Don’t hate me because I was diving with 9 dolphins!!!

03 Dec

Well, I haven’t blogged yet about what has been going on this last week, because I have been having too much fun!  First of all I should say that Rich Stevenson is here from Plymouth.  You will remember Rich from some of my previous blogs, like this one http://www.octopusdiving.com/2010/07/ccr-course-from-sally/ I know most of you will want to read all about the dolphins, but you will have to wait a little bit (or skip to the end of this blog).

I will catch you up to speed pretty quickly, as you may not have time to go back and read the previous blog. Rich is from Plymouth and he is not only a rebreather instructor, but he has also been training rebreather instructors since 1998.  He was also Chris’ first boss, and he was also the one responsible for sending Chris to the Red Sea, where he met me.  So we love Rich for many reasons. You can learn more about Rich from his website.

Here is a photo of Rich which I think clearly demonstrates his professionalism and higher thinking skills.

Well, Rich arrived last week, just before Thanksgiving and spent the first five days with Stuart and Chris doing an instructor course for Advanced Nitrox. This made me kind of jealous because I wanted to hang out with the boys and do really cool dives with a twinset on my back. I found that a good way to spend my time though, was by teaching open water students, and this was super fun.

Anyway…finally it was my turn to spend some time with the famous Rich! You see, Rich was certifying Chris as a rebreather instructor, and in doing that he had to see Chris teach a full recreational rebreather course to a willing student.  And guess what? I was that student!  That meant that I was able to spend 3 days diving on closed circuit (that is how we refer to rebreathers because there are no bubbles. Open Circuit would be diving with bubbles, as there is no recycling of air) with Chris and Richie.  The first dive that we did was on the Gregory.  I went through the whole set up of the rebreather with Chris the day before and then we went diving.  I did a couple of try dives with Chris earlier in the year, but this was the first time in a long time and I have to admit I was a little nervous.

Apparently, I was asking lots and lots of questions, and Chris said I was being a difficult student. However, I knew that Chris was going to have all the answers and I also ask a lot of questions when I’m nervous about something.  I guess everyone reacts differently to being nervous, I giggle and ask questions.  Richie and Chris found this highly amusing. Normally Rich has to prompt the student to ask the instructor he is evaluating questions, or to perhaps misbehave a little, but with me… he didn’t have to do anything.  So, Chris said I was a difficult student, but Richie said I was perfect!

Chris teaching Sally RebreatherThe dive went great. Diving with Rich and Chris is soooo much fun.  I think that Richie really appreciated it when I stole his fin underwater. He told me that was a first for him.  🙂

The next day is the day that you really want to hear about.  We went out to Creole Rock to do some more rebreather diving and also practice some skills. Specifically we were practicing bail out drills, which means that you switch from the rebreather to another regulator and tank that you are diving with. The water was warm, it was clear, a little windy at the surface, but nothing too much.  We dropped down and headed out towards the corner of the rock and we started the drills.  So, I am half way through the skills, with the rebreather loop over my head, about to put in the regulator from the spare tank when this giant grey body rolled itself in the sand and looked up at me.  It was literally about 2 feet in front of me.  I thought to myself “what is Richie doing? And why does he look like that? and why is he distracting me from my skill?” Then, all of a sudden I realized that it wasn’t Richie (OBVIOUSLY) it was a beautiful, elegant dolphin.

I then had to remember what I was doing, trying not to flood the loop of the rebreather, to correctly get on a an air source that would work, so I just sort of grabbed Chris.  Everyone was watching me do the skill, so I guess when they saw my face and saw my jaw drop, they looked where I was looking and saw the dolphin. I quickly looked over to Rich and he had his hands on his head in disbelief.  There were nine in total. Nine dolphins, including a little pup and parent swimming around.  There was one that was really curious and he just kept circling us and was so close.  We all sat there in amazement, then I looked at Chris and I could see that he was rubbing his thumb and his pointer finger together, like you would if you were trying to get a cat to come closer. Chris says that this works with Turtles, so he thought that it would also work with dolphins.  Rich (he admitted this to us later) decided that if he grabbed two pieces of old broken coral together, this would somehow attract the dolphins closer as well.  Picture him like the little monkey that claps the symbols together, except we are underwater, surrounded by dolphins and he had two rocks in his hand!  Too funny.  Here is a photo of Rich reliving that moment on the boat the next day.

Then, after about 10 minutes the dolphins left.  Rich came over and grabbed my hand, and then Chris’s hand, our eyes like big round saucers at the wonderful experience that we all shared together.

It was just so special for so many reasons. Firstly I was with Chris.  Chris and I dive all the time, but it isn’t so often that we get to dive together. So, not only were we diving together, but there were dolphins! Then, it was special because Rich, although he has dived thousands of times around the world, mostly dives wrecks, caves and deep sites.  So, this was another first for Rich, diving with Dolphins.  Chris and I were so happy ourselves, but we were also so happy for Rich as well.

The next day was the final day for the course, for both Chris and I.  We went diving on the Porpoise and the conditions were amazing! Visibility was endless, you could see the wreck from the surface. I will post all the photos below so you can see them. Mark took some underwater photographs and I will ask him if I can post them at some point!

All in all having Rich here was so great. Last time he was here I felt like I got to know him, this time that he was here, I feel like we have made a lifelong friend. I may make fun a little bit, but in all seriousness we asked Rich to come here, because he is the best at what he does.  He truly is.  Chris received the best course possible and that is all the better for you, our future rebreather and Advanced Nitrox Divers!

I would like to end this blog with a quote from Rich the other day… “I am me, I mean… aren’t I? At the end of the, that’s all I am.”

Thanks for everything Rich, we can’t wait to see you next year, hopefully cave diving in Mexico!

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One Response to “Don’t hate me because I was diving with 9 dolphins!!!”

  1. Miranda Paul December 4, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    Awesome!!! I can’t believe it about the dolphins. I was excited just to see the lobsters, shrimp, and sting ray at Creole Rock. Can’t wait to visit Saint Martin again and dive with you guys. ~Miranda

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