‘Darling it’s better down where it’s wetter…’ Disney, The Little Mermaid
Last year was a crap one wasn’t it! I had so many things planned and guess what…it was all cancelled. I was turning 30 and had so many plans! Holidays, parties, experiences and bam…no more. I had always wanted to try Scuba Diving, actually I wanted to do my PADI Open Water, but baby steps so I booked my DSD (Discover Scuba Diving) through Latchi Watersports. Latchi Watersports have been around for over 40 years and are at your disposal for an array of activities from diving to paddle boarding (I am spectacular at falling off), to private boat hire with or without a captain. I think next on my list is sailing…doesn’t matter that I practically vomit every time I step on a boat. Anyway, back to scuba diving. My DSD was booked for my birthday. Luckily, bars and restaurants were opening that very evening. They said it was ending lockdown but I know it was really to celebrate my 30th! I thought it best not be hungover and vomiting underwater for the first time I become a fully fledged fish and turns out this is pretty solid advice for diving anyway (but for those who are curious you can actually vomit with a regulator in…who knew but more on that in a later blog)
Little bit of info on Scuba Diving…SCUBA means Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus as you swim around with all your breathing stuff (it would be easier to have gills but alas)! They did used to use those fancy suits where the headpiece weighed more than the human inside the suit and I am kind of curious about that but quite happy not carrying that around on my head underwater. PADI recreational divers can dive to a maximum of 40m and there are tons of courses you can do…I have my eye on underwater photography, deep dive, wreck spec and nitrox. Latchi Watersports offer a host of diving courses – there are some they can’t offer ie: altitude diving (no where to do it in Cyprus), ice diving (errr hello it’s the depths of hell in Cyprus), dry suit diving (it isn’t cold enough) – so I really recommend contacting them and booking something in.
So I woke up really really really early on the 21st May (my 30th and yes I’m still accepting gifts), rolled out of bed, threw on a swimming costume and a bikini (just in case) and hopped, skipped and jumped down to Latchi. I was nervous, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean I can swim but I had never been down deeper than a couple of metres. I had also never breathed through a regulator or worn a BSD or even a wetsuit (but don’t I look cute).
Quick breakdown on diving equipment:
Wetsuit – you don’t have to wear this but it does make wearing the rest of the equipment more comfortable. You have a range of styles and in Cyprus you can get away with a shortie most of the year (short sleeves and legs). A full length wetsuit might be needed for 4 months or so. You will NOT need a dry suit
Boots – literally boots made from wetsuit material that zip up and slot into your fins
Fins – Something to bring out your inner mermaid/shark/fish and help you glide through the water. They go on your feet
BCD – stands for Buoyancy Compensation Devices (try saying that under water). It basically holds your air tank and inflates/deflates for when you are in the water. Kind of looks like a life jacket but is way cooler
Air tank – this is kind of an important bit…unless you are a mermaid then you don’t need it but if you were a mermaid you wouldn’t need to do your DSD! It provides the oxygen you need to breathe underwater
Regulators – you will have two a primary and a secondary. They connect to the air tank via a valve and the secondary tucks into your BCD
Pressure gauge – fairly useful as it tells you whether you have enough air left or not. I’d take one with you
Scuba mask – these are fun as they come in all sorts of colours and looks to suit big noses, small noses, big faces, small faces, the list goes on! You can get different ones to match your wetsuits!
Dive computer – these are clever little contraptions. They can tell you a wealth of information such as depth and dive time making them able to figure out how long you need to be on the surface between dives and what the depth and length of your next dive can be.
Then you have the extras such as gloves and a hood. You also need a kit bag, a very big one that can drain water.It has to fit fins that are about a million metres long. Along with dry bags to keep clothes and towels dry! I’ve ordered mine from Amazon. Its a lovely little number in black netting with a fuschia trim (well it would never be plain black would it!).
Phew back to the actual diving part. I arrived at Latchi Watersports and met my instructor, Dave, who immediately put me at ease. I went upstairs to the classroom to go through what happens in a DSD and what I would have to do to pass it. The DSD is all about introducing you to the water to see if you enjoy it and can cope underwater. Luckily, I’m part mermaid so the underwater part was fine for me! There are three skills you need to do for a DSD… a mask empty, find your regulator if it falls out your mouth and clear your reg too (trust me you do not want to be breathing in a load of salty water!) Next stop was to go through and get get kitted up. After trying on a few shorties (and discovering that they wouldn’t do up over my chestage area), I found the right fit. Boots were tried on and fins were chosen. I was set to go. We travelled in style down to La Plage (definitely didn’t want to walk with all the equipment), had a quick photo session and got in the water. I would always recommend doing a DSD from shore as then you can limit how far you can go down. When I recently did my wreck dive to 30m there were people doing their DSD off the boat and that would have terrified me! To do the skills, we only went down to 2m or there about’s. I must admit the first time water goes down the back of your wetsuit its like oooh lala! Still hits me to this day! The skills were pretty easy…you can’t really loose the regulator as it’s attached to you and my instructor (Dave) was excellent. With the skills out the way, we went on my first little dive.
Now to qualify for a dive you have to tick off two of three elements…over 5m, at least 20 mins and using 1400 litres of air (I’ll save you the calculations!). We went down to about 5m and I honestly can’t remember how long it was for but it qualified! I had officially dived and I LOVED IT! Seeing all the little fish of all colours, peering under rocks, seeing starfish…it is a whole other world. It is very peaceful underwater and we are lucky it is so clear in Cyprus. I knew that I wanted to book more dives in so I booked another 2 fun dives in again with Latchi Watersports and again with Dave. If I’m honest, I haven’t dived with any other dive schools yet. I will but as the saying goes; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!
For more info on a DSD contact Latchi Watersports Centre.