Saturday, March 21, 2009

First update from my Scubatical

5 days in Sharm and the days are already flying. We have been so busy! We are here for 5 weeks to do our Divemsater course, which is the first step to becoming a professional diver.

We kicked off on the first morning with some technical diving tuition. We have learnt some pretty advanced dive theory which scrambled our brains and got us doing maths the likes of which I haven't done since I was 18. Then it was into the Red Sea with twin-set tanks and another tank slung at the side. This is not your normal recreational diving! The kit I'm wearing weighs over 50kg and I struggle to stand up.

Because we are on a course we had to carry out some pretty tough skills to test our reactions to kit failure and stress. The most difficult skills were the ones without wearing a mask. Your visibility is vitually nil and taking off all this equipment and putting it back, underwater, hovering at a constant depth and blind is no easy task. We both managed though, and it was a good confidence boost. Our instructor said to me afterwards: 'you have very good problem solving skills. Unfortunately you also have good problem creation skills'. I don't know what he could mean!

Tomorrow is the last day of our decommpression diving course and we will be going down to 45m for 22mins - the deepest dive we have ever done. The penalty for going so deep for so long is that we have to decompress for an hour afterwards, breathing 60% oxygen. (yum, I could get addicted!)

Just to dispell the myth that we are here on a jolly holiday I would like to confirm that we have been meeting John (our instructor) at 7.45 every morning and finishing up with theory sessions after 7.00pm. By then we are so knackered it's straight off for food and then sleep. I've been here for 5 days and not drunk a single G&T, so there's no way this is classed as a holiday!

Sharm is it's usual self, full of horn-tooting mad taxi drivers, persistant shop keepers and mosquitos. You should see the state of my legs after a night without repellant spray. Thankfully egyptian pharmacuticals seem much stronger than British equivalents (600mg ibruprofen!?!) and the antihistamines are sorting out the infernal itching.

Our hotel is great for a place that only costs £110 a week. This is lucky because the exchange rate is terrible for us brits at the moment. Last year Egypt was a cheap place to visit with 10LE to £1. Now it is just 7LE to £1 so our budget is much tighter than we hoped. Still, if things get tight our back up plan is to covertly make cheese sarnies at breakfast and smuggle them out to eat for tea. Pikey? most certainly.

Monday we start the divemaster properly with some skill circuits in the pool, and the dreaded swim tests. I'll let you know how we get on.

bye for now x

PS photos to come - just need to sort out my memory stick issues


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