouth. Then, emerging out of the gloom was a wreck – the first I'd witnessed under the water with my own eyes. A fantastic site, evoking all sorts of emotions.
After exploring the side of the wreck Lee and I moved onto a nearby platform and carried out the exercises that were the formal part of the session. It was only when I needed to use my hands to remove my regulator that I noticed just how cold my fingers had got – the rest of me was fine but my hands were painfully cold. So, although I was enjoying my underwater experience, I was glad when Lee signalled our return to shore. Then followed what felt like an age – my fingers unwilling to grasp the clips that released my fin straps. Again Lee came to my rescue.
Upon our return to shore Maggie, our surface cover for the day, informed us we'd been down for 28 minutes – very respectable given the temperatures involved and my general lack of experience.
Firsts are always memorable and I shall take the memory of that day to my grave.