Dive 5: Hot Stuff

Dive #05 – Cirkewwa, Malta
Date: 20/6/13
Max. Depth:10 meters
Bottom time: 00:26

As the fresh owner of an Open Water certificate I went and showed up to the doorstep of the dive shop that my employer has partnered up with. I’m selling their dive packages and sending them divers, so they’re happy to see me and offer to take me diving. I happily accepted and accompanied one of their open water students and instructor for a basic checkout dive.

At the dive site I’m feeling confident and quickly set up my gear and got into my wetsuit. This turned out to be a mistake as the other girl wasn’t nearly as quick and took a good while longer to kit up. Instead of matching her pace and/or offering assistance (although her instructor was doing a good job of that) I just got done myself and then waited, feeling proud and slightly smug for doing it so quickly.

It being June, the Maltese weather was scalding hot; at that particular day It was about 35 degrees C. Since the sea hadn’t had time to warm up to a comfortable summer temperature yet we were still wearing full-body dive gear. This meant I was standing around like a dick on the tarmac, in a full body black neoprene suit carrying approximately 30 kilograms of SCUBA gear on my back. This did not make me a happy man. After a few minutes I understood my mistake but did not fix it, instead I thought to tough it out, the girl looked about ready anyway. It took longer still though and after 15-something minutes I was sweating at full throttle (what’s a good measure for ‘amount of sweating’ anyway? tilt? pressure? Something else?), which ofcourse did nothing except fill my wetsuit.

I’m not quite sure what heat stroke looks like, but I have a strong feeling dizzynes and an inability to think properly must be part of the beginning stages if not outright symptoms, since as we finally proceeded to the entry point I was having trouble with my balance and had begun seeing stars. Fortunately I reached the water (blissfully, blissfully cool) before passing out and that improved matters tremendously, however I evidently wasn’t immediately two-for-two; when the instructor asked me if my weighting was OK I interpreted it as her saying I needed an extra weight upon which I swam over and promptly undid my weightbelt. Now it’s not that big a deal to doff and don a weightbelt whilst floating at the surface, but being confused and overheated surely doesn’t help matters and nor does a flabbergasted instructor trying to fix it for you. My fumbling with the belt (magically not losing any weights!) and our miscommunication stretched on for something like 10 minutes. I must’ve cooled down enough in that time to resume proper thought and after regaining my composure the belt problem was quickly fixed.

Once we finally got underway the dive was otherwise uneventful, a nice swim around the Cirkewwa reef where there are lots of fish and fireworms to be seen. All in all, definitely a lesson learned: don’t get hasty on the surface, spend the shortest possible amount of time possible between getting into your gear and getting into the water. If you’re faster than your buddies, relax and take it easy, take the extra time to check your (or theirs) equipment one more time or just wait. Don’t get smug and broil.