small buoy

A Scuba Diving Lesson: Get a bigger buoy

Today I will write about a scuba diving lesson I had when I started diving.

We were lost at sea. A blonde girl who barely spoke English, me, and my small buoy. Have you seen those little bitty things (talking about SMB’s here) that you can orally inflate with 3 big breaths? Well, if you have one of those: Get a bigger buoy!

Before I continue:

I want to say that I am going to use this platform to merge two of my passions: Scuba Diving and writing.

The first one, diving, I have done for many years. Even becoming a Master Instructor along the way. Writing however, is something that has being lingering in the back of my mind (dreams) for years. Always thinking I should do it. Always running away from it.

I began writing blogs for my website, but it felt as if a cold, sharp knife was puncturing all my sentences (dreams).

To have “success” in this strange world of SEO, you need to write everything according to some weird formula.

I am not going to do that.

I will focus on telling my stories as I please.

So, here it goes. I’ll share my first serious scuba diving lesson:

small buoy

My first serious scuba diving lesson:

We were lost at sea. A blonde girl who barely spoke English, me, and my small buoy.

We decided it was best to ditch our weights, even though swimming was not an option since the current was so strong. Too strong to attempt escaping it. It was silently pushing us to the open ocean. Making the small buildings even smaller. I started to be a little uncomfortable. She was staring at me with her big, blue eyes asking me for reassurance.

Oh yeah, do not worry. It takes time for the boats to start the search, soon we will be rescued. All this is normal. I have my buoy.

How it started:

It all started like a regular day. I was a divemaster in training. My job was to “shadow” an instructor while we took a group of 5 to dive the C-58 shipwreck off the coast of Cancun.

C-58 is a deep dive site and it is well known for its treacherous currents. There is a red buoy at the surface that indicates its location in the deep waters of the Caribbean.

Everyone was on board at 9am sharp. We had a good 45-minute ride to get there. It was a beautiful spring day. All the divers were super excited. I was no exception.

The boat we were on was huge with a big deck and all the scuba gear attached to the benches. It was not a scuba diving boat though. The owners of the dive shop transformed it into one.

Boat deck scuba diving

It had some weird aspects, like a 10-foot drop for the giant stride. My stomach hurt when falling every time. You could think of stuff while falling, you had a few seconds of a drop. Horrible thing for a beginner diver!

Anyway. We had this small group of German friends. The instructor did his briefing standing in the shade of the cabin. Very refreshing. Feeling the air cooling our sweat. Smelling the ocean vibes. Balancing our bodies on a smooth boat rocking. Feeling our neoprene boots getting hot.

First dive of the day. Very straight forward: Pre dive safety check. Giant stride (think stuff while falling). Swim to the red buoy. Wait for your buddy. Start descending. Always hold on to the line.

The dive:

Instructor went first. I went last. 5 divers. That 5th buddyless diver was under my watch. The instructor said: she will be your buddy. I never imagined this experience will be an important scuba diving lesson for me.

They started descending. The current was strong. My buddy stopped. I looked down. I saw the instructor disappear under the wreck. 100ft vis. 90ft deep. I could see his bubbles. He let go off the line, instructed everyone to follow him and shelter from the current on the other side of the boat.

descend line scuba diving

She looked at me with pain. We were 50ft deep. I asked her: are you ok? My ears hurt, she said. Stop, let us go up a little. (If you are translating this into hand signals in your mind, you are a true diver lol)

The problem:

We went up the line, but my inexperienced self-did not notice she let go of the line and started drifting. We were now at 40ft. Blue water. But she was slowly sinking and thinking she was going up.

I had 2 options: let go of the line and help her go up or… well, it was really the only option since I could not make eye contact with the instructor anymore.

Off I went. I held her tight. Kicked hard. She was obviously overweighted. I kicked harder to relieve her pain, but when I looked down to find the wreck, it was like a little dark shade in the distant deep blue water.

ship wreck lesson

We are going up I said. I launched my buoy. I looked at my computer. 12 minutes into the dive. Ok. Not a big deal. Safety stop. 3, 2, 1. Look up, kick slowly, good. Now inflate your BCD.

The sun was bright. She started to apologize. I was looking for our boat. There it was! Not too far away. I could have swum to it, even with current. I am a strong swimmer. Can you kick? I asked her. She said she was too tired. I tried to tow her. Impossible. She was a big German girl.

The bow of the boat was looking away from us. I thought: The instructor thinks we are on the boat, and the captain thinks we are diving. In about 20 minutes, they will realize we are not there.

By the time they did realize. We were far.

The Rescue:

Lot’s of things went wrong. Lot’s of things I would have done differently if I had the experience. But my main take away was that if you are going to be out there, you need to have the proper gear. My buoy was not sufficient. Nobody could see it. I am pretty sure that if I had a 6 footer SMB, my story would have been different. I learned my first serious scuba diving lesson that day.

We spend 2 hours drifting. We got to know each other, we talked about our lives, our dreams, and our fears. I reassured her and she trusted me. That lie helped us both. Not to mention, German people are naturally tough!

The search lasted the whole time, we could see the boats searching for us. They were doing U patterns at a distance. Never coming remotely close to our location.

Finally, we saw a speed boat from the marine rangers of the National Park coming right at us. They took us to our boat, and we did our second dive with no problems.

speed boat scuba diving

We were dehydrated and scared, but that did not stop us. We rested, drank a bunch of water and we dove together again.

At the end of the day, she gave me a small piece of paper with her name and her address. She said: We should always be friends now. I folded the paper and saved it in my swim shorts. I grabbed my bike and went home. Later at night, when I reached in my pocket, the piece of paper was gone.

If you happen to know her, send her my way! I would love to catch up!

buddy team lesson