Saturday, 16 November
It stayed windy all night. Usually, the wind dies down at night and picks up when the sun comes up. Had breakfast at eight. I had some fried eggs, over easy, this morning. There is a chef making eggs but language is a little tough. Arabic and some German are understood by most of the employees, English, not so much. Someone in front of me had fried eggs, so I pointed and asked for the same. That worked!
My welcome dive was scheduled for 9:30, so I headed to the dive center to be fitted with my gear. I am renting a wetsuit, fins, BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) and regulator. I have my own mask and dive computer. Mohamed, who was our dive guide, fitted me. Niko, from Austria, was also part of the Welcome Dive. Nicole came along as well. The welcome dive is to check out proper weighting, show how to clear a flooded mask and practice a diver out of air with a brief intro to the reef layout. Divers need to carry lead weights to become neutrally buoyant, neither rising or sinking under the surface. You need more weight in salt water. I was using 8 kg (a little over 17 pounds) to be neutral. Since it has been a long time since I have been in the ocean, I was a bit anxious so I used up my air pretty quickly. Everything seemed fine from a buoyancy perspective until my air was getting low, then I was unable to sink and rose to the surface. Water temperature is just above 80. During our debrief, Mohamed felt my weight was correct but that I needed to work on better control of my breathing.
Nicole had to change rooms before lunch. She has had problems with her booking but it looks sorted out. I had an ice cream cone for lunch yesterday. Today, I was better and had a Greek salad. Nicole and I made plans to meet at 1:30 for an afternoon dive. I carried an extra kg of weight in my pocket. After getting in the water, Nicole and I felt like it was unnecessary and left it in the weight box. We were off to explore the reef in a little more relaxed fashion than this morning. I was given a few breathing pointers by my “instructor” which slowed down my air consumption and really helped my buoyancy control. Being more relaxed helped my breathing rate and I was able to use my breath to rise and sink. Again, everything went well until the safety stop. This is where you stop at 5 meters (15 feet) for 5 minutes. I was unable to keep myself below the surface with less air in the tank. I did get to see 1,000 times more fish than my morning dive and more of the reef. The underwater world is beautiful in a different way. More dives will help improve my skills and there is plenty of time left for diving.
I did get another chance to talk to Dolora this afternoon (afternoon at least for me, seven hours earlier for her). Looks like rain is following her. Interestingly enough, the cell service which connects kept dropping the call. I was able to use WiFi to make the call.
The temperature dropped when the sun went down and it has stayed windy. Long pants for both of us and Nicole put on her beanie. Tonight, we sat outside at the bar drinking coffee and water (alcohol and diving is not a good combination), trying to decide if we were going to line up for dinner since we had to wait about 45 minutes last night for there to be an open table. About five of seven, I saw about ten people went in and sat down. I convinced Nicole to go in then. We waited until seven before going for food even though some folks started earlier. Good decision, there were no open tables when we left.
The food is buffet style and has been good. Looks like soup each night. Then there is a selection of a half dozen salads and marinated vegetables. Then there was rice, chicken, fish and beans. Each night has had quite a selection of deserts and some fruit. Tonight, there was also a pasta bar. So far the food has been good. Some different spices, but very tasty.
Still windy this evening. So, tomorrow’s plans are to meet for breakfast at 7:15 to shoot for an early dive after. This changes if I wake up and see that the sea is calm. If the sea is calm, breakfast is at 8:00 so Nicole can get an early morning swim in.