As we didn’t spend much time together during our stay on Magnetic ‘Maggie’ Island, I am writing my experiences in a separate blog post. On our last day in Cairns, I pretty much decided that I would continue my diving adventure at our next stop as I enjoyed my first dive quite a lot.
After some quick research I realized there were only a few options at Townsville and Magnetic Island (our next stop) to follow some real dive courses. With our hostel being located on a 3 minute walk from a dive shop called Pleasure Divers, the choice was easy. I opted for a PADI Open Water course, which would make me a certified diver up to 18 metres depth.
My daily routine for the next 3 days consisted out of waking up way earlier than Anniina, making sure I would be on time for the start of the course. The evenings were well spent together, exploring the island. At night, back at the hostel I would cook up some food, fight off weaver ants (I swear, everything in Australia tries to kill you) and hit the bed around 10 PM after playing some pocket billiards with the lady.
Day one was pretty much theory-only, watching 4 x 45 minutes American videos and some pool skills in the late afternoon. Meeting my fellow divers was fun, 2 older French guys who sold their ‘growing’ shop back home to travel the world and one local bloke from Cairns, Queensland. Having to translate for the Frenchies sometimes made me realise how I value knowing several languages (even if it’s not always that easy, French being my second language) and living in Brussels.
The real thing started on day two, setting up every bit of gear yourself and choosing a fitting wetsuit proved to be a challenge, definitely the latter. Alma Bay was our training “pool” of the day, a beautiful tropical bay. Calm waters and 25 degrees under the surface, thus near perfect diving conditions except for the lackluster visibility.
The last course day with another 3 dives, one at Alma Bay early in the morning. After lunch, we moved to a different location, Geoffrey Bay. With a stronger current under the surface, it felt a lot colder after a while. Waiting for 15 minutes with your knees in the sand at 10 metres depth, while your diving buddies practice a Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (CESA) doesn’t help either to not feel cold.
Back at the surface after our last dive, one of my fellow divers had a bloody nose, a common issue for people with a sinus problem. Another diver had a bit of blood in his saliva, it definitely makes you think twice about the effects on the human body. Potential risks related to diving vary from decompression sickness to breathing contaminated air and everything in between, I won’t bore you with technical details however. Always dive safe, with a buddy. I got away with a small cut in my hand due to a coral reef collision.
All in all, I learned so much more than I hoped for in just a few days. Quite the enjoyable experience I was hoping for and it definitely got me even more interested in doing a more advanced training.
Having booked an extra night at our lovely hostel, despite the evil ants, meant that I could spent one extra day with my lady. We went out for some snorkeling in areas I previously explored while scuba diving. We saw lots of healthy coral, fish and our first stinger ray, which was a pleasant surprise.