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Blub, blub

I didn't think diving would be this addictive! I'm now up to 15 dives, and I'm now a certified Underwater Navigator and Enriched Air Diver. Navigator was quite fun; the last task in the course involved being given a heading and distance before descending (we measured approximate distances before with fin-kick cycles and timing over a given distance beforehand), then navigating to 6 different markers underwater via compass that each lead you on to the next... while drawing a map of your course! (No handy GPS like I'm used to on land!) Nitrox (aka Enriched Air Diver) was pretty simple (I was bored enough with the material to offhandedly memorize a few formulae that were just given to you in the exam anyways), but now I can rent tanks with up to 40% O2. Not for the reason you might think though (having more available oxygen might be one's first guess!) The main point of nitrox is to lower your nitrogen levels, so you can stay underwater longer and have shorter decompression intervals. In fact, you can't go deep for as long using nitrox on repetitive dives since you have a higher risk of O2 toxicity.

Anyways, I've been having a TON of fun diving down here if you couldn't tell. :) I picked up a mask+snorkel and a pair of fins so far (Tusa X-Pert Zoom split fins; I'd been renting that type for a while and decided to buy them since I might not always be able to rent split fins on my travels, and I do a lot better with them than plain old flat fins.) It's been around 16 - 17°C in the water here, but I've been quite warm in a wetsuit! (Even having lost a few more pounds that I really didn't need to lose from all the exercise I've gotten in here; I managed to bottom out at 50kg but I've been gaining it back eating more than well to make up for all the activity.) Unfortunately scuba gear is unreasonably expensive here, or I'd have already picked up my own wetsuit or semi-dry, diving computer, and perhaps some other gear. (And I grabbed an underwater slate. It's useful to be able to write when you can't talk!)

So I'm off for an overnight hike in the Blue Mountains by myself tomorrow night, I think... should get down to around 0°C. Then back to Sydney on Sunday, and then up to Cairns! I'm going to do my Advanced Open Water course up there on a liveaboard boat over a couple days. I can't wait to do some diving in the WARM water around the Great Barrier Reef. All the folks down here say that since I've been having such a great time diving down here, I'll absolutely love it up there. I'm probably off to Melbourne the weekend after that to do some sightseeing and visit a friend. Then it's off to Japan on Jul 5. (Oh yeah, did I mention I changed my ticket so I could get more diving in down here? :) I was originally scheduled to leave for Japan on Jun 20!) Maureen's been amazingly kind in letting me stay here all this while.

Anyways... I've been mostly keeping busy, having tons of fun underwater, and plotting my evil plots. I'll probably check in from Japan once I make it there, assuming I don't just stay in Australia even longer! This country is absolutely wonderful, in many ways. And I again expect everyone back home to be a certified diver so we can go diving when I get back! Or else!