A Leap of Faith on Grand Cayman Island
The waves that day on the East End of Grand Cayman Island were topping out at about 6 to 8 feet and a steady wind blew towards the coast. Each wave that crested broke into a torrent of frothy water. White caps, they are called white caps, I thought.
As the dive boat approached the buoy, my breathing seemed to cease…was I even still breathing? Due to the tightness in my chest it was impossible to tell whether the air was actually moving in and out of my lungs. The rocking back and forth was, I suppose, some sort of self soothing mechanism, but it only seemed to signal to my husband just how terrified I was.
The entire scene appeared to me as a movie, something I was watching, or witnessing. It occurred to me that this was what it was like to have an out of body experience. Our destination, a white buoy bobbing wildly in the water, only became visible as we crested each heaving wave, like a game of peek-a-boo. Now you see me, now you don’t, now you see me, now you don’t. I clutched my husband’s arm in a death grip and asked, “The skipper’s not going to tie up there is he ?” Being the kind man that he is, my husband moved closer so that his leg was touching mine, placed his hand reassuringly on my knee and told me he didn’t know. A kind attempt to calm me that did not work. Then he put his arm around me and told me “Anna it’s OK if you don’t do this. Really it’s not a big deal.”
Practice does make perfect: I was capable, I was exhilarated, and I was knighted by my instructor at the bottom of the ocean on the East End of Grand Cayman.
The previous five days had been spent studying the physics of diving, equipment care, decompression, ascent, descent, safety stops, decompression sickness, surface intervals… all these terms were now familiar to me. My instructor and I had practiced endlessly in the pool, removing the mask and replacing it, putting equipment together and taking it apart, drilling on ascent and descent intervals. Secretly my greatest fear was the technique of blowing water out of my mask at depth. Removing my mask and regulator and putting it back on filled with water. This terrified me.
As the dive master tied the boat to the buoy my stomach lurched as I visualized myself 70 feet below the surface insanely removing a perfectly good mask and regulator from my face. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, I was panic stricken. This was it. It was do or die.
If I did not jump in the water right now I would miss endless hours of time spent with my love, doing the thing he enjoys most. I did not stop to think. I donned my gear and took the giant leap off the boat and into the clear blue Caribbean waters.
In the end all was well. I excelled at all my techniques. Practice does make perfect; I was capable, I was exhilarated, and I was knighted by my instructor at the bottom of the ocean on the East End of Grand Cayman.
Since that day I have spent over 600 hours diving all over the Caribbean, photographing and shooting video of sea creatures, all while enjoying the company of my best friend in some of the most beautiful places in the world. In a moment’s decision, I created a lifetime of memories.
Top Photo credit: Jeff