Well, I finally did it! This past weekend Shell and I drove up to the Hood Canal in the Puget Sound area of Northwest Washington and Mike's Beach Resort (http://www.mikesbeachresort.com/index.htm) for my Open Water Scuba Diving Certification.
In order to obtain your certification, you need to attend classes (both formal and pool sessions), which culminates in students having to successfully execute 4 open water dives, along with repeating skills learned in the classroom portion. In our case, the open water dives would be in Puget Sound, a most salt water waterway, which adds a different aspect to diving (the bouyancy you experience in fresh water versus salt water is dramatically different).
Our first weekend got froze out, but this past weekend was mild (upper 40's/low 50's), with some drizzle on Saturday and sun on Sunday. Shell brought her gear up too, as Mike's was hosting about 50 divers, including my 5 classmates.
I was pretty nervous Saturday morning as I suited up for my first of 3 dives, but once I got in the water, I felt much more relaxed. We worked on standard skills during the first 2 dives (mask clearing, air sharing, controlled ascents and descents, etc.) and our 3 dive was a mini navigation test, which was super cool. Sunday morning was to be our final cert dive, which the class got to plan. We decided to head out to about to the 50 foot level (our certification is good for diving upto 60 feet, which is considered a "no decompression" level... just think of it as you probably won't get the "bends" if you have to rapidly ascend). On our final dive, we saw tons of marine life and a Giant Pacific Octopus, which was a highlight. We all headed back to shore, where we were informed we had all passed, prompting high fives all around. Props to my Open Water Cert Dive Buddy, Trish... WE DID IT!
After I got all my gear unhooked, I crashed in an Adirondack chair facing the sound and relaxing in the sunshine waiting for Shell to return from her dive. Once she got back and grabbed some food, we headed out for my first open water dive as a Certified Scuba Diver, which was cool. We dove to just shy of 60 feet, saw 2 octopi, a ton of large Ling Cod (4 feet or better). This was my longest dive at about 31 minutes. I'm still a newbie air hog, but I did pretty good conserving my air, especially given the fact that I was getting used to a new drysuit and BC (Bouyancy Compensator).
All in all, it was a GREAT weekend and I am stoked to have accomplished this goal... the only thing that sucks is I forgot my camera, but I'm going to try and find some pics from the weekend to share.