After using a BCD for 20 odd years I decided it was time to get into the 21st century and treat myself to a wing and long hose configuration after trying one back in May with Amy - However, Alan is trying to get me into sidemount but I want to take one step at a time not being a regular diver
1. My New Wing
When the wing arrived the straps needed shortening considerably as I am only 5ft 1" but we left some length to make any adjustments once I tried it out in the water..... Sarah did a great job and after the dive everything was perfect so she has a good eye for this sort of thing. It was a lot heavier than a BCD and the weight was more on my shoulders rather than around my waist so this was something to get used to, I am not a spring chicken anymore but not afraid to try out new things in scuba.
2. Testing the Waters
After a buoyancy check, I needed a half kilo in each pocket and I was wearing a long 5mm wetsuit as the water is around 26 degrees, plus I needed heavier fins as I now have floaty feet all of a sudden, which was a surprise. After having a swim in the shallows we then moved out onto the reef. Gauging how much air to have in the wing at a bit more depth took a few goes but soon found a happy medium that was comfortable.
3. The Long Hose
I had to get used to the long hose regulator system, which was pretty straight forward but seemed strange to breathe off. I was made to breathe off the long hose not the one around my neck, then common sense kicked in and I remembered Sarah & Amy briefed me about the long hose being for my buddy in an emergency, and the one on the necklace was then my back up.
4. Finning Time
Sarah offered for me to try frog kicking, after we did a few exercises on the benches at the centre. Total failure for me as my left leg has a mind of its own. Trying to concentrate, I started to sink to the sea bed or my right ankle and foot would rotate at a different angle and rock me to the left. So Sarah swam in front and I followed trying to copy her technique.
The more I tried, the worse I got and I couldn't tell if I was horizontal or diving upright, so had a rest and enjoyed the marine life and tried again. Still couldn't get anywhere and knowing that I was not going to get this straight away, so I held onto a boulder and Sarah guided my legs and feet, then let go for me to continue but after 2 - 3 kicks my buoyancy went again. I just started laughing and gave her some un lady like hand signals to have a break for the day.
5. Dive Footage
After the dive, we watched some footage that Sarah made, so I could see what I was doing wrong. From now on, I will be lying on the bed in front of my mirrored wardrobe to practise and keep trying. I am not going to give up easily and practise is permanent or so they say.
Anyone willing to share some tips feel free, I am all ears.
Written By: Vivienne Whitehead