Scuba Certification, a huge fear tackled...Part 1

Dylan's 14th birthday was in March and my, unmentioned age, birthday was in April.  We like to celebrate together when we can with a new and amazing experience.  Last year we went to Phi Phi island in Thailand where the movie The Beach was filmed.  It was beautiful and an amazing and bonding trip for us.  This year we wanted to do something special as well but just weren't able to come up with something.

That is until our friend and fellow travel blogger decided to come hang out in Penang for a while.  In fact it was he who pointed out that Dylan's birthday would be while he was here visiting with his son.  I mentioned that I was at a loss for what to do since we really do not like giving things but rather experiences for birthdays and holidays.  Then he mentioned he could do Dylan's scuba diving certification if he was interested.

Wow, I hadn't thought of that because normally it's a bit expensive and because at the moment we are in Penang, on the beach but not exactly known as a hot dive spot.  He assured me they can get a lot of it done in a pool and then we could finish up the open water dives later on.  It would save us some anyway.  I talked to Dylan about it and he was thrilled.

First step was filling out all the paperwork for PADI...there were at least 4 different forms.  Then we needed to get the book and get started on the course work.  5 chapters, over 100 pages, and numerous re reads all led up to 5 quizzes and 1 test.

The material is supposedly for a 10 year old but because it was somewhat complicated I decided I would read through it all and learn the coursework with Dylan.  That way I could help him out with quizzes and explaining things if he needed.  It was a fair bit of work and I could certainly see why you can receive college credits for completing the certification.

You may be wondering why I did not also decide to take the course and get certified along with Dylan.  Well I will give you a spoiler...I did end up deciding to do it with him since I was learning everything anyway.  I had no intentions of doing it at first though.  Why??  Hmm let's see..
  • I still hold my nose whenever I go under water, yes I am over 35 and yes I am deadly serious
  • I am afraid of deep water
  • I never, EVER, open my eyes underwater...EVER!
  • I have a slight fear of the ocean and critters touching me
  • I read through the book and was petrified...I mean really who removes their mask 40 feet under water?
The entire concept of being deeply underwater is just terrifying.  I used to avoid pool parties for fear that I would be thrown in without having a chance to plug my nose....No I am not joking, sad but true.  But I figured I could quit at any point so I might as well give it a shot.  So I skeptically proceeded.
I love anything new and uncharted and for us the ocean certainly fits the bill.  We did our book work, passed our quizzes and tests with flying colors and found a pool with scuba equipment to rent right here in Penang.  We decided to go early in the morning and spend the whole day getting all 5 confined dives done. To say I was nervous would be a gross understatement!

The sports complex in Air Itam has a huge Olympic size pool and a dive company is stationed there so you can rent scuba equipment. It cost us 100 RM, roughly $33 total for full equipment and use of the pool for the entire day. It was great to link some real world experience with all we were reading about in the weeks past.  All the confusing things made a whole lot more sense.

Dylan and I both did great with all the skill tests, removing the scuba unit or BCD, setting up the tanks, recovering the regulator, and flooding the mask.  The skill where things went south was with the removal of the mask underwater.  Dylan did great, so proud watching him, but I may have panicked just a little.  I removed the mask and was meant to wait 1 full minute with it off, then replace the mask.

It does not sound that scary, even to me as I write it but it was perhaps the scariest thing I've ever done.  You remove the mask and then just sit there, eyes closed trying to focus on breathing.  I felt my body tipping forward as buoyancy is tougher than you might expect and as the bubbles from the regulator rushed over my face the panic set it!  I tried and almost made the full minute but I bailed, swam for the surface as fast as I can.  Not exactly cool under pressure and certainly very dangerous had I actually been in the ocean.

It took me a few minutes to try again but I did, not very gracefully and still full of panic but I did it, 1 full minute with no mask then placed the mask back on, cleared the water out of it and opened my eyes, stinging and red but I did it!  Thank goodness for the confined dives!

Stay tuned to see how the open water dives went in the beautiful Perhentian Islands...

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  1. Is part 2 where you talk about how fun it all was? LOL

    Great memories!

    1. LOL, actually it is. A bit deeper and covering the more fun ocean dives. It was excellent, I am so grateful for you:) I could not have embarrassed myself like that with just any instructor!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, just the pool was scary enough. But it was amazing fun and one of those times where facing your fears makes you so proud. Of both Dylan and myself!

  3. I just love you guys. I am a solo mum with Miss 13, about to sell up, pack up,toss in the full time job, create my dream money spinning enterprise, and nick off to travel and work around Oz. You are a truly inspiring family. Cheers.

    1. Thanks so much! Good luck to you and feel free to contact me anytime with questions. We just spent time in Australia and adored it!

  4. Hello:

    Diving is one of the greatest experiences you can do. Unfortunately, do to a diving accident from my Navy days, I no longer dive. When the Navy diving medical officer told me no more diving, I was really crushed. Now, I stay on the surface and snorkel. Not quite the same experience, but fun. You can come dive our waters here in Puget Sound, Washington. The average surface temperature ranges from 42 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit! It is a little different than diving the tropics, but still beautiful. Take care.

    1. Oh that is such a bummer but snorkeling can be amazing as well. We have never dove or snorkeled in cold water but it is on our list to try! I love the NW of the US so you never know, maybe we will get there one day again!