Exploring the deep blue sea

Yesterday, Rachael and I enjoyed the opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do…scuba dive. After meeting with the lovely couple who run the Dupin Dive Centre (Steve and Jan), located just 10 minutes from Korcula old town, we were invited to experience a try-dive. Not to be confused with a course of any kind, this was literally a hand held experience for 1st time scuba divers. Ideal for those who want to try it and see if it is for them or not.

As someone who is fascinated by wildlife and is not in any way a good swimmer, I felt excited. I would be able to investigate things I had only ever seen on TV or in books and instead of struggling to swim along the surface (for some reason I am a particularly un-buoyant human being), now to sink would be the prerogative. Great! For Rachael the opportunity was more of a psychological challenge. Without my fascination of the natural world and enthusiasm to delve beneath the waves (even with a snorkel), this was far from the top of Rachael’s to-do list. She still showed great willing, much to her credit.

Upon arrival, the first and most important part of the day was our safety briefing. With Jan taking the lead and taking us through the “need to knows” and Steve chipping in with his hilarious takes of putting us at ease with choice phrases as “You will die” and “Your lungs will explode”, to name but a few! Ironically they were so tongue in cheek they worked in suppressing some fears. All was explained from how to equalise the pressure in your ears to what not to touch on the sea-floor and left us with no questions. These guys are obviously very experienced professionals and they put us at ease as well as anyone could have, with a mix of good humour and understanding.

Next we were fitted up with all of the necessary equipment and as were going to be taken out individually by Jan, it was time to decide who would be diving first. Rachael was still harbouring some nerves so it was decided it was best she took the plunge first (don’t excuse the pun). Rachael’s first task was to get her wet suit on. The design and tight fitting nature of these means you may need a little assistance squeezing in. Rachael needed to be picked up and shook in! Next the air cylinder was strapped to her back; the considerable weight of these is highly surprising, given the content (air!).  We then walked a few steps down to the beach where Rachael adorned her flippers and holding Jan’s hands, waded out sideways into the turquoise sea. She then put her hood up, mask on and after a few more instructions from Jan, her mouth-piece in. They then knelt down into the chest high water; Rachael was submarine for the first time.

Maybe 30 seconds later up she came. I learned later that Rachael was concerned about the amount of bubbles she was exhaling through her mouth piece, but Jan re-assured her this was normal. A few moments later, they submerged again, hand in hand and started moving away from the sea-bed. After about 10 minutes, Rachael decided to call it a day. Although she enjoyed the experience and was delighted to have given it a go, the fear of having to stay underwater and not be able to pop back up to the surface every few minutes, was not allayed.

Now it was my turn; on with the cylinder, on with my flippers and out into the chest deep water. With my hood up, mask on and mouth-piece in, I dropped to my knees beneath the surface. I found the breathing the same as snorkelling along the surface of the water; the only difference was being fully submerged and not worrying about my snorkel filling with water. We did re-surface as I did find breathing out a slight struggle, required more of a push, (perfectly normal Jan re-assured as there is a little resistance within the breathing valve). We went down again, I gave Jan the “ok” signal, no longer concerned about breathing and hand-in-hand we paddled away. Within a few seconds we came across an amazingly well camouflaged spider crab, which I got a chance to hold. During the next 15 minutes or so exploring, I could not believe how many sea creatures I saw, many of which you can hold gently, including a large multi-coloured armoured star-fish, a curious cuttlefish (surprisingly so well camouflaged), more crabs, sea-cucumbers and of course some rather spectacular fish. I was in my element and felt like Attenborough!

When it was all over, I was every bit as pleased as I had anticipated and I will be enrolling for a diving course. Rachael obviously wasn’t as in love with the diving as me, but wants to have another try-dive to see if she can become a little more confident underwater.

Both of us agree however we had a perfect experience scuba diving for the first time and the way everything was handled by Steve and Jan was second to none.

Check out Korcula Explorer’s website for more information about diving or to book accommodation during your diving holiday.

To book a dive or for more information contact Steve and Jan at Dupin Dive Centre – croatia_diving@hotmail.com

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