The one where I swapped equipment and survived – Roatan, Honduras – 7th August 2006
Dive parameters: max depth 13m, dive time 37 minutes
Yeah, I know, every Divemaster has done this. But hey, I remember it oh so well. So for the non-Divemaster certified amongst you, this is one of the practical exams of the Divemaster course: get down with your buddy and swap EVERY piece of equipment (except wetsuit). That includes BCD, regulator, mask, weights, fins…all of this while using one air source for the two of you, swapping it between each other, to make it more fun.
Our instructor tells Rach (my best-buddy-ever) and I to pick up our gear and take whatever feels more comfy. Rach looks at my fins and goes “mmm Frenchie, there is no way I am going to fit into those mini fins of yours”. (Yes, sometimes dive shops rent me children fins, because they fit. I got used to carry mine around, de facto). OK, so boots it is, then. And big fins.
So we fiddle around the dive shop, sneak a bit of extra weight into our BCD pockets so we can hang onto it when we swap our belts, kiss our friends farewell, nice knowing you guys, and get on the boat.
Going down is easy, we kneel down on the sand at 10 meters’ depth and our instructor stares at us, impassible. The body position that says : well, up to you girls. OK. We can do this. I trust Rach, she trusts me, we are both good with air, we have been diving together every day 2 or 3 times a day for two weeks, it will all go fine. I admit, I thought “well it’s only 10 meters up, you know you can bolt up if needed. Just remember to breathe out so you don’t blow your lungs, alright? Cos that would be a really silly way of getting a lung tore up”.
And we begin. We have planned this, sort of. We decided which piece in which order, so one of us gets the regulator out and the breathing dance starts: two deep breaths, give back the reg. Blow bubbles. Get the reg back, breathe, etc. At the same time, we start to switch masks, we have decided to go for the hard bit first, since we are going to be blinded for a few seconds. And weirdly enough, it goes well. We get out of our BCD, hang onto it, swap it without letting go, all this while one of us holds the reg and the other gears up.
You REALLY have to trust someone for letting that person have a hand on your air source and feeding it back and forth (and I trust Rach, even if one day I will tell you about the day she lost me underwater and how I keep nagging her about it ever since, even though everything turned out well).
The rest goes ever so smoothly, and a few minutes later (which seemed much longer than that), I am wearing a different BCD and belt, bigger fins and another mask. We grin at each other, our teacher seems satisfied and we go up.
Back to dry land, she grades us with a 4 out of 5, saying it was a bit slow but that we did OK.
-Do you want to do it again tomorrow and try to get a 5?
-Eeeer…I think we’ll pass, thank you very much. We are lazy, we are happy with a 4.
And got a well-deserved Pina Colada instead.
And ended up being certified as Divemasters, both of us. As of today, Rach calls herself “a retired Divemaster”. Although she is still my best-dive-buddy. As for myself, I am getting ready to get out of retirement.
And we still love to play underwater, but without swapping equipment or reg.