My husband learned to scuba dive in Alaska. I’d send him off with two thermoses….one with hot water and one with coffee. When he got out of the water he’d pour the hot water into his gloves so he could warm up his fingers enough to get out of his gear and drink the coffee. What a hearty soul…..some might say, CRAZY!
He also had first hand experience using the Buddy Breathing system. He and his dive partner were at 110 feet when Doug realized he was out of air. A valve had collapsed causing air to leak from his alternative air source… neither noticed the escaping bubbles. He gave the appropriate sign….eyes bugging out, arms flailing wildly (no, not really)… and his buddy actually took his own regulator out of his mouth and put it into Doug’s.
Doug was understandably shaken by the event. My first words after he relayed the story… “you put Ron’s regulator in your mouth??!!??”.
We were fairly certain Ron considered diving his attempt at bathing …and I’d be willing to bet a toothbrush had never seen the inside of his mouth. Nonetheless, I was very greatful Doug had a dive partner who knew what to do when it counted.
Scuba diving is actually a very buddy oriented sport. My first class session I asked Doug to come with me. I was a little squeamish about it all and he was willing to oblige. However, I didn’t realize he planned on coming to all the lessons…..said he wanted to be sure they taught me “correctly”. And so, in addition to being the senior member of class, I was also the only one with a chaparone. I felt somewhat like the kindergarten student whose mother wouldn’t leave.
It turned out his presence was invaluable. Putting on a wet suit is no easy task. When that day came I excitedly stepped into the dressing room to don my suit. I squeezed, stretched, tucked, pulled, jumped up and down… then opened the door and asked Doug to help me. So I not only had an escort…I had a personal dresser. Between us we tugged and zipped successfully.
If you have any illusions of looking good in a wet suit …you need to get that out of your head right now. There was every variety of shape and size in class and we all ended up looking the same… uncomfortably, squished, shapeless creatures.
But now it was time to learn buddy breathing. Modern equipment has an alternative breathing source, so it’s not necessary to share. However, our instructor wanted us to learn the old fashioned way as well. This freaked me out a little. I’m not a “touchy-feely” person anyway, plus needed to be sure my partner had darn, clean teeth……… I totally lucked out. I was paired with a lovely young woman. In fact, she was the youngest in the class…me the oldest… both scared silly. At least, I thought, I could offer her some motherly encouragement. It might help take the focus off myself. I don’t remember her name but she had great teeth.
I quickly learned the lesson Doug knew from his experience years ago… that once you are submerged, way down deep in the water, no way to breathe ….you will gladly take any regulator out of any mouth as quickly as possible.
I know I’ll regret posting this ………it was my worst hair day ever….and we’re wearing those hideous outfits. This is me and my dive buddy after our 4th dive in the deep, dark depths of Puget Sound.
Next time I’ll be talking about what every diver dreams of but doesn’t necessarily achieve…neutral bouyancy. It’s a very good thing if you can get it.