Peer Pressure - an article for the novice diver
Contributed by Hilary
We had recently completed our Open Water Dive Course. My partner and I couldn't
wait for our planned 6 day dive-holiday, on the beautiful Ningaloo
Reef in Western Australia. Fully equipped with our brand new dive gear, with
the exception of tanks, we joined 14 other divers for the first of our dives
planned for the holiday. Surrounded by international divers boasting 10 years
experience with 95 dives under their belts, our nerves were making themselves
known. However, we had great training and were quickly geared up and first to
enter the water.
That's when the fun started. Having only used steel tanks, I suddenly found
myself bobbing around like a cork, unable to descend. That tank of aluminium
on my back was making a major difference to my buoyancy. After a few minutes
the dive leader appeared on the surface, told me to haul myself down the anchor
rope and he'd throw some more weight on me at the bottom! The sight of 16 divers
sitting on the bottom, all looking upward, didn't exactly have a soothing, calming
effect. Feeling pressured to get down and stop wasting everyone's precious air
supplies, I committed the ultimate sin: BAROTRAUMA !!!
I wasn't fully aware at the time. I was having some trouble equalising, and
instead of taking my time and going slow, I pushed the barriers. To make matters
worse, I contracted a severe ear infection - apparently synonymous with diving
and swimming in tropical waters swarming with micro-organisms. After two days
and visits to the local nurse and Exmouth hospital..I was feeling pretty ordinary,
pain, dizziness, nausea and just plain rotten. A week later, once the infection
had cleared, the doctor was finally able to see my ear-drum. Although not perforated
(thank goodness), there was clear evidence of a barotrauma. Now, after further
visits to ear specialists, and an audio-test, I'm out of the water for several
months. Whilst recovering I've missed out on diving the Navy Pier in Exmouth,
rated as one of the 10 best dives in Australia and some great night diving opportunities
in Geraldton. Great!.
The purpose of this article is to remind all you novice divers to take care,
exercise caution, and don't succumb to the pressure. Take your time and feel
good about it !!!