Just call me Scuba Sam

Don't let this idyllic scene fool you.
When we loaded up the car and headed to Cap d'Agde in the south of France this past weekend, I was expecting calm waters, warm weather, and an underwater adventure.

I didn't realize my level one certification for scuba diving would be more like a Navy Seal exercise.

The sea was rough and cold — around 59 degrees. The wind was strong. They almost canceled the weekend due to less than desirable conditions. Um, that didn't happen. But chickening out wasn't an option. My husband is one of the dive instructors, both of the kids were certified two years ago, and I've been taking hour long classes with my husband's work's scuba club every Thursday for the past nine months.

The smartest decision I made: Instead of my husband*, I opted to dive with another instructor— the less stress, the better.

*The last time I went diving with him he kept pushing me towards an octopus--as if I couldn't see the freaky thing with its bulbous and very yellow eyes

On the first dive, swimming fifteen feet to the buoy took great effort. I was completely winded, thanks to the twenty-pound lead baby strapped to my back, otherwise known as the tank. I was thrown and tossed around in the waves, trying to swim and grip a rope at the side of the boat, thinking, "I can't breathe. I'm going to die. What am I doing? This is supposed to be fun; it isn't. It's torture! Kill me now!"

But, rather than letting fear get the best of me, I took slow, purposeful breaths before the descent, and once we were a few feet under, the water was calm. Unfortunately, due to the weather, visibility was poor, and I could only see about three, maybe four feet, in all directions. Thankfully, my instructor wore fluorescent green flippers or I would have been flipping out. Regardless of the conditions, we were able to view some sea life.

Note: Birds do it. Bees do it. And, apparently, crabs do it too.

We performed all level one tasks — removing our masks, motioning for a loss of air and supplying another diver with the "octopus" (spare regulator), checking air levels, and stability exercises, the most important being the ascent. The first dive lasted about twenty-five minutes. I didn't have gloves; my hands were blocks of ice.

Once we surfaced, though, the water was rough. And we had to swim back to the boat. Under water, everything is weightless. Yeah, not so much anymore. That twenty-pound lead baby strapped to my back was a heifer. Add the belt around my waist, another ten pounds, the way my wet suit strangled my neck, the fact the boat was about thirty feet away, and once again, my mantra of "I can't breathe. I'm going to die. What am I doing? This is supposed to be fun; it isn't. It's torture! Kill me now!" returned. Climbing the ladder was hard. But I made it. Back on board, I was looking forward to catching my breath.

You know that show "Deadliest Catch," when the waves crash down on the fishermen's heads? The boat ride back to the harbor was kind of like that.

Now, repeat the above scenario three more times.

Apparently, I'm a masochist. But I'm a masochist who is now level one certified. And I'm looking forward to diving in better conditions — warm waters, a calm sea, and my family by my side.


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